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ANACS – The ANA Years

ANACS coin certification throughout the years. Image: GreatCollections / CoinWeek.
ANACS coin certification throughout the years. Image: GreatCollections / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The oldest third-party coin grading service, ANACS, was founded in 1972 by the American Numismatic Association (ANA).

Originally, ANACS was an acronym for “American Numismatic Association Certification Service“. The service worked out of Washington, D.C. to have access to the comprehensive numismatic collection at the Smithsonian Institute.

Charles Roy Hoskins, III, who previously served as a consultant to Mint Director Mary Brooks, was ANACS’ first director.

The Early Years

ANACS certified its first coin as authentic on June 15, 1972.

ANACS received its 1,000th coin submission in the first week of November 1972 and its 2,000th coin in March 1973. During this period, ANACS recorded a backlog of coins awaiting authentication, ranging from 619 on October 1, 1973, to just over 300 by year’s end.

Its staff numbered only two throughout the first year and a half of ANACS operations. That number doubled on November 13, 1973, when ANACS hired a clerk-typist, and Francis “Skip” Fazarri, who served as the service’s full-time authenticator. Fazarri was credited for his role in increasing ANACS’ capabilities.

At the 1975 ANA Convention in Los Angeles, California, ANA President Virgil Hancock appointed Abe Kosoff as chairman of the ANA Grading Service Study Team. Serving alongside Kosoff on the grading standards committee were Kamal Ahwash, Harry Bass, Aubrey Bebee, Del Bland, Michael Brownlee, James Charlton, William Donlon, Larry Goldberg, Jesse Iskowitz, Myron Kliman, William Koster, Julian Leidman, Denis Loring, George Mallis, Fred Malone, William Mitkoff, Paul Munson, Dean Oakes, James B. Pryor, Bill Raymond, Roy Reinoehl, Joel Rettew, Don Taxay, Leroy Van Allen, Mal Verner, and John Willem.

Special assignments were given to the following individuals: Charles Hoskins, director of the ANA’s authentication service, designed operating procedures and provided a location study. John J. Pittman did a budget and staffing analysis. James G. Ruddy put forward fees and penalties. Sol Taylor evaluated the educational aspects of the proposed ANA grading service. Stanley Apfelbaum drafted appeals and arbitration procedures.

In 1976, ANACS moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado (headquarters of the ANA), and in 1979, the service adopted the technical grading scale published in The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins. At this point, the obverse and reverse of a coin were graded separately from one another, resulting in split grades such as “MS-65/MS-63.”

Grading fee schedule in 1979:

Value ANA Member

Authentication

ANA Member

Grading

Non-Member Authentication Non-Member Grading
$0 – $125 $5.40 $5.00 $6.00 $6.00
$126 – $250 $8.10 $5.00 $9.00 $6.00
$251 – $375 $10.80 $5.00 $12.00 $6.00
$376- $500 $13.50 $5.00 $15.00 $6.00
Over $500 2.7% of value* 1% of value* 3% of value* 1.5% of value*

*Maximum Free $500/$550 (Auth); $20/$25 (Grading).

The Launch of the ANACS Grading Service

As originally conceived, ANACS was an authentication service. Coins submitted to ANACS would be reviewed, not for a grade, but to determine if they were authentic undoctored coins. ANACS photographed the submitted coin and returned it to the submitter with photographs of the obverse and reverse, as well as a card stating that the coin was genuine and registered to the owner. The card also included a section at the bottom to be filled out in case of a change of ownership.

The American Numismatic Association seeks applications for ANACS in the February 1978 issue of The Numismatist.
The American Numismatic Association seeks applications for ANACS in the February 1978 issue of The Numismatist.

ANACS began grading coins in March of 1978. The grading standard ANACS adopted was based on the 1977 book Official A.N.A. Grading Standards for United States Coins. The grading system found within this text and adopted by ANACS is termed the Technical Grading Scale, which presupposes that coins are minted in MS-70 and that all damage occurs to the coin after the strike. It also provided separate grades for obverses and reverses.

In March 1979, ANACS reported having graded 174 coins that month, with an average turnaround time of six to eight weeks – with most coins being sent to outside consultants for a grading opinion. In March 1980, ANACS reported 1,022 coins graded with three to four weeks turnaround times. In the summer of 1980, Abe Kosoff, Chairman of the Grading Committee, recommended that the ANA adopt three grading scores for commemorative coins: Not Uncirculated, MS60, and MS65.

From the outset, ANACS developed a reputation amongst dealers and collectors as being conservative in grading. For some, this wasn’t seen as a positive development. In the May 21, 1980 issue of Coin World, dealer Don Kagin remarked, “I believe, however, that most dealers and advanced collectors consider ANACS grading to be very conservative.”

