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Collecting Certified Coins vs. Uncertified Coins

Collecting Certified Coins vs. Uncertified Coins
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Posted: 03-13-2014 08:37:00 AM

Confused as to whether certifed coins or uncertified coins fit you better? We offer some points to consider that may help you in your decisions regarding how you collect coins.

Certified coins are a growing part of the coin collecting hobby. Certified coins have been submitted to a professional grading service such as the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) for a professional opinion of the coins authenticity and grade.

The service places the coin inside a plastic holder (nicknamed 'slab' in the industry), which displays the coin through clear plastic that is sealed in such a fashion so as to make it impenetrable without damaging the holder making such tampering very evident. The holder includes a label containing a unique serial number and details about the coin, and various holograms and other counterfeit deterrent features.

Certified coins have been accepted market-wide as a standard, and are often traded sight-unseen based on the market's trust in the information provided on the label sealed within the holder. While certified coins definitely have a number of positive features, some collectors prefer to collect part or all of their collections without certification (known as 'raw' or 'uncertified' coins). Below are some reasons why collectors may prefer one over the other:

Certified Coins:

  1. Protection: Undoubtedly certified holders provide superior protection to almost any other commercially available means.
  2. Re-Sale: Both in ability and in ease, certified coins are most often easier to resell.
  3. Guarantee: Major grading services offer limited guarantees on their workmanship and on the authenticity of what they’ve encapsulated.
  4. Grade/Authenticity: The guess-work in grading coins and determining whether they are genuine is removed with certification through a trusted source.
  5. Storage: Hard plastic boxes that hold certified coins in rows are a popular choice for neatly organizing a collection.

Uncertified (raw) coins:

  1. Cost: Sometimes the cost of certifying a coin is higher than the value of the coin.
  2. Problem Coins: Although ‘authentic’ only certification is possible now, for years the most reputable grading services would not encapsulate problem coins.
  3. Storage: While the plastic boxes for certified coins afford a nice way to store coins, they are rather bulky and do not lend to display. Other uncertified methods allow for nice display of coins, such as the use of albums.
  4. Attribution: Many collectors like to have their own information on their coin labels, and they are limited as to what is ‘recognized’ by the services when certifying coins.
  6. Album Collectors: Many people still subscribe to the bookshelf album style of collecting, and certification does not lend well to this form of collecting.

Either way a collector chooses to collect their coins is acceptable; neither is right or wrong depending on the circumstances of what they collect. In fact, many collectors choose to collect both certified and uncertified coins. Any way you do it, however, remember to protect your collection by keeping an up-to-date inventory of your holdings, properly insure the collection against loss, and ensure that you to store the collection in an environmentally controlled area.

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About The Author

Charles D. Daughtrey Charles D. Daughtrey has collected coins since the mid-1970s. In 1997 he took his interest in coins to the internet and began what would eventually be the largest web database of Lincoln cent information ever published, and is the author of, "Looking Through Lincoln Cents," currently in its second edition. Charles is a member of the ANA and the Professional Numismatists Guild.

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