Our monthly article
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of numismatics for dealers,
collectors, and investors
of United States Rare Coins
CAC Coins Realizing Higher Premiums
CAC is not insurance, but it is assurance. It is a third opinion quality control that assures the buyer that this particular coin is well above average for the grade and, in many cases, very close to the next higher grade. In fact, the eye appeal of a CAC coin often makes it look better than some coins that grade technically higher. This is why you may see in some major auctions an MS65 CAC coin sell for more than an MS66.
The CAC GREEN Label signifies that a coin has met Certified Acceptance Corporation's stringent grading standards.
The chart below shows prices realized for similar coins in the same grades, the exception being that one from each comparison is a CAC stickered coin; these examples were selected from the April Central States Heritage Auction.
|1909 S VDB Lincoln Cent||PCGS MS66 Red||$9,400|
|1909 S VDB Lincoln Cent||PCGS MS66 Red CAC||$19,975|
|1927 S Lincoln Cent||PCGS MS64 Red||$1,293|
|1927 S Lincoln Cent||PCGS MS64 Red CAC||$1,528|
|1895 Liberty Nickel||PCGS MS65||$1,410|
|1895 Liberty Nickel||PCGS MS65 CAC||$1,763|
|1913 TI Buffalo Nickel||PCGS MS67||$764|
|1913 TI Buffalo Nickel||PCGS MS67 CAC||$1,116|
|1914 S Buffalo Nickel||PCGS MS66||$4,994|
|1914 S Buffalo Nickel||PCGS MS66 CAC||$7,638|
|1857 Half Dime||PCGS MS66||$940|
|1857 Half Dime||PCGS MS66 CAC||$1,250|
|1878 CC Seated Quarter||PCGS MS65||$3,819|
|1878 CC Seated Quarter||PCGS MS65 CAC||$6,463|
|1936 Walking Liberty Half||PCGS MS67||$823|
|1936 Walking Liberty Half||PCGS MS67 CAC||$1,293|
|1937 S Walking Liberty Half||PCGS MS67||$3,760|
|1937 S Walking Liberty Half||PCGS MS67 CAC||$4,259|
|1886 O Morgan Dollar||PCGS MS63||$3,290|
|1886 O Morgan Dollar||PCGS MS63 CAC||$4,113|
|1888 Morgan Dollar||NGC MS66||$470|
|1888 Morgan Dollar||NGC MS66 CAC||$1,293|
|1888 O Morgan Dollar||PCGS MS66||$1,645|
|1888 O Morgan Dollar||PCGS MS66 CAC||$4,113|
|1892 Morgan Dollar||PCGS MS65||$3,055|
|1892 Morgan Dollar||PCGS MS65 CAC||$5,288|
|1908 $2 ˝ Indian||PCGS MS65||$1,998|
|1908 $2 ˝ Indian||PCGS MS65 CAC||$3,055|
|1908 $2 ˝ Indian||PCGS MS66||$8,519|
|1908 $2 ˝ Indian||PCGS MS66 CAC||$12,925|
|1914 S $5 Indian||PCGS MS62||$6,463|
|1914 S $5 Indian||PCGS MS62 CAC||$7,050|
|1857 S $20 Gold||NGC MS65||$10,575|
|1857 S $20 Gold||NGC MS65 CAC||$18,800|
|1874 S $20 Gold||PCGS MS61||$3,771|
|1874 S $20 Gold ||PCGS MS61 CAC||$4,113|
|1895 $20 Gold||NGC MS62||$1,411|
|1895 $20 Gold||NGC MS62 CAC||$1,821|
|1907 D $20 Gold||PCGS MS65||$7,050|
|1907 D $20 Gold||PCGS MS65 CAC||$12,338|
|1911 D $20 Saint Gaudens||NGC MS66||$2,585|
|1911 D $20 Saint Gaudens||NGC MS66 CAC||$4,113|
For this comparison we tried to select coins that had matching characteristics; that is, evenly matched toned coins or brilliant with no toning. Unmatched coins could have compromised the data. It is also important to compare similar coins in the same auction; if you compare coins from one auction to the next, market conditions would not necessarily be consistent. Also bear in mind that just because one coin does not have the CAC sticker does not mean that it would not qualify if submitted. This is something the coin experts look for on a regular basis; coins that they are sure will make the CAC grade.
In every example we selected, the CAC coin brought more than the same date without the CAC sticker. In some cases the difference was quite substantial. Take a look at the very first comparison. The 1909 S VDB Red in PCGS MS66 with the CAC sticker realized more than twice that of the non CAC coin. It also helps to know that the CAC population is 24 coins and there are only two graded higher with the CAC sticker. The population reports from PCGS and NGC combined show 220 MS66 coins and only 12 MS67’s.
In a recent Heritage Auction there were three lots of 1879 S MS68 Morgan Dollars; all were nice coins that brought from $3,055 to $4,113. Two of the coins were NGC certified and the highest priced coin was PCGS. The current FMV is $4,220. There was one other 1879 S MS68 that had the CAC approval on it and it realized $6,463.
Another example from the same auction was the 1881 CC Morgan Dollar in MS66; two coins were sold, one PCGS coin brought $1,293 and the other one with the CAC sticker realized $1,763, a $480 bonus. The current FMV is $1,560 so our examples show the first coin selling at a discount and the second bringing a substantial premium.
Not all CAC coins bring a premium. There are coins without the CAC sticker that may bring a slight discount, while the comparable CAC coin sells at the current FMV, most likely indicating a price adjustment downward. And then there are CAC and non-CAC coins that sell for about the same price. This usually occurs for coins where the regular populations are high and the CAC populations are also rather significant. For example, in the common date MS63 $20 Saint Gaudens, you may see three different lots sell for virtually the same price with one of the coins having the CAC sticker. Ultimately, CAC coins are the ones buyers would like to purchase, all things considered equal, but for the more common coins it is just a nominal benefit. You will find that the most significant premiums are achieved for coins that are rare by mintage, have low populations for the grade, and also have low CAC populations.
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