Mail Bag – Is It Just Me? I Hate Slabbed Coins!

Ah, the love/hate relationship so many of us collectors have with professional graded, or slabbed, coins. Even after decades of these services being around, it is still a hot topic for many of us on if we like the idea of having a coin graded and inserted into plastic for time eternal. Karen wrote into the Mail Bag last week and asked a question I think probably all of us have asked at one point or another: Am I the only one who doesn’t like graded coins in lenses?


This may be sacrilegious but I really don’t like slabbed coins. I have been to a lot of coins shows over the years and the growth of them has been crazy. To me, it takes away from the beauty of the coin having it stuck in some holder. It isn’t that I don’t think there is value in having a coin graded, I just hate the holders.

Is it just me?

Thanks, Karen

First Karen, no, I don’t think it is just you. I think there are a lot of collectors who have reservations about the holders that the coins are put into. For sure, companies like PCGS, NGC, and ANACS have done a great job in improving the quality (who remembers PCGS “rattlers”?) and appearance. That said however, there hasn’t been much of an improvement on the aesthetics of the holders and more on their durability and security.

For the sake of full disclosure, I personally used NGC as my grading company. Part of the reason is that I do like their holders over those of PCGS and ANACS from a look & feel perspective. But honestly, it is shades of grey.

The reality of the situation is that these holders are here to stay. With the rare coin market continuing to boom and many collectors wanting to have some level of assurance of value, grading services will always been in high demand. Having the coins graded, as you know, provides that level of security on the value of a coin to a large extent. But I also think that we miss out a bit on being able to physically hold these coins. There is something special about holding a coin in your hand (with gloves of course!) to really get a good look at it. As you may have seen on Twitter on Friday, I received my John Tyler Presidential Silver Medal. One of the first things I did was pop it out of all the Mint packaging and its holder to hold that medal. I loved it. It made me appreciate the medal and all its detail.

And this Sunday it was put on an invoice to go to NGC to be graded. Because I want the entire series of Presidential Medals in my collection graded and I want it to have a representative value for my family when I’m gone should they decide to sell or auction my collection.

It is very much a double-edged sword for many.

So no Karen, I don’t think you are alone in your dislike of the holders themselves. I suspect that many collectors fell the same way but also feel there isn’t much of an option out there if you want to get coins graded professionally. Hopefully, one day, the grading companies will come up with a more aesthetically pleasing holder.

Thanks for taking the time to write in Karen!

If you have a Mail Bag question, you can send it in through the About page here on the site.

1 thought on “Mail Bag – Is It Just Me? I Hate Slabbed Coins!”

  1. I agree, it is much more enjoyable to (carefully) hold the coin and put it in a book to fill a space. I did that with my collection before slabbing existed, and loved the experience. But I now find that if I don’t get the valuable ones certified it will be harder for my heirs to sell them. The problem (aside from arguing over grades) is that there is a terrible influx of counterfeits to the point where even common Morgans are being copied. And now slabs are being duplicated! Unless ones buys directly from the Mint or a very reputable dealer (ANA member, etc.) obtaining a genuine coin of any value becomes something of a crap shoot, though I think the more heavily worn common dates are probably okay. It really has messed up the hobby.


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