ANA Certification Service

Grading abuses became rampant by the early 1970s, leading the American Numismatic Association to decide to do something about it. Their solution was to introduce a service through which a coin would be certified as genuine, then assign a numerical grade to the individual coin based on standards established by the ANA. The new service was called the American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS). It was the first of what's called third-party certification services.

The ANA eventually adopted a grading system based on 65 points. (This system was later extended to 70 points.) The numerical system made grading more accurate, and it also removed the grading abuses by the loose use of such descriptions as gem, brilliant, and choice. Dealers could no longer choose whatever words they wanted to describe their coins. There was finally a consistent system.

ANACS grew in steps. For the first seven years of its existence, the service only authenticated coins. Beginning in March 1979, ANACS also began to render an opinion on the grade of a coin, issuing a certificate with a photograph of the coin in an effort to avoid having the certificates switched to other coins. The black and white photographs on the certificate were not an exacting science, but it was a good beginning. An ANA grading guide was published about the same time, this serving to identify the standards ANACS would use to ensure consistency in their grading.

ANACS grading began during a coin bull market, however when a bear market began during the 1980s the same collectors and dealers who had complained the service had been too conservative with its grading now began to complain the service was overgrading coins. What the dealers wanted was a double standard. It was to their advantage if a coin previously graded mint state 65 in a bull market was now graded MS63 in a bear market. Confidence in ANACS dropped, threatening to make third-party certification services an experiment that didn't work.

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