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Opening a slab with a shop vise


Rigo
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Anyone tried this yet?

 

I have made a couple of videos before opening slabs with a happen and a towel. Most of the time it was dangerous and messy with sharp pieces of plastic flying and falling all over the place. Kind of had me like this...

 

Now, I have always wanted to try a cleaner and smoother method. So I researched many ways of doing it and found a way I wanted to try. This method required a towel, a shop vise and a small flat-head screw driver to open.

dsc01593lx3.jpg

 

So here is my first time opening up a slab using the shop vise. I must add that it was easy, clean and didn't take much to open.

Please excuse how messy and old looking my work table looks. I have done lots and lots of work on that old table and I still use it to work on projects around the house, toy fixing and building stuff, not to mention lots of painting, hammering, wood cutting, tool fixing, sharpening etc....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go6HAc69W-U

 

From that particular research I did, it says that this method works great for NGC and PCGS slabs as well.

dsc01594rl7.jpg

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I've used a hammer striking on the edge at the corners, moving from corner to corner until the slab cracks. Then I've use the screwdriver to finish the process. It takes a few times to learn to swing the hammer (actually the flat head of a heavy hatchet) with enough force to crack the slab, but not so much that you actually shatter the plastic. The vise looks cleaner. I have glasses for eye protection just in case.

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I don't either. Specially not to PCGS (which I do not support).

 

Bill, I used that method (with a hammer) you mentioned but it was messy! So now that I found the vise to be easier and cleaner, I'll stick to it.

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You dont know what messy is if you call that messy :) I would now be ashamed to show my work space :(

 

Just out of curiosity, why do you crack these open? Do you think the value goes down for the coin compared to what you paid for it? I am not a fan of slabs in any way and only have bought a few coins that were in them (only because the coin was so nice, not because of the fact it was slabbed) but I felt that once they were slabbed, to break them out would cut some of the value I paid for them...I assume the price was a bit higher slabbed than not?

 

Like this coin:

 

leopold.jpg

 

It came to me slabbed and I kept it that way because the coin wasn't cheap and I assume some of that price was the slab and grade (not to mention not wanting to harm the coin trying to break it out) so I have never actually laid hands on this coin.

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That's why i'm not generally in favour of slabs, the slab should not (in an ideal world) make a coin worth more. It should just protect and be a guarantee of authenticity. The old saying of 'buy the coin and not the slab' should be paramount. But I believe the 'grade/price inflation' of slabs has already taken root.

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I agree completely that it shouldn't affect the price. The price for a coin should be the same be it slabbed or not nor do I even buy my coins with a mind to worth on resale as I have never sold a coin and I don't collect for monetary reasons. The fact though is people DO collect for these reasons and selling coins is a business and if a person spends the time and money to get a coin graded and slabbed, they are not eating that expense on resale and then they are probably raising the price past the expense for the added plastic and an opinion from someone who is supposed to be an expert and perceived assurance that all is well. So I just assume that by breaking it out of the slab, you have lost a bit of the price you paid for it when it was slabbed.

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I crack pieces out of slabs when I buy them for my research interests (which are always my collecting interests). If I do not need to examine it more closely, I usually leave it in the slab because of the "value" problem.

 

Some examples:

 

I bought this set slabbed, but I wanted them in their original box for photography and publication. They are very small and difficult to properly photograph if you want to re-create the set in the box in a photograph. I lost value when I cracked them out, but they were more important and useful for my purposes out of the slabs and in the original box.

 

5617963763_279f8d0fa6_z.jpg

 

A second example (no pictures) are cases where information is lost when the piece is in a slab. I am currently researching a so-called dollar that is listed in the catalog as being struck in silver, silver-plated copper, copper, and aluminum. I have all four, the silver piece being encased in a slab and labelled silver. After a couple of years studying these pieces, weighing them, and performing specific gravity tests, I came to the conclusion that there are no silver pieces, only silver-plated. At the end of my studies, I broke out my NGC "silver" piece. Guess what? It weighs the same as the silver-plated pieces and has the same specific gravity. A silver piece must weigh more than a silver-plated copper piece since silver is denser than copper (hence the higher specific gravity). I had the silver piece, the silver-plated piece (known to be plated because the underlying copper shows through at worn high spots), and a heavily toned (black) silver piece with traces of copper showing in a rim ding. The silver piece tested 99% silver. The silver-plated piece tested 98% silver. The heavily silver tarnished plated piece tested 78% silver. Non-destructive testing devices used in coin stores only measure the surface of a piece.