Collector Robert A. Hoadley seconded this opinion in a letter published in the January 1981 issue of The Numismatist, writing:

“I think it would be sad if ANAC’s [sic] grading became considered conservative to the extent that it would not be used by the numismatic community. ANACS’s grading should be based on the same standards as the rest of the community, and both should follow the published guidelines. At today’s values, especially in the high grades, grades can be very significant for all concerned.”

In 1981, at the Honolulu midyear convention, the ANA Board of Governors unanimously approved grading standards for commemorative coins (ascendant at the time) and authorized ANACS to begin accepting them.

In 1982, ANACS was criticized for the consistency of its grading. An ANA member, Richard Wagner, defended the grading and urged the governors to stay the course in a published letter.

At the 1982 ANA Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, the ANA Board voted to retain the numerical grading system.

ANACS Tightens Its Procedures Under Bressett

In August 1982, Kenneth E. Bressett (Red Book editor emeritus) became ANACS director. Also, the service changed its grading procedures: From 1981-1982, two graders reviewed each coin. In 1983, the number of graders was extended to four, with three additional graders used to break ties.

ANACS Fee Schedule, September 1983.
ANACS Fee Schedule, September 1983.

In 1984, a movement was afoot to either improve ANACS or dissolve it. A high-profile ANACS grader and authenticator, Mike Fuljenz, left ANACS to work at Blanchard. A young grader named Michael “Miles” Standish was hired to replace him.

ANACS Follows PCGS in Adopting an 11-Point Mint State Grading Standard

In June 1986, the ANA Board of Governors unanimously adopted the 11-point Mint State grading system and introduced the grade AU-58. The system’s adoption came after the launch of PCGS, which, on February 3, 1986, began to accept coins and adopted these same grades. Before adopting the 11-point system, ANACS only recognized the Mint State grades MS60, 63, 65, 67, and 70. The new grades, referred to as “intermediate” grades by Richard Montgomery, were only applied to coins once ANACS had assembled a grading set of coins that fit the criteria that the service had established at the AU58, MS61, 62, 64, 66, 68, and 69 levels.

Sets to be assembled for this purpose included Morgan and Peace dollars, Walking Liberty halves, Mercury dimes, Saint-Gaudens $20 gold coins, and Commemoratives. ANACS was given a budget of $45,000 to purchase coins for their grading set but had to utilize the ANA collection before other coins were purchased. An 11-point scale was adopted to anticipate the needs of the investor. ANACS purchased (as of a December 1986 Numismatist article) 57 Morgans in grades MS60, MS62, MS63, MS64, and MS65; 42 Peace dollars in the same grades; eight $20 Saints in grades MS62 and MS64; eight $20 Liberty gold coins in MS60 and MS62; and 39 Walking Liberty halves in MS62, MS63, MS64, and MS65 (totals represent coins for whole series in all grades combined, not coins in each grade).

In July 1988, the ANA Board approved the ANACS plan to offer coin encapsulation services and ANACS Photo Certificates. Encapsulated coins would use a single grade and include attributions. The company discontinued using ANACS Photo Certificates in 1989, replacing them with the ANA Caché holder.

In November 1989, ANACS director Leonard Albrecht announced that the service had assembled grading sets and was ready to offer grading services for modern Proof issues.

ANA Sells Most Popular Program Against Member Wishes

ANA member sentiment towards ANACS was overwhelmingly positive. In a member survey published in the June 1990 issue of The Numismatist, 90.4% of those responding felt that the ANA should provide an authentication service, while 74.7% believed that the ANA should operate a grading service. More than 56% of members supported the idea that ANACS authenticated world coins, while fewer felt that ANACS should also grade them. 23% of the respondents indicated that they had used the service within the past 12 months of the survey.

This support within the ranks of the members did not stop the ANA Board of Governors from cleaving off the service.

In October 1990, the ANA sold ANACS to Amos Press, the publishers of Coin World. As a condition of the sale, the ANA was prohibited from reentering the grading business until August 1, 1995. Amos Press introduced the ANACS Cache holder in 1990/1.

Incidentally, when ANACS was sold, “ANACS” became a name and was no longer an acronym.

In 1992, The Numismatist published an article by Charles Steib, who showed that 75% of 67 coins submitted to the new ANACS were given higher grades than when the same coins were graded at the ANA-operated ANACS.

Amos Press sold ANACS to Anderson Press Inc. in June/July 2005. Starting in April 2006, ANACS was headquartered in Austin, Texas.

* * *

CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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