You don’t necessarily need to achieve 100% completion in a set to be eligible for an NGC Registry Award.
The NGC Registry Awards deadline is approaching quickly: December 1, 2022. It might be too early to be thinking about the holidays, which conjures up images of pumpkin pie and cooler temperatures, but it’s never too early to start getting your sets ready.
Many collectors think their collection must be 100% or almost complete to be eligible for an award, but this is a misconception, as that would be a virtually impossible standard. In fact, only one set of U.S. coins, complete by denomination, date, and mintmark (sounds basic, right?) has ever been assembled. This feat was accomplished by the legendary collector Louis Eliasberg Sr. over the course of 25 years.
We encourage collectors to check out the competition in their categories of interest. If your set is near the 50% completion mark and it’s one of the best sets in the category, spend these next few months filling in some gaps to put your set in contention for a 2022 NGC Registry Award. Including photos of the coins and comments on the set and each individual piece can also elevate a set. Including a narrative about why the coins are difficult to obtain is a shrewd strategy as well.
A 2021 winning set that did not have a high completion rate was JW’S REDFIELDs, a collection of Morgan dollars in Redfield holders. His collection of twenty-six coins is impressive as not even every Morgan dollar was found in the Redfield Hoard, including some common dates, and many dates are extremely scarce in Redfield holders. GSA Morgan dollars are similar with extremely low populations for certain coins.
The NGC Registry recognizes many coins are difficult to obtain. In some cases, a coin is designated “non-competitive; for display only,” meaning it does not count toward the completion rate and does not receive a score. This can be because of rarity or its value in relation to other coins in the set.
There are many valid reasons 100% set completion isn’t attainable. Several U.S. Double Eagles such as the 1854-S, 1857-S, and 1865 were rare because so many samples were sitting in shipwrecks such as the Yankee Blade, Central America, and Brother Jonathan for well over a hundred years. Other coins were only given as diplomatic gifts, and we don’t hold it against collectors if they are not descended from the royal family of Siam or had an “in” with King Farouk of Egypt (or perhaps the revolutionaries who deposed him).
Many coins, including the vast majority of the mintage of certain Morgan dollars, were hidden away in U.S. Treasury vaults until the GSA sales commencing in 1972, and some collectors today were simply too young (or not born yet) to buy 1882-, 1883-, and 1884-CCs at $30 a pop. And while many collectors feel lucky when they find a penny on a sidewalk, we understand it’s rare to find metal cans full of gold coins while walking our pets!
Aside from the completion rate, the quality of coins in a collection is important. Many collectors believe every coin has to be a lustrous Mint State example for 19th and 20th-century coins or a nice problem-free EF-AU for older series. However, some series of coins were so heavily circulated, so widely melted (the precious metal value has often exceeded the face value of coins, causing them to be melted for hundreds of years around the world, not just since the 1960s), or so shoddily produced in the first place that the only available coins are a rogue’s gallery of ones that were cleaned, removed from jewelry or have environmental damage. Problem-free coins with original surfaces are always more desirable, but sometimes the coins just don’t exist.
Don’t be afraid to obtain the details-graded coin to push your completion rate over the 50% threshold.
Press release courtesy of the Numismatic Guaranty Company