PCGS accidentally dips client’s 132-year-old coin

By Jesse Robitaille

The president of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) has apologized for what she called a “regrettable mistake” after the firm accidentally sent one of its client’s coins through its restoration service.

This summer, collector Daniel Sutton, of Granite Bay, Calif., submitted an 1890 silver crown – a British key-date coin – to PCGS for certification. The coin, one of only 93 reported by PCGS, earned a grade of Mint State-63 as the eighth highest-graded example in the firm’s population report. Struck in 92.5 per cent silver with what Sutton called “beautiful reverse toning,” the coin also went through the PCGS restoration service without his permission; it was submitted on a grading form, he added.

“There is a completely different form for restoration and it required my signature which they do not have,” Sutton wrote on the Virtual Coin Show Facebook group, facebook.com/groups/RTCoins, in September.

PCGS “admitted their mistake,” Sutton said, before making a “fair offer” allowing him to keep the cleaned coin and receive a payment of about 70 per cent of the coin’s insured value plus a full refund for postage and other fees.

“Over the past 36 years, PCGS has certified more than 51 million coins valued at over $50 billion,” PCGS President Stephanie Sabin told CCN in December. “The trust our customers place in us is of the utmost importance. When we learned of this situation, we took immediate action in good faith to reach a positive resolution with the customer, which included taking responsibility for the error, returning the item to the customer, refunding all submission fees, and an additional payment for the value of the item.”

Formed in California in 1985, PCGS – popular with U.S. and Canadian collectors – offers guarantees on its grading and authenticity.

“Our guarantee is the strongest in the industry, and while this was clearly a regrettable mistake, we did everything within our power to make things right,” Sabin told CCN. “We hope to earn back this customer’s trust and continue to help collectors collect with confidence.”

In another Facebook post, Sutton had this advice for collectors using PCGS and other third-party grading services: “Take pictures of the front and the back of each coin. Keep the pictures until after you receive your coins back after the many months it’s taking them to grade these days.”


In addition to grading coins, PCGS also offers a restoration service, launched in 2013 to remedy “environmental problems” with coins, according to the firm’s website, pcgs.com/restoration.

“Through various non-invasive and industry-accepted techniques, PCGS Restoration can safely restore and enhance the appearance of coins.”

First, PCGS staff will evaluate a submission to confirm restorative services can be performed. If the coin passes the evaluation, it will be restored and graded; however, the firm’s website doesn’t describe exactly how the coin would be restored beyond the following five points.

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