Slabbing Your Coins

February 1, 2009

NGC MS62 Canada 1966 Voyageur Dollar

It wont be long after you start collecting coins that you hear the term 'slabbed coin'. This is especially so if you are in the United States where slabbed coins dominate the market. Call it slabbing, encapsulation, putting in plastic, or entombing, it is all the same thing. Basically it involves sending your 'raw' (non slabbed coins) to a third party grading company such as PCGS, and they grade the coin, place it in a 'slab' with a label and send it back to you.

The slabs themselves are hard plastic containers that are sonically sealed to prevent tampering and to provide a chemically inert environment for the coin. Prevention of tampering is important to prevent coin substitution. The inert environment and durable holder ensure that the coin stays in the same condition it was when first placed in the holder. The slabs themselves should include a label that informs the viewer of the coin what the grade of the coin is, the company that slabbed it, and usually a barcode that gives the coin type and the actual coin a unique reference number. Often the slabs will include some sort of holographic sticker or identifying mark that is hard to reproduce, this is to prevent the rather new practice of counterfeiting slabs. Yes, that happens, people will counterfeit a slab and label and try to pass off a low grade or counterfeit coin as something else!

There are a few things to be aware of when purchasing slabbed coins. Firstly, only buy from reputable slabbing companies such as NGC or PCGS or ANACS. There have been a slew of bad TPG's start up over the years, and just because a coin is entombed in plastic doesn't mean it is what the label says it is or it is the grade it says it is. The second thing to be aware of, is that even if a coin is slabbed by one of the better companies dont buy just because of what it says on the label. The is the coin collectors axiom, "buy the coin not the plastic". There are a couple of reasons for this. The TPG's can and do make mistakes with grades, they can overgrade or undergrade coins. The other reason is that the label doesnt describe everything, it wont tell you if there is a fingerprint on the coin, or if the toning is ugly, or if the strike is weak.

Posted by mnemtsas at February 1, 2009 11:04 AM
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