This is bound to be a somewhat messy exercise, but I think you've got a good
idea, since this question is raised so frequently. I like the idea of
consensus as an educational tool for new collectors--perhaps a mature
product would be a valuable periodic post. I commented on your individual
ideas below each paragraph. A few big picture thoughts:
Clearly narrow the post to grading, the most contentious of the
to-slab-or-not-to-slab issues. You barely touch other issues with slabbing:
authentication, coin protection/preservation/presentation, and competitive
(registry) collecting. Rather than try to boil the ocean all at once, I'd
avoid the other issues for now.
Make it clear that the grading value of a slab is derived from consistency,
and that this is not a discussion of market valuation, appraising, or other
misconstrued applications. Thus, the goal of third-party grade certification
is consistency; variation is the enemy.
> 1) Due to the subjective nature of eye-appeal and the fact that we are all
> human, there is no "absolute" or "perfect" way to grade coins. Most
> if shown to 10 experts, will result in at least two, if not three
Grading is imperfect science, yes. The reasons are more numerous than you
state. Those I can think of include:
--Individual taste: "eye appeal", as you mentioned
--Perspective: buyers, sellers, and third-parties have differing interests
that, consciously or subconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally,
affect their judgment and stated opinions of any coin.
--Incomplete standards: grading standards don't cover every combination of
possible attributes (far from it). Judgment calls must me made.
--Inconsistent standards: grading companies employ differing standards (and
frequently unstated standards).
--Human error, which is what I think you meant by "we all are human".
Related to this is that graders often are confronted with expert surface
> 2) Expert graders (i.e. those with the know-how and experience to expertly
> grade coins) get no value in paying a premium for a slabbed coin. Honest
> dealers who also believe that everyone should have such expert skill
> buying coins will never see the value in slabbing.
This is overstated. Experts benefit from slabber's grading opinions in that
a it may become easier to convince a less-expert person they want to sell a
coin to that the grade is what it is. Do you really want the second sentence
in a consensus article?
> 3) Non-expert graders (i.e. collectors without access to a consistently
> honest dealer) are smart to pay premiums for sight-seen coins that have
> slabbed by a highly reputable grading service (PCGS or NGC only). They
> smart because they have decreased their chances of being ripped off by
> tampered, counterfeit, or severly overgraded coins.
The economic formula for the value of a slab is: [(Change in Value if Wrong)
x (% Likelihood of Being Wrong)] minus (All-in Cost of Slabbing). Remember,
slabs can provide value to both buyers and sellers. A buyer or seller who
slabs for risk-management (note the other purposes for slabbing I mentioned
above) is only "smart" if they slabbed after getting a positive value using
> 4) ACG and the other inconsistent and liberal graders may have good
> intentions, but they are mostly the tools of thieves and their uneducated
There's little value in bringing intentions into this. Intentions are a
subset of the "perspective" source of grading variance I mentioned above.
The damage of misgrading is the same whether the misgrade is intentional or
due to incompetence, differing standards, etc.
> 5) It is almost impossible for the average collector to find another
> collector or dealer that can grade more consistently and accurately than
> PCGS or NGC.
The relevant comparison is like-share to like-share. In other words, if PCGS
and NGC have 85% of the slabbing market, their consistency should be
compared to that of the top 85% of the collector/dealer communities.
> 6) The practice of using PCGS or NGC to slab low market-value or modern
> coins is somewhere between unwise and corrupt.
The formula will tell you the wisdom of such slabbing, except in the case of
the "other issues" for slabbing I mentioned (e.g., registry collecting).
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