 

I lost about half the value of my silver piece by cracking it out of the slab, but I would be remiss to sell the piece as silver when I strongly suspected it was not. Without knowing the weight of the piece, there is no non-destructive way to prove any of the so-called silver so-called pieces are in fact silver. Given the size of these pieces, a true silver piece should weight 4 to 5 grams more than the silver-plated pieces. So far, I have not encountered one that met that test. Given that "silver" pieces are slabbed without a weight on the label, there is no way to prove that the "silver" on the label is correct and I believe they are all wrong.

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Oh, I can see this is a fun thread with great discussion!

 

Bill, on your AYSE set you lost very little in cracking that set out, mainly because you have the box and the fact that they were featured in your excellent book!

As far as methods of crackology I use the Vise method, with safety glasses AND Nitrile exam gloves (powder-free). Use a large clean vise that is securely mounted with a well lubricated spindle. Applying gradual pressure to the sides of the slab will usually result in the halves separating enough to extract the coin. Sometimes as Bill mentioned, a screwdriver is needed to help remove portions of the slab. I always use the gloves just in case I need to grab the coin if it decides to leave the slab unexpectantly.

 

Why do i remove coins from slabs you ask--For example, I am putting a presentation US Type set album together. I have elected to spend lets say $100 to $200 for each coin in order to reach the desired grades and or variety needed. You noted the presentation comment above. I am assembling a premium set that includes a 1853 arrows and rays half dollar, a 1931s Lincoln cent and so on. I am trying to purchase the majority of them raw but I won't let a good deal go by because it's in a slab. By shopping around at the major shows you should be able to buy somewhere in the middle of the wholesale and retail price even for the slabbed ones.

 

Why do I slab coins---1. Sometimes I slab a coin if it has a high enough value and will be placed in my collection for long term storage. I feel a slab gives it an edge if the storage conditions aren't perfect from a conservation point of view. I place my better coins w/slabs in archival sleeves and boxes prior to storage at the bank. 2. I also slab some coins / medals that I am de-acquisitioning from my collection that need a good marketing strategy. Usually these are higher value coins subject to counterfeiting or values that are grade sensitive and are being sold on the internet for example. I don't want my customer debating after the sale the grade or condition and the possibility of swapping out the coin and sending back a substitute. Well, they could debate it anyway but it does carry a little weight in my favor.

 

Never sell your coins you say? Well it may not be you, but rest assured that your coins will be sold someday. It is best to keep a good inventory and instruction on who to contact if you cannot handle the affair yourself. I have instructions to contact one of my coin buddies to assist with the liquidation and not to arbitrarily sell off to just anyone (including my buddy if you know what I mean). Why do I care at that point? Well, my heirs would be rewarded for having put up with a lot of coin antics such as coin magazines and books laying around, having to share the library with tons of numismatic literature, coin shows, storage issues and the like. You can use this to your advantage if subtle hints are dropped now and then as to the value of your collection and what they might receive if collection is sold wisely.

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Makes perfect sense and that is a very cool set. Have you published any information about it on the web?

Bill has a post that includes this set here: http://www.coinpeople.com/index.php?/topic/30920-1909-alaska-yukon-pacific-exposition/page__fromsearch__1

 

Also this set is featured in a book that Bill co-authored with Jeff Shevlin titled "Discover the World of Charbneau So-Called Dollars." I consider this book an excellent read / reference and is part of my exonumia book collection.

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I also use the vise method to open slabs and have never had a problem. And my work table looks exactly like yours. Except my vise is older!

 

Also, instead of a towel, I put the slab into an old sock and listen for two cracks.

 

Then I take it upstairs and open the slab on my desk.

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Excellent work bill and lovely coins and medals (and great images).

 

I do understand that when I go, my collection will eventually be sold so I do keep record, I just can't stand having my collection encased in plastic.

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The set is also featured in an article by Jeff Shevlin and myself in the January 2013 issue of the Numismatist. And thank you Roger. He originally found the set, then sold it to me.

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