Given the growing population of new coin grading companies entering the market, what can a collector do to protect themselves from substandard coin grading companies? Here are some steps you can take to avoid getting ripped off:
The first step is to learn more about the coin grading company and its products. Of course this may be easier said than done. Use your favorite search engine and see what you can find on the company itself.
You should seek answers to some basic questions such as:
• Where can I find the company and how hold is it?
• What is the company’s qualifications for grading coins?
• Does the company offer a warranty or guarantee?
• Is the company’s coin slab of standard size and is it well sealed?
Searching the “Coins” section of many online auction sites will likely reveal a host of unknown coin grading companies with strange acronyms. You can bet most of these coin grading company’s slabs aren’t going to be traded in the mainstream coin marketplace such as major coin shows.
Of course finding out anything on many of these companies is likely to be quite a challenge. Many of the coin slabs will have no contact information at all. Some of these companies have websites, some don’t. Even the ones with websites, often have little or no contact information on them.
After attempting to find answers to your basic questions about the grading companies, your next step is to evaluate the quality of the coin grading company’s opinions. Of course submitting the same coin to each one of these companies is going to cost prohibitive, the next best alternative is to use other research material such as books and articles.
Use a good quality loupe and compare the surfaces of the coin to color photographs in a book on coin grading that has pictures of the various grades of a coin. Learn to ask yourself if the grade stated on the slab is too generous, too stingy or just right.
To get a feel for this type of comparison, it would help to do this with some coins slabbed by some of the major well-known coin grading companies, if you have access to some. You can also practice on raw coins.
Using your favorite search engine, you can also find some good articles on grading the coin graders. Just be sure the articles aren’t “fluff” from the grading company itself.
While authenticating a coin is a conclusion of whether the coin in question is either genuine or a fake, coin grading is both an art and a science. However, with some practice you should be able to form an educated opinion on a coin’s correct grade, especially on the quality of a substandard coin grading company’s services.
The third step is to decide how to spend your money. Armed some basic information you should be able to make a more informed decision on whether you want to bother with these substandard coin grading companies. The reality is that you will be better off sticking with one of the major coin grading companies.
Until universally accepted guidelines and monitoring of such standards within the burgeoning coin grading market, or until an industry-sanctioned or government agency starts certifying coin graders, buying slabbed coins from little-known or substandard coin grading companies is going to entail risks, especially if you lack basic coin grading knowledge and skills