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Have you ever heard of slabbed coins?
A lot of people hear about these but may not know what to imagine — perhaps a coin stuck in a good old hunk of concrete?
Is it a coin slathered in a block of butter?
Is it a coin seared in a nice Porterhouse steak?
Sounds silly perhaps, but unless you know coin collecting vernacular, you are forgiven if those images initially ran through your head.
An Explanation Of Slabbed Coins
Slabbed coins, in coin-collecting terminology, refers to coins sealed in clear plastic containers bearing the opinions of professionals working at a coin-grading service relating to authenticity and condition.
Slabbed coins are highly sought after and often controversial.
Slabbed Coins Are Popular
Slabbed coins are often expensive, high-grade, and frequently rare. They are the type of coin many of the serious big-spending collectors and investors go after.
The reason slabbed coins are so sought after by some is the fact that they represent a ‘safe’ buy. The person buying a slabbed coin can have some type of idea as to what to expect when buying a slabbed coin.
The prospective buyer knows the coin is authentic and accurately graded (usually). One can buy such coins with a high degree of confidence even in sight-unseen transactions like mail-order and online auctions.
Top 4 Slabbed Coin Grading Companies
Third-party coin graders (which are the independent firms that do the coin grading and the slabbing) have been around now for a few decades — and some have built pretty good reputations.
The top coin grading service companies are:
- American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS)
- Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS)
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC)
- Sovereign Entities Grading Service (SEGS)
Those are also 4 of the top companies of the 12 or so prominent groups that grade and slab coins. Each service has separate submission policies, and some do not allow private individuals who are not coin professionals to submit coins directly to them.
Check out each company’s policy to see which may be best for you.
Coin grading services generally range from $10 to $30 per coin, and some may not encapsulate your coin if it is cleaned, damaged, or otherwise deemed unfit for slabbing. They do, however, grade coins in all wear-based states of preservation, including low ball coins.
Grading Of Slabbed Coins Varies
Third-party coin grading, however, is not perfect, nor is it foolproof.
Some people say that certain companies have conservative grading standards (grading lower than some think a coin deserves) and believe others have looser standards (assigning a grade that seems a little too flattering to a coin).
Some coins will be graded by a company, broken out of its slab, and later resubmitted to the same company only to receive a higher or lower grade than first assigned. It is also highly common for some coins to be broken out of one company’s slab and then be resubmitted elsewhere, in the hopes of it receiving a higher grade.
Sometimes this happens, or it might get a lower grade — or it may receive the same grade.
Some unscrupulous individuals have even tried to tamper with these coin holders to alter the coins inside, trade them out before selling them, and the like.
Here is an informative article about slabbed coins: Information And Myths About Slabbed Coins
I’m the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I’m also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I’ve contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I’ve authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!
23 thoughts on “What Are Slabbed Coins? Hint: They’re Highly Sought After, Often Expensive, And Frequently Rare Coins”
I have a few coin errors that I’ve come across over the years and held onto. I collect stamps, not coins, but I pay attention to possible errors. I don’t know how to go about evaluating these. I don’t want to spend $30 to send a coin out to be graded and slabbed if it is only worth a buck or two. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.
Hi, John –
Thanks for your question; yes, generally many errors are worth more than a few bucks, but knowing which are which can be a challenge. Generally, the more dramatic the error, the more valuable the coin. For example, a mule coin (on which two separate designs from two different coins appear on the same coin) can command upwards of $1,000, whereas a coin that is struck 10 percent off center may be worth $3 to $5.
Any coins you’re curious about, please post images of here, and we’ll try to help on a coin-by-coin basis.
Joshua, I have a 2012 lincoln head penny in mint (Uncirculated) condition on both sides, but the obverse side has a circular mark 3 quarters of the way around the penny, like it was going to be struck again but stopped. Was this done by the machine or by someone or something else. Is this an error?
thanks …Carl C.
