Turmoil has hit the third party grading services making the status of a sector of the industry tenuous at best. It started in September when PCI announced that J.T. Stanton had left PCI. In December, it was discovered that all tangible and intangible assets of PCI will be sold by auction. Assets will be sold to the highest bidder at an “Absolute Public Auction.” The auction will be conducted by Gravitt Auction, Inc. of Chattanooga, Tennessee on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:00PM EST in the PCI offices in Rossville, Georgia. PCI continues to operate and accepting submissions for coin grading.

The next big story was the wholesale firing of its entire Austin, Texas staff at ANACS. We first learned of the firings from postings on the Collectors Society and Collectors Universe public message boards on December 26. Within two days it was announced that Dynamic Force LLC, of Englewood, Colorado, purchased ANACS from Anderson Press, the parent company of Whitman Publishing. The sale price was not disclosed. Dynamic Force is the company owned by renown grader James Taylor.

Two years ago, Taylor helped Anderson Press move ANACS from Ohio to Austin, Texas. Once the move was completed, Taylor then left ANACS to return to his home in Colorado to be CEO of ICG. Now that Taylor owns ANACS, he will move the company to Englewood and expects to re-open on January 2, 2008.

A short distance from where ANACS will be located are the offices of Independent Coin Grading Company (ICG). It is being reported that several graders have resigned from ICG and will work at the new ANACS. Although this leaves these positions available at ICG, there have been no reports that the former ANACS graders in Austin will move to Colorado to work at ICG.

Based on the survey conducted by the Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) and Industry Council For Tangible Assets (ICTA), ANACS and ICG are considered the second tier of third party grading services by receiving a “Good” ranking. PCI received a “Poor” rating in the same survey. Only Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (NGC) and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) received “Superior” ranking.

Although the survey and other perceptions consider NGC and PCGS the leaders in third party authentication and grading, these other services have their place in the industry. For example, ANACS would grade problem coins noting the problem and assigning net grades. ICG works with Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America (CONECA) to assign official CONECA numbers and description on error coins. ICG also has a long list coins and tokens that they will grade. These services are necessary for collectors. It would create a void if changes in these companies would de-emphasize the advantages ANACS and ICG have.

I finally picked up a series if very interesting errors that I wanted to have encapsulated as a special collection. I was planning to send the coins to ICG to take advantage of their service with CONECA. There are also some cleaned Morgan dollars that I would like ANACS to encapsulate and provide VAM attribution. But with the turmoil that is going on with these companies, I am going to wait until the proverbial dust settles—hopefully, for the better.

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