Sample Slab Article Archives

                             My First sample slab

Originally post, May 21, 2011

 The picture you see below is the first Sample slab that I’ve ever bought.

Sampleslab 300x204 Sample Slabs : Collectors Who Buy The Slab, Not The Coin : Part I

I’m new to the world of coins and even newer to collecting Sample slabs. I bought my first sample completely by mistake; I saw the slabbed coin for sale on eBay and noticed the word Sample on the label. The first thing I though was that this must mean it’s a stock photo and the one I would receive will be a nice graded coin.

When the coin arrived I opened it and to my surprise there was the word Sample just as in the picture I saw at time of purchase. I’m glad that I had the good sense to do some research on the Internet before sending the seller an email asking why they had sent me the wrong coin. That’s when I discovered that the word “Sample” applied to the slab and not to the coin.

So what is a Sample slab? Well the quick answer is that this is a way for TPG to show a new holder or label change for any given year. Ever since the first slabbed coin, companies have been updating their holders. The first were very basic holders with what looked like a typed label with the usual information. They were quite plain without holograms or any of the other types we have today.

For the most part they’re given out at coin shows sometimes to the public and, to dealers and in some cases people who attend special functions. There are many different ways that samples are distributed and I’ll try to cover them in future articles. There are countless types of Samples covering many different coins. Some are quite rare while others are quite common and that is the fun of collecting Sample slabs.

Now why would anyone want to collect Sample slabs? Well my answer to that question when asked is always the same, Why does anyone collect anything; because it’s fun and isn’t that the reason why we all collect anything?

Now remember that I’m just a rookie at collecting and still have a lot to learn, when it comes to any kind of coins. I’ve spent much time researching Sample slabs as I find them very interesting and lots of fun too, but still I am by no means an expert.

If you have any questions I’ll be happy to try and answer them, or at the very least point you in the right direction. There are far too many sample slabs to cover in just one article and if allowed I will try to cover the different types of Sample slabs.

This Sample Slab, I accidentally purchased, is the first PCGS sample slab to contain a world coin inside. From what I’ve read, it’s a Mint State coin but nothing is indicated on this slab. PCGS started grading world coins back in the first part of 1990. This in itself is very cool, but it’s also not that easy to find. I saw one just recently on eBay sell for around $40.00 but it’s the only one I’ve ever seen since I bought mine several months ago.

So until next time remember to buy the coin and not the slab, but when it comes to sample slabs, buy the slab and not the coin.

All the best

Alan Canavan


              Sample Slabs : First Generation Holders :


Originally posted on June 8, 2011
Sample slab collecting can be fun and interesting. In some cases with only a few hundred samples handed out to dealers or show attendees, they can quickly become very scarce. The fun begins with the search.

PCGS Sampleslab firstgen Sample Slabs : First Generation Holders : Part IIYou can peruse through eBay or search your local coin shops hunting for that elusive sample that’s so hard to find. While the coins may be common, the holders are not! Sometimes, Sample Slabs will contain some very nice coins. We’ll look closer at them in my next article.

With all the changes that have come about since the mid 1980’s there’re many different samples to collect. Sample Slabs were created as a way for TPGS’s to advertise their new holders, any new label changes as well as any new security features that have been added.

It’s best to start at the beginning so we’ll cover two TPGS’s; NGC and PCGS. PCGS was founded in 1986. They wanted to create a product whereas a collector could buy a certified coin, in a plastic holder, without ever seeing it. They could do so with the knowledge that the coin was authentic and with the grade being guaranteed.

NGC was formed a few months later, offering pretty much the same service. Both were in competition with one another, and each offering guaranteed authenticated and graded coins, and with a money buy-back policy. What the two companies’s offered was very similar, but when it came to the slab’s, that’s where the similarity ended.

In the beginning their slabs could not have been more opposite. As you can see in the picture PCGS has an almost generic and plain slab, with an insert looking like it was made on a dot matrix printer using common card stock. NGC had a far more modern look to it.

NGC SampleSlab firstgen Sample Slabs : First Generation Holders : Part II

So let’s look at a first generation PCGS sample‘s, we will look at the holder first and then discuss the coin. You can see that the insert looked quite primitive, there are perforations lines all around the insert and the print is very a basic typed written label.

From what I’ve read, PCGS used Roosevelt Dimes at first dated 1964-D and 1963 . These coins ranged from no grade to a Proof type but both contained very nice coins.

PCGC chose these coins in the first place because they were low cost common coins but sill good enough for people to want to hang onto, but that’s only my opinion

It’s now very hard to find this type of sample, I’ve seen very few if any for sale so if you do see one, and you can get it and still stay within your budget , my advice would be to grab it while you can.

Now let’s look at the NCG first generation samples. This sample slab has the nickname “The Fatty” as it is thicker than later NGC slabs. Now the NCG is a smaller more symmetrical looking slab, with a modern type face and a logo pressed on the back of the outer shell, which PCGS didn’t have.

The NGC label has a more all around pleasing Appearance. Again you see the Roosevelt Dime’s being used. Here we have a 1960- D, this slab was not graded , however, they also used a 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963 and a 1964 some with grades some without, the graded coins ranged from Pf -64 to PF-65.

