-  James DuPont


History was made at the quarterly meeting of the American Coin Club in Beverly Hills on June 1, 2003. At this meeting, much discussion took place concerning the Amos Press investigation of all the major grading services published in the May 26, 2003 issue of Coin World. This was an objective, long-range study in which the same 15 coins were submitted to all eight of the major grading services during eleven months from 2002 to 2003.  In not one case did the grading services agree on a single coin.  For example, a common 1943 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, came back in grades ranging from AU 58 to MS 65, a difference of seven full grades.  In another case, PCGS graded a 1901-O silver dollar as MS 61 that PCI,  a less popular and less expensive service, graded as AU 58.   In yet another case, PCGS graded a 1893-CC $5 Liberty as XF 45, where ACG was more conservative and graded the same coin as VF 35, a ten-point spread.  Additionally, the coin had been labeled as cleaned, yet other services, including PCGS, graded it without printing the notation that it had  been cleaned.


In response to these obvious errors and inconsistencies among the eight expensive grading services, a grading committee comprised of a group of volunteers from the Beverly Hills Coin Club decided to  form ACCGS - American Coin Club Grading Service.  With many members losing favor with the other grading services, on July 1st, 2003, ACCGS was voted the official grading service of the American Coin Club (ACC) and the Beverly Hills Coin Club (BHCC). During the entire month of June, ideas and debate were exchanged between senior members, and a policy statement was drafted for ACCGS with the aim of creating a grading and authentication service that is more consistent and accurate than  the eight other services which evidently failed conformity  tests in the Amos Press investigation.  With the recruitment of volunteers who love to grade and authenticate collectibles,  ACCGS has created a mutual relationship in which senior members of both clubs learn more about their hobby.  The result is that ACCGS is virtually non profit, charging only $9 per item for grading, authentication and slabbing in inert, non-PVC acrylic holders or photo certificates (for odd size items) with tamper-proof airtight holders affixed,  The costs of the highest quality holders, climate controlled offices, vaults, insurance on all coins while in ACCGS possession, a serial numbered database, labeling, microscopes, counterfeit detection equipment, mail room labor, secretaries and the patented sealing process adds up to cost nearly $9 per item alone. With this low $9 standard fee, it should be no small wonder that ACCGS has accurately graded 3,744 in July, 2003, just during the first month of operation.


Some of the many ways that ACCGS has already established itself as a better  and more accurate grading service than others is by a simple but long-overdue policy:   ACCGS grades each item on BOTH sides and prints both grades on the tamper-proof holder, instead of "averaging out" one final grade based on both sides. It was repeatedly brought up at the meetings that such "averaging" by the other grading services cannot be accurate in any sense of the word.  Every coin or similar item has two main sides and thus should be graded on both sides. It is very common, for example, for many items to grade Mint State 63 on one side and MS 65, 66 or even 67 on the other side.   Reality dictates that many items do not sustain the same number of marks, scratches, carbon spots, etc. on both sides.


Another complaint about other grading services is that they often practice the inaccuracy of  "net grading".  This occurs when an item's actual grade is lowered because of problems such as porosity, slight damage, hairline scratches, cleaning, etc.  For example, an item graded Very Fine that might have slight but non-distracting problems will often be either rejected or "net graded to Fine, Good or even lower, depending on the graders subjective "interpretation" of the degree of the problem.   A worse practice by the grading services often occurs when the coin is rejected outright by the grading service due to some of the problems cited, yet they charge a fee anyway for "examination" and DO NOT REFUND the customer's money.  Even ANACS, which will grade some problem coins, will return the coins ungraded if they think that the item has "ongoing" corrosion or residue from previous holders.  ACCGS  policy is that a coin is graded by actual wear and bag marks, and any such problems mentioned above are then noted on the holder in addition to the grade based on the ACTUAL wear for circulated items and ACTUAL bagmarks for uncirculated items.  For example, if a coin is Very Fine and cleaned, it still has the detail and wear of a Very Fine coin and thus should be graded as such, with the designation " Very Fine, Cleaned" on the holder.


Another policy instituted by ACCGS incorporates the use of high quality, completely inert acrylic holders that have maximum optical clarity.  ACCGS holders are safely sealed by a patented process and then registered and serial numbered.  Thus, ACCGS holders are impossible to compromise without breaking their seals and cannot be duplicated.  ACCGS does not use dangerous inserts or "caskets" in their holders like many of the grading services. This can cause chemical damage to coins. ACCGS holders are 2" x 3'   - a perfect size for easy fitting in many standard collections and boxes.


ACCGS has several volunteers who rotate in shifts of three according to time schedule. These volunteers are well-trained, using the most modern counterfeit detection and grading techniques.  These volunteers have collectively spent over $30 million on rare coins in the past 25 years.  In addition to their general expertise,  many have additional specialties in areas as diverse as large cents, silver dollars, gold coins, early silver issues, casino chips and tokens. These teams include a finalizer who must have at least 20 years grading experience to make sure that the grading of the other volunteers are as fair, accurate and consistent as possible.


Some of the many ways ACCGS accomplishes the goal to be a better grading service is with smaller standard fees of only $9 per items and trained volunteer experts who come from a close alliance with the American Coin Club (ACC) and the Beverly Hills Coin Club (BHCC). These organizations have guaranteed to offer for sale all ACCGS graded items at their monthly auctions.  All three organizations guarantee that any ACCGS-graded item will be offered for public sale at the same graded printed on ACCGS holders, at a minimum bid that represents it's fair market price at the time of posting for sale.    These auctions are published monthly to a world-wide audience on the internet at www.bhcoinclub.org and www.americancoinclub.org  ACCGS-graded items can also be auctioned in the clubs quarterly bulletin, Rare Coin Magazine, giving further exposure to some of the wealthiest collectors in Beverly Hills and around the world.  Although both organizations and other auction firms usually charge a 15% to 20% commission for selling coins, for ACCGS graded coins, the  sales commission  is only a flat 10%, with no buyer's fees charged.   Buyer's fees often work against the seller in that such fees bring down the final price of the seller's coin.  Only two organization split the small commission.  ACCGS receives no revenue from the auction. The commission profits, if any, are used for the club's National Collectibles Library Fund, International Museum Fund and their Young Outreach Programs, which include the distribution of free collectibles to promote interest among young collectors with the goal of producing future collectors for our hobbies.  This relationship helps volunteer club members who have at least ten years experience with grading to learn even more about their hobby while giving other members and non-members a more consistent and stable marketplace to sell their items.





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