The History of Numismatist Grading Companies

History of Numismatic Grading Companies

The History of Numismatist Grading Companies

The history of coin collecting can be traced back to ancient times. And for as long as coins have been collected, there has always been a system to establish its value. There were various systems that have evolved over the years and have contributed to the industry in many positive ways. Numismatic, the study of coins, became an academic discipline towards the mid 19th century. Initially, the grading was simple, and could only categorize coins as either new or old. In the early 20th century this developed to include good, fine and circulated.

Development of Sophisticated Grading Systems

By the mid 19th century the need for a more sophisticated grading system was developed. There was an increasing need for buyers and sellers to agree on the value of the coin. In 1948 Dr. William Helbert Sheldon developed the Sheldon 1-70 grading system which proved more useful in establishing the value of a coin. For example, if a coin was extremely fine, it would be given a rank between numbers 20 and 35.

Even though Sheldon's grading was popular, there were omissions and instances where corrections needed to be made. A good appraiser of numismatic coins knows how to make these subtle corrections while keeping the overall coin grading method intact. Additionally, coin collection had developed into a broader sphere with different types of collectors collecting a variety of coins including rare and foreign ones.

  • ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service): In 1972 American Numismatic Association started the ANACS. ANACS started as a company with two experts and certified its first coin on June 15th, 1972.
  • PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Services): It was established by seven dealers in 1986. The founders wanted to create a consistent and standardized coin grading system. One of the distinguishing characteristic of PCGS at the time was that they offered a guarantee on the accuracy of their grading.
  • NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation): NGC was established in 1987 and would become one of the top four grading companies in America. NGC currently has locations in countries such as China and Germany.
  • ICG (Independent Coin Graders): Founded in 1987 with the aim of providing the highest level of objectivity when it comes to evaluating the value of coins. This is in contrast to other companies that were established by dealers or experts who sell or buy coins. To uphold objectivity, ICG did not allow any of the staff members from buying or selling coins.

Impact on the Industry

The Numismatic Grading Companies have had a great impact on the coin collecting industry. In the last 50 years, numerous experts and professional graders have helped develop conventions and standards. Third party grading companies also provided a wealth of information regarding the identification, grading, and the standards used in the grading process.

Throughout the years the Numismatic Grading Companies have continued to establish their credibility by providing professional services for grading foreign, ancient, and rare coins. The advent of the internet has facilitated the sharing of information and the development of a network of dealers and graders. It's fair to say that the standardization of grading and authentication, has helped generate interest and invigorate the industry's economic potential.