Every so often the grading services get it wrong. Well, this time they BLEW it! We recently submitted a gem originally toned Long Island commemorative (see picture) to PCGS for grading. As you can see the coin came back encapsulated questionable color. How ridiculous. This coin is one of Warren’s personal coins that he has owned for decades and comes with the original holder that Long Islands were issued in along with the outer mailing envelope and letter from the issuing authority, how cool. Warren was so upset by this obvious mistake that he took the coin to the ANA and showed it to Don Willis the President of PCGS. Don showed the coin to a experienced former PCGS grader and ANA grading instructor who said that the color was unequivocally original.
The problem here is not that PCGS made a mistake, it is inevitable that a company that grades as many coins as they do will make a mistake at some point. The issue is with the quality of the graders. This is the sixth coin in the last couple of months that we sent for grading that PCGS got wrong by a lot. Two blatant examples of bad grading were coins graded with questionable color and then resubmitted at the ANA and were subsequently graded MS-65! You may ask what’s the big deal you got the grades you wanted? Well the big deal is that it took multiple grading fees and postage along with the time and capital to get the grades that should have been given after the first submission.
In our opinion and in the opinion of many experienced dealers the quality of graders that PCGS is employing lack significant experience in the real life coin business, in fact many of them were taking the ANA grading course only a couple of years ago. The word on the “street” is that if you send coins to the PCGS offices for grading the coins will not be accurately graded and that you have to submit coins at coin shows to get accurate grading. Not only does this put collectors and dealers who don’t travel to shows at a disadvantage but is increases the cost of doing business since it costs significantly more to submit coins at a show versus sending them to PCGS directly. Since PCGS is a publically traded company and ultimately must continually increase revenue to answer to their shareholders could this be a ploy to have more coins submitted at shows to increase submission fees? I really don’t know but one thing is for sure, unless PCGS wants to man up and pay the price for qualified graders the perception of a superior product and any premiums that PCGS coins sell for over NGC coins could quickly evaporate.