In case you had not noticed, and judging by the numismatic press you probably have not, the Independent Coin Grading Company (ICG) moved from Englewood, Colorado to Tampa, Florida on December 8, 2008. I found this out when I visited the ICG web page while checking the links in my last post.

Does it matter?

Since the take over of ANACS by principals at ICG, the swapping of personnel, the difficult move of ANACS to within a few miles of ICG’s headquarters, and the turmoil that resulted, there has been little good news out of either of these services. Other than bloggers and numismatic forum users have decried the rush of ANACS holders on the late night shopping networks, there has been little news out of Englewood.

But does it matter?

In my experience selling coins on online auction sites or to dealers, coins in ICG and ANACS holders are not being taken as seriously as in NGC or PCGS holder. If you do not mind the ICG or ANACS holders, I have a few coins for sale that may be of interest. These coins were graded by ICG and ANACS before the turmoil.

Yea, but does it really matter?

Over the last year, we have seen the rise of the Dominion Grading Service as a credible service. DGS was born out of the ashes out of PCI after its assets were purchased by David Lawrence Rare Coins. As I noted last year, DGS seems to be making progress in quality and acceptability. While DGS may not be thought of as a top tier service because of their lack of longevity in the market, coins in their holders appear to be selling well.

You have not answered my question, does it matter?

In the market of third party grading services, it seems to be a two horse race with PCGS and NGC fighting to expand into more markets and improve encapsulation of modern coins as the supply of rare coins not slabbed may be dwindling. Even with the emergence of Certified Acceptance Corporation as a fourth-party verification service that verifies coins graded only by PCGS and NGC, one can wonder if there is a market for more grading services. Although DGS is making strides to acceptance, it is almost as if they are 20 furlongs behind heading in the clubhouse turn.

Why are you avoiding the question?

I am avoiding the question because there is no good answer. On one hand, competition is good. Competition works to the benefit of the collector who only wants value and accuracy in these services. On the other hand, ANACS and ICG appears to have damaged their reputation to the point of having the market mistrust their holder. In a market where trust in the accuracy and integrity of the service is a key value, ANACS and ICG appears to have done little in repairing their images after the turmoil that began at the end of 2007.

There are a number of books and magazine articles that recommend those new to the coin market to look for PCGS and NCG encapsulated coins, boosting the reputation of these grading services. As these collectors get used to buying PCGS and NGC graded coins and listen while more experience collectors remind them to “stay with the best.” This has caused coins in these other holders to lose value, even though they may grade the same as if they were in PCGS or NGC holder.

It is difficult to surf past the home shopping cable channels and see what appears to be over graded, modern coins in “special” ANACS holders and continue to take ANACS seriously. Although the capitalist side of me says that ANACS has the right to try to make money, the numismatist side of me wonders at what cost? Unfortunately, this is hurting the reputation of ICG because of the concept of “guilt by association,” or in this case, guilt through diassociation.

The survival of ICG and ANACS should matter to the numismatic community. Over the years, both services have proven resilient and have had good successes. But it is difficult to acknowledge their current place in the market when they are not doing much to distinguish themselves and repair their damaged images.

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