Here in the United States, it is common to see coins encased in holders by third party grading services whose label includes that service’s opinion of its state of preservation. We have slabbed everything, from the most worn large cent to the American Eagles just received in the mail from the US Mint. There is even a service that grades the graders by placing a sticker on the holder to say that this service agrees with the opinion of the original grader.
Coin grading is less common outside of the United States. For example, in Canada, collectors who want coins graded sends them to the US-based services or use the Toronto-based International Coin Certification Service (ICCS). ICCS encapsulation offers a different type of encapsulation that includes a small certificate with the coin. But an informal scan of Canadian coin dealers show that the US-based services dominates the grading of Canadian coins.
We’ve accepted coin grading. Overseas collectors have not. They reject coin grading for the reason most of my collection is not graded: there is something satisfying about holding that key coin in my hands. But with the rise in counterfeit of key coins and the raising interest in US coins outside of the US, some collectors are looking to slabbed coins to ensure they are purchasing genuine products. Or are they?
There are a finite number of key coins and there is enough anecdotal evidence that suggests the grading population of key coins has reduced. To maintain their viability, the top tier grading services have to look for additional outlets for revenue. These services are expanding their brands into grading currency, sports cards, and even special labels for modern coins. Expanding into grading world coins for the collectors outside of the United States may be an attempt to find new markets. It appears that the next untapped market is grading world coinage for non-US collectors.
This is not lost of Professional Coin Grading Services President Ron Guth. PCGS, a subsidiary of the publicly traded Collectors’ Universe (NASDAQ: CLCT), may be trying to use the international market as a way to expand PCGS‘s market.
From this interview it is difficult to say whether the international market is ready for PCGS or any third-party grading service’s service. It appears that this will be one of the “let’s wait and see” issues.