A good philosophical debate to keep us active - Why do coins graded by either PCGS or NGC demand a higher price comparatively?
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14 posts in this topic

I haven’t seen this debate here, atleast not for a long time. Should make for some good conversation. 
 

1. Do you think it is justified in any way that one TPG graded coins surpasses the other? (Only inclusive of NGC and PCGS)

2. Does anyone disagree there is a disparity in sales prices? 
 

3. Generally speaking it seems NGC wins on early gold, ancients and tokens. PCGS wins elsewhere. Most of what I deal with I discount NGC graded coins slightly. Agree/Disagree?

4. What historically caused the disparity? Is there any actual history or it’s just one of those things that we just can’t explain?

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On 3/9/2022 at 11:17 PM, Woods020 said:

I haven’t seen this debate here, atleast not for a long time. Should make for some good conversation. 

You have just unleashed the Dogs of War.  Thanks, Putin !! xD

On 3/9/2022 at 11:17 PM, Woods020 said:

1. Do you think it is justified in any way that one TPG graded coins surpasses the other? (Only inclusive of NGC and PCGS) 

I think -- or one would THINK it was the case -- that in the early years of grading that perhaps NGC developed a reputation (fairly or unfairly) as a looser grader.  Or maybe they graded correctly and PCGS was just "tougher."  Or maybe they graded the same but folks paid up more for PCGS labels for whatever reason (more famous founders like Hall and Albanese ?  Better marketing ?  1st mover advantage ?) and thus PCGS could "get away" with a higher grade to justify a higher price via market grading (more common around 2004).

Or this could all be a bunch of baloney, I freely admit. xD

On 3/9/2022 at 11:17 PM, Woods020 said:

2. Does anyone disagree there is a disparity in sales prices? 

No, but there are some areas where I feel that if anything NGC does a better job and her coins aren't being rewarded for it...and where PCGS has some notorious overgrading bordering on idiocy (i.e., Franklin Half Dollars).

On 3/9/2022 at 11:17 PM, Woods020 said:

3. Generally speaking it seems NGC wins on early gold, ancients and tokens. PCGS wins elsewhere. Most of what I deal with I discount NGC graded coins slightly. Agree/Disagree?

Generally agree.  PCGS premiums or even in domestic coins.... but NGC ahead in foreigns/ancients.  I also think PMG (NGC affiliate) ahead of PCGS and Legacy in currency.

On 3/9/2022 at 11:17 PM, Woods020 said:

4. What historically caused the disparity? Is there any actual history or it’s just one of those things that we just can’t explain?

Like I said, maybe the vets here can chime in.  But maybe pre-internet in the first 10 years of the TPGs NGC graded looser or PCGS harder and they developed a reputation.  When market grading got more common about 2004 it seems that is when the PCGS premium expanded or was more noticeable (by then, the internet had also been around for a few years and word spread easily among dealers and savvy collectors/buyers).

I wonder if NGC coins 20+ years ago also traded at a PREMIUM for foreign/ancients at the same time her domestics traded at a discount ?

I would say that for me I also wasn't crazy about some of the older NGC holders compared to their PCGS counterparts.  But I love the current ones from NGC more than PCGS, FWIW, especially the modern labels.

As I alluded to earlier, I think if anything you can make the case that the most recent egregious gradeflations involve PCGS.  The notorious PCGS Franklin Gradeflation thread over at CU (affiliated with PCGS) -- which apparently may have been the reason so many who posted there got banned from the site -- is one example. 

I should note this:  we are able to have this discussion here at the NGC Forums, even while noting their shortcomings.  I daresay this thread would probably NOT be allowed -- or would be censored and/or cut short maybe with suspensions/bannings (from what I have heard) -- by PCGS/CU.  One reason why I do NOT believe PCGS should trade at the premium is that I do believe that NGC graders are pretty much up to par with PCGS folks and I believe that NGC's more open-discussion policy is proof that they have nothing to hide or fear.  Quite frankly, open discussion and criticism should not be feared since you probably have back-and-forth with people both criticizing and defending you.  If that scares you, then the naysayers probably have the stronger argument.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 3/9/2022 at 10:53 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

You have just unleashed the Dogs of War.  Thanks, Putin !! xD

I think -- or one would THINK it was the case -- that in the early years of grading that perhaps NGC developed a reputation (fairly or unfairly) as a looser grader.  Or maybe they graded correctly and PCGS was just "tougher."  Or maybe they graded the same but folks paid up more for PCGS labels for whatever reason (more famous founders like Hall and Albanese ?  Better marketing ?  1st mover advantage ?) and thus PCGS could "get away" with a higher grade to justify a higher price via market grading (more common around 2004).

