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Some thoughts on slabbed coins


Art
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This is from a CoinPeople blog that I started for myself in the Asylum. I'm not intending to start the slab/don't slab debate. Just some observations about how I feel and a little of the history that got me to this point. Maybe some of you have similar experiences that you'd like to tell us about.

 

Saturday May 16,2009

 

I've been thinking about slabs a little lately and realize that I like them. I know there have been a lot of debates about slabbed/raw and which is better to collect. There are many folks on either side of that fence and lots of valid reasons pro and con.

 

Most of my collection is Moderns that come from circulation or Mint and Proof Sets. These reside either in folders, the ubiquitous blue Whitmans or the newer green Littletons or in Dansco albums. (I've developed a strong preference for the Littleton folders and plan over the year to replace all of my Whitmans but I'll save that for another time.) For example, I'm working on two sets of Roosevelt dimes. One set is in my Dansco album and has UNC/PF coins from sets for everything beyond 1964. 1964 and earlier are mostly circulated that I've gathered over the years. The set in Littleton folders is 100% from circulation, even the current issues.

 

Some years ago when I restarted my collecting fever, I was looking for Indian Head Cents that were undamaged and had an even light chocolate coloration. XF or better for 1880 to 1909 and F/VF for 1857 to 1879. I was not able to find the coins I wanted at the local coin club or any shops that were within reasonable driving distance. I started experimenting with Ebay. From the research I had done, I felt that to get the best value in my purchases I should look mainly at ANACs graded cents. I purchased some cents and was very pleased with the grading. Over a few years at shows and the local auctions I continued to confirm that ANACs grades were very much in line with what I wanted. I always intended to break the coins out of the slabs and place them in my Dansco but never did. After all, once they were in the Dansco they were as much out of touch and not as well protected as in the slab. I also feel that resale will be better for the ANACs coins. I'm actually wishing that I had chosen slabs for a few of my other series, like Statehood Quarters and Kennedy Half Dollars.

 

A few years ago I read about NGC Signature Sets. Here was an opportunity to define a set as you desired and track your progress on the NGC site. Sounded like fun and so I defined a set that I call “Art's Anniversary Set”. It's one coin for each year that Frannie and I have been married, with the denomination keyed to the Anniversary number. So 1-4 are cents, 5-9 are nickels, 10-24 are dimes, 25 and beyond are quarters and at 50 I'll switch to Half Dollars. So here came more slabbed coins into my collection.

 

While messing with my Anniversary Set, I looked over the NGC Type Sets and decided that I had a number of coins that would fit. So I started one. Anyway, the net of this is that I've gotten some slabs and I'm having fun with them and I think they're neat. I've noticed that unless you're going for 'Registry' quality coins, the prices are fairly reasonable. If you're after the 'Registry' coins, bring lots and lots of money. For coins in the grades that I collect, it's actually cheaper to buy something already slabbed than it is to submit your own coins.

 

Anyway, I'm having fun with it and maybe you would too.

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Nice, calm discussion Art. I don't like slabs myself, but I don't avoid them either. I just don't pay more just because its in a slab. I appreciate a well preserved coin or medal and always strive to buy the best I can afford. I don't, however, have much interest in scoring big on a registry set just because I spent more manhood money on the highest numbered slab that others can't afford. I actually practice more discrimination in judging collectors than my last statement would indicate. I do have a great appreciation for a well constructed collection of the best preserved, highest quality coins that usually comes with the wealth required to do so. Collectors building those collections who really appreciate the beauty and history are generally recognized as true collectors. I just get turned off by those who seem to be more impressed with MS-70 than the coin in the slab.

 

A good example of the collector I believe is worth emulating is our own contributor, the Goetzdude (you could substitute Elverno, Ian, or several others here). Scott (the dude himself) is anal in his desire to collect quality material, in its storage and conservation, and in its display whether in an exhibit or on the web. He was rewarded with the best in show in Portland a couple of months ago and I'm betting he has a good shot at the grand award this summer in LA. Here is a collector with MS-70 tastes and attention to detail with few slabs to his name (he does have some as almost all of us do to be sure). He lets his eye for quality and history be his judge and his collection is proof enough of the quality of his judgment.

 

Don't get me wrong. I do explore some Registry sets and actually enjoy perusing those with a good sense of purpose and evidence that each piece has been carefully selected because it met the goals of the collector building the set. I don't really care that they are in slabs or what their grades might be. I enjoy seeing how the set was built or is being built. To the extent that the Registry Set idea allows others to share a collector's passion, more power to the registry sets.