Now just to keep it interesting NGC also used a 1964 Kennedy and even a 1943 steel war penny The 1964 The Kennedy was a MS-64 and the 1943 steel war penny was a MS-65. The one thing first generation NGC slabs have in common is the green label (or do they)? I will cover this in a future article.

Remember some sample slabs can be valuable, I have seen them for sale on Ebay from $0.99 to over $500.00. When I started collecting you could buy a first or second generation PGC or NGC for around $10.00 now they can go for over $40.00.

This is not to say you still can’t get a deal out there, what this should tell you is that more and more people are realizing the value of sample slabs. Don’t wait until it’s to late, because they have gone up so high you find yourself saying, remember when I could have bought them at a far lower price. Star now and stay with it…

So until next time remember to buy the coin and not the slab, but when it comes to sample slabs, buy the slab and not the coin..

All the Best,

Alan Canavan


                       Sample Slabs & The Coin Inside

Originally posted, June 30, 2011

In this article we will look at some of the different kind of coins one can find in a sample slab. It will give you an idea of what to expect whenPCGSsampleslabwithpeacedollar Sample Slabs & The Coins Inside Part III

looking for sample slabs, and some of the types of coins you might find.Let’s look at North American coins found in sample slabs first. Many people are under the impression that all sample slabs just contain unimportant coins. It’s just not the facts!

So let’s start with what coins PCGS has placed in their sample slabs: a 1961-D quartet, 1942 war nickel, a circulated 1911 Liberty five cent, a 1995 silver eagle, a no date buffalo nickel, a 1920 Lincoln penny, State quarter’s,a 1923-S circulated Peace dollar, a 1964- MS Kennedy,  and even a, 1921 circulated  Morgan Dollar.

Now, from NGC, there’s sample slabs with 1922 and 1923 MS-60 Peace dollars, as well as the 1887 MS-60 and MS-63 Morgan dollars. Some 1943 Steel pennies MS-64 and MS-65 a very nice 1982-D silver George Washington Commemorative half dollar MS-66 Again the Kennedy half dollar 1964, 1965 and 1969 and more US states quarters

Then it’s ANACS and they have used a Washington quarter, a Canadian nickel MS-65, a Sacagawea dollar a Peace Medal and Ocean View Medal nickel and state quarters. I am sure I have missed many others, but time will tell as this hobby increases in popularity, and increasing it is!

Even ICG has used Presidential dollars, Kennedy Half Dollars and several different State Quarters.

So it’s obvious that these coins are not just low grade cents, nickels, quarters, etc.

I have also recently learned that sample slabs with grades, might in fact, not be the actual grade of the coin inside the holder. Furthermore, the grade was only printed on the slab to show how it would look as a normal slab with a grade. But this confused some collectors into thinking the grade on the label an accurate grade of the coins in the holder. So, it was decided, to remove the grade on the labels to clear up any more confusion.

It’s obvious that many sample slabs do contain the standard common Roosevelt Dimes and Jefferson Nickels. They can be found on eBay or at your local coin store, but even these are going up in value or soon will.

The silver Roosevelt Dimes, Kennedy Halves (1964-1970), Peace Dollars, Morgan Dollars and the 1982 George Washington commemorative have the advantage of being 90% silver. Sample slabs containing silver coins will sell for a higher premium do to the precious metal market, but it proves that sample slabs don’t just contain common coins without value.

There is also another kind of sample, and that is the multi-coin sample slabs and one is an example of PCGS with five of the 2003mint state quarters. NGC has use multi-coin holders as well.

Now, let’s look at some sample slabs containing World Coins.

From PCGS: There’s the Swiss ½ Frank, the first world coin to be graded by PCGS, and the 1944-S U.S Philippines sample and the 100-Yen Olympic coin from Japan.

From NGC: There’s the 1923-A German mint state 500 marks, a 1994 Mongolia 100-T, a 2002 Australian 1 Euro, a 2001 Great Britain 1P.

From ANACS: There’s a 1965 Jamaica penny, a 1970 Brazil 10- centavo, a 1965 British 1- P and a 1967 British ½- P. From ICG we have a 1959-H East Africa cent, a 1962 English penny, a 1960 England ½- penny, a 1966 Mexico 20- centavos, a 1944-Mo Mexico 5- centavos and a 1949 Israel 1-P.

I know I have missed many coins as there are included in hundreds of sample slabs, but like any type of collecting, patience is the key when trying to fins and buy sample slabs with the best coins.

They often come up on eBay or other auction sites from time to time and for some unknown reason, I have noticed that, when a hard to find sample slab shows up for sale a few more come along soon after. Now that could just be my imagination, but it just seems that way to me.

Let’s look at the one thing that affect all of us when it comes to buying any coin or sample slab and that’s prices! The truth is I have no idea how much a sample slab of one kind or another will costs at any given time.

In example, I recently saw a Second Generation, PCGS Sample Slab containing a 1963 Roosevelt Dime for a Buy It Now format at eBay. The seller was asking $185.00, and claimed the coin was naturally toned (eye appealing, toned coins bring a premium above their numismatic values).

