GreatCollections is auctioning a very unusual, probably unique, PCGS sample slab containing a cricket. Dating to the late 1990s or 2000, the slabbed cricket was in the collection of error coin expert Fred Weinberg, who described it in an email as “the second most famous cricket after Jiminy Cricket!”
[We respectfully demur, and point our readers towards the underrated Charles Dickens novella, The Cricket on the Hearth (1845). —CoinWeek]
According to the GreatCollections listing, at some point in the 1990s a chirping cricket annoyed graders in PCGS’ grading room and they caught it and sealed it in a sample slab. Thinking that he would enjoy it, the slab was given to Fred Weinberg, an expert in major error coins and paper money. He received the slabbed cricket with a group of coins that the graders had been assessing. Weinberg says that the object entered into his possession in either 1999 or 2000, and he has displayed it at a few coin shows over the last 20 years (most recently at this year’s ANA World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Illinois).
Weinberg has been “doing error coins since [he] was probably 10 or 11 years old,” and dropped out of college in early 1972 to take a job at a large coin shop in Inglewood, California, he explained in a phone interview. His interest in error coins and other unusual numismatic material prompted the PCGS graders to send him the slabbed cricket. Weinberg was one of PCGS’ original 31 dealers and authenticates and writes descriptions of errors for the service.
The cricket has seen better days as several small pieces have fallen off of the body. GreatCollections grades the cricket “MS-65 Full Head (Detached)” – a humorous reference to the distinction given to fully-struck Standing Liberty quarters. The listing notes that the cricket’s remains are “very fragile” and “may break into additional parts in the future.”
David Schwager described the PCGS-certified cricket as “the most unusual item I have seen or heard in a holder of any grading service” and lists the coin as “PCGS-Cricket-9-1” in his reference book Sample Slabs. In his listing of Weinberg’s cricket, Schwager mentions an orange peel rumored to be in an ANACS slab as an example of another unusual object slabbed by a third-party grading service. PCGS also put a chocolate coin into a sample slab.
Weinberg shared that his interest in selling the cricket originated at the 2021 ANA show when two separate people offered $1,000 for the slabbed cricket. He approached Ian Russell at GreatCollections, saying “Hey it’s not a ’33 double eagle but it’s a cricket in plastic!”
Weinberg also shared that he received a “substantially higher” offer to pull the piece from the GreatCollections auction but turned it down.
As of Tuesday, September 14, the high bid stood at $2,050 with 50 bids. No estimate is listed; Weinberg himself asked “How do you estimate what a 20-year-old dead cricket is worth?”
The auction ends on October 31 at 4:05 PST.