Mail Bag – Should I Only Buy Slabbed Coins?

Today’s Mail Bag question comes from Amanda and it is a question that many modern collectors face. Should I buy slabbed coins and only buy slabbed coins? The answer, like so many in our hobby, depends on you.

They write,


I’ve been collecting for a year now and I’ve started buying slabbed coins from NGC and PCGS. Is that the best way to collect? It seems safer as they are likely genuine coins and have a accurate grade on them.



For all the reasons you have mentioned Amanda, yes, buying slabbed coins is a great idea. While counterfeiters do still manage to create fake holders from NGC and PCGS, the odds are much more in your favor of the coin being genuine and the grade being accurate. There are also other reasons to buy graded coins.

Fellow collector (and Formula 1 fan) Chris (you can find him on Twitter) and I have spoken at length about this and they only buy graded coins from NGC or PCGS at this point or coins directly from the Mint – which in turn get sent to be graded. For them, it is about preserving some sentimental coins as well as preserving value of their collection by assuring they are graded.

Out of all the raw coins I have, I sent the ones I knew would have value above the grading and return shipping costs down to NGC. Along with five that have sentimental value that were past down to me from my grandfather. At this point, yes I tend to buy only slabbed coins. Being a member of the ANA and having the direct submissions to NGC (helps).

Chris (@cmw311 on Twitter)

The question for you Amanda is your motivation behind your collection. If it is for investment and preservation of coins, they yes, graded coins are likely the best way to go for you. If your motivation is more of collecting in general and not overly concerned with investment collecting, maybe not so much. I, for example, have a mix of graded coins in my collection as well as raw coins that I’ve purchased. Those raw coins I tend to buy from a reputable dealer in person or online so I have a level of comfort buying them. But yes, technically, I put myself at more risk of getting an altered or counterfeit coin than Chris does buying only slabbed coins or those from the Mint.

Further, there is something intrinsically beautiful about having a complete set of graded coins of whatever type. I have a nearly complete set of NGC graded Presidential Dollars in MS69 and PF69 and I never get tired of pulling them out of their storage box and looking at them. There is a certain amount of pride having these coins preserved and graded. While they don’t necessarily have a lot of monetary value now, my hope is that in the next generation or two when these coins are handed down from me, they will increase in value.

Ultimately Amanda, as with so many things in coin collecting, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer to your question. It all comes down to what makes you happy, what you want out of your collection, and how you want to collect.

If you have a question for the Mail Bag, be sure to use the contact form on the About page to send it in.

And a special thanks to Chris for details on his collection for this Mail Bag article.

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