By Vic Bozarth – Bozarthcoins.com
Dear Rare Coin Enthusiast, The Fourth of July has come and gone and we are left with the HEAT and several weeks before the exciting annual American Numismatic Association Show in Philadelphia next month. The Numismatic calendar for the Summer is busy, but not all the players are ‘on the field’. Much like the holiday month of December, we generally see a downturn in both numismatic activity and current price levels during the Summer months. Dealers too like their time with family and friends and often take some time off in June, July, and August. We too spent several days last week at the Lake of the Ozarks at my brother’s cabin.
Fortunately, we had air conditioning and the lake because the temperatures were nearly unbearable and we actually cut our stay short a day because of the weather. Fortunately we had a back-up plan and spent a couple of nights seeing my Mom and Stepdad in MO also. Often times I take my work with me, but Summer time and the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are the exceptions to the rule. I didn’t look at a coin for nearly a week!
For a numismatist, coins are a staple. No, you can’t eat them, but for those of us who are ‘diehards’, coins are like the ‘air we breathe’. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the time off and needed the break, but the first thing I did once I was back in my office was to see what we had received since leaving for our trip. Like many coin companies, we always have coins ‘in the system’. For dealers who deal in more expensive certified coins, the coins in ‘the system’ are those out for grading or certification. We almost always have coins out to PCGS, NGC, ANACS, and more often now than ever CAC.
Several years ago when CAC first came into being, I had my doubts. Frankly, I am a little cynical. Is this just another ‘mousetrap’? Are we reinventing the wheel? After nearly 30 years of third party grading from both PCGS and NGC, CAC was both revolutionary and controversial. After all, I heard many say, ‘we already have independent grading’. Looking back nearly five years, I must admit, my first reaction wasn’t totally positive.
In 1986 when PCGS was originally founded, the concept was sound and the company grew, but….there were differences of opinion and those differences of opinion were important. In fact, some of the differences of opinion led to the founding of NGC-Numismatic Guarantee Corporation by John Albanese shortly after PCGS began doing business. As an outsider looking in, many people believe we (coin dealers) ALL know each other. Many of us do. In fact, some my closest friends are coin dealers, but……we ARE NOT all friends. Professional relationships aside, there are some VERY powerful rivalries in the coin business.
One of the most powerful and divisive rivalries in the coin business over the last three decades has been between PCGS and NGC. Although everyone ‘plays nice for the cameras’, there is no love lost between the two BIG grading services. There was always a basic disagreement between grading philosophies. While PCGS on the West Coast generally wants ‘bright white or brilliant’ coins, NGC, on the East Coast was more likely to appreciate originally toned rare coins. Although PCGS and NGC will both tout their grading consistency, the truth is third party grading has evolved.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to make more enemies-HA. The grading services have had to evolve because the business is evolving. Just like in the computer business, newer computer security has developed because the criminals are smarter. In coins, the grading services have evolved because the ‘coin doctors’ have gotten better. In addition, the grading services have also made some startling discoveries during the last thirty years.
One of the most startling discoveries is that some coins are just NOT rare. No one (at either grading service) would have guessed how relatively common some supposedly scarce items have proven to be. In addition, the sheer volume of coins that the grading services have seen has also illustrated how dangerous certain surface substances on ‘original’ coins can be to the long term quality of a coin. Not only PVC, but carbon, dirt, oil, and an almost unlimited amount of substances can exist on the surface of a coin. Frankly, one of the worst culprits is ‘dip’ residue which is left over after a coin has been dipped and NOT rinsed properly.
The grading services have had to address these problems in the real world and have not had the luxury of ‘going back in time’. Overall, the reason both PCGS and NGC coins trade for more than coins graded by other grading services is because they are BETTER. That PCGS and NGC are better has a lot to do with confidence. Because both PCGS and NGC have been willing to spend millions of dollars ‘buying back’ problem coins they both enjoy great confidence. BUT why do we need CAC?
The answer my friend is EYE APPEAL and ORIGINALITY!
During the early nineties a company called ‘Compugrade’ was trying to get established. They spent millions of dollars and their concept was pretty sound, but NO ONE could quantify eye appeal in terms that a computer could use. Arguably, even with ‘pluses’ and ‘stars’ PCGS and NGC have had a rough time quantifying eye appeal also. There is a HUGE difference between technical grade and eye appeal and ALTHOUGH eye appeal has a lot to do with the grade of a coin, a correct technical grade doesn’t always mean a coin will have eye appeal.
John Albanese has always been a visionary. When he left PCGS to start NGC, he had an idea. Not only was NGC a smart and viable alternative to PCGS, but NGC thrived because they didn’t just try and copy PCGS, but provide a high quality alternative to PCGS. When John sold NGC he was ready to try something new. After all, John is a highly motivated and smart guy and NGC was established and profitable. I can just imagine the thought of ‘What’s next?’ going through John’s mind.
CAC approves coins that are both ORIGINAL and nice for their grade with EYE APPEAL. Yes, it is subjective. And yes, there are lots of nice coins out there without CAC stickers, but…..when you buy a coin with a CAC sticker you are not only getting a guaranteed grade by the grading service, but you are also getting a QUALITY screened high EYE APPEAL coin that is ORIGINAL and doesn’t have any problems. Like the saying I have shared before, do you want your oats before they go through the horse or AFTER?
CAC has come of age too. Not only are CAC stickered coins consistently trading for more money, but they sell more quickly. CAC not only approves coins with great eye appeal, but they market many CAC coins and ‘put their money where their mouth is’. In other words, they buy their CAC approved coins at SIGHT UNSEEN numbers which are often much higher than the SIGHT SEEN PCGS or NGC bids.
The truth of the matter is that CAC approved coins trade for more, sell more quickly, and are in higher demand than non-CAC coins. Remember “Dragnet”, the old TV show? What was the detective’s name that always said ‘just the FACTS mam’? The FACT is that CAC is the real deal.
Bozarth Numismatics is a full service rare coin dealer. We buy, sell, and trade high grade predominantly high grade PCGS, NGC, and CAC certified rare coins. We offer coins for sale on our website Bozarthcoins.com, in our Ebay Store Bozarthnumismaticsinc, and at nearly 40 shows that we attend all over the U.S. each and every year. We also offer free and confidential want list services and can often locate those ‘hard to find’ items because we are constantly ‘beating the bushes’ buying rare coins during our 200 plus days each year on the road. We also write this RC Market Report and the ‘Rare Coin Road Warrior’ each month which discusses coin shows from a dealer’s perspective.