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  Robbins medals: NGC, grading, encaspulation

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Author Topic:   Robbins medals: NGC, grading, encaspulation
lunareagle
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Posts: 377
From: Michigan
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-09-2008 06:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunareagle   Click Here to Email lunareagle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robbins medals collectors can now enter their collections as "signature sets" in the NGC Registry. NGC has assigned the "Robbins Astronaut Medals" their own designated space.

Although the signature sets are non-competitive they provide a wonderful venue to display your collection and to expose others who may have not been familiar with them. I suppose a competitive set is possible in the future.

You can read further about what the Registry Sets are all about. The Registry Sets have been a real driver and contributor to the bull market in rare coins and medals.

Here you can see the two sets so far registered.

4allmankind
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From: NJ
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 04-09-2008 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there any way to see how many Robbins from each mission have thus far been encapsulated by NGC?

lunareagle
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Posts: 377
From: Michigan
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-09-2008 06:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunareagle   Click Here to Email lunareagle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NGC keeps a population report on all graded coins and medals. The coin report is published monthly, but they don't yet publish a medal report. You may be able to contact them and get a verbal, I am not certain. In my opinion, there are only about 100 or so medals so far encapsulated.

If you haven't yet seen an encapsulated Robbins Medal, here is where one is pictured. I believe it is the way of the future for the medals, especially with their values rising.

Grade is of little import at this time, but people (non-experts) want to be certain they have a genuine Robbins and whether it was flown or not. Also, they look incredible in the holders and both sides can be easily viewed without the risk of taking it in and out of one of the plastic boxes. Now you can let the children handle them.

SRB
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posted 04-09-2008 08:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The gold Robbins medallions are spectacular. Will there be pictures posted of the silver set? Also, the medallions are graded, but it isn't self evident why the grades are different on the medallions.

lunareagle
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Posts: 377
From: Michigan
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-10-2008 07:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunareagle   Click Here to Email lunareagle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anyone is welcome to create their own set and to post images of them. There is no cost. I believe that for a nominal fee ($3 or so) NGC will image a coin or medal that is submitted for encapsulation. The owner of the other set on the site who has silver medals has elected at this time not to provide images.

The medals are graded because that is a requirement of NGC. I believe it has to do with their ability to create a population the medals. Grading is a real specialty.

I have been collecting coins and medals for years and can't grade very well at all once you get into the (MS) Mint State category. It all has to do with nicks, hairlines, eye appeal, etc.

As I have previously stated, the grading on these great medals is secondary, but that's what it took for NGC to get involved. However, I can envision a day when hundreds or thousands of the medals are graded and collectors then begin to look for the finest graded examples in order to have the bragging rights to the finest set.

I also believe at that time, values will be affected by grade. That is a side-effect that cannot be avoided and was not the intention of the NGC encapsulation of the Robbins.

rbalm
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posted 04-10-2008 10:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rbalm   Click Here to Email rbalm     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kudos to Howard for bringing these jewels out to the collecting community and having NGC recognize them for their historic importance. When I get a chance, I will register my collection!

Dennis Beatty
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From: Medford, Oregon, 97504
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 04-10-2008 03:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dennis Beatty   Click Here to Email Dennis Beatty     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am happy that NGC is providing the Robbins medallions with a bit of the well deserved spotlight. My only disappointment is that NGC can only encase the round medallions... unless they use a holder with an oversized circular cut out, which to my eye looks a bit odd. But none-the-less, I have had all of my round Robbins medallions graded and encased ("slabbed" to use the slang expression). The service is exemplary.

Following the example of Howard's work with the Robbins medallions, I worked with NGC to accept for review my collection of Manned Flight Awareness medallions. Now, all of my precious keepsakes have been authenticated, graded and slabbed. They look amazing!! And where I was able to provide provenance, the tag in the holder lists the astronaut from whom the medallion was purchased. In the future, there will be zero problem with authenticity. I don't know how to post images, but if there is interest, I can try to figure it out and post a couple of items from my collection.

lunareagle
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Posts: 377
From: Michigan
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-10-2008 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunareagle   Click Here to Email lunareagle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dennis Beatty:
My only disappointment is that NGC can only encase the round medallions... unless they use a holder with an oversized circular cut out, which to my eye looks a bit odd.
I haven't found a Robbins that NGC has not been able to slab yet. Yes, they only use round cut-outs, but I think they still look great. Here is a link to the Apollo 7 Robbins used in NGC's ads for an example.

Good work on the Manned Flight Awareness Medals.

SRB
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posted 04-10-2008 10:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Howard, I fully agree with what you said about condition affecting the value of Robbins medallions in the future. I don't view that as a bad thing, just a normal evolution in collecting. Overall, while there are condition differences in the Robbins medallions I've seen, they are not great. Most are in quite nice condition. Where there is really a big difference in condition is with the Fliteline medallions flown on the Gemini missions. Some are real nice but many are in relatively poor condition.

Conway
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From: Barrington Hills, IL, USA
Registered: Apr 2012

posted 04-10-2012 08:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Conway   Click Here to Email Conway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The upcoming Heritage Auction is to include a variety of Robbins medallions, including some graded, similar to coins. Also, a flown Apollo medallion altered to hang as a necklace pendant. My questions are:
  1. Does grading the medallions enhance value, and if so, by how much?