Hi, Carl –
It’s hard to say without seeing your coin the exact source or cause of the circular mar, though I’ve seen many Lincoln cents with these marks and they’re often caused by poor handling at the U.S. Mint.
https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6da8517999c645638dc7cc873b84d15ac49a34fd9c3f5f8529c0bb31fd32591d.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/15aa458705d0d832d57bb7151083ff06bb19ef0900d29e5999e0a7c3fc2225ed.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c54c41c9c30ea3fdfc86a81a188b23e8d32f523654e34dcc171ed2b4c44dcd9a.png I have a question, I have 2 2002 D pennies. One of them has silver showing under the copper. The other one is very different. Can someone please tell me if they are on different planchets? Thank you in advance.
Hi, Tracy —
The silver under the copper is actually the coin’s zinc inner core and appears in the wear-vulnerable areas, suggesting this is a coin with post-mint issue and is not an error.
I do see doubling on the bottom coin, but it appears to be machine doubling. Its mottled appearance is due to toning. Overall, these two coins aren’t really worth more than face value based on what I see in the images, but I’d probably still hold aside at least the doubled/mottled penny as it is rather unusual.
HI joshua, I was wondering if you could help me out. I have a 1962 D penny that has a smooth back on the back. Can you please tell me if it had something put on it to deface it or if it’s an error coin? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/719b9589d61fc119283243ac74b70ab951dcf1f10d7559c0c339e3769c06e347.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/001a3499439c3d6405ba2185cb06121a4d5841fb7cf93528d570d98431f06d15.png
Hi, Tracy —
Your initial inclination is correct — the coin was defaced. More specifically, it appears it was machined, or smoothed with a grinder for application in a jewelry setting or something of the like. Such a piece unfortunately has no numismatic value.
All my best,
I see Maybe double number 3
Hi, I was wondering if someone could tell me if this 1966 dime I have has a planchet error or if it is copper? Thank you in advance. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4abf117f8ec2e10c314c8fdc6ee7c550ea2903b349df325339d3eaf170038556.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4abf117f8ec2e10c314c8fdc6ee7c550ea2903b349df325339d3eaf170038556.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f243aa2222d38b960d7c98657764bdcf22f9bd4efb96f1b8056cb3c6602e75f0.png
Hi, Tracy —
The surface appears pitted, which suggests heavy corrosion. This would also explain the coin’s dark color, which is a chemical reaction with the coin’s metal. This piece is worth face value.
That’s what I was thinking also thank you!
You’re welcome, Tracy!
Hello, Alex —
It looks like you have a circulated 1923 Peace dollar (its mintmark, if it has one, is on the reverse under the “N” in “ONE”). This classic coin is worth approximately $15 to $17 in this condition.
Hi Joshua! Can you please tell me if this coin has value? There are a lot of errors here – bumps, depressions, uneven edges at the perimeter, fuzzy images, etc. at both sides! Look at the letter D in UNITED! If this is a valuable coin, how to start the gradation, evaluation and sale procedure. Thanks a lot in advance. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/483d88a5aaeffbcecc7caa9a1f07cf782527f89cc7bd616fea76aeef11cd41a8.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d239799498ef6ea27577b2e82ed8f0e06c3bcdf399bcb001fa349fa7fef7918.jpg
Hi Iryna —
It looks like your coin was exposed to very high and focal heat, perhaps in a fire. This piece is worth face value…
Hi can you please tell me if this is coin has value please https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/16176be7505beb824753a457bb85359f1c53872fe4fbdd4b723d689fc065fd74.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bad5b84fbe67457e16cfe6143a652ead5e91482e1ecaec56cc90f082b9fb943d.jpg
Hi, Juanita —
Unfortunately this quarter has significant wear and heavy post-mint damage. It is worth its face value.
Ok thanks I’m learning every day i I have something else that look different a well
Always keep learning, Juanita! I’m a collector of 30 years and I still am, too!
Can you please tell me if this sword has a line above the sword https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1e05cfc040c1cdfd17039fdd7138462ce4373110e9b5894b6184f14e76371705.jpg
Hello, Juanita —
The image is a little fuzzy as I blow it up to view it better, but the sword seems to have the normal definition, if worn. You’re asking about a line above the sword? I don’t see a line above the sword on my end… How high above the sword are you talking?