Or this could all be a bunch of baloney, I freely admit. xD

No, but there are some areas where I feel that if anything NGC does a better job and her coins aren't being rewarded for it...and where PCGS has some notorious overgrading bordering on idiocy (i.e., Franklin Half Dollars).

Generally agree.  PCGS premiums or even in domestic coins but NGC ahead in foreigns/ancients.  I also think PMG (NGC affiliate) ahead of PCGS and Legacy in currency.

Like I said, maybe the vets here can chime in.  But maybe pre-internet NGC graded looser or PCGS harder and they developed a reputation.  When market grading got more common about 2004 it seems that is when the PCGS premium expanded or was more noticeable (by then, the internet had also been around for a few years).

I wonder if NGC coins 20+ years ago also traded at a PREMIUM for foreign/ancients.

I would say that for me I also didn't like some of the older NGC holders compared to their PCGS counterparts.  But I love the current ones from NGC more than PCGS, FWIW.

As I alluded to earlier, I think if anything you can make the case that the most recent egregious gradeflations involve PCGS.  The notorious PCGS Franklin Gradeflation thread over at CU (affiliated with PCGS) -- which apparently may have been the reason so many who posted there got banned from the site -- is one example. 

I should note this:  we are able to have this discussion here at the NGC Forums, even while noting their shortcomings.  I daresay this thread would probably NOT be allowed -- or would be cut short maybe with suspensions/bannings -- by PCGS/CU.  One reason why I do NOT believe PCGS should trade at the premium is that I do believe that NGC graders are pretty much up to par with PCGS folks and I believe that NGC's more open-discussion policy is proof that they have nothing to hide or fear.

Just to be clear I’m not necessarily being critical of either NGC or PCGS. There are areas each of them does better than the other from a pricing stand point. It’s not that NCG is a loser across the board in any way. 

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On 3/9/2022 at 11:57 PM, Woods020 said:

Just to be clear I’m not necessarily being critical of either NGC or PCGS. There are areas each of them does better than the other from a pricing stand point. It’s not that NCG is a loser across the board in any way. 

Agreed...and FWIW, I agree... I do NOT believe NGC is looser but the market TREATS them as such.  Ergo, that is why I made the assumption that there must have been something in the early-days before I was active and before the internet in the 1987-2004 time period that caused the PCGS premium or NGC discount to appear at that time.

It is strange that one has a premium for domestics, one for foreign/ancients...and nobody can really explain WHY or HOW they each came to be.

As I said....the most notorious recent cases of gradeflation -- which should lead to a pricing discount if anything -- seems to be with PCGS for a few coins/threads.  And PCGS/CU got rid of the threads and/or some of the critics involved in them from what I have heard (I've never been a member ATS so I'm just going by what I've read on other sites).

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Now that we have started talking disparity between the TPG pricing...

  • Should we talk labels (OGH, Doily, Old Fatty, etc etc etc.)?
    • I feel like if it were going to upgrade, a dealer would have upgraded it.  Every old label coin is not better than it's new label cousin.  
  • How about CAC?  Does it make sense in any world for a MS63CAC to price higher than a MS64?
    • This will never make sense to me.  I get eye appeal and protection from over grading... but this is silly.
  • How about "dealer spin"... The old, "As you can see... this MS63 is too good for this holder, so I am going to tell my customer it should be a MS65 and ask MS65 money".
    • This is my #1 pet peeve.  If you are a dealer, please don't give me this line.  Crack it, or CAC it if you are confident... but don't give me your BS stories.  We both know that if you REALLY thought it was a MS65, you would re-submit.  Dealers are trying to put the risk on me to upgrade while they get guaranteed payment.  
    • I had this discussion with a dealer, and he was adamant.  I told him to "crack it then".  He said, "I non longer have to crack, I have TPG reconsideration."  To which I said, "then, pay your money to get your letter from the TPG telling you they were correct the first time."
      • We have not done business since.
Edited by The Neophyte Numismatist
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Some dealers know what they are talking about with grading...and some are just dunces running a coin shop. (thumbsu

And I know that it's impossible to know every price, but when I go to a show or an LCS....and I ask about a very common Morgan or Saint...and the guy has to rush over to his CDN Magazine or other periodical.....wow. :|

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 3/10/2022 at 9:39 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Some dealers know what they are talking about with grading...and some are just dunces running a coin shop. (thumbsu

And I know that it's impossible to know every price, but when I go to a show or an LCS....and I ask about a very common Morgan or Saint...and the guy has to rush over to his CDN Magazine or other periodical.....wow. :|

Whether they know what they're are talking about, or they don't... that doesn't matter.  If you are a dealer and you are planning on ceding risk with me, I will need upside to make taking the risk a viable business decision.  When a dealer sells a MS63 for MS65 money and tells you "It's much better than a 63, it's a 65" - this is exactly what they are doing.  They are ceding the grading risk with the buyer and leaving no upside.