It’s mind boggling to think that a common date, silver Roosevelt Dime, could realize a price of $185, toned or not or just because it’s housed in a Sample Slab. Is this an indication of an up-rise in Sample Slab’s values? I think so.

Watching the bidding on eBay and other auction sites, in my opinion prices are going upward, as is the amount of bidders on sample slabs. The only thing I can deduce from this is that more and more people are collecting sample slabs. It’s a recent and fast growing phenomenon.

Remember that most coins where, and still are being minted in the millions or even billions, but sample slabs are often only made in the hundreds or less, sometimes as little as twenty five can be made for a certain event or show. Some are only given to dealers and these are usually the best sample slabs. And do the these dealers sell them? Well they are out there for sale so I would have to conclude that, yes they do, more

often than not. I was recently given a beautiful John Adams One Dollar ICG sample by These slabs where only made in a lot of 110, and on the website the break down of how these slabs where distributed is laid out like this. Only 25 where given out by ICG at the 2007 Fun show, and the remainder where given out by Now this sample is quite unique because it was designed to show the edge lettering on the coin, the first coin since 1933 to have this type of edge lettering

Now I have been collecting sample slabs for a while now, and have a small, but very nice collection. I do, however, know people who have collections in the hundreds, and they’re not selling anytime soon.The whole point of listing all these sample slabs, and the many different coins they contain, is to give you a small glance into how many sample slabs that are or will be available to buy and collect, and that the coins are not always cheap or common.

I have come to the conclusion that collecting sample slabs, is to collect a very important part of numismatic history. I think sample slabs are becoming a new and exciting part of collecting, and more and more people are starting to enjoy the hobby. It is fun and interesting and there are hundreds of samples to collect.

As a side not, I would like to thank conder 101 for all his help and support in providing impute on this new wave of numismatic collecting of sample slabs.

These slabs where very important so collectors could read the edge lettering

ICGedgeletteringslab Sample Slabs & The Coins Inside Part III
Remember when buying coins buy the coin not the holder
When it comes to sample slabs collect the holder not the coin.

All the Best

Alan Canavan


Originally posted, July 30, 2011

                  Rare And The Strange : Are Sample Slabs Getting Scarce?

In this article, I thought it would be very interesting to see just how rare sample slabs actually are. Anyone who collects anything desires to know the rarity of what they collect, and that number helps to determine the values.

Often, this isn’t a problem, but with Sample Slabs it’s difficult to determine their populations, and many questions need to be asked and answered. In my search for the facts, the following questions came to mind.

Do TPG companies keep a population report on just how many Sample Slabs they produce? Are the older Sample Slabs becoming much more expensive to buy since they’re more rare? Are the common samples going to become more difficult to attain at the rate they are selling, since they’re not common when it comes to what we think of as a common collectible?

These are just a few of many questions I think that collectors may be asking. From what I see on the auction sites, the number of collectors seems to be growing as are the prices of samples.

There are many other questions to be answered as well. So, I’ll try to address as many of these questions as I can. First let me make one thing very clear, there’s almost no information on the internet on this subject. That’s why I try to do my very best to bring you the answers to these, and many other questions as well. Some I’ll be able to answer and some may remain a mystery to the collecting public.

So let’s take a look at these questions and see which I can answer, and which may remain a mystery forever. Let’s start with something that I feel would be the obvious choice of a rare sample.

I’ve been able to find some information about an NGC six coin multi-coin slab, which was first produced in 2003. It has a full year set of State Quarters. They were handed out to members that attended the Registry and message board luncheons in 2004.

I’ve also found that the multi-coin sample slab was made in a very small quantity and were handed out at the rate of only 50 per luncheon. “And by the way, if NGC has any left over, well they have my address.”

They are very hard to find and when one comes up for auction, I’m sure it will command a very hefty price.

As the owner of two of regular multi-coin holders, I can tell you first-hand that they are very nice and most attractive holders. I like them mostly for their clean lines, and I’m almost tempted to hang them on the wall since they look so good.

Now let’s look at what I think is the most fun looking and is again a rare sample slab. It looks nothing like any coin you’ve ever seen, and there were only 500 made.

I’d like to take credit for knowing that and sounding very knowable, but since it also says that on every slab, I can’t. So I’ll never get the opportunity of getting away with that one!

It was slabbed by NGC for the 2006 Fun Convention called “Rocking into 2006” and is my personal favorite. It’s the 2006 Somalia $1 Les Paul guitar coin, an amazing looking coin in red and white. This little guitar is the strangest Sample Slab I’ve ever seen and would be the most exciting and no doubt the most fun to find.

As far as I know, there were only 500 guitar coins made, I’ve only seen a few of these but what I find very strange about the label is, that all of them say the same thing, and that’s because they’re all numbered 1 of 500.

You would think that they would be individually numbered from 1 to 500. I have no idea why not, but that could be one of the “forever” mysteries I was talking about previously.

Then you have the Roosevelt’s, Kennedy’s, Morgan’s Silver Dollars, State Quarters and Peace Silver Dollar’s and so on. Now I would not consider these examples rare, at least just not yet!

