NGC Announces 2023 ANA Grading Contest Winners

The following is a press release from Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) announcing the winners of its coin grading contest. The contest was held last week at the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) World’s Fair of Money in Pittsburgh.

Thirty of 150 contestants took home prizes in the grading contest hosted by Numismatic Guaranty Company® (NGC®) at the 2023 ANA World’s Fair of Money in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

There were the same number of participants as the previous NGC Grading Contest, which was held in January as part of the 2023 FUN Show in Orlando, Florida. Demand for the contest was high: 150 was the maximum number of participants that NGC could accommodate, and unfortunately some people had to be turned away after all spots were claimed.

The prizes

Contestants won prizes in three age categories. For both the Adult (26 and up) and Young Adult (18-25) categories, the first prize was a $300 NGC grading credit, the second prize was a $200 NGC grading credit and the third prize was a $100 NGC grading credit. The Young Numismatist (13-17) category prizes were cash — $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place. The top 10 finishers in the three categories also received a special NGC sample slab with a 1999 Proof Pennsylvania Quarter. All of the participants received a participation sample slab.

The contest was to see who could most accurately grade 15 coins in 10 minutes. Each participant entered the coin grades into a laptop at the NGC booth at the show.

The winners

In the adult category, Ash Harrison led the way, scoring 53 of 75 points. He correctly determined the grade of six of the coins and earned partial credit (within one or two grades) on an additional nine coins. That means that he correctly graded every coin in the contest within two grades. Impressive!

Ash Harrison (Image Courtesy of NGC)
Ash Harrison (Image Courtesy of NGC)

Behind Ash in the adult category was a three-way tie for second place. Dave Wnuck, Tyler Jarvis and Bill Panitch each earned 49 of 75 points in the contest. 

In the Young Adult category, Nicolas Morabito, 19, prevailed after grading an impressive eight coins correctly and four coins partially correct to take first place with 52 points. He was followed by Eva Pate, also 19, with six correct and eight partially correct grades for a total of 50 points. These point totals would put these two above everyone else who took the contest besides the first-place adult, Ash Harrison. Rounding out the top three for the YAN category was David Khaskin, 21, who earned 46 of 75 points after grading six coins correctly and eight partially correct.

Young Adult Winners (Image Courtesy of NGC)
Young Adult Winners (Image Courtesy of NGC)

The Young Numismatists category was won by Max Brand, 17, who had six correct and six partially correct answers for a total of 46 points. Young dealer Jack Smith, 17, was second with three correct and nine partially correct for a total of 38 points. In third was Connor Cambria, also 17, who earned a total of 37 points after grading four coins correctly and seven more within two grades.

The collectibles used in the contest were all coins except for one medal and one token. They were a mix of countries, types and grades, and included one not genuine and one altered coin. Contestants graded the coins, which were in NGC holders without grades, and entered their grades on a computer provided by NGC. Photos of all of the coins used in the contest are shown below. Find information on NGC’s 70-point grading scale here.

The coins

Coin #1 – France- 1830-Dated Silver Jeton – La Nationale Insurance

NGC MS 67 – This Jeton is gorgeous and extremely original. It has lovely rainbow toning on its obverse, and the reverse is mostly blemish-free. The vertical lines on the reverse are not evidence of cleaning but are instead die polish lines. Most people were a bit harsh on this piece, as the most common answer was MS 66. However, 20% of contestants correctly graded this Jeton. The average score was 2.0/5 points. 

Coin #2 – USA – 1880-S Morgan Dollar

NGC MS 63 – This proved to be the easiest coin to grade in the contest. It is simply a nice, Choice Uncirculated Morgan Dollar that certainly spent some time in a bag. The bag marks on the cheek held this coin to MS 63, and nearly 39% of contestants properly graded this coin. The average score was 3.3/5 points.

Coin #3 – Mexico – 1894 GA JS 8 Reales

NGC XF Details – This was the first curveball in the contest. While the circular depression in the center of the Liberty Cap might look like part of the design, it is in fact a chopmark, as is the punch that looks like a “V” to the left, and the two seen at 12 and 1 o’clock. There is also another one on the top of the reverse. Chopmarked coins receive Details grades at NGC. While just over 40% of contestants chose this answer, the fact that it is the only correct answer pushed the average score down to only 2.0/5 points. 

Coin #4 – Germany – 1911 Württemberg Anniversary 3 Mark

NGC MS 67 – This is a lovely coin as well. The same type made an appearance as coin #8 in this year’s FUN Show Grading contest. However, that coin had some abrasions on the high points of the face, while this one does not. With minimal marks, booming luster and a hammered strike, it is no wonder this coin graded MS 67. The most common answer for this piece was MS 66, with MS 67 coming in a close second. This proved to be the second-easiest coin in the contest, with an average score of 2.4/5 points. 

