“Buy the coin, not the holder” is common advice from Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and other professional numismatists. However, there are some collectors who turn that adage around and instead “buy the holder, not the coin.” For these collectors, NGC’s earliest holders are particularly special.
Perhaps the most interesting NGC holder in existence is the prototype black holder made prior to NGC’s launch in 1987. Machined with a lathe, this holder was created to test and showcase the intended design for NGC’s yet-to-be-released holder. It is one-of-a-kind and held by NGC. In January 2011, at the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) show in Tampa, Florida, the prototype black holder was shown publicly for the very first time.
When NGC launched in the summer of 1987, the company encapsulated coins in a black core with a hot-stamped silver foil NGC logo inside of the holder and a hand-cut white label. Used only between July and mid-to-late August 1987, this type is designated NGC 1.0 by holder collectors and is very rare.
Gold coins looked stunning in the black holder, but dark copper coins were more difficult to see. In addition, the label with the coin description and grade was on the back of the holder — a recommendation from an ad agency that said it was essential for NGC’s logo to be front and center. For these reasons, the holder design was not popular with collectors at the time and was quickly changed. Today, holder collectors love the original black holder and often pay premiums in the thousands of dollars to get one.
The second-generation holder, commonly called NGC 2.1, switched to a white core and was used from August through late October 1987. It features the same hand-cut white label as the NGC 1.0 holder with no barcode. The NGC logo — now in gold — is also stamped inside of the case. This is the second-rarest type of NGC holder, and it also often brings a large premium.
The stamping of the gold logo on the inside of the holder proved troublesome, however, and was changed quickly. The next NGC holder variety was released in October 1987.
This holder type is commonly called NGC 2.0, but it was actually used after the NGC 2.1, from approximately October through November 1987. This naming peculiarity is due to the NGC 2.1 type being unknown to holder collectors until many years later. While it was used for a short amount of time, NGC’s submission volumes were growing significantly, so it is believed to be more common than the NGC 2.1 holder.
Over its nearly 35-year history, NGC has constantly upgraded its holder design. The current holder provides superior display and protection with an informative certification label, numerous security features, and crystal-clear optics. The NGC holder is even used by the Smithsonian Institution and other museums around the world to protect their most important rarities. Learn more at NGCcoin.com/holders.
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About Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC)
NGC is one of the world’s largest and most trusted third-party grading services for coins, tokens, and medals, with more than 48 million collectibles certified. Founded in 1987, NGC strives to provide an accurate, consistent, and impartial assessment of authenticity and grade. Every coin that NGC certifies is backed by the comprehensive NGC Guarantee of authenticity and grade, which gives buyers greater confidence. To learn more, visit NGCcoin.com.