Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
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The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (or NGC) is a multinational coin grading service provider based in Sarasota, Fla. NGC is the world's largest third-party coin grading service by unit volume having graded more than 30 million coins as of April 2014. It is the official grading service of the American Numismatic Association since 1995 and the official grading service of the Professional Numismatists Guild since 2004. NGC currently employs nearly 30 full-time graders.
Founded in 1987, NGC relocated from Parsippany, N.J., to Sarasota, Fla., in late 2001 and in 2006 NGC moved into a custom-built, 60,000-square-foot secure facility in Sarasota. NGC has opened satellite offices in Zurich, Switzerland and Konstanz, Germany, as well as affiliate submission centers in Guangzhou, China; Hong Kong, China, Seoul, South Korea; Taipei City, Taiwan; and Singapore.
Coin grading is a fee-based service in which a coin or medal is sent to an independent company to render an opinion on its authenticity and condition. Graded coins are then encapsulated in a plastic holder or, colloquially, a "slab." A label insert identifies the coin and provides a grade on the 70-point Sheldon coin grading scale. Coins that are not genuine or have been altered in some way are not graded.
NGC was founded in 1987 in Parsippany, N.J.. In 1995, NGC was named the official grading service of the American Numismatic Association. Five years later, NGC introduced its trademarked Star Designation to identify coins with exceptional eye appeal.
In 2001, the same year that it launched the online NGC Registry program, NGC relocated to Sarasota, Fla. NGC announced in 2004 that it had certified its 10-millionth coin: the Hawaii Five-0 specimen of the 1913 Liberty Nickel. That same year, NGC was named the official grading service of the Professional Numismatists Guild.
NGC relocated in 2006 to a 60,000-square-foot secure building that also houses the other members of the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG): Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS), Paper Money Guaranty (PMG), Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) and Classic Collectible Services (CCS).
The following year, in 2007 NGC released its EdgeView® Holder for the Presidential Dollar series, and in mid-2008 it announced that the EdgeView Holder would be standard for all coin types. This holder was tested by the Smithsonian Institution and used to encapsulate the top 200 US coins from that museum’s collection.
With the launch of the EdgeView Holder, NGC began imaging most of its coins in an initiative designed to combat holder counterfeiting. By January 18, 2011, NGC reported that its image database included more than 3 million coins, and in April 2013 reported that the number of images had passed 7 million.
In 2008, NGC Ancients was introduced as a certification program for ancient coins. A year later, NGC introduced the Scratch-Resistant EdgeView Holder, which has the same appearance as its standard EdgeView Holder but utilizes the same scratch-resistant coating used in eyeglasses.
In 2010 NGC revealed that it had certified 20 million coins. Two years later, NGC announced that it has certified 25 million coins. By April 2014, more than 30 million coins had been graded by NGC.
In the May 26, 2003 edition of Coin World, the hobby newspaper had announced they had contracted investigators to conduct a year-long, comparative study of PCGS, ACCGS, and NGC, along with several other grading services, each known as Third Party Grader (TPG). In their investigation, Coin World sent the same coins to each grading service over the course of a year, each coin being graded by all Third Party Graders it was sent to. They found that "In no case did the grading services agree on the grade of any given coin, and in some cases the difference in grading was as much as seven points off". By way of example, a finding published by Coin World involved one case where ACCGS had graded a coin as "cleaned", which lowers the coin value. It is standard in U.S. numismatics to grade coins on a point-scale from 1 (poor) to 70 (perfect)and to note if a coin has been cleaned or poorly mishandled, or in some cases, to reject it for encapsulation.
In September 2004, members of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) reported seeing counterfeit NGC and PCGS holders (also known as "slabs") at the Long Beach Coin Show. Members of the Beverly Hills Coin Club (BHCC), an affiliate club-member of the ANA, had reported counterfeit coin slabs as early as December 3, 1998. As a direct result, BHCC partnered with ACCGS, manned by unpaid club volunteers, as a pre-certification service for coins and to "guarantee the authenticity of slabs or Third Party Grader holders". More counterfeit PCGS and NGC holders were reported on eBay in 2005 and later years, but NGC did not address the problem until 2008, after high-quality counterfeit holders had been seen and purchased on eBay. NGC published the following acknowledgment on January 7, 2008:
"NGC has identified and confirmed that (counterfeit replicas) of its holder has been produced... The holder has been seen housing counterfeit dollar or foreign crown size coins. While the enclosed coins are also counterfeit, the label information matches the coin type enclosed. The label information is copied from actual NGC certification labels, and the certification information therefore will match the NGC database. Most frequently, Trade Dollars and Bust Dollars are found, although Flowing Hair Dollars and foreign coins have also been seen. A range of grades is also represented."[this quote needs a citation]
NGC and PCGS counterfeit holders have been reported in eBay forums and more may be reported by other firms and individuals. The PCGS website notes that they even "anticipate that authentic coins will eventually be placed into counterfeit holders". Third party graders are taking measures to resist counterfeiting, but these fakes may still multiply and improve over time. NGC and PCGS can not offer reimbursement liability for the prices paid for coins in counterfeit holders. Both firms have online links to verify the holder numbers. Caution is advised when purchasing coins in PCGS and NGC holders as the seller can disclaim liability due to the "third party" nature of the counterfeit holder. Additionally, it may be too late to request refunds from eBay sellers before holders can be verified as counterfeits. Many coins are posted on eBay and through other venues "as is" and therefore with no return privileges.