Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (NGC) announced that bullion coins received within the first 30 days of release in US Mint packaging will be designated as “EARLY RELEASES.” Previously, these coins were given First Strike designation using the same submission rules. But last month, NGC and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) were sued in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, calling the First Strike designation of fraudulent and deceptive.

The FIRST STRIKE designation has been controversial because of the potential of misinterpreting its meaning. According to both NGC and ANACS, the definition of FIRST STRIKE was the one that NGC is now using for EARLY RELEASES. Although these third-party grading services defined the meaning of FIRST STRIKE, less than ethical dealers would misinform customers to claim the coins were something they were not. This was a typical scenario on the home shopping channels, whose products are usually overpriced and over-hyped.

I am not a fan of the FIRST STRIKE (and now EARLY RELEASES) designation, but I felt the third-party grading services defined the designation properly and provided proper information to the collecting public. Unfortunately, in this litigious society where purveyors of the frivolity attacks the labeler and not the ones who misuse the label, it is a credit to NGC for making this move. It is a matter of time before the others follow their lead.

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