Edited by The Neophyte Numismatist
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Ahh the old coke vs pepsi debate lol never a winner but always a classic debate.   For me it is very simple, marketing pure and simple it's all just marketing.   When PCGS was founded Hall used his contacts with other dealers to develop a network of dealers with high visibility and standing in the coin/show circuit who would "vouch" for and promote the PCGS brand to their customers.   These dealers were fiercely loyal, and most still are, to Hall/PCGS and over time they did an amazing job of "selling" the PCGS brand.

If you think about it PCGS was super strick and tight with grades when the firm started, hence why there have over the years been so many coins upgraded from the old early rattler and OGH holders.   Even today if you can find an old stash of coins held by a collector that bought or submitted coins in those early days a fair number of the coins will upgrade under todays market grading scheme.  Heck many of the rattler and OGH coins that get kicked around the market could upgrade, it is just not profitable to upgrade a common date 1881-S from MS62 to MS63, so those coins are hyped and pushed by dealers and collectors as "PQ" so the premium can be reaped without the cost to upgrade.

While marketing/networking was the big catapult to the PCGS success, they did/do have some aspects that are seen as better than the competition.   Many collectors and dealers have always liked the plastic that PCGS uses, I hear comments like "it is clearer" and "doesn't scratch as easily and NGC" all the time.   While I find these minor things sometimes all anyone needs is a small rationalization to adopt a favorite, even if it is more perception than reality.

Another part of the puzzle is the registry, PCGS has always had an exclusive registry so if you wanted to participate you had to use or cross to PCGS.   Normally I would expect this exclusive nature to hurt a firm, but again the superior marketing and recruiting of high profile collectors, and subsequently the high profile coins, created the demand to "be like the big boys".   And so you have collectors that have no chance of competing with the mega rich collectors on the PCGS registry, yet somehow the little collectors feel like they are part of the club by having a PCGS registry set.

Today some of that old guard is beginning to loss their dominance in the market and as such the disparity in pricing between NGC and PCGS has shrunk in some segments of the market but there is still a wide spread in some.   The one place that NGC has always held a position of dominance is with the world market.

So in summary, yes there is a price disparity in the market between NGC and PCGS graded coins with the nod to PCGS (except for world coins), even when both are CAC approved.   That price spread has been shrinking over the past 5 years (imo) and some coins/series are much closer than before.   I think that as more of the old guard of dealers, and the devotion to PCGS by those dealers and collectors, move out of the market this disparity has an opportunity to reach a more equal level in the future.

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On 3/10/2022 at 4:43 PM, Coinbuf said:

Ahh the old coke vs pepsi debate lol never a winner but always a classic debate.   For me it is very simple, marketing pure and simple it's all just marketing.   When PCGS was founded Hall used his contacts with other dealers to develop a network of dealers with high visibility and standing in the coin/show circuit who would "vouch" for and promote the PCGS brand to their customers.   These dealers were fiercely loyal, and most still are, to Hall/PCGS and over time they did an amazing job of "selling" the PCGS brand.

If you think about it PCGS was super strick and tight with grades when the firm started, hence why there have over the years been so many coins upgraded from the old early rattler and OGH holders.   Even today if you can find an old stash of coins held by a collector that bought or submitted coins in those early days a fair number of the coins will upgrade under todays market grading scheme.  Heck many of the rattler and OGH coins that get kicked around the market could upgrade, it is just not profitable to upgrade a common date 1881-S from MS62 to MS63, so those coins are hyped and pushed by dealers and collectors as "PQ" so the premium can be reaped without the cost to upgrade.

While marketing/networking was the big catapult to the PCGS success, they did/do have some aspects that are seen as better than the competition.   Many collectors and dealers have always liked the plastic that PCGS uses, I hear comments like "it is clearer" and "doesn't scratch as easily and NGC" all the time.   While I find these minor things sometimes all anyone needs is a small rationalization to adopt a favorite, even if it is more perception than reality.

