Hello all- I'm opening this thread to redirect some of the more specific discussion on this subject in the FAQ thread as that was meant to stay more general in scope so that we could field some general questions regarding the opening of CAC Grading. The discussion is lively and thought-provoking and many are sharing a great deal of their experience, expertise and knowledge to the point where I believe the discussion should be centralized and more delineated so others can learn from it. I encourage anyone who hasn't already done so to check out the thread.
With that said, explain like I'm 5: what is a C coin, why do C coins pose a problem for numismatics and what are some potential ways to alleviate these problems?
OK, I’ll bite: A “C” coin is a coin that doesn’t meet CAC strict standards for a green bean. A subset of these are accurately graded, but not quite good enough (less than 65.4 for an MS-65). Those are the coins in question. I think everyone understands that doctored junk in holders need to be in details holders. It’s those just-missed coins that are the dilemma. I feel that those coins should be separated from the beaned population but kicking them to a full lower grade may not be the best answer…and maybe I’m wrong…time for a cookie break😉
CAC 65 will include coins that are 65.4 through 65.8 by today's grading standards
CAC 65+ will include coins that are 65.9 through 66.3 by today's grading standards
This means a coin has to be extremely strong for the grade to get a plus. And if it's just solid for the grade, it doesn't get a plus. Initially there will be much fewer pluses than non-pluses, because people will not want to lose value by crossing a PCGS 65 to a CAC 64+. But over time, I predict that value of CAC+ coin will be rise to equal or surpass a non-CAC PCGS coin at the next grade up. This would lead to more people down crossing PCGS coins into CAC holders leading to more plus coins.
CAC will be seen as a stricter grading service and will keep grade inflation in check. And there will be less hair splitting of grades. Coin is either solid for the grade or strong for the grade.
if a saint doesn't have the "right color" for a sticker, then can it still be a "problem-free" coin?
In my opinion and experience, a C coin is (or should be) in the lower third of the grade window for any given grade. This should be true regardless of if the coin is a PR68, an MS64 or an EF40. A C coin might be too deeply toned, might have too much chatter in primary focal areas, might have muted luster, might be somewhat oddly stained or might have any number of other perceived flaws. However, it should otherwise easily meet the grade assigned and the perceived flaws should not be enough to consign the coin to a lower grade or to preclude a problem-free grade.
In my experience, C coins pose a problem in a number of ways. To begin with, C coins drag down auction data analysis and, thus, the value that any given coin in any given grade might be assumed to have based upon auction data. This might not appear to be important, but in the last two decades we have seen an explosion of information available to anyone with an internet connection and this data, while valuable, is often not accompanied by quality photography or by descriptions as to the worthiness of a coin within its grade window. As someone with experience as a dealer, this leads to folks assuming I am gouging for coins when I list something nice (which, when I list something, is always the case) because they are looking at data that is skewed toward the lowest common denominator. Additionally, this can cut both ways in that collectors who go to sell their coins can have the same cherry-picked data analysis affect the offers that they receive for truly nice pieces.
Also, C coins cause gradeflation, in my opinion. This might not be a popular opinion, but my experience suggests that most collectors don't know how to grade very well. Note that I used the term "don't" instead of "can't" in the previous sentence because most folks can likely be taught how to grade properly, but they either have little inclination to learn or they won't dedicate the resources to learning. When folks are acclimated to buying, seeing and being offered C coins all the time they then expect the assigned grade of a C coin to represent the median or normalized grade, which by definition of a C coin it is not. Over time, this can allow grading companies to soften standards and allow coins to slip up in grade because the greater market is already expecting lower quality coins to be in higher graded holders. Aside from the earliest grading recalibration efforts of the two major TPGs, this might be why we have seen periods of less stability and more upward buoyancy in grades.
Lastly, and I am certain this isn't truly lastly, but it is the last thing I can think of at the moment, how to we denote or identify C coins? I don't agree with the idea that a C coin should automatically be placed in a lower graded holder. After all, a C coin MS65 Morgan dollar that has impaired luster from repeated dipping, but is overall rather clean is still a dog in an MS64 holder and the impaired luster would not make it an A coin in the MS64 holder, either. Truly, the grading scale as it stands today is more finely granulated than perhaps 99% of collectors can grasp, so the answer should not be to expand the numerical options. My opinion is that a C level MS65 coin should be certified as "MS65" and then any B or A level MS65 would have to have some sort of notation on the slab to indicate it is not a generic MS65 coin. The "+" and "*" designations are already in place at PCGS (+ only) and NGC (both + and *) so these appear to be out as options unless one wishes to confuse grading even further. That leaves something like using "A/B" as in "MS65 A/B" for A and B coins in order to identify them without actually giving each coin an A or B designation. I dislike the idea of minus "-" grading for C level coins as that would likely hurt the liquidity, desirability and value of such pieces further than simply calling them their base grade.
That's what I can think of for now, so please feel free to shoot down what I wrote.
Interesting idea re C coins driving gradeflation
The true C coins are those that meet the assigned grade, but not 65.4 or better (for an MS-65). What percentage are true C’s? I would venture a guess in the 20% arena.
Also, thank you very much for personally addressing concerns and questions on here. Much appreciated!
Q: If a coin doesn’t receive a CAC sticker, does this mean CAC believes the coin is over-graded?
A: Absolutely not. There are many coins that are certified accurately for their grade. Unfortunately, it is an inescapable reality that many are at the lower end of the quality range for the assigned grade. CAC’s rejection of a coin does not necessarily mean that CAC believes the coin has been over-graded. It simply means that there are other coins with CAC stickers that are of higher quality for the grade. CAC will eventually reject tens of thousands of accurately graded coins. Many of these rejected coins will be acceptable to numerous dealers and collectors and will continue to be available in the marketplace. For quality-conscious collectors and dealers, a coin with a CAC sticker will have significant meaning.
(mod edit: added reference. note- This is from CAC's FAQ as opposed to the CAC grading FAQ)
Edited to add: Today if a coin doesn't get a sticker you wonder - is there something wrong with it or is it just a "c" coin? Well now we would know. Problem coins go in detail holders, C coins get a grade, A/B get the familiar bean.
C coins would be recognized in this manner and we would be certain that coins slabbed by CACG are not overgraded and, or do not have any problems.
why not simply “no grade” and use a “no grade code” on the new cac holder?
thank you so much!
I am a huge fan of CAC stickers and their coming slabbing service. But they are not the only game in town.