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A fun test: What does CAC approval mean to you?

To me it identifies those coins most difficult to sell, to personally let go of. Try it sometime. Have a third party hide the date/grade with masking tape. As you go through your stack decide which coins go in the Might Sell pile versus the ones in the Probably Keep pile. The second pile can also be called "Are you kidding me, sell?!" or "No way I'm selling!" pile.

If your experience is anything like mine, the coins in the Keep pile will be dominated by an oval green sticker. Those are your top picks, your pride and joy. You might have even waited years to buy each one.

Besides those coins most difficult to sell, I can think of at least two additional definitions. But what does CAC approval mean to you?

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Comments

  • I only collect CAC PCGS gold so for me it’s the starting point for my search. I’m closer to the end of collecting then the beginning so I’m focusing on the best. That, for me, is CAC approved gold. 
  • Means easier disposal. My last auction submission was 17/20 CAC. :)
  • The CAC approval isn’t super important to me. However that can sound misleading. Many of the attributes CAC looks for in a coin are the same ones I value and look for. So seeing the bean is a short cut for me to tell me it’s likely that I will like it all things considered. 
  • To me it’s a personal validation of expertise at picking a top quality coin. So it’s more prestige for me as I have only failed with pvc and high point friction not quality in terms of contact marks, luster or strike. 
  • Great question.

    To me in order of importance it means:

    1.  A better shot at strict originality when buying from images.  Original surfaces are what bring me the most joy from any coin I acquire, and it can be hard to tell when you can’t see the coin in hand.  CAC approval means it went through their hands and didn’t make them say “yuck” which isn’t the end all be all, but it eliminates a huge percentage of disappointment on arrival.  Show buying I can see that for myself, images it’s tougher depending on the seller. 

    2.  Better and faster resale when compared to cost.  When I had a box of 20 with a few CAC coins in it and went to one of my first coin shows, I was amazed at how coins with a green bean were getting fair color premium offers on nice toned coins.  The non-CAC stuff it was all offers at bid.  Granted, the coins were probably just better overall, but the experience made me feel like people took CAC coins more seriously and I remembered the saying “don’t fight the market.” Made a big impression on me early on. 

    3.  If I knew a local numismatist at the level of the guys at CAC, of course I would show them my coins and ask an opinion to enhance my learning.  An albeit simpler yay/nay opinion can be had for a reasonable fee if submitting to CAC. 

     



  • I set a goal for myself of determining if I could buy consistently high quality coins for the grade from internet images only. CAC has allowed me to learn a great deal during the process which is important to me because I don't make many shows and will likely make even fewer in the future.
  • Pyrite said:

    Means easier disposal. My last auction submission was 17/20 CAC. :)

    Yes, that was on my list too. Another word for "easier disposal" is liquidity, the ability to dispose of an asset quickly without adversely affecting its price. https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/finance/liquidity/

    And yet, during the 2017 - 2020 correction we will saw remarkable prices on CAC-endorsed coins too.
    The question, then, did those endorsed coins fare better on a percentage basis than those coins not so blessed?

    The PCGS 10-year chart of rare mint state gold:

  • I set a goal for myself of determining if I could buy consistently high quality coins for the grade from internet images only. CAC has allowed me to learn a great deal during the process which is important to me because I don't make many shows and will likely make even fewer in the future.

    The uncertainty of internet images seems to be a recurring theme/concern among collectors.
  • TurtleCat said:

    The CAC approval isn’t super important to me. However that can sound misleading. Many of the attributes CAC looks for in a coin are the same ones I value and look for. So seeing the bean is a short cut for me to tell me it’s likely that I will like it all things considered. 

    Agree, it's the best short cut we have. Then the question is, what's that worth exactly? Do we pass on a nearly identical coin that didn't sticker just because we want that extra assurance?
  • Stevie said:

    To me it’s a personal validation of expertise at picking a top quality coin. So it’s more prestige for me as I have only failed with pvc and high point friction not quality in terms of contact marks, luster or strike. 

    There is a certain prestige isn't there, I agree. And like you I don't have a stellar reputation when selecting coins based only on images. But at some point there must be additional risk in paying too much for that privilege. Everything has limits.

    So while it's true that collectors have always paid a premium for CAC, has that premium ever been higher than it is today?
  • That is a bad thing, why? Comparison of return based on $ cost averaging? Value of the $ at the time of purchase? Economic forces at the time of purchase? There are many ways to look at what a "premium" is or is not.

    What is the risk that you apply, an economic collapse of the numismatic market, or a collapse of gold price, or....?