They’re on all the auction sites and are selling very fast. I believe that if this trend continues that these Sample Slabs are all going to become more difficult to attain. Remember that they might have been made in lots of only a hundred each or less.

With the number of samples I’ve seen up for sale, there have been samples that were made in lots of only a few hundred and others made in even smaller quantities of one hundred or fifty, or even twenty five.

Next, consider the numbers of buyers all vying to get the small amounts of samples being sold daily. And what you end up with, over-time, even fewer older samples being on the market.

The auctions are happening daily so obviously no one knows how long this may transpire. And with people buying and reselling, we may never know as there will always be samples being sold.

When mixed in with an unknown factor of people buying and not reselling, but holding on to the samples they bought, is where it all becomes cloudy. If you count the people who are building a collection, and buying now with no interest of selling, the amount of older samples will definitely begin to decrease.

Then when an older samples do come up for sale, and I am sure they will, and they will sell, but at what price? Higher, than when first offered, is almost certain.

Right now the samples I see selling most often are as follows:

· The 1964 and 1964-D Roosevelt dime · The 1964 Kennedy silver Half dollar · The 1921 Morgan Silver Dollar · The 1922 and 1923 Peace Silver Dollars · and many State Quarters, just to name a few.

Now by no means am I trying to say that Sample Slabs will run out as that wouldn’t be true. But what I am saying is that with the samples I’ve seen listed, they are going to become harder to find. More and more people are becoming interested in the hobby and are holding their samples.

It just makes sense to me, that sample slabs will begin to become “market” scarce, as new samples will come along and take their place, and as more collectors enter the market. Look at the first and second generation PCGS samples for example. There are some for sale right now, not very many but they are selling for over $80 a sample. I think that this will be the case with many of the popular samples up for sale now.

Like I said, the people who are buying them are holding on to them to build their own collections. Now, the prices people are paying today have gone up a lot in the past few years.

I’m seeing for example that a standard Roosevelt dime sample will start an auction at about $.99 and up wile others are selling at an unbelievable $48.75. Now what I see is that the samples that start selling for $.99 are being bought by people who bid on them regularly. They are also selling at much higher prices that you would expect to see, even two year ago

The higher priced samples that are being sold are being purchased at the “Buy it now” price! By eliminating the other bidders, they prevent competition totally and assure themselves of a victory.

Are they selling well and fast? Well from what I see, yes they are. I myself bid on them regularly and am often outbid. The prices are going up all the time and the days of cheap samples are in my opinion gone for good. Again that’s not to say that there’s no deals available, because there are, when you can find them.

One question I’ve asked the TPGS is, “What kind of population report do you keep?” and none of them keep any kind of population report on the Sample Slabs they make. So they have no idea how many are out there. Not even one of the TPGS keep population reports for their Sample Slabs, I did speak to one person at ICG and she was able to tell me this,

“In the last two years, they have produced 500 samples slabs, and the break down is like this: 200 went to YN Programs, 100 went for private events, and 200 went to the F.U.N. Show Appreciation Awards.” That’s not very many in the world of sample slabs, and would disappear very fast for the samples that ended up going for auction

Well I hope I have answered some of the questions so often asked, and I have given my opinion on what I think is happening with the Sample Slab’s market in general. But please remember these are just my opinions and you can take them at face value. I do monitor the auction sites three and four times every day, and I‘m just reporting what I am observing and what I think might happen.

As I have said in the past, Sample Slabs are becoming a very new and exciting collector’s hobby, with many new collectors. I also know there are those who have been collecting for many years. But from the amount of collectors buying, that I see on the auction sites, are growing faster than in the past.

So until next time, remember to collect the coin not the slab, but when it comes to sample slabs collect the slab not the coin.

All the Best

Alan Canavan

Originally posted, Oct 8, 2011

             World sample slabs and the coins inside 

I thought it would be interesting to write an article that covers World Samples Slabs, as a change of pace, instead just US Coin Sample Slabs. As far as my knowledge, all the reputable Coin Grading Services have issued World Sample Slabs, but are too numerous to cover them all in just one article. However, what we can cover is a very interesting myriad of samples and the World Coins they contain.

World Samples Slabs first appeared in early 1990 and are an important part of sample slab history, in both, the slabs issued and the types of coins they chose to encase, and all are a part of what makes this such fascinating hobby.

What I find interesting is why a certain coin was used but another wasn‘t, and what was the reason behind the decision to use a certain coin? I know a penny would make sense as far as cost’s go but why choose one particular country or denomination, over another, is what I find most intriguing.

These are just a few of the many unanswered questions, when talking about World Sample Slabs. I like to call them Sample Slab mysteries and we all love to learn, and think about, the mysteries involving our favorite hobbies.

In this article, I decided not only to cover the World Sample Slabs of various grading services, but some history of each coin inside as well. I think it’s interesting to learn more about the coins in the World Sample slabs, as well as the coins the TPGS‘s decide to use. You may remember a few of these samples from past articles, but this time we will look into their individual history.


