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The 4 Best Coin Grading Service Companies

Horizontal view of an antique round shaped magnifying glass and a pile of old silver dollar coins on rustic wood
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Coins are amazing artifacts that have often survived entire generations of changes. They are strong and durable, and so they tend to last through wars, fires, and many other natural disasters.

For all of these reasons, coins can be incredibly valuable. The value of a coin is sometimes determined by how old it is, but also how rare it is. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the companies that can help you assess the value of the coins you have saved over the years.

The man considers ancient coins.

A coin's grade is generally determined by its strike, preservation, luster, color, and attractiveness.

Some Initial Steps to Take When Assessing Value

Coins represent a measurable way of defining value. Over the years, they have become the easiest way of conducting business transactions because they are easy to handle. Civilizations have been using coins as currency for well over 2500 years.

Most experts agree that the earliest coins were alloys because they formed stronger physical bonds, and they were also far less likely to corrode. If you have always been interested in taking up the hobby of coin collecting, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a simple step-by-step method that you can use to easily identify the most important varieties, dates, and condition of your coins.

Step 1: Identify the Different Series of Coins

Many coins come in a wide variety of designs that have represented the specific coin denomination over the years. For most denominations, you’ll first need to identify the different series of coins that are available.

Step 2: Be Aware of Date and Mintmark Variety

Dates and mintmarks (which are symbols that represent different mints) can always be valued and identified separately. Many of the original mintages of early coins are low, and this leads to a condition of rarity.

Step 3: Identify Special Qualities

Because there is such a large variety of coins, many special qualities need to be considered when you are assessing value. Determine your coin’s value by identifying the series, date, and mintmark, and then examine your coin carefully to see if it has any special qualities that are not the same as regular coins. 

Step 4: Assess the Grading Condition

The condition of your coins is one of the most important factors when it comes to impressing other coin collectors and maintaining their level of interest in your coins. You can assess the grading condition of your coin by doing a close inspection and keeping all of the following information in mind.

Assessing the Grading Condition

As you start learning more about the way coins are graded, it is important to know about the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale. This is a 70-point coin grading scale that companies use to assess the numismatic value of any given coin. The scale was first created by William Herbert Sheldon and now The American Numismatic Association has based its Official ANA Grading Standards on the Sheldon scale.

The condition of your coin is important when you are trying to determine the value through a third-party grading service. A coin with no wear to the surface will look like it did when it left the mint. Heavy wear can place your coin at the low end of the condition scale. Each stage of wear is categorized as a "grade". Among dealers and coin collectors, these grades are specifically used to define the stages of wear.

  • Mint State: If you cannot see any wear or tear at all on the surface of your coin, a grade of Mint State might be awarded. This designation defines the coin as it has the fine texture of luster that first appeared at the time of minting.
  • Extremely Fine Grade: The first places to show signs of wear are the highest points of the designs on these kinds of coins. Each series of a particular coin is unique when it comes to detecting the amount of wear. Overall, an Extremely Fine grade coin shows light wear on the highest areas and there are no large smooth spots. 
  • Fine Grade: A coin with a Fine grade has visible wear covering the entire coin. Certain fine details might be lost, plus there can be large flat areas, which can lower the condition of the coin into the Fine grade range.
  • Good Grade: The flatness of the entire design can be seen in an outline form. Some minor details may be missing and major elements remain visible, but they appear smooth. A strong date and rim edge are important factors when grading a coin at this level.

Coin Grading Companies

As described above, there are many things to consider when it comes to grading your coins. If you have an impressive coin collection, it is important to get your coins graded because this can have a direct effect on the value of your collection. 

There are four major coin grading companies that can be found in the USA. These are all very trustworthy companies to use when you are listing your coin for sale because (among other things) they will be able to confirm the certification of your coins against the Third Party Grading database (TPG).

These companies are the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), Independent Coin Graders (ICG), and ANACS. We’ll take a look at each of them below.

The Professional Coin Grading Service 

Founded in 1986 by a group of seven collectors including David Hall, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) also has multiple branches in Europe and Asia. This means the PCGS is the world leader in numismatics and coin grading.

A few of the services they offer include secure plus grading, standard grading, and Tru-View, which refers to high-quality coin photography. Because the PCGS has such a good reputation around the world, most collectors immediately know that they are getting a good quality coin when it is graded with a PCGS slab (coin holder).

Often, the slab alone is enough to raise the value of the coin quite a lot. This means that PCGS offers a dependable form of protection for coin collectors. Their independent, third-party coin grading, as well as their lifetime guarantee for coin grading, enables PCGS-graded coins to command record prices on the market.

When you use PCGS, you’ll get access to world-class numismatic experts and a network of reputable authorized dealers. This is why PCGS-graded coins represent the maximum coin value: buyers are willing to pay high prices because they know their purchase is guaranteed.