    It is logical to pay, not for prestige, but for proven ability? If a person agrees to the validation of expertise that sets the price, what is the floor and what is the ceiling?
  • To me it's clear a top tier grading service changed its standards Jan 1 2013 and what happened after was quite ironic (besides just being terrible). Collectors I know who bought lesser quality coins from another grading company started to cross them all and make big profits. Collectors who paid up for the higher quality coins from the first service saw all their coins go down in value for the most part (except for maybe ones so nice that they'd upgrade, but of course that adds a lot of expense/effort/risk).

    Don't think that scenario can't keep happening over and over. You just never know what the future will bring.
  • The question I have is, what "evidence" or statistic concludes the "other grading company" had "lesser quality coins"?

    It appears to me that the impression is a market driven belief that one TPG with or without a CAC pass is more profitable than another TPG with or without a CAC pass.

    That does not translate into a definitive proof of lesser quality. It does transfer into an assumption that is investment/profit based driven, I think, but that is all. In some ways, this is not the best scenario for the hobby and collectors.
  • Great question.

    To me in order of importance it means:

    1.  A better shot at strict originality when buying from images.  Original surfaces are what bring me the most joy from any coin I acquire, and it can be hard to tell when you can’t see the coin in hand.  CAC approval means it went through their hands and didn’t make them say “yuck” which isn’t the end all be all, but it eliminates a huge percentage of disappointment on arrival.  Show buying I can see that for myself, images it’s tougher depending on the seller. 


    2.  Better and faster resale when compared to cost.  When I had a box of 20 with a few CAC coins in it and went to one of my first coin shows, I was amazed at how coins with a green bean were getting fair color premium offers on nice toned coins.  The non-CAC stuff it was all offers at bid.  Granted, the coins were probably just better overall, but the experience made me feel like people took CAC coins more seriously and I remembered the saying “don’t fight the market.” Made a big impression on me early on. 

    3.  If I knew a local numismatist at the level of the guys at CAC, of course I would show them my coins and ask an opinion to enhance my learning.  An albeit simpler yay/nay opinion can be had for a reasonable fee if submitting to CAC. 

     



    john said:

    That is a bad thing, why? Comparison of return based on $ cost averaging? Value of the $ at the time of purchase? Economic forces at the time of purchase? There are many ways to look at what a "premium" is or is not.

    What is the risk that you apply, an economic collapse of the numismatic market, or a collapse of gold price, or....?

    It is logical to pay, not for prestige, but for proven ability? If a person agrees to the validation of expertise that sets the price, what is the floor and what is the ceiling?

    Didn't say it was a bad thing, and nobody should question what a particular coin is worth to another. We all understand what can happen when even two determined bidders go at it.

    My question was directed more to the aggregate situation. CAC premiums are clearly expanding. Are these premiums temporary as many things in life or has there been a more permanent, structural change in the market?

    A single case in point, but there are many others: Up for auction is a 65+/CAC common date '26 indian ten on GC today. Given the market I thought maybe, just maybe it could fetch $10,000. But look at the last 12 yrs of auction prices on PCGS for stickered 5's. Even the 5+/CAC consistently sold for about $5,000 with two outliers, one at $6 the other at $8 when gold was ripping higher. Otherwise it's been a $5,000 coin. And now, with gold doing very little, a comparable coin is worth twice that.... what's happening here? If I wasn't seeing this happen with such frequency I would assume it's related to the individual coin and not larger market forces.

    But what do you think... Is this just another outlier or is there a broad based, more durable move into high quality numismatic assets?
  • My own firsthand experience is with top grade mint state coins 1934-date where the differences between grading companies is more pronounced, ie one companies coins sells for 3 figures in top grade while another sells for 4 figures or more. Other segments of the market may be much less pronounced (and some segments, say top grade coins pre-1934, may be even more).

    The knowledge of the difference in quality required to get a top grade prior to 2013 just comes from experience in submitting and collecting these coins. For more statistical evidence one just needs to pick a series and a top grade (say silver Roosies in ms68fb), and look at the pop reports from 2006, 2012, and 2018. There is very little change in the first 6 year period and drastic changes in the second 6 year period. The same pattern happens across all 1934-date series. I'm not going to spend the time right now to put all that data in a thread that's supposed to be about CAC approval, but I am perhaps going to someday write a book or a website.

    For more anecdotal evidence, the Roosie collectors and Washington quarter collectors are all fairly tight knit groups where many of the collectors know each other through registries and forums and in person meetings at major shows. We all basically know who owned the finest coins at what times and in what holders. It's almost a game a ping pong where the tpgs take turns playing good-cop bad-cop and the coins bounce back and forth. One of my biggest regrets in the hobby is not looking more seriously at coins graded by other grading companies during the 2006-2012 era.