So let’s start with ANACS, this sample was given out in 2003, and houses a 1965 Jamaica 1 Penny. What made them decide on this coin? I can’t answer that question and I doubt, after all this time, ANACS couldn’t answer this question either.

It does not say sample on the slab but was handed out freely. From what I know this is the real grade, and is not just for show. (It should be noted that one definition of a Sample Slab is that it must be given away by the TPGS that created it). Jamaica 1 Penny is graded MS64 and until 1969, this penny was made from copper. Then in 1970 the composition was changed to Bronze, but in 1974 it was changed to aluminum.
Now, we skip ahead a several years, and this new ANACS slab shows up. In this sample slab they have decided to use a 1967 British half penny. This particular ANACS Sample was handed out at the 2006 Whitman Expo. October 2006. The history of the coin is even more interesting. This coin was first made as a pattern in 1937, but never made it into circulation.

The reason for this is that it was patterned for King Edward the VIII, but he decided give up the thrown to marry outside of the ‘Royals‘. After that, his story becomes too complicated to write in detail.

Now at this time they where still using the halfpenny, with the same Britannia reverse designed used since 1672. This new design was first minted in 1937; the first Monarch to be on the halfpenny obverse was now George VI. The ship’s reverse design of the halfpenny was Inspired by the adventures of one of Great Britain’s favorite heroes, Sir Francis Drake and his ship the “Golden Hind”.

Then in 1952 Queen Elizabeth II took the throne, after the passing of George VI The coin was then changed to show Queen Elizabeth II on the reverse. The coin stayed in production until 1970 before being replaced. It was taken out of circulation in July of 1969.

Then it was minted one last time in 1970 but only in a proof set. This coin lasted from (1937 to 1970), compared to the first one, it seems a very short run. What I found very interesting is that, George VI always faced left when looking at the coin while Queen Elizabeth II always faces to the right. Now this is a perfect example of how a sample slab can be used to teach such an important historical part of numismatics.

Next, is an ANACS Sample Slab issued for celebration of 34 years in business. Also the fact that they moved their operations to Austin, Texas. Here they also use a 1965 Jamaican 1 cent coin. Now why this coin again? The reason is a mystery when they could have used any World Coin for this sample and, they certainly had dozens to choose from. So why use the same coin in two different sample slabs so many years apart?

I know it’s not unusual to use the same coin in various sample slabs, but world samples do not come out very often, so I would think they would change the coin.
Next, is the Enjoy The World Of Collecting sample with a 10 Centavo coin from Brazil and it was given out as part of the Young Numismatist Program. This is just a beautiful coin, and should encourage any young collector to strive to better themselves through studying and researching. For young collectors a sample like this would, I am sure, be a very exciting. Can you imagine when you where young, collecting circulated Nicole’s, and someone gave you this sample slab?

Furthermore, Brazil has an interesting history when it comes to coinage. From what I understand, in my research, I found out that there coinage was divided into three parts:

First, the Cruzeiro (Cruzeiro “Antigo”) 1942-1967 then the first Centavo is issued in 1942 and continued until 1967. The Centavo was first made from cupro-nickel, then in 1943 it was changed to aluminum-bronze. In 1964, the “centavo” coins where taken out of circulation.

Second, Cruzeiro (Cruzeiro Novo) 1967-1986 and in 1967 The Centavo was one again put back into circulation. With the 1, 2 and 5 centavos made from stainless steel and the higher denominational coins were made from cupro-nickel or nickel, and then replaced with stainless steel in 1974 and 1975.

Third, Cruzeiro from 1990-1993 with The 1, 5, 10 and 50 Centavos were issued in 1989. Brazil continued minting this issue even after the Cruzeiro was introduced. Now in 1990 the Cruzeiro coins were introduced, in 1, 5, 10 and  50 Cruzeiros and made from stainless-steel planchets.


ICG is next on my list of world samples. It includes a wonderful coin from Ireland, and is a very special sample slab, as it was made exclusively for the website I don’t think there’s a collector of samples or coins, who does not know about this web site.

There were only 150 made and all I can say is that anyone who owns one knows how very special this sample is. This coin was chosen because it was said to bring good luck when given as a gift, at the end of a business transaction. The owner of this site never sold one of these samples, rather he gave them away, after they purchased a sample slab from him. The Irish, “Good Luck” Penny, itself was minted from 1928-1968 and 1968 is the year of the coin in the holder.

ICG produced a series called “Coins Of The World” that covered the coinage issues of several countries but just how many is not known. As I have said before no records are kept for most sample slab‘s production. Nevertheless they’re a very nice series of World Samples, and could be collected as a set.

The fun and challenge, for a collector, would be to find all the samples slabs in this series. In the below ICG Sample is a, a British 1P or One Penny, that I remember using when I was a child in England. I suppose that’s why this and the half ½ penny are my favorites. The history of this coin goes far back in history, so I will just touch on the high-lights.

So let’s start at the time of Edward VIII, this One Penny was produced, and had the date of 1937 on the coin. However, none of these coins were issued to the public, as George VIII was abdicated from his throne for marrying outside of “Royals”. This particular coin had a lighthouse as part of the reverse design and only 5 proof copies of this coin are known and two of these are in private collections.