  2. What is process for a collector to have medallions graded?

  3. Does medallion alteration affect the value?
Editor's note: Threads merged.

SkyMan1958
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From: CA.
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posted 04-10-2012 09:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Over time grading the Robbins medallions probably will increase the value. The question is by how much. As a coin collector of about 25 years I'm quite familiar with the grading system.

Basically coins are graded on a 0-70 scale, with 0 being a coin worn totally flat, and 70 being a perfect coin. A coin that was never circulated (technically this is a bit of a misnomer as there are plenty of coins that have been pulled out of circulation after their first transaction, and no one can tell the difference to one that truly just sat in a bank roll) will grade between MS60 to MS70 (MS stands for Mint State). A coin grading MS63 is called Choice uncirculated, while one grading MS65 is called Gem uncirculated. Theoretically ALL Robbins medallions will grade somewhere between MS60 and MS70 as they never circulated.

The difference for the prices paid for coins that have a one point differential in grade, let's say going from 63 to 64, can vary dramatically depending on the coin.

Probably one of the most commonly collected coins in the U.S. is the Morgan silver dollar. For a common date/mintmark Morgan (1881-S) the cost for a MS63 would be about $57 and about $75 for the MS64. On the other hand, for a key date Morgan dollar the difference can be quite dramatic, for example the 1884-S in MS63 will run about $32,000 and a MS64 will run about $90,000. You can get other date/mintmarks where the percentage change is much higher.

However, the big difference between coins and Robbins medallions is that people are buying the Robbins because of where they've been, and furthermore, in the Universal Rarity Scale (URS, a scale designating how absolutely rare a coin is) ALL Robbins medallions range from Extremely Scarce to Rare. There just aren't that many Flown Robbins medallions out there from the Apollo 7-17 series... less than 3,000 IN TOTAL.

GENERALLY all a higher grade tells someone is something that they can see with their own eyes, e.g. that it looks nicer than a lower graded piece (this is by NO means always true, but I won't go off onto that sidetrack here... email me if you've got a question).

I suspect there will be some Robbins collectors that want the highest grade possible. However, I suspect for the average Robbins collector they are more interested in the fact that the medallion actually flew in the first place. Most likely this will mean that the prices at the very highest grades will climb quite a bit, while the medallions at the mid-range of the scale will all pretty much move up or down depending on how many people are collecting Robbins in the first place. Right now I suspect that the grading won't really make much of a difference unless the medallion has a very high grade.

NGC grades Robbins medallions. Their contact info is:

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
P.O. Box 4776
Sarasota, FL 34230
1-800-NGC-COIN toll free
+1 941-360-3990
+1 941-360-2553 fax

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-10-2012 09:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally, I find the encapsulation and grading offered by NGC to be a detriment to the Robbins medals. For my tastes, it takes what are very handsome flown in space mementos and makes them look more like commodities.

The Robbins medals are museum quality pieces (in fact, the National Air and Space Museum has had a set of Apollo medals on display for decades) and the encapsulation, at least in my eyes, detracts from this.

That said, I do not mean to suggest that the encapsulation is wrong or should not be done. It's just not my personal taste. I have an encapsulated Robbins that I received as part of a trade and I would trade for the non-NGC graded version from the same mission in a moment's notice.

SkyMan1958
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Posts: 355
From: CA.
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 04-10-2012 11:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I TOTALLY agree with you Robert. Medallions are meant to be viewed by themselves, and picked up and touched etc. Encapsulating (or, as it's called in the jargon, slabbing) a Robbins is a crime in my opinion. This viewpoint is also common to coin collectors, but coins are valued on their scarcity and their grade, and enough collectors were being screwed by dealers selling a "raw" coin as a MS65 and then buying it back as a MS64 that eventually the third party graders (TPG) came into being. The two most respected TPG's are NGC and PCGS.

I only own one Robbins medal, and it is "raw".

Dennis Beatty
Member

Posts: 277
From: Medford, Oregon, 97504
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 04-14-2012 09:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dennis Beatty   Click Here to Email Dennis Beatty     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am not a fan of encapsulating the Robbins medallions for a couple of reasons.

First, the "slabs" are not configured for the various medallion shapes, so they (NGC) simply use the closest circular size available. This looks awful in my opinion.

Secondly, there is no guarantee that they will continue to offer this service... so if you decide to encapsulate the medallions which you own today, any future purchases may not have a consistent look.

This happened to me recently. I had my MFA medallion collection encapsulated, then when I acquired others, they decided that they (NGC again) were too busy and would no longer grade/encapsulate MFA or other NASA medallions... even though my order had been in their possession for over 4 weeks!

Conway
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From: Barrington Hills, IL, USA
Registered: Apr 2012

posted 11-18-2012 10:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Conway   Click Here to Email Conway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Certified ("Slabbed") Robbins medallions at recent auctions appear to realize superior value compared to those non-certified, notwithstanding both having provenances. What steps are needed for medallion certification? Many thanks.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

SkyMan1958
Member

Posts: 355
From: CA.
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 11-18-2012 03:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Conway:
What steps are needed for medallion certification?
See my first post of 4/10/12 in this thread. It has contact information for NGC. You can contact them and find out the exact skinny.

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