Just before the World’s Fair of Money, Numismatic Guarantee Corporation announced a new app, NGC Coin Details for both the iPhone and Android devices. The free app, which can be downloaded from the AppStore for the iPhone and Google Play for Android, provides verification of the certification of any NGC graded coin either by scanning the barcode or entering the serial number.
In addition to the verification service, the app provides coin details, images if they are available, pricing information, description and analysis, and upcoming auction information if it exists. The app is consistent with the look and feel of NGC’s website and provides most of the information they claim.
This review is based on the app for the iPhone but was told that the Android version is similar in look and feel. If someone wants to contribute a review of the Android version of the app including screenshots, please contact me to make the arrangements.
Testing of this app was performed at the World’s Fair of Money but only one set of images were taken while scanning “cheap slabs.” Some dealers became upset with my taking out the phone and pointing it at the coin. I then began to ask dealers if I could try out the app without a lot of success. One dealer accused me of attempting to create a diversion to steal his coins even after I asked for permission, offered my business card, and showed him the NGC app. Although I did not ask, these images were taken at the table for Wayne Herndon Rare Coins with Wayne sitting nearby. I did not want to disturb Wayne since it looked like he was making a nice sale—he deserves my hearty THANKS!
The app opens with a quickly disappearing splash screen and then a page that asks to click on the plus butting to verify a new coin. I do not know why it does not go directly into the verification process, but it does let the user know that if they want to verify a new coin where to go. It then brings up a screen that allows the entering of a certification number from the label or allows the scanning of a barcode.
Barcode scanning is a very nice feature when it works. However, with this app, I found that whether it works depends on the age of the label. New or newer labels that I believe were created since around 2007 can be read by the app. While these may be the most prevalent labels found, it is fortunate that NGC serial numbers are short and they bring up a digital keypad for data entry. Using a keypad-only interface is very helpful in those circumstances.
Several coins I tried had complete information including most Morgan and Peace Dollars, Buffalo Nickels, and current series pre- and post-1964 striking. It was very easy to use, especially for coins whose barcodes were scannable by the app. Where the app was not as good were for coins in older slabs whose barcodes could not be scanned. For those coins, there were missing detail information including some variety information that was found when scanning a similar coin in a newer slab. This was interesting to see the difference in how the app reacted when scanning similar Morgan Dollars of the same year and mintmark.
Pricing information was missing from many coins that were manually entered. This is one example.[/caption]It is understandable that some coins may not have images in the NGC database, but when a relatively common coin does not have a price details, one begins to wonder. In the example that was captured, the 1985-S proof Roosevelt Dime should have come up with price guide information. In fact, many modern proofs did not show pricing information even if they were scanned.
Another missing feature is the description and analysis of many coins that are not considered “classic.” Very few modern coins that were tried had description and analysis information while I found that series that ended before the coinage that was in place in 1964 (e.g., Mercury Dimes, Buffalo Nickels, Standing Liberty Quarters, etc.) had description and analysis information. Some of the Variety Plus information was available, but I was only able to try the app on a few coins where the information would show up.
While the app worked without issue, the problem is the data that NGC is using to feed the app. There was missing information and no prices. There was a difference between the data received from a scanned barcode versus on entered manual. And one would expect that the Variety Plus information for a Washington Dollar include missing edge lettering or doubled edge lettering issues that they have found while grading these coins. Also, how difficult would it be to enter a generic series-based description for some of the coins like the Presidential Dollars. This might be something NGC could consider on the backend if the description and analysis field is empty.
In grading the graders the review had to take everything into consideration and came up with a grade of MS65*. It deserves the star for the great eye appeal and the better than an MS64 because when it scanned the barcode it was wonderful. But points were lost for a lot of missing descriptions, missing pricing on some coins, and failing to scan older labels. While NGC could fix the first two on their servers, the scanning issue could be an issue with the application. I look forward to seeing if they can fix it in their next update.