A Letter from Mark Salzberg

Posted on 1/7/2019

The chairman of CCG reflects on the highlights of 2018 and looks ahead to 2019.

Dear Fellow Numismatists:

For numismatists, the new year kicks off with two bellwether events: the FUN Show in Florida and the NYINC in New York. These events, along with initial sales figures for 2019-dated coinage, will reveal a lot about the state of the coin market.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the coin market, the stock market and the world in general right now. In this fast-changing and often-unpredictable era, NGC and PMG stand out for their stability and unwavering commitment to the hobby.

As chairman of the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG), whose independent member companies include NGC, PMG, NCS and others, a particular source of pride for me is the tenure of our graders, management and other employees. It is one of the many hallmarks that sets us apart from our competition and most other companies today.

For collectors and dealers, this stability makes a big difference. It ensures that our grading maintains its consistency year-after-year. It indicates that our graders and our management care deeply about the products and services that we deliver. It also helps us to develop a long-term understanding of the needs of our customers and the hobby at large.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the tenure of some of our numismatists:

  • Rick Montgomery, NGC President and Finalizer (17 years at NGC)
  • Ken Krah, NGC Vice President and Finalizer (30 years at NGC)
  • Scott Schechter, NGC Vice President and Finalizer (14 years at NGC)
  • David Camire, NCS President and NGC Finalizer (20 years at NGC)
  • David Vagi, NGC Ancients Director and Finalizer (10 years at NGC).
  • David Lange, NGC Research Director (25 years at NGC), who last year was awarded the Numismatic Literary Guild’s (NLG) highest honor, the Clemy Award
  • Michael Corley, NGC Finalizer (17 years at NGC)
  • Michael Beasley, NGC Senior Grader (16 years at NGC)
  • Chris Shappell, NCS Conservator (16 years at NCS)
  • Matt Tucker, NGC Grader (15 years at NGC)
  • Chad Hawk, PMG Finalizer (14 years at PMG)
  • Jim Bernhardt, NGC Grader (12 years at NGC)
  • Adam Kraayenbrink, NGC Grader (12 years at NGC)

I am extremely grateful to have worked alongside these talented numismatists for so many years. (In addition to my role as chairman, I have served as an NGC Finalizer for the last 30 years.)

The exceptional stability at our companies extends outside of our grading rooms and conservation lab.

Steven Eichenbaum, CEO of CCG, has been a tremendous force behind our global expansion for the last 19 years. Lisa Creisstoff, our COO, has worked tirelessly behind the scenes for 24 years. Scott Heller, NGC Director of Operations and a familiar face for many coin dealers, has been with us for 25 years.

The seasoned numismatists and managers at the CCG companies are notable not only for their longevity, but also for their work to mentor the next generation of graders, conservators and others, which will ensure the preeminence of NGC, NCS and PMG for years to come.

It is a pleasure to work with all of the outstanding employees at the CCG companies. It would take many more pages to acknowledge the hundreds of people who are dedicated to providing our customers with the most accurate and consistent grading, the highest-quality holders, the most advanced web resources and much more.

Around the world, collectors and dealers trust the expertise, experience and commitment of our companies and employees. This trust makes it easier for NGC-certified coins and PMG-certified notes to be bought and sold in a global market—even online and sight unseen. It also results in higher prices realized for NGC-certified coins and PMG-certified notes.

This is why NGC, NCS and PMG were trusted with many of the world’s greatest coins and collections in 2018, including:

  • An 1854-S $5 that was originally thought to be fake before NGC’s experts confirmed it to be authentic and only the fourth known example. After being graded NGC XF 45 it was sold at auction for a staggering $2.16 million.
  • A 1792 Washington President Gold Eagle Pattern, which was the noted scholar Eric P. Newman’s most cherished coin. Graded NGC XF 45★, it realized $1.74 million in August.
  • An Apollo 11 Gold Robbins Medal, graded NGC MS 67, that is one of just three in existence. Pedigreed to Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, this incredible medal was flown with Armstrong to the moon on the historic Apollo 11 mission.
  • The 1943 Bronze Cent that was the discovery coin for what is now considered to be the most famous of all mint errors. Graded NGC MS 63 and pedigreed to Don Lutes Jr., it will be sold at the FUN Show in just a few days.
  • The only known 1893-CC Morgan Dollar in a GSA Hoard “Hard Pack” (now graded NGC XF 40), which was brought to me personally at last year’s FUN Show.
  • A hoard of thousands of pristine Morgan Dollars that had been stored in canvas US Treasury bags in a New York bank for over half a century.
  • Coins recovered from the SS Pulaski, which sank in 1838 and is one of the most notable shipwrecks in the early history of the United States. Among the coins is an 1836 Half Eagle that was conserved by NCS and subsequently graded MS 63+ by NGC.
  • An 1882 $1,000 Gold Certificate, graded PMG 30 Very Fine, that realized $600,000 in January 2018.
  • A 2015 Singapore “SG50” $50, Serial Number 00001, which realized an eye-popping $400,000 in November after being graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ.

The coin and paper money hobbies are changing dramatically, driven in large part by the growth of international markets and the internet. NGC, NCS and PMG have been at the forefront of both developments, working to make the hobby safer and more accessible for collectors and dealers throughout the world.

In September, CCG opened an office in London, adding a fifth location to complement our offices in Sarasota, Munich, Shanghai and Hong Kong. CCG also has 15 Official Submission Centers in China, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and the United Kingdom, having added the Singapore Mint, Daruma International Galleries and Shanghai Quanping last year.

To better serve our international markets, in 2018 we began to offer full-time PMG grading and full-time NCS conservation in China as well as periodic on-site NGC grading in Munich. This year we will offer periodic PMG on-site grading in London and Munich, NGC on-site grading in China Hong Kong and more.

I attended several of these on-site grading events in 2018 and, as a numismatist, perhaps the most exciting aspect is that they bring new rarities to light. For example, at our first on-site grading event in Munich this past March, we were thrilled to certify three rare Wass, Molitor & Co. coins from the California Gold Rush that had been submitted by the Hungarian National Museum.

In addition to our efforts on the ground, in 2018 we made significant investments online, where we now offer websites in 11 languages. Among the investments were significant upgrades to the PMG Population Report and the NGC Registry, two of our most popular resources. These efforts have not gone unnoticed. In fact, the NLG honored NGCcoin.com with its Best Dealer or Industry Website Award in 2018.

In addition, last year NGC, NCS and PMG were named the official grading and conservation services of the Macau Numismatic Society (MNS) and the popular Facebook group “Coin Dealers Helping Coin Dealers” as well as its affiliated dealer-to-dealer trading network, RoundTable Trading, LLC. These endorsements add to the ones we have previously received from the American Numismatic Association (ANA), the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) and the National Silver Dollar Roundtable (NSDR).

Our ever-expanding presence internationally and on the internet has helped to bring new collectors into the hobby, including people from demographics outside of those traditionally associated with coin and paper money collecting. These efforts propelled NGC past the 42 million coins graded milestone this year and will soon lead to PMG grading its 4 millionth note.

As I look at our incredible team and all that we have accomplished together, I have many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the coin and paper money hobbies. Although there will undoubtedly be more uncertainty and challenges, collectors and dealers can rest assured knowing that NGC, NCS and PMG will continue to be bastions of stability, accuracy and integrity.

Thank you for all of your support.

Best wishes,

Mark Salzberg

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