As many readers know, I keep a PCGS set registry. I do so in part because the company evaluates crossover coins from other slabbing firms and thus allows hobbyists to enhance their collections economically. You can read about that here.
But one drawback has been PCGS’s policy in removing GSA Morgan Silver Dollars from their original holders and encapsulating them in their own standard issue holders. NGC and ANACS use bands, allowing collectors to retain the GSA packaging. By the way, GSA stands for “General Services Administration,” a branch of the federal government tasked in the early 1970s with packaging and selling US Hoards of Morgan dollars, especially those from Carson City. You can read about that here.
The packaging contained an embossed quote from President Richard Nixon: “As we approach America’s Bicentennial, this historic silver dollar is one of most valued reminders of our national heritage.” The packaging also came with an authenticity slip that expounded on the history of the coins.
NGC’s and ANACS’ bands on GSA dollars maintains more of the history than the new PCGS holder, in part explaining why GSA dollars command a premium over non-GSA dollars. For instance, Coin World values an 1878-CC at $400 in MS63; in a GSA box, the price jumps to $650.
In the past, one would submit to PCGS the plastic GSA holder with the coin and keep the box and certificate. (I have many empty GSA boxes from doing this.) Now, however, PCGS has created what it calls “a special oversized holder so the unique GSA Hoard Silver dollar coins can be PCGS-certified and still be encapsulated in the original GSA holder.”
Customers can choose how they would like their GSA Hoard coins encapsulated.
If a club member or dealer prefers the new 5-ounce PCGS/GSA slab, which encapsulates the GSA encapsulation–a slab within a slab–they must submit coins in the original, hard case GSA holder. You can only use the standard service (Secure Service is not available). You can submit the GSA dollar in any category, including Economy tier, but then have to mark the “Other” box on the submission form and pay an additional $10. At this time, the company states, “Coins requiring the five-ounce oversized holder must be submitted separately from standard size holder coin submissions.”
At first blush, this may seem unnecessary, as it adds significantly to a submission. You have to pay the $8 handling fee in addition to return postage. But the holder does weigh five ounces and that affects postage rates.
Submitters who do not wish to have their GSA Hoard coins in oversized holders should note “PCGS Standard GSA Hoard label” on the submission form. They will not be charged the $10, and they can submit the GSA dollar with other coins being considered for standard-sized holders.
Oversized holders will not be provided for any crossover service. In other words, PCGS will not remove stickers and labels from other third-party certification companies. PCGS writes, “If you would like to cross over your GSA Hoard coins, original packaging will not be salvaged and the coin will be graded by PCGS and encapsulated in our standard holder with the GSA Hoard designation.”
Before writing this column, I decided to submit a Carson City dollar for slabbing with the oversized holder. My 1880-CC Morgan is depicted in the first photo accompanying this post.
I have mixed feelings about the oversized holder. On the one hand, we’re looking at a coin encapsulated within two layers of plastic. On the other, the holder is handsome and preserves the GSA insignia of the original slab. Then again, not counting the weight of the GSA holder, the PCGS slab itself weighs more than five times that of the coin itself (26.7 grams for a Morgan equals 0.9418148 ounces).
Also, the size of the PCGS holder does not fit inside the GSA box with the Nixon insignia. The box, as much as the GSA holder, is part of the allure of the GSA coins.
Two other concerns. GSA holders are notorious for developing small cracks in the original plastic. You would not want to encapsulate a cracked holder, and PCGS does not have guidelines about that for anyone who does. (It should NOT be allowed, as it detracts from the PCGS brand.)
One last thing: I would recommend the oversized holder for hobbyists who have one or only a few GSA dollars in their collections. Avid collectors with lots of GSA dollars will quickly run out of space, especially if they use a bank box, as I do.