coinfodder's Blog

24 Feb 2021


Coins | coinfodder

It’s time for (drumroll please), the battle of the Acronyms!!!

No seriously, this is the battle of the acronyms. In specific, the battle between three rival grading companies that have tried to eclipse the coin market and cast a shadow over weak storage and expensive albums for good. Coin grading companies have taken the industry and coin collecting in general by storm. It is time to compare…

In the words of Tom DeLorey himself, he had no idea what monster he was creating when he started the American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS) in 1972. As smugglers and Chinese people began to make counterfeits and replicas. The service started sadly with certification, coming back with a coin in a not-so-sturdy holder, with a COA and a picture, declaring the thing authentic. Well, this didn’t do much good other than a 2x2 Paper flip. As PCGS and NGC came into existence, ANACS new they couldn’t keep up with dinky certificates, so they lost money to these new brands who promised to sell you a nice holder AND declare it authentic. Finally, in 1989, they brought slabs into their services, and later, due to financial losses, the ANA sold the service to Coin World, then Anderson Press.

Today, ANACS is considered the little brother to NGC and PCGS, despite being the oldest of the three.

The holder is something like a Happy Meal Toy (even Happy Meal Toys can be pretty good, holders are like Burger King Toys (i.e. cheap as dirt)). The holder is designed to be read from within a box, due to the curved top and lettering. However, many error collectors like ANACS for their coins, as they will certify using the Fivaz-Stanton Numbers and issues that the others are scared to touch. However, NGC doesn’t have confidence in ANACS grading when regrading slabs with a new service.

Now to the next oldest- PCGS. PCGS was founded by David Hall. According to him, he was worried about the over graded rip-off telemarketers were selling. At the 1985 Summer Seminar, Hall and some other graders that agreed to work with him presented the idea to big dealers. They loved it. They are collecting funding and got $100,000. In 2001, they pioneered the idea of the registry set.

Today, PCGS is a well-respected company, and as the first MAJOR company, has good relationships with auction houses like Heritage.

The holder is pretty good, like the slim brother of NGC’s holder. The holder feels like slim, compact, high quality plastic. The cool thing about their holders is that they snap together when stacked with the other holders. In 2020, to compete with the rise of CCG’s PMG, the service introduced Banknote, a subsidiary of PCGS. However, fair warning to the PCGS buyer. Since the holder is only one piece, plus a core, with a lack of a good hologram, these are the most ripped off holders by fakers in China.

Now to the young upstart…NGC!

Founded by John Albanese, now CEO of CAC in 1987 in the city of Parsippany, New Jersey, soon followed PCGS’s example with the plastic holder, as well as authentication services. From there, other grading services joined NGC and became the Certified Collectibles Group, with Stamp, Comic, and Paper Bank Note grading. The competition was close between NGC and PCGS, but, in 1995, a major coup for NGC occurred when the service became the official and only grading service for the ANA, and in 2004, PNG, dumping ANACS and PCGS in the dumpster while the service became the number one grading service in the United States. In 2005, NGC started their own conservation service for coins, which ANACS and PCGS soon followed. In 2008, NGC started NGC Ancients, which helped further NGC’s hold on the competition.

Today, NGC is considered to be on the same level of quality grading as PCGS, and is headquartered, along with CCG’s other subsidiaries, in Sarasota, Florida.

Now is the fun we have been waiting for- where I bash all three!

ANACS will get the most dirt thrown on their brand. I have felt their holders. They feel like fast-food meal toys, and from their submission forms, the cheap prices correlate to a cheap holder, plus shipping and handling. They are the only one of the three without a registry set competition, which hurts the brand when it comes to more competitive collectors, who will turn to PCGS or NGC. Also, neither NGC nor PCGS has confidence in the grading done at ANACS. However, they have the widest range of error or variety coins graded, due to their partnership with Bill Fivaz and the late J.T. Stanton. The holder, other than the unique curved top, seems to be a rip-off of PCGS’s holder.

PCGS is known for having a lack of unique holograms. This makes it easier for you to fall for a PCGS holder and coin counterfeit than a complex NGC holder, with holograms galore. The company’s registry collection only has PCGS coins, which hurts it compared to NGC, which does NGC and PCGS coins, luring in all collectors of slabbed coins. Also, membership to be able to submit directly is quite more expensive than NGC.

NGC is known for accidentally trapping dirt and dust within their rather big and hollow holder, and it is pretty chunky. Grading, plus all the neat add on’s are WAY out of a reasonable budget (why pay $12 for a “first strike” label?!). The turnaround is ridiculously slow. One week on Grading/Quality Control? Darn. Also, the holder has a lot clearer surface, making it more suspectable for scratches. Want a better holder? Cough them up $5 a coin. Have a nice curved Baseball Hall of Fame coin, or Apollo Coin. Pay for the double thick. Need to hold some 5-oz America the Beautiful Coins? 20 bucks. And as the grand prize, the largest holders, for manhole covers, a whopping 150 dollars. The NGC fees set it apart from the others, and it is ridiculous.

Any others I missed? Let me know below. And see you on our road trip later!

Link to Numismaster's Numismastery-https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Wi6UyPyooa8EbwdPHY6nf2Z5JGKVfIaS

Link to Centsearcher's Loupe Newsletter. On his behalf, I am asking for subscribers. It is completely free. -www.numismastery.weebly.com

Guess the song lyrics- Last Week- View to a Kill, Duran Duran

We're talking away
I don't know what
I'm to say I'll say it anyway
Today's another day to find you
Shying away
I'll be coming for your love, okay?

