Friday, September 07, 2018

NGC population reports for graded ancient coins

Catalogers of high grade modern coins often boast about coins having only a few specimens, or even no specimens, known in a higher grade.

Ancient coin catalogers will sometimes say "finest known" but they rarely say things like "only a population of 43 coins better".

On NGC's slab verification pages, for example, there are no population reports comparable to modern coins. That page says "Total Graded by NGC: Not Available".

Yet I noticed the Heritage Auctions web now includes NGC Ancients population reports. I noticed this watching their Long Beach auction yesterday. Here is an example from a recent Heritage online-only auction: . The auction listing displays the slabbed population with the grade of the current lot highlighted in yellow.

Here is the owl population as of September 7th 2018:

The auction house gives an NGC population report and includes the count ranked star (= "impressive"). They don't mention "fine style" or "test cut" or the x/5 ratings. This particular lot has a huge test cut that doesn't make it into the numerical chart.

I was curious to see the single starred "Choice MS" example in the above population report. It is, and it sold for $36k last month.


Cultural Property Observer said...

The problem with these population reports at least for modern coins is that coins are frequently broken out of slabs and re-submitted. Lots of double, even triple or quadruple counting the same coin.

Of course, if the slabs also tracked provenance, this would not be a problem. My biggest criticism is that all too often critical information is simply thrown out when a coin is slabbed. This is a real issue for ancients where provenance has become lots more important.

Ed Snible said...

I find it valuable to keep provenance with the coin. It can be difficult with slabs, which lack pockets for dealer tickets.

NGC Ancients does offer slabs with pedigree information. For example, this Athenian owl [ ] records "ex Sotheby's (3/97), 94" right on the slab.

NGC's web site says 'the submitter must provide supporting documentation (photocopies from auction catalogs, etc.)'. It would be nice if
the slab company allowed the submitter to submit any provenance, no matter how sloppy, to be scanned and stored
on the slab verification web site.

Auction houses put stickers on the slabs, but only for their own auction. I am keeping my slabs in slab protector sleeves
but instead of using the sleeves for protection I use them to hold paper with some notes.

It is easy to imagine that my records will be available when it comes time to sell my collection. The truth is that if something
happens to me, or to my house, any records kept separate from the coins are likely to be lost forever.