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Do Grading Service Employees Read Pop Reports?

Tom Becker

I'm not the only person who thinks it might be a good idea if grading service employees knew nothing about the numismatic marketplace. It's wrong to think a highly skilled coin grader will do a better job if they know how valuable what they are grading may be to collectors. In fact, it would seem any responsible grading service would expect their graders to apply the same degree of diligence and care to every coin they grade. Only giving a glance to the common stuff but really studying the rarities can't be the proper thing to do-or is it?

I know of one major grading service that absolutely uses the submitter's valuation to determine the fees charged and the number of graders that will be used to determine the grade. It is important to note that the submitter's valuation doesn't seem to be questioned if it is overstated. I'm not aware of how this grading service responds to submissions where a coin's value is obviously understated to reduce the fee and lower the number of graders. For example, if I wished to select a coin from my pocket change and value it at $3500 I could pay a grading fee of $40 and know that three to five graders would review the coin. If I'm willing to pay $100 then up to six graders may examine the coin. If I'm willing to send in ten pieces of pocket change and value each coin for less than $300 then it will cost me $12 per coin and two graders will examine each piece. Based on these examples, I hope it's obvious that the submitter determines the level of attention their coins will receive based on the declared value. I do think the number of experts who view the coin can really matter when considering factors that are not directly related to the technical grade. Has the coin been cleaned? Is the toning original? Have the surfaces been somehow altered? In these matters it would seem the more eyes that view the coins the better, even if opinions vary.

I'm surprised participants in the marketplace seem content with it being possible for inexpensive coins to receive less attention when determining the grade. Speaking only for myself, having up to six expert graders offer opinions as to the grade of a coin would be preferable to having the coin examined by only two. Then again, if the six graders offer four different opinions maybe I've gained nothing. I do have some difficulty understanding why determining the grade of a “cheap” coin is less important than the grade given to an expensive one. Apparently the importance of accurate grading is directly related to a coin's value.

To be fair, it could well be that the number of experts who view the coin really has nothing to do with the accuracy of the grading. In fact, it could serve to dilute the accuracy. I've got to think that when six grading service experts review the same coin there has to be times when they all don't agree. Maybe it is better to have only two agreeing opinions. Or maybe the opinion of a single expert is sufficient to satisfy the demands of the marketplace. It could well be that in the future potential buyers of significant rarities will not be satisfied unless two or more grading services reach the same opinion. It does seem we are heading in that direction.


Tom Becker is a regular contributor to the Canadian Coin Reference Site, you can direct your questions directly to Tom easily by or visit Tom's website @


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