…, (…)
…, (…)
I'll be gone
In a day or two



Level 1

I love ANACS. Though dealers like to dis them to try to knock their holdered coins down a grade or two in price, I think ANACS is actually harder on problem coins and just as discriminating. They aren't as politically shrewd at marketing as the two big brothers, perhaps because they don't buy into it that much or cater to big clients the same way. They are a much better buy and if a buyer can't see the quality of coins in their holders then he(/she) probably relies too heavily on third party grading anyway and can't hold a candle to those who really understand coins. I've taken many levels of coin grading courses at ANA and have been dealing in coins for decades, and ANACS remains my unsung hero. They were also the original grading service, with roots in the ANA; and they are good supporters of eduction to boot. I don't do much third party grading anymore, I know coins and my buyers do too and we don't need anyone else telling us their value. But I'm about to do around of nice type coins in the middle range for sales at shows and on online to novice/intermediate collectors and dealers who think they know coins, and I looked at the pricing and wait times, and I'm sending them off to... ANACS. --Marc, hvcoins.com


Level 1

Coin grading service


Level 6

I like NGC myself. I just prefer the look of the label and holder. I really enjoyed your blog! Well researched information on all the grading companies! ; )

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Thanks for an interesting blog. I have mixed feelings about the TPGs. They are necessary, yes, but I think that spending a lot on getting coins graded impedes me from getting the coins I want. I can always buy someone else's slabbed coins, and the ones I buy raw, I probably bought a couple circulated coins this year that are probably slabworthy. I assume all my bullion coins are. But not everyone who likes to collect wants to become an expert grader or even fool with that, and for them, slabbed and graded coins are their best and safest way to go.


Level 5

I started in PCGS, but I was confused by their registry. Their registry seemed difficult to navigate and understand and was poorly laid out. I soon migrated to NGC, which had accepted both NGC and PCGS coins. Their registry was far easier to navigate, and I made use of their conservation service. Later they added the collection manager, and I was hooked. That said, the market has the highest respect for PCGS, resulting in better auction results, especially for United States coins. The market is as it is, not necessarily how I'd like it to be, especially since the grading between the two giants is comparable. I had used ANACS when they were the only company that did detail grading of improperly cleaned coins. That was long ago, and consequently, the coins I currently own in their holders are the smaller white holder. Interestingly, I really liked that holder!


Level 5

Nice, well researched blog! I really enjoyed it!


Level 6

Nice over view of the grading companies


Level 5

NGC is my favorite. I like to submit coins to ANACS for the better price, and coins that are not valued high. I will buy a PCGS graded coin, but like NGC appearance better. I don't but ANACS graded coins yet. But like to submit to them. Nice interesting blog.

Just before he started PCGS, David Hall wrote an interesting book titled, "A Mercenary's Guide To the Rare Coin Market." It can be found under $10 and is pretty interesting when you consider where he is today. NGC and PCGS will always be the American and National league of slabs. With all the counterfeiting out there, I will not purchase a coin over $100 that is not slabbed. Longstrider mentioned CAC, which I consider overkill, and is the current equivalent to the Bitcoin craze.

It's Mokie

Level 6

Very well researched and very entertaining also. I have always been an NGC guy but I also have PCGS and ANACS slabs in my possession. I thin that all three are reasonably accurate (especially considering the subjective nature of grading) but I prefer the NGC slab due to its huge mass o plastic. Current ANACS slabs do seem very flimsy but they do have their advantages.

Mr. B Coins

Level 4

Absolutely fascinating. I have very few slabs and don't intend to buy any more. No big deal or philosophical issue, to me they just take up too much space. I guess I'm pretty simplistic. But, this is a great blog. Stay Safe, Mr. B


Level 6

I like this blog. I go with NGC when I send in a coin, which is rarely. It is much cheaper to buy a slabbed coin than to send one in. I am a VAM guy so I do use ANACS and I like their holders. They are very easy to see in a box. They also have some killer deals on submissions of 10 or more. If I have a coin that is a VAM that is not attributed on the NGC or PCGS holder or raw I will send it in to Variety Slabbing Service. An inexpensive way to get an attribution. Also fantastic photography. I don't want to discuss CAC and their like. Thanks. Well done.

Long Beard

Level 5

I have been collecting long before PCGS and NGC, beginning a few years after ANACS entered the market. Generally, I only buy encapsulated coinage to verify authenticity, especially a key or semi key date and those known as counterfeit targets. As contradictory as it sounds, there area few series which I'm putting together graded. Proof sets prior to 1955 as an example. What I've come to notice over the years is that NGC has far greater standards where full bands and full bell lines are concerned. Getting one to come back as such is extremely difficult. As for PCGS, their standards are much higher where early U.S. coinage and world coins are concerned. And last, ANACS is the go to grader for those wishing to opt out of membership fees as they have none. As for grading, the actual assigned grade is relatively accurate. Aside from the afore mentioned variety/error designations they also rarely send a coin back ungradable as do NCG and PCGS. Whether good or bad, that's up for debate as all three now do details grades where once only ANACS held that position.


Level 5

Nice informative and subjective blog, rolled into one! I will only purchase one of the "Big Three", in order NGC, PCGS, then ANACS. I personally am always willing to upgrade to the scratch resistant holder, after all if its worth getting slabbed, it's worth going " Whole Hog". Enjoyable blog, later!


Level 7

I stay with N.G.C. The Smithsonian Institute was looking to grade our most expensive and rarest coins. They tested all three slabs. This is our country rarest and best coins. They tested all three graders. The N.G.C. won hands down. Now it the they chose NGC that's good enough for me.


Level 5

A-ha! - Take on me! Absolute banger! Thanks for the blog, I tend to prefer NGC. I like the "clunky" nature of their holders... makes it seem more secure. Well researched blog! Thanks for sharing!

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