With objective third-party grading, all types of coins can be evaluated equally (and instantly) by both buyers and sellers. This leads to a universal way of evaluating the authenticity and quality of collectible coins and rare ones. This creates a high level of trust in sellers who hold these coins. 

PCGS coins are guaranteed in terms of security. Each coin is sonically sealed and the seal contains all the necessary data to properly identify the coin after the grade has been assigned. The PCGS holder is made of ultra-clear acrylic that does not scratch. Also, United States coins feature a Gold Shield Security certification that is obtained by using PCGS’s anti-counterfeit hologram.

A collector in special gloves holds an old coin.

Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and medals.

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation 

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) is the PCGS’s largest competitor and is the largest coin grading organization by volume. They have graded more than 45 million coins to date. It has been the official grading company of the American Numismatic Association since 1995.

Although the NGC does not grade coins that have been modified, it can be one of the best places if you are interested in grading your coin collection. They have a good reputation among numismatists, and because they are affiliated with the American Numismatic Association, any certification you get from them will greatly enhance the authentication value of your coins.

NGC represents a new standard of integrity in coin grading. From the beginning, they have been focused on only one objective, which is to provide a standard of accurate and consistent grading. NGC has maintained an uncompromising commitment to this standard.

The knowledge, dedication, and integrity of NGC’s team will give you a level of unparalleled grading consistency. This record of consistency will help you feel greater stability when you are navigating the world of rare coins and certified coins. 

Take a look at the NGC Guides & Services on their website. It is a set of some of the most comprehensive and accurate US coin values guides. You’ll quickly discover the many benefits of NGC certification when you start dealing with them on any level. We’re sure you’ll be proud to own a certified NGC coin.

Independent Coin Graders 

ICG has been grading coins since 1998. Unlike the other two organizations, it is only a grading organization, so it does not deal with the buying and selling of any actual coins. The pricing options offered by ICG are far lower than those of other companies, so it is one of the most popular ways for collectors to grade their coins. 

This organization really prides itself on its conservativeness of grading. Coins graded by the ICG almost always increase in value because the conservative nature of their grading system means that serious collectors know that the actual value of the coin is probably going to be higher than the graded price.

ICG guarantees that all coins submitted to its grading service will be handled with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. You may resubmit any coin for review of the grade assigned by ICG if you believe that the coin has been over-graded by ICG.

If the coin receives a lower grade under ICG’s internal review practices than the grade originally assigned, ICG will either replace the coin, or pay any difference between the current fair market value of the coin at the newly established grade and the current market value of the grade. 

ICG sometimes receives certain world coins, Important Rarities, Pedigree Coins, large quantities of coins, bulk submissions, or other uncirculated coins where the identity of the owner is sometimes quite well known. It might sometimes be important for the owner to remain anonymous so as not to draw too much attention to these collections.

Although ICG may be able to protect the identity of the owners in those cases, ICG will still continue to grade those coins under their standard practices to maintain a high level of consistency.

It is also vital to keep in mind that this ICG Guarantee does not apply to any possible clerical errors that might arise with respect to the description or grade of the coin, coins that have been stored improperly, coins with environmental deterioration after certification, copper coins, or any other coins not encapsulated by ICG.

ANACS 

ANACS is America's oldest certification service. ANACS was officially created by the American Numismatic Association (ANA) in 1972 as a way to correct one of the most urgent problems facing coin hobbyists: coin certification. The company certified its first coin as a genuine one on June 15, 1972.

They have been authenticating and certifying rare coins, medals, and other tokens ever since then. In 1976, ANACS was moved to Colorado Springs to be closer to the ANA. Three years later, ANACS started grading coins using the technical grading standards that the ANA had established earlier with its book, The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins. 

In 1983, Ken Bressett was made into a director, and he hired and trained a team of graders at ANACS, many of whom have now become some of the most famous names in coin collecting. Many are still professionally grading coins today.

Some of the others are leading national coin dealers. Others are highly respected numismatic researchers and authors. In 1989, the company stopped issuing photo certificates and started a process of encapsulation by placing their coins in tamper-evident plastic holders. 

Their expert staff, customer service, and very competitive prices are certainly worth checking out. You will find that submitting your coins to ANACS is also very easy. You simply have to print out a form and mail it in along with the coin (or coins) that you would like graded.

The Value of Your Coins 

While it might be interesting to find out the worth of your coins by spending a few hours researching similar coins on eBay, there really is no better way to verify the value than by using an American numismatic association certification service like the ones we’ve described above.

This is particularly important if you are trying to sell coins. Apart from verifying and ultimately increasing the value of your collection, getting your coins verified by one of the companies listed above is a very important psychological step for any coin collector.

It can be a good way to make sure that your coin collection is genuine. Also, you’ll get the peace of mind of knowing that anybody who wants to buy coins from you will be getting real value for a high-quality product.

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All articles are provided as a third party analysis and do not necessarily reflect the explicit views of GSI Exchange and should not be construed as financial advice.

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