Saturday, April 27, 2013

The New Labels on Graded Coins

Over the past 4-5 years, or more like 7-8 years, new labels have emerged in an attempt to create a different value for the same coin as compared to conventional labeling. As an example, both PCGS and NGC have First Strikes, or Early Releases, or First Releases. These new labels most often have a different color, like blue for NGC Early Releases. I started to think about this last month with regard to coin values, mintages, and more importantly how a collector is impacted when he/she is building sets of like coins.

At the outset of this practice, it seemed that ER coins, or FS coins, were getting a premium price as compared to the “old Brown NGC label”. In fact, one even might consider the rush to buy and grade coins in the first 30 days, a mini panic amongst the dealers.

The most noticeable coin with these various labels has been the American Silver Eagles. Initially, it was a simple Blue ER label that emerged, and a slight premium was obtained. As we have advanced thru the next few years, more and more unique labels have surfaced, like Trolley labels and Golden Gate Bridge labels for San Francisco mint strikes; Flag and Star labels for West Point mint strikes, etc.



My first thought on this labeling (marketing) approach is that more Silver eagles will get sold, because collectors won’t know exactly which ones to buy, or won’t even appreciate the differences. This will have the effect of creating little sub categories of Silver Eagles that should boost business overall, but also create shortages in certain desired labels. This is probably good for the business as a whole.

This left the NGC Brown label Silver Eagle as the “step child” of Silver eagle offerings, and prices reflected that, at least initially. But not so fast……………

Those of us who collect sets of coins like Silver Eagles soon realized that we didn’t want 20 or 25 Brown labels, and then a Blue ER label in our prize collection! Coin collectors are fussy, and I know I don’t want anything but uniformity in my collection and that includes labeling! And so quickly, the NGC Brown label dipped, but came bouncing back and even is positioned as the desired label all of a sudden!

I don’t know if anyone else sees this the same way that I do, but this little subtlety is one of many in our industry that needs attention when we are buying product. I did see the Coin Vault selling a Silver Eagle MS69 collection that was mixed labels, and it seemed to me that they were being a little less than forthcoming when they were talking about, and displaying the coins in this set for sale.

So what is my point? If this type of thing matters to you (and it should from a resale perspective) make sure you know the label of each and every coin in the set that you are purchasing.
Check out all the various new labels and highly graded coins at ModernGradedCoins

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