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The E-Sylum (4/9/2017)

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In his Sample Slab Update #18 (April 2017), his newsletter for sample slab collectors, David Schwager discussed the much-touted but short-lived third-party grading company Compugrade, which hoped to use computers to standardize the grading process. -Editor

Compugrade medal obverse Compugrade medal reverse

Not Exactly Samples – Compugrade Medal

Compugrade is one of the scarcest and most desirable samples, with none selling on eBay in the last three and a half years. Even their production slabs are rarely seen.

This anodized aluminum medal is also an uncommon relic of Compugrade’s brief existence. According to the 2x2 holder, this 40mm medal came from the 1990 ANA convention in Seattle. I paid more than the $1 on the holder, but not the $40 - $50 they typically bring on eBay.

Compugrade attempted to grade coins using computerized equipment instead of expert graders. PCGS attempted a similar task in 1989, also unsuccessfully. In a panel discussion with PCGS founders moderated by Steve Roach, David Hall mentioned that, many years later, he asked the same computer expert who worked on the project whether it was now possible to try again, now that we have better computers. With better computers, the expert said, the computer would just make the same mistakes faster. There is nothing like the human eye.

Compugrade Sample slab I'm old enough to know better than to ever say never. Perhaps someday computers will indeed at least be a passable grading assistant. But it would require a large investment of money, time and expertise, and a willingness to look past the failures of the past. That's a tall order, and I think third-party grading jobs are still safe from our robot overlords.

Were any of our readers involved in Compugrade, or attended its publicity events? Who were the skeptics? Who drank the Kool-Aid? Did it just gradually fade away or have a public flameout? First-hand stories are welcome.

Thanks to David for permission to republish this; he also provided the CompuGrade sample slab image shown here. -Editor

To view the PCGS Founders video, see:
PCGS Founders' Roundtable (Full Video) (

For more information on the Sample Slab Update, see:
Sample Slab (

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