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PCGS Grading Guarantee Update

David Hall - December 4, 2009

There are 7,320,437 reasons that show,
When it comes to Your Coins...
PCGS puts its money where its mouth is!
Here's what the PCGS Grading Guarantee does (and doesn't) do for you and your coins...and here are also a few changes in the way the PCGS Grading Guarantee works.

For the past 24 years, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) has offered collectors and dealers the strongest assurance of grading accuracy and independence in the rare coin market. A strong guarantee was one of the tenets upon which PCGS was founded. We were the first third party grading company to actually guarantee the grade and authenticity of the coins we graded.

For 24 years we've stood behind the service we provide to you not with a money back/fee returned policy if we make a mistake...not with a "we're sorry, we'll return your grading fee or give you free grading" policy if we make a mistake...but with an actual cash guarantee for the market value of the coins we grade and authenticate.

They say that talk is cheap and money talks. So when it comes to the validity of the PCGS Grading Guarantee we'll let the money do the talking. Here are the cold facts about what we've done in the past 24 years.

In the past 24 years, PCGS has (as of Dec 1, 2009) graded 18,784,536 coins with a declared value of $19,138,747,536. That's 18 million coins worth over 19 billion dollars!

In the past 24 years, PCGS has paid out $7,320,437 under the terms of the PCGS Grading Guarantee. When we make a mistake that involves your coins, we pay for our mistake. It's that simple.

Here are some detailed figures of the money we've paid out under the terms of our grading guarantee. The following are the total amounts paid in each of the last six calendar years;

2009 (thru Dec 1)...$498,798

You'll note that the cash figures are increasing, but this may be explained by the fact that coins are worth more today than they were in 2003. The huge amount bought back in 2008 was probably a "perfect storm" aberration (January, 2008 was not a good month for PCGS...see below).

The 12 most expensive mistakes we've paid for are as follows, and we're not doing this to show off (in fact, it's actually admitting our biggest mistakes very publicly). We're doing this to let everyone know that we stand behind the work we do for you with cold hard cash. We take our job seriously. We want to do the best job we can for you. And if we make a mistake, we'll pay for it.

Here are the twelve most expensive PCGS Guarantee "buy-backs";

1794 Silver dollar AU55 $575,000, January, 2008. This was a beautiful looking coin, but on close examination, the hair had been reworked and the toning was actually not original. It was obviously a very skillful doctoring job and it fooled a lot of people.

1849 Mass & Cal $5 AU55 $150,000, June, 2006. This is a very rare territorial gold coin that turned out to be counterfeit.

1792 Half Disme XF45 $150,000, January, 2008. This coin had actually been flattened, probably around 1800, and did not look right at all. We shouldn't have missed this one.

1969-S double die Lincoln cent MS65RD $80,000, November, 2003. This coin "turned" color in the holder and now only graded MS64RB.

1861/57-S Clark Gruber $20 MS63 $75,000, November, 2007. This coin had been known to the coin community for decades. In fact David Hall had it at coin shows for sale in the mid-1970s. But research eventually showed that this coin, and several other Clark Gruber rarities, were actually counterfeits that were probably made in the 1950s or 1960s.

1861 Clark Gruber $20 (three) MS62s $55,000 each, January, 2008. Same type of circa 1950s counterfeits as coin above.

1899 Indian cent PR69 $50,000, February, 1988. This gorgeous proof Indian cent later developed a huge copper spot covering the face of the Indian. We bought the coin back and hung it on the grading room wall with a sign that said "The $50,000 Spot" and we told the graders to be really careful when handling copper coins.

1908 $20 St. Gaudens PR63 $45,000, July, 2008. This matte proof Saint had been improperly cleaned or conserved or doctored or whatever you want to call it. We missed the subtle surfaces problems which later became not so subtle as the chemicals used by the "doctor" reacted on the coin.

1963 Lincoln cent PR70DCAM $40,768, April, 2004. This perfect Lincoln proof later developed a few minor spots. Not really our fault, but it was covered by our grading guarantee.

1849-D gold dollar MS64 $40,000, July, 2008. This was a beautiful, very high grade Dahlonega Mint specimen that unfortunately had a planchet lamination on the rim that broke loose and negatively effected the coin. This was not really a grading mistake, but an unforeseen problem covered by our grading guarantee nonetheless.

Bottom line...we're the experts, but even experts make mistakes. That's why we have the PCGS Grading Guarantee, so you don't have to pay for our mistakes.

Here's is a link to PCGS Grading Guarantee...

which gives the details of the guarantee and how it works, plus some very specific details and examples of what the guarantee does and doesn't do.

For example, if we overgrade a coin, it's covered by the PCGS Grading Guarantee. If we miss some doctoring on a coin, it's covered by the PCGS Grading Guarantee. But if there's a mechanical (clerical) error on the holder of the coin...let's say the coin is dated 1936, but the holder says 1937...the PCGS Grading Guarantee doesn't cover an obvious clerical error that shouldn't fool anyone.

If you own PCGS graded coins or are considering purchasing PCGS graded coins, you should go to the link above and review the terms of the PCGS Grading Guarantee.

We are also making two important changes to the PCGS Grading Guarantee effective for PCGS graded world coins and copper coins graded or sold after January 1, 2010. For world coins (i.e. non-U.S. coins), we will have a limit on our guarantee of $10,000 per coin. And for Chinese coins, we will have a limit on our guarantee of $1,000 per coin.

We've also made a change in how we handle the guarantee of color for copper coins. The fact is that color for copper can change depending upon where a coin is stored. The villain is humidity, and if you have mint red copper coins stored in Hawaii or Florida, for example, there's a good chance that the environmental factors can alter the color of the coins. This is obviously beyond our control so consequently we will not be guaranteeing the color of copper coins graded or sold after January 1, 2010.

For 24 years we've been standing behind the service we provide you with a cash grading guarantee. We intend to keep providing you with the best possible grading and authentication service and the PCGS Grading Guarantee to stand behind that service for the next 24 years and many years after that!

When it comes to your coins...
PCGS puts its money where its mouth is!

PCGS is a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

Article provided by PCGS at

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