In Germany, professional grading and the long-term storage in special holders (“slabs”) are still facing a lot of criticism, but services from commercial service providers such as NGC or PCGS have found their place in other markets like the USA and they are gaining in importance here. But normally collectors do not get to see what happens behind the scenes of grading services.
For the 30th birthday, the American grading provider “NGC” (Numismatic Guarantee Corporation) offers rare insights into his work: In a new YouTube video, which was also produced in German language, the darkened “Grading Room” can be seen, in which the coins are examined under the magnifying glass and under desk lamp light. This area is the workplace of 30 professional evaluators who are strictly forbidden to trade coins. In addition, the video shows in close-up how a coin is inserted into the NGC slab and is welded air-tight. The two-minute video is available here.
Another must-see for grading fans is an English-language video, which was published in 2015 and shows the grading process in more detail: the coins arrive first in the “receiving department”. There, they are queued up one after the other and matched with the customer account in order to make sure that all the coins are actually present in the submission. Surveillance cameras on the ceiling document this process. The coins are entered into the computer database and inserted into a temporary holder, which can be tracked by a barcode at any time. Only the invoice number, but not the name of the NGC customer, can be seen – this anonymity is intended to ensure objective assessment.
In the “Grading Room” the actual work begins. The evaluators can refer to a whole library of numismatic literature. Grading is a team effort: several reviewers look at the coins one at a time and enter their rating into the computer. If their assessments are too far apart, the “Finalizer” decides. This procedure is also referred to as “consensus grading”. However, there are various experts in the circle of NGC evaluators with special expertise on countries and epochs, which also recognize the smallest details.
After the actual grading, the coin is encapsulated. A label with several security features for the holder (“slab”) is printed and inserted, the coin is pressed into a suitable holder. The encapsulated coins are once again subjected to a quality check and are then sent back to the customer or the submission office.