After Edward VIII was abdicated, George VI took the throne, during his reign the pennies where popular with the public. Then in 1940 the demand was greatly reduced, because of the popularity of the new nickel and brass Three Pence coin. Between 1941 and 1943 any penny that needed to be struck kept the date of 1940.

The coins where put back into production in 1944 and where made with a low tin and bronze mixture. Then in 1945 the penny went back to the earlier alloy, but the coins began to tarnish and had a pinkish shade so the coins made from 1944 to 1946 had to be darkened artificially.

Now, let’s skip, to when Queen Elizabeth II took the throne in 1952. At this time, the demand for the Large One Penny was low and you could only get circulation quality (business strike) ‘Pennies” in a set that had been made for her Coronation. These sets where often broken up by collectors and the 1953 pennies where sometimes found in change.

One reason for this could be that the 1953 coin was known to have a toothed border, caused by die trial runs, on the reverse like the one on the George VI penny. So people spent this coin, not realizing its rarity or type because of the edge resemblance to common dates.

The following year all the denominations were redesigned they where given more of a deep-cut portrait and revised inscription. They did strike a few 1954 pennies to test the dies. All the test pennies should have been melted down, but a single copy has unofficially survived. From what I have read and it’s been reported, that this coin showed up in circulation.

In 1961 the striking of pennies restarted, they where produced in enormous numbers until 1967. The alloy they used was the same as in 1944, a low tin alloy. The date 1967 was used even after the year had passed as the demand was still very high. The reverse design was very much like that of George VI, to the left of Britannia was a lighthouse and they used the round beads rather than teeth at the edge.

The last issue of the penny before decimalization was a proof version dated 1970. The old large pennies where taken out of service on 31st of August 1971.

Next, we have a very interesting coin from Israel; the coin is a 1949 1 Prutah The word Prutah means a “coin of very small value”. This coin was introduced just after the establishment of Israel as a State. The fascinating thing about this coin, is that it is only 1000th of an Israeli Pound.

The Pruta stopped being minted in 1960, when the Israeli government decided to change the subdivision of the Israeli pound into 100 Agorot this was a necessary thing to do with the constant devaluation of the Israeli pound, rendering coins smaller than 10 Prutot useless.

I find the color very interesting, you don’t see a gray toned coin very often, and this stands out more than other coins because of this fact. It’s a very simple coin, yet it has a very interesting design.

Here’s another ICG Sample with an interesting Mexican 1963 20 Centavos, and what an interesting coin from Mexico! Both obverse and the reverse of the coin are filled with a beautiful design. This is what I enjoy about coins from Mexico. They never disappoint when ever a new coin is minted.

The skill of Mexican coin engravers is really something to admire. This coin was first minted in Mexico City from 1943 to 1974. It was one of the longest series of coins to be minted in twentieth century Mexico. But by the end of 1971, inflation had so damaged the coin’s value, that it was worth more in copper than in face value. These coins where eventually smuggled into the United States to be sold off for their copper value. A sad ending to such a beautiful coin.

Yet, another ICG Sample that I find interesting, since it has a 1921 1C from East Africa, and because I find “holed” coins extremely eye appealing. Even with the hole the engravers are still able to make a beautiful coin. It must take great skill to engrave such a coin as this.

In the Year 1921, East Africa minted holed coins with 5 and 10 cents and silver 50 cents and 1 shilling. Now the holed 1 Cent would follow in 1922, and was made of bronze. In 1948 silver planchets were replaced by cupro-nickel. In 1964 the last of the coins where struck in the name of East Africa. During this time-frame the colonies of East Africa had gained it’s independence.


I find this NGC World Sample Slab to be one of the most interesting sample slabs ever made that includes a Mongolia 100 Tugrik. The 100T coin has a very interesting history, and was the first of several Mongolia coins issued for circulation after the end of their Communist rule in 1992.

The obverse of this coin and other coins, in the 1994 set, pictures the Soyombo and is the national emblem of Mongolia. The Soyombo was forbidden until the downfall of Communism in 1992. The Soyombo includes a lot of the symbols associated with Lamaistic Buddhism, which had been practiced for many years in Mongolia before Communist publicly banned it.

This national symbol can be found on their flag and coat of arms, it can also be found on many official documents. It’s also on the 200T but with different buildings on the reverse. I would think, considering the importance of this coin because of the National Mongolia Symbol, that NGC chose this coin for that reason. But whatever the reason it was a good choice.

Next up, is an NGC “Fatty” Sample Slab, called so for it’s thickness and weight, and is an old NGC holder. I included this U.S. Morgan Silver Dollar because of its popularity and importance in U.S. Numismatics and world-wide appeal as a collector’s coin.

Also it’s one of the most famous North American Coin and makes a valuable Sample Slab. Very few samples where made with a coin of this value, and they where only given to dealers. I am sure most coin collectors know the history of the Morgan Silver Dollar. So I will only briefly explain the details.

