• The Rare & The Strange - Are Sample Slabs Getting Scarce?

        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 theyíre more rare?

        Are the common samples going to become more difficult to attain at the rate they are selling, since theyíre 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, Iíll try to address as many of these questions as I can.

        First let me make one thing very clear, thereís almost no information on the internet on this subject. Thatís why I try to do my very best to bring you the answers to these, and many other questions as well. Some Iíll be able to answer and some may remain a mystery to the collecting public.

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

        Iíve 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.

        Iíve 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. ďAnd by the way, if NGC has any left over, well they have my address.Ē

        They are very hard to find and when one comes up for auction, Iím 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 Iím almost tempted to hang them on the wall since they look so good.

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

        Iíd like to take credit for knowing that and sounding very knowable, but since it also says that on every slab, I canít. So Iíll never have a chance of getting away with that one!

        It was slabbed by NGC for the 2006 Fun Convention called ďRocking into 2006Ē and is my personal favorite. Itís the 2006 Somalia $1 Les Paul guitar coin, an amazing looking coin in red and white. This little guitar is the strangest Sample Slab Iíve 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, Iíve 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 thatís because theyíre 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 ďforeverĒ mysteries I was talking about previously.

        Then you have the Rooseveltís, Kennedyís, Morganís Silver Dollars, State Quarters and Peace Silver Dollarís and so on. Now I would not consider these to be rare, at least just not yet!

        Theyíre 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 Iíve 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 wouldnít be true. But what I am saying is that with the samples Iíve seen listed, they are going to become harder to find. More and more people are becoming interested in the hobby and are holding onto their samples.

        It just makes sense to me, that sample slabs will begin to become ďmarketĒ 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.

        Iím 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 years ago.

        The higher priced samples that are being sold are being purchased at the ďBuy it nowĒ 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 thatís not to say that thereís no deals available, because there are, when you can find them.

        One question Iíve asked the TPGS is:



        ďWhat kind of population report do you keep?Ē



        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, ďIn 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.Ē

        Thatís 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 Slabís 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 IĎm 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 collectorís 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, July 27th 2011