Increasingly I have been seeing slabs by National Numismatic Certification, a Florida firm, whose coins I sometimes bid on despite its grading being inconsistent at times, with flaws that would disqualify coins at PCGS or NGC. But that’s not an issue if you know how to grade, because some NNC-holdered coins are grade-worthy and, on occasion, near what a top company might award.
Please keep this review in perspective. CoinUpdate reviews books, services, and other aspects of the hobby. This is not an endorsement to submit coins to NNC, nor is it a warning not to. There are two points to this post: If you know how to grade, you can find bargains here. Also, don’t summarily dismiss NNC coins; this is not a self-slabbing operation in which a person may typically hold his own coins and affix labels with inflated grades. NNC is an independent grading company that charges about $10 per coin (and less for bulk submissions) as long as the coin is not deemed to be worth more than $10,000.
Turn-around is quick, about 15 days. (I recently had to wait almost three months with a PCGS submission.)
One positive aspect of the company is its refusal to grade coins from Singapore, a distribution point for fake coins:
PLEASE NOTE: We are no longer accepting submissions from Singapore due to the large number of counterfeit coins coming from there.
NNC does not guarantee its grades like top-holdering firms; nor does it assign values, do crossovers, or grade world coins (again, due to the high number of counterfeits).
Its grading policy allows for problem coins “if the problem is not too severe and the problem can be easily described, i.e. ‘MS-63 cleaned’, ‘MS-62 scratch obverse’ (or reverse) etc.” For multiple problem coins, “only the most obvious problem will be identified on the labeling of the coin.” It also will not grade a coin that “has been “whizzed” or “scratched and repaired”; those coins will be returned “ungraded and unslabbed to the customer and the grading fee, minus return shipping fees, for a coin so identified will be refunded.”
There are hundreds of NNC coins on eBay and Proxibid as well as other coin portals. Proxibid and eBay have rules that prevent sellers stating values of lesser holdering companies, and NNC falls into that category. This may be an indication that values in the past had been hyped and overstated.
Nonetheless, I do look at NNC coins, bidding on 1 out of every 10 coins (estimate). In other words, using my grading ability, I dismiss far more coins in these holders with no bids because many coins cracked out of these slabs would not cross over (or would be “no grade” due to flaws) at PCGS or NGC. Often NNC coins are not what I am looking for based on grade, denomination, and condition. And I bid low because my expectations for grading are high.
In this post I will display coins I dismissed and a few on which I placed bids, explaining my subjective viewpoint with an additional disclaimer that photos of coins online are never a substitute for viewing the condition of a coin onsite in a shop or show.
The most frequent flaw in NNC slabs, in my view, is overlooked dipping. Some coin shops and bulk dealers routinely dip coins to restore luster. However, if a coin has been dipped a second or third time or if a coin is placed too long in the dip, the metal assumes an unattractive dull sheen. Here’s a possible example, which NNC graded MS-63. You’ll also notice a pin scratch by the feathers of the arrow:
DIPPED AND DAMAGED
Dipping and damage (under eye) also may be present in this 1901 Morgan graded MS-60 by NNC (while my view is AU-50-53 due to obvious wear on cheek and the hair near the ear):
Contrary to its policy of noting scratches on labels of damaged coins, this one seems to have gotten by the grader (but not the conscientious seller on Proxibid who notes scratches in the description–click to expand photo). Overgraded, this damaged coin would not be holdered by a top firm:
Peace dollars are especially prone to staining when in contact with certain liquids or poor storage. A stain this obvious may eliminate a coin from being slabbed by PCGS or NGC. But the grade here, MS-65, may be only a point or two higher than I would assign.
GEM NNC COIN
The best NNC coins come without problems and sometimes close to what a top-tier company would assign. I don’t think this 1904-O Morgan is MS-66, but I do think it is gem quality:
PROOF-LIKE NNC BARGAINS
Finally, you may want to bid on quality coins that contain NNC designations of proof-like or deep-mirror proof-like. Typically these coins only have one side that qualifies for the designation whereas at PCGS and NGC a coin must exhibit the same reflective condition on both sides. Nonetheless, you can score a lovely coin on occasion in an NNC slab. Here’s an example, an 1897 Morgan that NNC grades MS-65 PL, a $500 specimen on the PCGS Price Guide. (Dismissing the bag mark on the breast feathers, I peg this at MS-63-64, or a $50-80 coin worthy of a low-ball bid):
And then there are coins like this 1881-O, which NNC graded MS-64 PL, valued close to $500 if slabbed by PCGS. I think the grade is MS-63, a $75 coin; I also think the cheek shows subtle signs of alteration (smooth rather than rounded cheek with perhaps tiny tool marks), which top companies sometimes catch and deem ungradeworthy:
Well, it’s still a nice-looking 1881-O Morgan, scarce in good grades. So I’ll mull this one over awhile before bidding.
Once again, this is a subjective review meant to illustrate possible condition issues of coins and bring them to your attention. The lesson here is the ability to grade well, know flaws, ascertain condition and score bargains–all the while doing it online through the filter of photographs and plastic slabs.
I have bid on several NNC coins in the past week. If I win some, I’ll crack them open and submit to PCGS or NGC and see how close my grades are as opposed to official ones by top firms. Then I’ll report that for you.
Any experience buying NNC Coins? Feel free to disagree with me on any point and share your views!