A Letter from Mark Salzberg

Posted on 1/6/2020

The chairman of CCG reflects on the highlights of 2019 to usher in the new year.

Dear Fellow Collectors:

The past year was a powerful reminder of how the world of collectibles is always dynamic and fascinating. It also demonstrated yet again how Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®), Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG®), Certified Guaranty Company® (CGC®) and the other affiliates within the Certified Collectibles Group® (CCG®) continue to be at the forefront of their respective hobbies.

An excellent indication of the strength of our companies’ services, as well as the collectibles markets overall, is through prices realized at auction. Some truly incredible collectibles were sold over the past year.

The year began with three NGC-certified coins realizing more than $1 million each at the 2019 FUN Show in January. One of these was an 1885 Proof Trade Dollar graded NGC PF 66 (and pedigreed to the Eliasberg Collection) that realized $3.96 million — one of the highest prices ever paid for a coin. In the same sale, an 1884 Proof Trade Dollar graded NGC PF 66 realized $1.14 million, while an 1879 Coiled Hair Stella graded NGC PF 66 Cameo realized $1.05 million.

In July, an Apollo 11 Gold Robbins Medal that was co-certified by NGC and Collectibles Authentication Guaranty™ (CAG®) realized more than $2 million. Astronaut Neil Armstrong took this medal with him on the historic first mission to the moon, and it was the centerpiece of the Armstrong Family Collection™. CAG is CCG’s newest company, established in 2018 to preserve the authenticity and provenance of important collections, memorabilia and estate items, such as the thousands of items that comprise the Armstrong Family Collection.

CAG-certified Apollo 11 Gold Robbins Medal, flown on the Apollo 11 Lunar Module.
Graded NGC MS 67 and pedigreed to the Armstrong Family Collection.
Realized: $2,055,000
Click images to enlarge.

NGC-certified world coins also performed exceptionally well in 2019. Just a few weeks ago, a set of 10 vintage Chinese coins certified by NGC realized more than $1 million at a Hong Kong, China auction. Before being graded by NGC, all of the coins in the 1897 Szechuan Ferracute Pattern Set were conserved by Numismatic Conservation Services™ (NCS®), an NGC affiliate dedicated to the professional conservation of coins, tokens and medals.

The 1897 Szechuan Ferracute Pattern Set includes 10 silver and brass coins with grades ranging from NGC SP 63 to SP 66.
Realized: $1,020,000
Click image to enlarge.

In the realm of paper money, PMG was honored to grade an astounding trio of 19th century banknotes that are each worth over a million dollars. They were submitted to PMG through its new CrossOver service for notes that were graded by PCGS Currency, which ceased operations earlier in the year. The notes are an 1869 $500 “Rainbow” Legal Tender Note graded PMG 55 About Uncirculated EPQ; an 1869 $1,000 “Rainbow” Legal Tender Note graded PMG 53 About Uncirculated; and an 1891 $1,000 “Marcy” Silver Certificate graded PMG 30 Very Fine.

US 1891 $1,000 Legal Tender Note, front
PMG 30 Very Fine
Click image to enlarge.

Speaking of seven-figure collectibles, a CGC-certified collectible also realized seven figures at auction in 2019: an exceptionally well-preserved Marvel Comics #1. In November, the 80-year-old book, graded CGC 9.4, was sold for an astonishing $1.26 million, the highest price ever paid at auction for any Marvel comic book.

Marvel Comics #1, graded CGC 9.4.
Realized: $1,260,000
Click images to enlarge.

These examples and countless others demonstrate the significant value, liquidity and trust that NGC, PMG, CGC and CAG certification delivers to the collectibles markets. Our expert services make it possible for collectibles to be bought and sold with confidence around the world — even sight unseen.

The high value and trust that collectors and dealers place in our services is, of course, primarily a factor of our expertise, which is reflected in the stability, longevity and depth of our grading teams. We now employ more than 80 professional graders, each one firmly dedicated to our principles of accuracy, consistency and integrity.

We continue to expand and enhance our grading teams and services by hiring and training employees as well as developing state-of-the-art authentication and encapsulation equipment. This has enabled us to grade collectibles accurately and consistently on a full-time basis in Sarasota and Shanghai as well as at numerous on-site grading events around the world.

We also cultivate a safe, global, digitally accessible and growing trade in collectibles through our ever-expanding outreach and constant innovation.

In 2019, representatives of the CCG companies attended 120 trade shows around the world, bringing our mission of expert and impartial certification to more people than ever before.

