FAQ (Frequently asked questions)
How long has PCI been in business?
PCI, Inc, began in 1989 as a service primarily for collectors. In the beginning the company was called Photo Certification Institute, hence the acronym PCI. At the time the company would encapsulate coins in a holder along with a photo of that coin. As time went on, the photos were dropped, the company changed ownership, and the acronym of PCI was used for the company name.
How can I get a submission form?
You can print a submission form directly from our web site. Or you can e-mail, fax, or call our office and we’ll gladly mail submission forms to you.
Which coins will PCI authenticate and grade?
PCI will authenticate, grade, and attribute a wide variety of U. S. coins, U. S. die varieties, error coins, foreign coins, tokens, and medals.
- U. S. coins from 1793 to present (with a few exceptions* – see below)
- U. S. die varieties from our wide list of Official Attribution References
- Most error coins (we cannot authenticate some blank planchets)
- Foreign coins from 1600 to present as listed in the Krause Catalogs
- U. S. Hard Times Tokens as listed in the Low/Rulau references
- U. S. Civil War, Storecard, and patriotic Tokens as listed in Fuld
- So-called Dollars as listed in the Hibler-Kappen reference
* At the present time, we cannot authenticate and encapsulate California gold.
Can I submit my coins directly to PCI?
Yes! There are no memberships required, and no dealers to see. By using the simple online submission form, and by following the easy-to-understand submission instructions, you can submit your coins directly to PCI for our fast and friendly service.
How do I package my coins for submission?
Place each of your coins individually into a Mylar flip (either 2″ x 2″ or 2.5″ x 2.5″), and number each flip with a felt tip marker to correspond with the line number on your submission form. For example, if you submit a 1909-S VDB cent, and it is entered on line 4 of the submission form, then number that flip #4 with the marker. Never use cardboard holders with staples, or any holders with staples or tape when submitting your coins. Do not use staples, tape, or paper clips to seal the holders. Just fold the flips and wrap them so the coins will arrive securely. We are not responsible for coins damaged by staples!
How should I send my coins to PCI?
We always suggest you mail your coins only via Registered Mail. That is the most secure method of shipping coins and to have them insured. And make sure they are insured for the proper amount. Other forms of mail service are not as secure, especially Certified Mail. Many people feel Certified Mail is best, but insurance is not available for this service. You can learn more about mailing coins by visiting our chapter entitled “Tips On Mailing Coins.”
What address should I use when sending coins to PCI?
When customer pays return shipping and insurance costs. Return costs are primarily dependant upon your stated value of the coins you submit, and the number of coins you submit. Please refer to the Insurance Chart for those costs.
Can I list two different service levels on the same submission form?
Unfortunately, no. We must have a separate submission form for each different service level chosen. Additionally, we must have a separate submission form for each of the different Signature Series submissions, as these coins travel through our system separately and may be ready at different times.
What value should I use to place on the submission form?
Only you can provide the value for the coins you submit. The values you list are the values for which your coins are insured while in our possession and while the coins are in transit back to you. However, we reserve the right to change the value of a coin if it is obviously over stated.
What grading standards does PCI use?
As with most of the grading services, PCI uses guidelines established by the American Numismatic Association. These guidelines are published in the book entitled Official A.N.A. Grading Standards for United States Coins available from Whitman Publishing www.whitmanbooks.com.
What coins does PCI not grade and authenticate?
The list can’t always be complete. But the list below is a good representation of those items we cannot encapsulate at this time.
- Counterfeit coins
- California Gold
- Any coin larger than 40.6 mm.
- Any coin thicker than 3.8 mm.
- Some blank planchets
- Paper money
- Foreign tokens
- Foreign medals
- Ancient coins
How do I make payment to PCI?
Payment can be made by personal check, money order, or by these credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express. Please do not send cash.
Does PCI attribute varieties?
PCI will attribute a large number of varieties listed in a large group of sources. These sources are included in our list of Official Attribution References. In addition to these references, PCI will, from time to time, add special varieties to our approved list and will be illustrated and described on our web site.
In the past, PCI has identified virtually any variety, doubled die, RPM, OMM, misplaced date, etc. However, with so many minor varieties, we feel it best to only attribute varieties which can be reasonably researched and attributed to a well known and respected source.
Does PCI attribute “strike doubling” on the holder?
No longer! In the past, PCI has identified strike doubling on the holder. However, many specialists feel by doing so adds a subjective value to a coin, and that subjective value is not deserving. Many specialists feel strike doubling (also referred to as ejection doubling, mechanical doubling, among other terms) is actually damage to the coin, and we agree. We do have a 4-page monograph available for download entitled Determining Die Doubling from Other Forms of Doubling.
With varieties, what is the difference in attribution, research, and Signature Series?
When you use our Variety Verification service, your fee is $5 in addition to the normal service requested. This fee covers our confirmation of the variety listing you provide.
Our Variety Research service covers our costs associated for research when either the variety listing you provide is incorrect, or you ask us to research the variety.
Our unique Signature Series covers the cost of one of our nationally recognized specialists grading and authenticating the variety you submit and assigning the correct variety attribution. In some cases, these specialists can assign new listing numbers if the coin is a new discovery or new reported variety. The signature of the variety specialist will be on the label which ensures authenticity.
What happens to my coins when they arrive at PCI?
Immediately upon arrival in our office, and until the coins leave our premises, your coins are under video surveillance with the video recorded in secure locations. Your package is delivered to our office, opened, and the contents verified by two people.
We check to ensure the coins match your submission form, and verify payment. The coins are then logged into our computer system, assigned a unique serial number, and placed into trays indicating your name and the date the coins are due to ship. The entire order is then transported into one of our safes in the grading room. The coins are then removed by our graders in the order they were received depending upon service level. Each coin is thoroughly examined for authenticity, attribution, and grade. Initial grades and any variety attributions are assigned and entered into our computer system. The coins are then examined by a final grader, who confirms the grade, attribution, and any other necessary information.
From that point, the coins leave the grading room for assembly, where they are carefully placed into holders and the labels printed and inserted. Each coin is then inspected again for accuracy. Coins are then transferred into another office where the capsules are sonically sealed, preventing any environmental contaminants from entering the capsule.
Your coins are then re-examined yet again for grade, and to ensure the label information is accurate. Once your coins have been approved for shipment, the order goes to the shipping room where they are packaged for Registered Mail or for FedEx return shipment, depending upon your requirements.
Can grades vary among grading companies?
Absolutely! Grading is an art. Although scientific attributes are considered in the grading of coins, grading in itself is a learned art, and does vary among specialists. Even experts can and do disagree within a point or two in the MS60 to MS70 range (and PF60 through PF 70,) and slight disagreements among circulated grades is not uncommon. Some specialists consider the strike of a coin when grading, yet strike in and of itself should not affect the grade. Yet strike can and does affect eye appeal, and eye appeal is very important ingredient in a coin’s grade.
If there is a mistake on the PCI label, can I get it corrected?
Yes! If the mistake is deemed to be our mistake, or a mistake caused by a clerical error, we will gladly correct the label and seal the coin in a new holder. The coin will then be returned to you at no cost. We are not responsible for shipping to us.
Can I have my name added to the PCI holder?
In some cases, yes! Our exclusive Alexander Hamilton program will allow certain names, titles, etc to be placed on the label with the description of the coin. Minimum charges and quantities do apply. We reserve the right to deny some names, titles, etc. for use with this program.
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