Why PQ?

We at Stuppler & Company have witnessed an ongoing misunderstanding of the characteristics needed for a coin to be designated Premium Quality (PQ). The two top grading services, PCGS and NGC, do an excellent job of verifying authenticity and ensuring that it hasn’t been cleaned, altered or otherwise “doctored.” The coin is then graded and encapsulated to preserve it from future damage. However, the grade on the holder doesn’t tell the whole story!

Manufacturing defects such as planchet flaws are not indicated on the holder even though they may be part of the final grade. These include “strike-throughs”, die grease struck into the coin or “flakes” which result from poor metal preparation prior to cutting the blanks or planchets. Other blemishes such as carbon spots and/or copper spots which occur long after striking are likewise not indicated on the certified holder, but detract from the overall eye appeal and desirability of the coin. When buying coins based on on-line or print descriptions and photos, these flaws and imperfections are often not fully evident.

Serious rare coin collectors and investors have told us that owning these less desirable coins not only has affected their overall pride of ownership but, more importantly, they find they have liquidity problems when they go to sell them as these detractions suddenly become meaningful. A PQ Approved sticker on a PCGS or NGC holder is your assurance that the coins you purchase will be free of such problems. When you decide to sell a PQ Approved coin, the potential buyer will know that he or she is about to acquire a truly valuable premium coin.

A PQ Approved sticker certifies that a coin has outstanding eye appeal. You can trust that your PQ Approved rare coins are problem free and high end for their grade. You will be proud to display your PQ Approved rare coins, and you will be confident that they will retain their value. No doubt you’ve heard that, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” In the case of PQ Approved rare coins, “Beauty is IN the holder.”

For over 50 years, Stuppler & Company has been known for high standards and conservative grading of investment-quality coins. Now, PQ Approved enables you to use our high standards and conservative grading to enhance your own coin collecting and investing.

If you feel your coins may meet our strict standards and wish to submit your rare coins for a PQ Approved sticker, please click here. We look forward to working with you.

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What Determines a PQ Approved Coin?
We want both Collectors and Dealers to be aware of our strict grading standards. To that end, we are happy to provide the following detailed explanations of the 8 PQ Approved points required for a coin to be awarded the PQ emblem. We encourage you to review them and learn why you will feel confident in buying, and proud to own, PQ Approved coins!

  1. Only PCGS or NGC Certified Coins!
    PQ Approved only reviews coins in either PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) or NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation) holders. These two companies grade approximately 90% of all Certified coins in the United States and are arguably the most respected and trusted Professional Grading Services in the industry, while being actively traded on coin exchanges and through major auction houses worldwide!
  2. No Major Mint Defects!
    The two major grading services do an excellent job of authenticating and grading rare coins. However, mint defects such as strike-throughs, planchet flaws, pronounced die-breaks and other issues often create a problem. These defects can greatly reduce the overall eye-appeal of coins and even though the technical grade may be high, the appearance may be less than desirable. Further, when it comes time to sell, these detractions suddenly become important to the prospective buyer and ultimately can reduce the value, regardless of the certified grade. With PQ approved coins, you can rest assured that your coin will be free of unsightly mint defects.
  3. Excellent Strike!
    We have decades of experience reviewing and grading tens of thousands of coins. As such, we have developed a strong understanding of how a coin should be struck and how strikes vary from year-to-year and mint-to-mint. The PQ Approved sticker lets you know the coin has an above-average strike!
  4. Great Mint Luster!
    Ever wondered if a coin still has its original shine, or if the reflection is better than a typical coin from that same mintage? You’ll be happy to know that all PQ coins have passed our PQ Approved Mint Luster Standards. Each coin is individually reviewed and compared to similar coins from the same mintage to make sure all PQ coins have a shine you can be proud of!
  5. No Major Copper Spots or Carbon Spots!
    Two of the most common problems that occur on coins over time are the appearance of carbon spots and where gold coins are concerned, copper spotting. Sometimes these appear a short time after leaving the mint and others take decades to crop up. The bottom line is that while these can be indicators of “originality”, they are most often seen as detractions and reduce eye appeal. To elaborate, all traditional (and some modern) U.S. coins are made with a blend of metals in order to add durability. Gold and silver are “softer” metals and in the manufacturing of blanks (planchets) a mixture of 10% copper is added. The process includes melting, mixing and rolling out the metal before the blanks are punched out. Often this process is not precise and the two metals are not properly mixed creating invisible pockets of copper. In the case of gold, these show up as copper spots (red blotches) as a result of copper oxidation over time. Carbon spots on all coins are also a result of poor mixture of the metal, but can also be a result of impurities that get trapped at any point in the manufacturing process. In the case of copper or nickel coins, which are much more volatile metals than gold or silver, these spots can be pronounced and frequently appear as pock-like black bumps on the surface. Further, these can “grow” over time and actually destroy the surface integrity of the coin and result in permanent damage. Both types of spotting are seen as detractions and some can be outright ugly, thus lowering the coin’s desirability and ultimately its liquidity, if not its value. You can be assured that all PQ Approved coins are free of any major copper or carbon spots!
  6. Above Average for the Grade!
    With 50+ years of experience looking at literally hundreds of millions of dollars worth of rare coins, we know when a coin is merely average or below average for the grade. We also know when a coin is above average for the grade. When a coin passes our PQ Approved process and is awarded the PQ sticker you can rest assured that a seasoned expert numismatist has confirmed that your PQ Approved coin is high-end (above average) for the grade!
  7. No Ugly Toning!
    Toning can be a thing of beauty, as many silver collectors/investors are well aware. However, it is not uncommon for a silver coin to chemically mix with the lining of the original mint bag it was placed in. This chemical mixture can give the coin a beautiful toned color or even a rainbow of colors. However, toning can often times hurt a coin, too. Minor cases of bad or ugly toning can detract from a coins appearance and even lower its value. Additionally, major cases of toning – especially dark toning – can sometimes hide problems on a coin not easily scene by the untrained eye. For this reason we are always on the lookout for not just ugly toning, but for any underlying issues that the toning may be concealing as well. This is why all PQ Approved coins are free of Ugly Toning!
  8. Great Eye Appeal!
    To find a coin with great eye appeal, you need to have all of the above attributes. In addition, there are other less common issues that can hurt the overall eye appeal of a coin. PQ Approved wants you to know that if we see any issues that impair the overall appearance, we will not approve it, even though the technical grade may be accurate. Only coins with exceptional eye appeal are awarded the gold PQ Approved sticker. It’s our goal to ensure that every PQ Approved coin is truly a thing of beauty!