Most of the Morgan Silver Dollars where produced because of the so-called “infamous deal” struck between the Nevada based Comstock Lode, and the U.S. Congress. Comstock had plenty of silver, and America had an unemployment problem and economical issues, this led to the Bland-Allison act of 1878. This act of Congress was the birth of the famous Morgan silver dollar.

Unfortunately, far too many Morgan’s where produced for every day use and U.S. Citizens didn‘t care for the large silver dollar. It was mostly circulated in Western United States and was popularly used in casinos, but most languished in U.S. Mint storage vaults as backing for the paper Silver Certificates.

After 1905, their production ceased and after years of costly storage, and WWI, congress passed legislation called the Pittman Act of 1918. It called for the melting of at least 350 million silver dollars, with no records to be kept and complete disregard for mintmarks or dates. However, all this melted silver eventually resulted in the production of another silver dollar, called the Peace Dollar, to commemorate the “peace” after WWI, in 1921.

The most common Morgan Dollar date and mint is, in fact, 1921 without a mint mark (Philadelphia Mint). However, regardless of the mintages, there’s a very large market for pristine examples, and low mintage dates and mint mark combinations command even larger premiums.

Next, is the first world coin ever slabbed by PCGS; it was produced in the early 90’s I have tried to contact many TPGS’s to discover which coin grading service was first to slab a world coin, let’s just say I am still waiting. The is a mint state coin, dated 1967-B, and the amazing aspect about this coin is that it has retained the same design as examples minted as far back as 1879!

Up until 1967 the circulating coins with a face value of ½ Franc, 1 franc and 5 francs where made of a silver alloy. But they were withdrawn because the silver alloy was worth more the face value of the coin.On the reverse of the coin is Helvetia, she is the female national personification of Switzerland. She is typically pictured in a flowing gown, with a spear in one hand, and a shield in the other. The shield is emblazoned with the Swiss flag. Something I find really fascinating is that even the oldest Swiss coins dating back to 1879 are still valid today, and are also among the oldest coins still valid worldwide.

And having one myself, I can tell you it is a very nice coin, and they are difficult to find. I have seen only one come up for auction in the past year or so. I just recently met with a man in England who sent me a picture of his sample so, as of now, I have seen just four total of this sample slab.

This next sample was produced around the same time period, and is also a mint condition coin. As I stated, in my previous article, it’s a very rare sample, and a beautiful coin. I have seen only one for sale in the past year.

It was originally given out by PCGS at the Tokyo International Coin Convention in 1989, in 2009 PCGS returned with a formal booth, at the annual show. Some people who had attended the original show, in 1989, when PCGS first handed out this sample, brought their original sample back to the PCGS booth.  So it was considered a very important gift at the time, and that could be the reason why it has been such an elusive sample slab. I don’t know if any examples were given out in North America, but I doubt it.

In conclusion, I feel very strongly about the value of world sample slabs to the collector. Not just as a collector’s hobby, but also as a part of numismatic history. They also bring a wonderful addition to the world of sample slab collecting, as well as, a collection.

I attempted to cover as many World Samples as I deemed important in this article, there are just so many and it would not be possible to cover them all. I hope, at least, that I’ve sparked new, or created more, interest in this particular subject.

As always,

When it comes to coins, buy the coin not the slab.

When it comes to sample slabs, buy the slab not the coin.

All the best

Alan Canavan

 Originally posted , Dec 4, 2011

                    Sample Slabs Aren’t Promotional Slabs, But Some Are Both         

Think you know the difference between a Sample Slab and a Promotional Slab? Don’t worry, a lot of people don’t. In this article you will learn their differences and see some images of “Sample“ Slabs you didn’t know existed, or didn’t know were actually Promotional Slabs, not Samples.

We’ve always defined a Sample Slab as a slab, given away for free, at coin shows and other events. Free being the key word here, because Promotional Slabs are also given away free at the same type of events, and this is where the confusion starts.

A Sample Slab is created to show off something as important as a new design to the slab itself. It might be a new security feature, or something as small as a change to fonts on the label.

On the other hand, Promotional Slabs are a way to promote a coin show or a member’s only luncheon, or coin club, and even to promote a special date such as the 1997 NYC 106th anniversary of the ANA. I even know of some that were given away at a wedding.

Since they are all given away for free, then the actual difference in these slabs is the word “SAMPLE” on the label. I thought the best place to start would be with one of the first Sample Slabs created.

The above image is one of the first PCGS Sample Slab and produced sometime in the late 1980’s. Compared to today’s samples you can see how very basic it is, without a grade or any serial number and no hologram.

With a 1963 Roosevelt Dime inside, this samples can also be very hard to find and, if you do find one, the cost is going to be quite high. The actual production numbers of these Sample Slabs is unknown. This is also the only first generation sample with proof coin inside.

Here’s another Sample Slab from a different TPGS. This Sample is from NGC and houses a silver 1959 Roosevelt Dime. Again the main word on this slab is “SAMPLE“, but this time with a grade and serial number.

You can also see, that unlike the early PCGS version this slab, has a hologram. It’s also a “Green” label. I have read that the green border is “a hard to find sample” but the green and the brown border are one in the same. This also goes for regular production slabs as well. The difference in colors were caused by colour-fast problems in the dye, which caused some of the brown labels to fade to green when exposed to the elements for some time.