Coin #5 – India – AH1229//1749 Bengal Presidency Rupee

NGC MS 64 – This was another curveball, and likely a coin that many contestants had not seen before. However, the surfaces are quite lustrous with no wear to be seen, so it was surprising that 34 people graded this coin between F 12 and AU 58! It is, in fact, a near Gem MS 64. The average score for this coin was 1.8/5 points. 

Coin #6 – USA – 1911 $2.5 Indian

NGC MS 62 – The $2.5 and $5 Indian series have many counterfeits known and are also one of the hardest series to grade due to the incuse design. This coin clearly confused many people, as only 16 people graded it properly at MS 62. The average score was 1.4/5 points, the second least in the contest. 

Coin #7 – Bolivia – 1860 PTS FJ 8 Soles

NGC VF 30 – Directly after the second-hardest coin in the contest, we have what proved to be the most difficult. This Bolivian piece was graded properly as VF 30 by only 10 people! A further 60 were within two grades, earning contestants overall an average of only 1.1/5 points.

Coin #8 – Austria – 1697 Salzburg 2 Kreuzer

NGC MS 66 – These roller-die coins always tend to confuse people! The most common answer, selected by 24 contestants, was NGC Details. However, the curve that this coin has is due to the method of manufacture. It is in fact an absolute gem, graded MS 66. Contestants earned an average score of 1.8/5 points for this coin. 

Coin #9 – Brazil – 1810R 960 Réis

NGC AU 53 – This Brazilian piece is interesting as it’s struck over an 8 Reales. In fact, much of the undertype can still be seen. However, the coin does feature some wear and loss of luster, leading to the NGC graders’ determination of the grade of AU 53, a bit lower than the most common answer from contestants of AU 55. An average score of 1.6/5 points was awarded for this coin. 

Coin #10 – Mexico – 1982 Silver Onza

NGC MS 64★ – This coin is quite pretty, with a crescent of colorful toning on its obverse. However, while the coin is beautiful, it also has plenty of marks and abrasions that hold it back from Gem. It seems many people caught this, as the most commonly assigned grade was the correct one of MS 64. This was the third-easiest coin of the contest, with an average score of 2.5/5 points. 

Coin #11 – Costa Rica – 50 Centavos Type 8 Counterstamp on Costa Rica 25 Centavos

NGC AU 50 – This coin was another curveball, as it is an 1890 25 Centavos that has been re-denominated to 50 Centimos with a counterstamp. Most people were in the correct range on this coin, with 88 contestants choosing grades between XF 40 and AU 55 to earn themselves points. The average score, however, was still pretty low at 1.5/5 points. 

Coin #12 – Germany – Prussia Undated Bronze Medal – Triple Alliance

NGC MS 66 – This medal was one of the most popular items in the entire contest as a number of people attempted to purchase it from the proctor! (NGC does not sell coins.) The gem, chocolatey brown medal is gorgeous, and only a few minor spots hold it back from obtaining an even loftier grade. The most commonly assigned grade was slightly high at MS 67, but contestants still earned an average of 2.3/5 points for this coin. 

Coin #13 – USA – 1920 Pilgrim Half Dollar

NGC Not Genuine – This coin seemed to have tricked many people. Some 97 contestants felt it was genuine, with about a quarter of those feeling it was a Details coin. Many people remarked that the surfaces looked odd, but many attributed that to a cleaning. In fact, the surfaces of this coin are all wrong, and it is a relatively low-quality counterfeit that is not even silver. The average score on this piece was 1.8/5 points. 

Coin #14 – Vatican City – 1963 500 Lire – Sede Vacante

NGC MS 65★ – Like the Mexican Onza, this coin also features some amazing toning. This toning appears to have distracted many contestants, however, from the numerous marks and abrasions on the surface of the piece, which max the grade out at MS 65. The most common answer for this piece was MS 67, followed by MS 66, followed by the correct answer of MS 65. Still, contestants earned 1.9/5 points on average for this coin. 

Coin #15 – Great Britain – 1964 3 Pence – Obverse Die Cap

NGC MS 65 – We decided to include our first NGC Double Thick holder for this contest! This coin is an amazing and deep example of an obverse die cap. These stunning errors are produced when a coin sticks to the obverse die, and slowly forms around it as more and more planchets are struck by the reverse of the coin. These can often come with issues as they get caught in sorting machines or similar devices, but this one luckily escaped relatively mark-free. The average score on this coin was 2.2/5 points. 

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