Another part of the puzzle is the registry, PCGS has always had an exclusive registry so if you wanted to participate you had to use or cross to PCGS.   Normally I would expect this exclusive nature to hurt a firm, but again the superior marketing and recruiting of high profile collectors, and subsequently the high profile coins, created the demand to "be like the big boys".   And so you have collectors that have no chance of competing with the mega rich collectors on the PCGS registry, yet somehow the little collectors feel like they are part of the club by having a PCGS registry set.

Today some of that old guard is beginning to loss their dominance in the market and as such the disparity in pricing between NGC and PCGS has shrunk in some segments of the market but there is still a wide spread in some.   The one place that NGC has always held a position of dominance is with the world market.

So in summary, yes there is a price disparity in the market between NGC and PCGS graded coins with the nod to PCGS (except for world coins), even when both are CAC approved.   That price spread has been shrinking over the past 5 years (imo) and some coins/series are much closer than before.   I think that as more of the old guard of dealers, and the devotion to PCGS by those dealers and collectors, move out of the market this disparity has an opportunity to reach a more equal level in the future.

The PCGS registry angle was one I often considered to drive some degree of the disparity. 
 

I also agree with any who have referenced the slabs. To me PCGS slabs look more appealing. A personal preference and maybe many see it the other way around. I think more than anything the color scheme of NGC labels kills them. Bright blue happy color vs muted browns. I think if PCGS did anything better in the marketing world it was certainly their choice of brand colors.

Ironically I was talking to the guys at Rarcoa, one of the big wholesalers of commons and gold, and they discount PCGS ($5) simply because the holders tend to chip on the stacking edge. They leave shows with trunks full of common date stuff and I guess NGC slabs hold up to their mass production process of selling coins better. 
 

It is good to hear a lot of this info from collectors that were active during the creation of these beasts. I tend to think there isn’t much of a difference in the real word looking at coins graded by both. Both never get it 100% right and grades for the most part seem consistent. 

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On 3/10/2022 at 3:49 PM, gmarguli said:

What we need is a slab that is clear like the PCGS slab, as scratch resistant as the NGC slab, and has the grade info on top like the ANACS slab. 

Do we know what specific plastic or polymer the PCGS slab is made of and the NGC slab ?  I didn't know that the NGC slab wasn't as "clear" as the PCGS slab and also didn't realize it was more scratch-resistant (probably more important if you travel with them alot).

I do like the NGC modern slabs/labels -- very good looking and a nice holder. (thumbsu

On 3/10/2022 at 3:49 PM, gmarguli said:

The PCGS batch had 3/100 grade 70. The NGC batch was around 50/50. The price for NGC moderns was much lower than for PCGS. Given the massive amount of moderns graded, people see the PCGS examples selling for more and that translates to other areas of the market. Then PCGS screwed around with 70s and destroyed the modern market. 

If it's a modern gold or silver coin, can it really sell for much more of a premium/discount ?  A modern American Gold Eagle PF70 won't sell for more in a PCGS than NGC holder, IMO.  Not if it's a recent coin with lots of 70's and 69's.

On 3/10/2022 at 3:49 PM, gmarguli said:

The one area I feel the spread remains is on really high grade coins. PCGS commands higher prices in the rarified high grades. To be fair, they are generally tighter on those grades than NGC. However, it is very hard to compare. Let's say NGC graded the coin MS68 and it sold for $2,000, where a PCGS MS68 sells for $3,000. Considering the NGC MS68 may only grade MS67+ at PCGS (which sells for $1500), it is arguable to say that the NGC coin sold for more than the PCGS because they wouldn't have graded the same. There are no apples-to-apples comparisons here since every coin is unique. 

Good point...but I think your 1st part is correct:  where the grades ARE the same, where the NGC coin would get the same grade, PCGS does get a larger premium for the ultra-rare or Top Pop coins. 

In fact, as I understand it, Legend ONLY deals in PCGS (and always/mostly CAC) and the premiums there for an NGC in the same grade (let alone 1 grade lower) can often be an astronomical amount.  Of course, those buyers tend to be price-insensitive.

On 3/10/2022 at 3:49 PM, gmarguli said:

Lots of things. PCGS had better marketing than NGC. Early on you couldn't go to any show without seeing the PCGS plastic boxes in every dealers case. You knew immediately what it was. Instant product recognition. NGC guards their plastic boxes like they're made of gold. 

What are these "plastic boxes" ?   You don't mean the holders, do you ?

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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