About two years ago, I became a collector member of the Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) and submitted some of the classic coins from my collection for evaluation. I anticipated that nearly all of these coins would receive stickers, as I believed I had always carefully selected my coins for eye appeal and quality within the grade. I was disappointed, when only around half of my coins received stickers.
For those unfamiliar with CAC, the company evaluates coins previously graded by either PCGS or NGC. Coins which meet CAC’s quality standards receive a green sticker on the holder, and coins which do not meet their standards do not receive a sticker. The green stickers serve to differentiate coins which are solid or premium for the grade with good eye appeal from those which are lower end for the grade. Recent statistics indicate that overall about 45% of all coins submitted to CAC are awarded green stickers.
Once I received my first submission back from CAC, I took a second look at my coins and grudgingly found myself more or less in agreement with their judgements. The prices that I paid for the coins also provided somewhat of a corroboration. Coins which I acquired relatively cheaply tended to be the ones that did not receive stickers. (This is not to say that there are not some bargains out there, but when coins are priced too low, more often than not, there is a reason.)
After a few more submissions and continued scrutiny of the results, I became more familiar with the makings of a coin that is solid or premium for the grade and worthy of a CAC sticker. I used this knowledge to refine my own standards when selecting new coins to add to my collection.
My past two submissions of about 20 coins each have fared much better, with more than 90% of the coins receiving stickers. My last submission also included three gold stickers, signifying that the coins exceeded CAC’s standards, or presumably are worthy of a higher grade than indicated on the holder.
Collector opinions sometimes vary on the usefulness of CAC evaluation and the premiums that can be associated with the little green stickers, but from my perspective CAC has provided a valuable method of feedback which has helped me to become a better collector. For a nominal fee, my coins were evaluated by a professional outside party and a decision was rendered. This feedback has helped me to refine my own standards for future acquisitions.
From time to time, there have been unfortunate tales of collectors who diligently added coins to their collection over a period of many years. When it came time to sell, these collectors discovered that the coins they had purchased were not all that they believe them to be. Raw coins may have been cleaned or not authentic. Even certified coins may have been low end for the grade or had other problems. The end result was that the lifetime collection was worth considerably less than anticipated.
While it doesn’t necessarily have to be CAC, every collector needs some method of feedback to refine their standards and strategies for acquisitions. This could also take the form of a trusted dealer or fellow collector who can provide a second opinion on recent or potential purchases. Another possibility is periodically selling coins from a collection. If the prices realized are much less than expected, more scrutiny may be prudent for future purchases. Whatever your avenue, a refined focus on quality will yield benefits down the road.