The Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) has created a definition of coin "doctoring" and now officially included it as one of the prohibitions in the organization’s By-Laws.
"The deliberate and unacceptable alteration of a coin in an effort to deceive is a complex matter. Everyone seems to know what coin ‘doctoring’ means, but it’s a difficult thing to concisely and substantively define," said Paul Montgomery, PNG President.
"After extensive discussions and consultation with both Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the official grading service of PNG, and with executives of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), the PNG has created its first formal definition of coin doctoring," Montgomery added.
PNG already required disclosure of information about altered coins.
"Section seven of the PNG Code of Ethics specifically states that PNG member-dealers must refrain from knowingly dealing in counterfeit, altered or repaired numismatic items without fully disclosing their status to their customers. Section four of the Code prohibits misrepresenting the quality of a coin," said PNG Executive Director Robert Brueggeman.
"Adding a more specific definition of coin doctoring is a major step toward helping the PNG review any complaints against members accused of compromising ethical standards established by the organization. We now have an enforceable criterion for our membership."
The PNG Board of Directors has adopted this initial definition:
Coin doctoring is the action of a person or the enabling of another to alter a coin’s surface or appearance, usually to diminish or conceal defects, and thereby represent the condition or value of a coin as being superior to its actual condition or value.
Among the practices defined as doctoring are effacing hairlines by polishing or manipulating the surfaces of proof coins, applying substances to the surface of coins to hide marks and defects, hiding marks or otherwise changing the appearance of a coin by adding toning, adding chemicals or otherwise manipulating the surfaces to create "cameo" frost on the devices of proof coins, and making a coin appear more fully struck by re-engraving portions of the devices, such as re-engraving bands on the reverse of a Mercury Dime or adding head detail to a Standing Liberty Quarter.
Altering dates or mintmarks or other struck portions of a coin to make it appear to be from a mint date or type other than that of origin, and altering business strike coins to make them resemble proof issues are also examples of coin doctoring. This definition is not intended to be all-inclusive, but only illustrative of forms of coin doctoring.
"As of today, no one has filed any formal complaints with PNG or presented evidence directly to the PNG of alleged coin doctoring by any of its members. However, we have been closely monitoring developments, and are taking action regarding a civil court lawsuit over alleged coin doctoring that was filed by PCGS in May of this year," said Brueggeman.
Founded in 1955, the Professional Numismatists Guild is a nonprofit organization composed of many of the top rare coin and paper money dealers in the United States and other countries. PNG member-dealers must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics in the buying and selling of numismatic items. For additional information and the locations of PNG member-dealers, call (760) 728-1300 or visit online at www.PNGdealers.com.