Slabbed Aussie Coins - Is Now the Time to Buy Top Pop Coins?

July 21, 2009

Before I look at the answer to this question I should define what a 'top pop' coin is. PCGS and NGC define the number of coins of a particular type that they have graded as the 'population'. A top pop coin is simply the best or equal best coin of that type graded. It is important to realise that even though PCGS or NGC say they have graded (for example) 100 coins of a particular type that there almost certainly are not 100 different coins of that type graded. The reason? Sometimes people will believe that a coin is undergraded by the third party grading company and 'crack out' the coin (break it from the slab) and resubmit it. This happens quite a bit with American coins because the difference of just one MS point in grade for some coins can mean thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of difference in value.

OK back to the question in hand, is now the time to buy top population slabbed Australian coins? The answer? A definitive maybe. Personally I take each coin on a case by case basis and in my own mind I split up top population coins into three main areas. Firstly, the common date coins which have large graded populations, secondly less common date coins with large graded populations, and less common date coins with low populations. I'll be talking about the PCGS population report a bit here, so it might be worth taking a look at it so you can see what I am talking about.

Top Pop Coin : Australia 1944S 1s PCGS MS66

1. Common Dates with Large Populations

I do not think it is worth paying much of a premium for top pop coins with large populations and multiple coins at the highest grade. The main reason is that the supply of top pop coins is greater and the likelihood that the population at the top levels will increase or even be surpassed is pretty high. I'd nominate the second half of the 1950's and all of the 1960's as areas where I wouldn't want to pay too much of a premium for top pop coins. 1940's US minted silver coins is also another area where I wouldn't want to pay too much of a premium either. Of course there are some exceptions to this, 1956 shillings and florins are harder coins for example and may well be worth the investment. The key thing with common dates with large populations is that if you can grade yourself you may be better off submitting your own coins rather than paying a premium for already slabbed coins.

Top Pop Coin : Australia 1931 2s PCGS MS65

2. Less Common or Tougher Dates with Larger Populations

Statistics suggest that if a less common date (or just a harder date to get in a nice grade) has a larger population then the current grade distribution will be approaching that of the total non slabbed population. In this case I'd suggest paying the sort of premium that you'd be happy to pay for any sort of keydate or semi keydate coin. Evaluate recent sales results (auction results, eBay past sales, and the Bluesheet can be helpful here) and pay in accordance with these results. If you're lucky the larger population of the coin will allow you to evaluate the going rate for such a coin.

Top Pop Coin : Australia 1935 3d PCGS MS66

3. Less Common Dates with Small Populations

These coins are the toughest to decide whether paying a premium for a top population coins is worth it or not. Before you decide you should really familiarise yourself with the coin in question to get an idea of the general quality of non slabbed uncirculated coins on the market. A good example may be the 1948Y penny. It's a hard coin to find in uncirculated grades and those that you do find are not very well struck up (like a lot of Perth Copper) and can be baggy. A graded population of just 4 coins, one in MS62BN and 3 in MS63BN means that if you want a MS 1948P penny then you've only got a few coins to choose from. And MS63BN doesn't sound like a great grade either. However, I can tell you that this grade for this coin is simply exceptional and would be very tough to surpass. Personally I'd be happy to pay a premium for a coin in this grade.

A flip side to this is the 1942I half penny. There are only 4 coins graded of this type with the top 2 coins being MS64RB. With a bit of effort and some time I believe you would find a similar coin that is not slabbed. Couple this with the fact that I dont believe this coin is a particularly popular coin means that I wouldn't want to pay too much of a premium for a top pop 1942I 1/2d that is already slabbed.


As always this is just my opinion and please dont go taking any of it as investment advice. However, I believe it's a reasonable place to start when you're comtemplating the purchase of a top pop slabbed Australian coin. As always educate yourself as much as possible before such a purchase, consult the catalogues, past auction results, and look at as many coins of the type as possible. It's your money and it may well end up being your coin, so make sure you get the coin you deserve.

Posted by mnemtsas at July 21, 2009 10:21 AM
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Bookmark and Share