Donated by PCGS Cofounder John Dannreuther
What is believed to be the very first PCGS encapsulated coin–a prototype that changed the coin industry forever–is being sold for the first time in a Witter Coin University benefit auction held by GreatCollections.
PCGS cofounder John Dannreuther generously donated the coin with 100% of the proceeds going to Witter Coin University, a non-profit that offers classes to young numismatists each year in San Francisco, California. GreatCollections is donating the full buyer’s fee received.
“I remember the meeting we had very clearly,” recalled Dannreuther. “We were in one of our hotel rooms after a coin show in 1985. We had a meeting night after night after the bourse closed to discuss our “book research project” that turned into PCGS. David [Hall] walks in and holds up the very first slabbed coin and announces, ‘instead of writing books about coins, let’s do something revolutionary. We can grade and encapsulate coins and guarantee them.’ We instantly knew this was going to be the future of the coin industry.”
The coin used was simply a circulated quarter dated 1982, likely from David Hall’s pocket at the time. The green PCGS label is blank on one side, and has “PROFESSIONAL/COIN/GRADING/SERVICE” printed on the reverse.
This prototype was mentioned in a roundtable discussion hosted by CoinWorld in 2016 featuring PCGS founders David Hall, Van Simmons, Gordon Wrubel, and Dannreuther, where it was mentioned as likely the very first encapsulated coin. Dannreuther went on to explain how he considered the moment David Hall presented the prototype holder to be the birth of PCGS.
PCGS started grading and encapsulating coins in 1986 with the 108 serial number prefix using white labels. It was their original intent to launch with the green label, however, when the operations staff went to print from the green paper stock, the printer would jam, and so they had to start with white printed labels. A week or so later, the printer issue was fixed, and they continued with green labels. The 108-prefix coins with the white label sell for substantial premiums to collectors who have come to appreciate how much PCGS has changed the collecting community. On June 4, 2023, GreatCollections auctioned a 1955 Franklin Half Dollar White Rattler PCGS Holder, serial number 1080286 for $9,592 USD – almost 100x the PCGS Price Guide value of $115.
Over the past 37 years, PCGS has graded over 40 million coins worth billions of dollars.
PCGS President Stephanie Sabin commented: “It is exciting to see such a wonderful piece of PCGS history auctioned to support an incredible program. I cannot think of a more worthy organization to support that gives back to the youth of our community. Educating future generations of numismatists should be a priority for every organization.”
Witter Coin University plans on using the proceeds from this auction to fund future scholarships for their Fundamentals of Numismatics class. Each year, it is taught to dozens of young numismatists with an emphasis on coin grading, counterfeit detection, ethics and reputation awareness, numismatic history, and the various opportunities in the numismatic industry.
The founder of Witter Coin University, Seth Chandler, has stated that “[WCU is] incredibly grateful to John Dannreuther for his generosity with donating this iconic PCGS slab to raise funds for our university. [GreatCollections President] Ian Russell deserves a big thank you as well. His incredible work researching, cataloging the coin, and donating the buyers fee is greatly appreciated. All of the proceeds will go towards providing 40 scholarships for Young Numismatists for an all expense paid eight-day trip to San Francisco for a numismatic experience of a lifetime.”
The very first PCGS encapsulated coin is being sold unreserved, with bidding to end on Sunday, July 30. To bid and view more information, please visit www.greatcollections.com or telephone 800-442-6467.