 

The finest know Chain Cent does carry a cachet for me. The finest known Susan B. Anthony, not so much.

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For me if I buy a coin it really does not matter whether it is slabbed or not. I am not going to pay a premium for one though. All the slabbed coins I have bought have been below "price" (Insert on line and book prices here.) One recently was below lowest grading cost available from the company. I bought that as a whim more then anything.

 

A quick guess the grade for those who want to try. I'll post given grades tonite. Both coins graded by the same company. Edit: yes these are hard to grade but try.

 

ht268ob.jpg

ht268rev.jpg

 

ht268.jpg

ht2682.jpg

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I'm going to guess the second was graded higher than the first, although the second appears weakly struck. I would say they are both VF, but when I look at how the TPGs tend to grade exonumia, I'll take a wild stab:

 

1st: EF-45

 

2nd: AU-55

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I'm going to guess the second was graded higher than the first, although the second appears weakly struck. I would say they are both VF, but when I look at how the TPGs tend to grade exonumia, I'll take a wild stab:

 

1st: EF-45

 

2nd: AU-55

 

 

I agree with Bill on the grades.

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OOOps, mistake one pcgs and the other ngc. Sorry about that. Top ngc.

 

 

That's what I would have guessed.

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Here it is NGC 58 top coin

PCGS 62 bottom coin

 

Just my opinion neither are as high as graded. Grading from pictures at best is ball park. I know they had weak strikes but....

Neither to me ought to be in the higher au range.

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So this thread seems to be as much about slabbed coins as about registry sets. I'd love to do a registry set eventually. It depends on the kind of collector you are. Goetzdude and Bill are two great examples of collectors who strive to become experts and have an all-encompassing knowledge of their subjects. I assume that absolute grade doesn't matter as much because the material is rare and the grade doesn't mean as much.

 

My ultimate goal is to have a representative collection of a series - all the dates, mints, die varieties, PATTERNS, proofs, etc. I see that as the ultimate study of a design and series. But grade does matter more in this scenario. Since I'm doing a study of the design and the life of the series, choice coins are very valuable to me.

 

But right now, I can't be as picky as I want to be.

 

So, in short, the decision to slab is based on either investment potential or collecting method!

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Part of me longs for the day before the saturation of slabs. Part of me says it does make it easier doing business long distance and opened up the market. (At least most of the time.) Give me some raw morgans and time to look thru for double dies, slanted dates, clashes, and gouges and I'm a happy person.

A simpler time when you could say ms, au, ef etc. Because of one grade point assigned by someone who may or may not be having a bad day prices did not jump to extremes.

Hype by the tpg on prices. Especially the modern stuff. Today while looking on ebay I saw a New Mexico silver pcgs proof go for $50 PCGS list it at $260.

(Since we had this thread going.) Decided to look up previous sales prices for the same coin. $48 and $79 sold this month. Several PR69 silver for $6 to $9 PCGS list $32 . So it cost some one at least $10 plus shipping plus actual cost of coin to get a $6 to $9 coin.

 

As to registry sets. I do like the idea. I can appreciate the "need" to work a set and share it with people who appreciate coins, other wise I would not be collecting. But then this is also why I really appreciate omnicoin.

 

To me history behind the coins are more important then a grade assigned.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I used to think that the lower grade/lower value coins you'd find in slabs, esp. PCGS, NGC, and ANACS were simply items that had been submitted by collectors who had "free" slabs coming and took a flyer in the hopes of getting a super grade back. Probably that was the case at one time. Now I think you see a lot of PF69 coins slabbed because collectors/dealers are bulk submitting proof sets hoping for those illusive PF70UC grades. I haven't even tried to run the numbers in my head but one set of PF70UC coins can cover a lot of the costs of a bunch of PF69s. Ditto for MS67 vs MS65.

 

I've never submitted anything for grading so I'll have to do a little research but I believe that bulk in the package proof sets and mint sets can be submitted for an extra fee.

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Up until recently I collected ONLY slabbed coins.

Why?

Because my prime collection is a US type set and I don't have the time to spend studying the characteristics of each issue so that I can buy raw coins with confidence.

The best I can do is recognize cleaned coins although even that can be tough.

 

This should end with the June 12 Whitman show in Baltimore.

I'll get the last two coins I can reasonably afford for my type set.

 

What's next?

I'm thinking about IHCs.

I've got Snow's Attribution Guide.

I already own most of the keys/semi-keys (slabbed).

Now to try and fill the vast number of gaps between the IHCs I have.

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