The image below is from the same company and is a perfect example to start with when it comes to a Promotional Slab. Concerning this NGC slab, the first thing you should notice is the “SAMPLE” isn’t on the slab. You can also see the slab label is promoting Heritage Auctions; it even gives the phone number.

This was also handed out freely to promote this specific company with a 2001 New York State quarter inside. The State quarter was, and still is, a very popular coin to use in both Promotional and Sample Slabs. Notice that it doesn’t have a grade or serial number either. 

Here’s another Promotional Slab, this time from ANACS, celebrating 35 years of numismatics. Notice the word “SAMPLE” is nowhere on the slab, even though it’s promoting ANACS itself. Surprisingly they did not use the word “Sample” on this slab.

The company is not showing a new slab or label change; therefore to me, it is not a Sample and an example that causes so much confusion. It was given away free and is promoting the amount of years the company has been in business.

We have always accepted these slab types as Samples but they are not. It can be confusing, but after a few facts are pointed out it is easier to realize the differences. We have looked at the difference between sample slabs and promotional slabs and seen how different they really are.

Now, just to make things even more confusing, there is another type of slab. This type of holder was designed by NGC in 2003 and is the first time it was used as a Sample or Promotional holder because it is both!

Where does this slab fit in? Well, it was only given out to members that attended the Fun 2004 Registry and Message Board Luncheon, but we also have the word “SAMPLE” on the front of the slab, not in tiny lettering on the back.

Furthermore, it is a new slab for NGC, so even without the word “SAMPLE” on the front, it would be still be considered a Sample Slab for no other reason than that it’s the first time it was ever used. Again, there’s no grade or a serial number either.

For me, if it has the word “SAMPLE” on the label, I call it a Sample Slab. It houses five 2004 State quarters and there were only 50 produced. I have seen a few different versions of these samples up for sale several months ago. From what I remember, they sold for a very high price and with only 50 produced, it is no wonder.

Here is another style of Sample-Promotional Slab, this one being a 2010 Collector’s Society Members Luncheon slab, with the word “SAMPLE” on the orange border label.

The best part about this, or any type of members-only luncheon slab is the low quanity produced. They are made specifically for a small group of members who attend the luncheon, so they’re rare and this makes them even more desirable to collectors.

In this respect, these Sample Slabs are like coins, the smaller the mintage number, the higher the premiums are going to be. I recently received this sample from a good friend of mine.

Next, is a very different type of slab and it’s not a Promotional slab, but is it a Sample? It does say “Authentic”, so where would this slab fit in?

It is an unusual type of slab, and what I enjoy the most, is the fact that they house a circulated coin. The coins range from 1917 to 1929, as far as I have seen. I have never seen a 1921 or a 1922, and do not think they were ever part of this set. They were produced by PCGS to go in to a Random House Coin collecting starter kit.

So, I would have to assume these slabs, were an example of what a slabbed coin would look like. Therefore, it would be considered a Sample. Estimated mintage of this slab was an amazing 50,000 to 100,000.

If compared to other Sample Slab production numbers produced, of a thousand or less, and they make up the largest amount of Samples ever produced.

It should be an easy slab to find, although I have not seen one for sale recently. It has me wondering just how many were lost, forgotten or thrown away after the starter kits lost their fascination?

With that amount of samples produced you should be seeing them all over the auction sites, but such is not the case. Lastly, but important, is the fact that it has no hologram on the back.

Here is one more PCGS Slab that I find fascinating, and it contains an American Silver Eagle. It says “Coin Facts Luncheon” and gives the date of January 3, 2007. Notice the label is different for this slab and so is the font under the logo.

This one says “The Standard for the Rare Coin Industry”, but it does not say “Sample” The words “Coin Facts Luncheon” is the banner for this slab. There’s no grade or serial number, and because of the different label, and the fact that the type font is completely different from other PCGS slabs, and it is promoting PCGS itself, it could be called a Sample Slab.

If, however, this slab was promoting some other company and PCGS produced it in another name I would call it a Promotional Slab. This slab would have been produced in very limited quantities, to give to the members of the luncheon only. This one is definitely on my want list.

I have been thinking about writing this article for a while now, I have been asked several times “How can it be a Sample if does not say SAMPLE? As there are some Samples that don’t, It can become very confusing at times, so I hope this has cleared up some of that confusion.

I attempted to use some good examples of these different slabs so they can be a reference for the new collector.

Regardless what you call them, they are all great fun to collect and how you classify them is really up to you. I buy all types, no matter what they say. For me, the only order I put my collection in is TPGS Samples then Promotional Slabs.

So, in the future, if you see a luncheon slab for sale, you will understand why it is selling for a premium and, therefore, justify the price.

All these slabs have their place in the history of numismatics. What you are doing, by collecting Samples, is tracking the evolution of the slabbed coin.

So Remember to buy the coin not the holder.

But when it comes to sample slabs, buy the holder not the coin!

All the Best, Alan Canavan

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