The Business of Numismatics: August 2023 Greysheet

Third-party grading is the hot topic of the moment as the industry players head to Pittsburgh for this year's World's Fair of Money.

by Patrick Ian Perez | Published on August 4, 2023

AUGUST IS AN IMPORTANT month in the annual rare coin calendar in this country. The summer lull is broken by the week-long extravaganza that is the World's Fair of Money, held this year in the city of Pittsburgh. It is not solely about the buying and selling of coins and paper money, but numerous clubs and industry organizations have meetings and gatherings. Some of these meetings are the only one of their kind for the entire year, and thus take on added importance. In addition to these formal meetings, informal gatherings are the norm at the WFOM. Potential deals are pitched and discussed and coin market rumors and facts swirl about. It is also the last major coin show that still has a live auction held concurrently with the show, with Heritage Auctions offering the fourth part of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Core Collection. Stack’s Bowers will hold their substantial Global Showcase Auction the week following the show.

A big chunk of the conversation at WFOM this year promises to revolve around grading and certification; as can be read in these pages. The new CAC Grading (CACG) company has slabbed their first coin and the volume there is ramping up. It will be fascinating to observe if any CACG holders are floating around the bourse floor in Pittsburgh.

It is an interesting time for coin grading. The reality is that grading United States vintage coins is not a growth industry—after all there are only so many raw classic coins that have yet to be graded. This is something the current owners of Collectors and Certified Collectibles Group (parent companies to PCGS and NGC, respectively) seem to be keenly aware of, and it remains to be seen their level of commitment to this so-called “vertical.” The former has a very strong market share in sports card grading (PSA) and the latter has the same in paper money (PMG) and comic books and magazines (CGC).

The other key issue is talent. Becoming a grader with enough skill to work full time for a third party certification service takes time and determination, and the pay needs to be commensurate with what an individual with that level of ability can make as a dealer. As I write this, the ANA Summer Seminar is taking place, where the seed can be planted for such skills. Behind the scenes, I have heard first-hand from multiple dealers that grading service problems—slow returns, inconsistent grading, and other administrative issues—have had an impact on business this year. Thus, CAC Grading seems to be coming online at a prescient time, potentially one that fundamentally changes the classic United States rare coin market.

Perhaps we are entering a new era, in which grading is brutally honest, forthright, and calls out problems where they exist. It could be a situation in which short-term pain results in long-term gains, as coins that were overgraded or ones in which problems were missed or ignored are taken off the market and given the proper grades they should have received initially. While this will cause said coins to lose value, it will result in a cleaner, more transparent market that is able to attract new, well-capitalized collectors.

I feel that those dealers who recognize this the quickest will be at an advantage, and it is an opportunity to revisit, practice, and sharpen up one’s own grading skills. Maybe the above is a fantasy, but the dealer community is amidst generational turnover, and the new blood may look at things differently.

Among all of this, domestically-certified world coins are increasingly gaining acceptance abroad, and this is where the growth will come from for the third-party services. Even the overseas dealers that are most staunchly against the “coffins”—as they like to call slabs—they are starting to recognize the value added by certification. Totals of world coins sold at auction continue to increase year over year, and in recognition of this, we at Greysheet are aggressively building our world coin infrastructure to meet the demand for clean, usable data.

Patrick Ian Perez

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Author: Patrick Ian Perez

Patrick Ian Perez image Patrick Ian Perez began as a full time numismatist in June of 2008. For six years he owned and operated a retail brick and mortar coin shop in southern California. He joined the Coin Dealer Newsletter in August of 2014 and was promoted to Editor in June 2015. In addition to United States coins, his numismatic interests include world paper money, world coins with an emphasis on Mexico and Germany, and numismatic literature. Patrick has been also published in the Journal of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS).

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