We held on-site grading in conjunction with many of these events and at other times throughout the year. In 2019, PMG conducted its first on-site grading events in the United Kingdom, Germany and India. It also conducted on-site grading in the US and China. Meanwhile, NGC conducted on-site grading in the US, China and Germany, and CGC conducted on-site grading events in the US. These events are extremely popular with collectors and dealers, providing greater convenience and faster turnaround times.

Our physical locations are expanding as well. Both our China Hong Kong and Munich offices moved to significantly larger spaces in March. Our new London office finished its first year of operations, and we formed a wholly owned subsidiary in India to make our services more accessible to that country of 1.3 billion people.

In addition, CCG added to its network of Official Submission Centers, partnering with Taisei Coins Corporation (Japan), Hanlin Investment (China), Shanghai Jianzhen Culture (China), Peacock Bloom Numismatic (India) and Marudhar Arts (India). We now have 19 Official Submission Centers, each of which is a leader in its region and category, available to help collectors and dealers submit collectibles to our companies for certification.

NGC and PMG formalized relationships with two leading numismatic auction companies, as they were named the Official Grading Service of A. Karamitsos International Auctions and VCoins. NCS was named Official Conservation Service of A. Karamitsos International Auctions and VCoins. NGC was also named the Official Grading Service of online auction platform Sixbid, while PMG was named Official Grading Service of Paper Money Forum, an online community of collectors.

Recognizing that our past and future success rests on vibrant and growing hobbies, we invested millions of dollars to support our collector communities. This includes many significant upgrades to the NGC Registry, a free online platform for collectors to register, organize and display their coins. We are proud that these efforts have introduced thousands of new collectors to the NGC Registry over the last year.

We also publish extensive educational content across our websites, app, email newsletters and social media presence to alert collectors and dealers to the latest counterfeits, important discoveries and interesting collectibles. We promote our hobbies in more than 15 different languages to numerous markets around the world.

Our digital, educational and outreach efforts were recognized in 2019 by Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG), which named the NGC App the Best Software / App of 2019. Last year, we integrated both the NGC Registry and Submission Tracking into our free NGC App for smartphones and tablets. The NLG also named NGC’s Instagram account @ngccoins the Best Social Media Platform of 2019, and also lauded the NGC Ancients and PMG Counterfeit Detection columns with Best Columns/Articles awards.

Another way that CCG has worked to make its hobbies safer and more accessible is through a new initiative we launched with eBay in 2019. Called Expert Review, this low-cost service enables prospective buyers on eBay to get a preliminary opinion of authenticity and grade from NGC, PMG or CGC. This helps to protect consumers on the world’s largest online auction platform.

Many new collectors are introduced to our hobbies through modern collectibles, an increasingly active category that is fostered by the innovative certification services developed by NGC, PMG and CGC.

NGC, for example, partnered with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) to create a special certification label for the US Mint’s Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coins. This label resulted in a significant payment from NGC to the ASF, helping to support their mission of providing scholarships to promising students.

NGC also created special holders that resembled the surface of the moon and partnered with a number of astronauts to autograph NGC labels. As a result of these efforts, NGC certified more than 60,000 of the Apollo 11 coins and undoubtedly led some people to buy their very first coin.

On the subject of autographed labels, we are pleased to have added several marquee names to the program in the past year, including Randy’L Teton, the Native American model for the Sacagawea dollar; Wayne Miller, a renowned silver dollar researcher; and David Motl, a former high-ranking official with the US Mint. NGC also added new display options in 2019, including multi-coin holders that encapsulate up to six coins in a single holder.

PMG and CGC similarly innovated and enhanced their services. PMG identified many new varieties of paper money of interest to collectors and developed a number of attractive label designs.

CGC collaborated with entertainment giant Marvel to create a series of exciting labels featuring various Marvel superheroes. These incredibly popular labels, like our other special labels, create a comprehensive and visually distinctive package that is very appealing to many collectors.

Through the efforts of our outstanding employees and partners around the world, the CCG companies have now certified more than 56 million collectibles. This includes more than 45 million coins, tokens and medals certified by NGC, nearly 5 million notes certified by PMG and more than 6 million comic books and other collectibles certified by CGC.

I am incredibly proud of all that we have accomplished and also deeply grateful for the support that we have received. We will continue to show our thanks by providing collectors and dealers around the world with the highest level of accuracy, consistency and integrity. This powerful combination will, as always, create new collectors, make our hobbies safer and increase values and liquidity.

It is my honor to serve you in our 33rd year of operations.

Best wishes,

Mark Salzberg

P.S. To stay connected with the CCG companies and be the first to know about our latest research, innovations, services and events, visit NGCcoin.com, PMGnotes.com or CGCcomics.com and subscribe to our emails.

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