The Coin Grading Process
The grading process is comprised of four steps: Receiving, Grading, Encapsulation, and Shipping.
Each day, ICG receives and sends many packages of coins. ICG strongly recommends you send your coins registered and insured through the US Postal Service. This may take a little longer, but it is the safest, and you can insure your coins for up to $25,000 per package. Once a package is received at ICG, it is weighed, documented and imaged, and the following information is recorded into the system: an invoice number unique for each order, the number of coins in each order, and specific coin information as well as the incoming package’s tracking number. Each order is assigned an anonymous, computer generated, random internal tracking number. This is crucial to help maintain anonymity between the submitter and the graders. The entire order is then placed in an individual box to make sure your coins can’t be confused with another order. We only grade the coins and not who is submitting them. This way we insure that every customer and their coins are treated equally.
The coins are transferred from receiving to the ICG Grading Room under twenty-four hour surveillance. The first step of grading a coin is to determine the coin’s authenticity. Not only can a coin be counterfeit, but it can also be altered so as to try to make the coin more rare and, thus, more valuable to a coin collector. Most alterations involve either a change of the coin’s date or its mint mark. Once a coin is determined genuine, it is graded. With all coins, at least two ICG professional graders will carefully examine and grade each coin. If the graders do not agree on the grade, an additional grader will examine the coin. Once a consensus is reached, the coin receives a finalized grade.
After the final grade has been assigned, the coins move into production, in the individual box assigned in the receiving process. The labels are printed and handed off to a member of our production team for assembly. An ICG label will show the coin’s date and mint-mark, denomination, the grade assigned, as well as any attribution or variety information about the specific coin and a serial number and bar code unique to that coin. When the production member has the holders assembled with the proper gaskets, labels and coins, the submission is now ready to be sonically sealed in ICG’s unique, patented, state-of-the-art tamper-evident hard plastic holder. As long as the coin remains sealed inside the holder, ICG guarantees the coin’s grade and authenticity.
With ICG grading thousands of coins each month, quality control is extremely important. Coins are checked at several steps of the process, from their raw state through encapsulation to insure the assigned grade is correct and the information on the holder’s label matches the coin. Prior to shipping at least two graders sign off on the box, indicating it is accurate and ready to go. The final step in this careful process is to return the coin to the customer service department to verify that any customer requests were recognized and that there were no errors missed in the quality control. The coin is then boxed, wrapped and assigned a shipping label. An e-mail is triggered at this point notifying the customer of their grades, as well as the tracking information on the return package. At ICG, the goal is to ship the coin back to its owner immediately. ICG will never hold a package that is complete and ready to ship.