The following is a re-post from Q. David Bowers’s “Bowers on Collecting” weekly column on Coin Update.
I have been part of a recent discussion as to whether early American medals should be certified by PCGS or NGC when they are offered at auction.
This is a conundrum. I like to have my tokens and medals raw so I can touch them, but at auction, certification does bring in additional bidders who are wary of non-certified coins. I hasten to say that this is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT for federal coins than it is for tokens, medals, and early American coins.
As to early American medals, each is a ticket to learning more by reading or on the Internet. For example, for the Comitia Americana (American Congress) medal celebrating Anthony Wayne’s victory in the assault on Stony Point, the first item to find is a copy of the book done by John W. Adams and Anne Bentley — Comitia Americana and Related Medals. Add to that a copy of Benson J. Lossing’s Field Book of the American Revolution and, beyond that, take a trip to check out Stony Point and some other sites. To me, that is what numismatics is all about. I have been deeply involved in Vermont and Machin’s Mills coinage since I was a teenager, and while the coins are super, the history is every bit as enjoyable.
Returning to the original question, as a class, the collectors of tokens and medals are usually more informed than are collectors of, say, 20th-century federal silver and gold coins. Certification is probably more a matter of personal preference for medal and token enthusiasts. And, of course, any collector buying a certified piece can always take it out of the holder, perhaps preserving the label in case a future owner wants to have it certified again.