    For some extreme examples (sorry I don't want to post links) see a 38-s dime and 64-d quarter
    GC Lot 552117 Feb 18 2018
    Legend Lot 220 Jun 2019

    Heritage Lot 8453 May 31 2008
    SB Lot 2356 Mar 2021

    There's 100s more (likely 1000s) that can be found in the auction archives alone. Again, perhaps I'll someday write a book or a website. Just let's hope auction companies don't shut down the archives (ie censorship).

    Just to bring this back to CAC and the original topic, I fully believe that CAC currently has the best of intentions, but yes, deciding how much of a premium to pay is the tricky part and all we can do is "guesstimate". You don't know what the future will bring and how intentions may or may not change and how competitors may rise up or not rise up. Saying a blanket statement like "CAC coins are a better buy" or a "better investment" may or may not turn out true. It's still just a guesstimate.
  • edited August 7
    I often wonder how long and how many "extra" levels of approval, premia, or added specifics will be tolerated.
    Every added "requirement" for a coin to be subjected to is a new hurdle.
    Hurdles impede ANY ....hobby.
    That's why I have turned to darkside coins.
    I've had "finest known" and "top pops" and that isn't what drew me into numismatics in the first place.
    :)
  •  So far it means I have less weight / coins , less money and more green beans . 🤓

     I’m going “ all in “ into CAC !  🙏🏻


  • Great question.

    To me in order of importance it means:

    1.  A better shot at strict originality when buying from images.  Original surfaces are what bring me the most joy from any coin I acquire, and it can be hard to tell when you can’t see the coin in hand.  CAC approval means it went through their hands and didn’t make them say “yuck” which isn’t the end all be all, but it eliminates a huge percentage of disappointment on arrival.  Show buying I can see that for myself, images it’s tougher depending on the seller. 


    2.  Better and faster resale when compared to cost.  When I had a box of 20 with a few CAC coins in it and went to one of my first coin shows, I was amazed at how coins with a green bean were getting fair color premium offers on nice toned coins.  The non-CAC stuff it was all offers at bid.  Granted, the coins were probably just better overall, but the experience made me feel like people took CAC coins more seriously and I remembered the saying “don’t fight the market.” Made a big impression on me early on. 

    3.  If I knew a local numismatist at the level of the guys at CAC, of course I would show them my coins and ask an opinion to enhance my learning.  An albeit simpler yay/nay opinion can be had for a reasonable fee if submitting to CAC. 

     



    john said:

    That is a bad thing, why? Comparison of return based on $ cost averaging? Value of the $ at the time of purchase? Economic forces at the time of purchase? There are many ways to look at what a "premium" is or is not.

    What is the risk that you apply, an economic collapse of the numismatic market, or a collapse of gold price, or....?

    It is logical to pay, not for prestige, but for proven ability? If a person agrees to the validation of expertise that sets the price, what is the floor and what is the ceiling?

    Didn't say it was a bad thing, and nobody should question what a particular coin is worth to another. We all understand what can happen when even two determined bidders go at it.

    My question was directed more to the aggregate situation. CAC premiums are clearly expanding. Are these premiums temporary as many things in life or has there been a more permanent, structural change in the market?

    A single case in point, but there are many others: Up for auction is a 65+/CAC common date '26 indian ten on GC today. Given the market I thought maybe, just maybe it could fetch $10,000. But look at the last 12 yrs of auction prices on PCGS for stickered 5's. Even the 5+/CAC consistently sold for about $5,000 with two outliers, one at $6 the other at $8 when gold was ripping higher. Otherwise it's been a $5,000 coin. And now, with gold doing very little, a comparable coin is worth twice that.... what's happening here? If I wasn't seeing this happen with such frequency I would assume it's related to the individual coin and not larger market forces.

    But what do you think... Is this just another outlier or is there a broad based, more durable move into high quality numismatic assets?
    In the last two years $10 Indians with CAC stickers have taken off. In many cases things have doubled. Seeing 1911 MS65CAC listed at $10,000, or 1913 MS64CAC at $5000 shows just how far they have come. Without CAC things have not been as hot.
  • Funny you should mention the '13 ten. Bought one a couple years ago and paid ~$2,500. A more recent one cost me $4,500 just as you said, about a double and a crazy increase on a percentage basis. Strangely, a 1909 4+/CAC ("one of the most underrated issues" said David Akers) and one of the most difficult to acquire in high grade, sold last night at David Lawrence for $9,750, roughly in line with previous sales. So despite the eye-popping increases there are relative bargains out there if you stay in the hunt.
  •  So far it means I have less weight / coins , less money and more green beans . 🤓

     I’m going “ all in “ into CAC !  🙏🏻


    They say green beans are good for you. Eat'em up!
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