Disney Dollar Grading Companies - Who Can You Trust?
Chinese Grading Company NPGS
I am sometimes asked whether PMG or PCGS has a better reputation among currency collectors.
Based upon my own research, the vast majority of currency collectors believe that there is essentially no difference in choosing between PCGS and PMG. They are both highly reputable companies, recognized around the world as fair and honest. Their grading systems are essentially the same.
However, PMG and PCGS are not the only graders of Disney Dollars. It is important to do some research before buying a note graded by an unfamiliar company. Let's consider a bit more information to help you get started.
PMG and PCGS are the most common graders of Disney Dollars. PCGS started grading Disney Dollars about two years earlier than PMG, so PCGS Disney Dollars are currently more plentiful.
Another US-based company that grades Disney Dollars is Currency Grading and Authorization (CGA). CGA is generally considered trustworthy by the collector community.
Several years ago, CGA was accused of awarding higher grades for certain favored customers. As a result of the scandal, the company changed ownership in 2009 and added a star (later replaced by a diamond) to their holder tag to indicate bills graded under the new ownership. Since then, they have earned back a reputation of honesty.
You may find Disney Dollars graded by other companies on eBay or elsewhere. In those cases, it is a matter of Buyer Beware.
The example that prompted this article came from an eBay listing and is shown at the top of this blog entry. There was no photograph of the back of the holder, so it wasn't possible to see if holograms, verification numbers or other security features are included on the tag.
This holder looks strikingly similar to a PMG holder, even down to the EPQ designation on the tag. However, the grading company is Numismatic Professional Grading Service (NPGS), which is a grading company I'd never heard of.
Some research led me to discover that NPGS does not have a web presence in the U.S., and is in fact a grading service in China. Their graded bills and coins are common in China, but their grades are often not trusted by collectors outside of China.
The auction had no problem attracting bidders, and the bill sold for about $20. That would have been a bargain for a PMG or PCGS note of this kind. However, in this case, the buyer may have been better off buying an ungraded bill.
Graded bills can be expensive. The higher the grade, the higher the price that the bill can command. So please be sure you are buying a bill that has been impartially graded by a reputable company.
UPDATE: As of late June, 2015, eBay recognized only PMG or PCGS as approved currency graders. All other graded bills must be listed as ungraded. This restriction is only enforced on individual notes selling for $2500 or more, but it emphasizes once again that PMG and PCGS are the two most reputable currency grading companies.
Here is an excerpt from the official policy, with the full text at http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/currstamps.html
(A) numeric grade can be included in the title, description, or item specifics of the listing only if the paper currency has been graded by a company that has been found by us to meet certain minimum objective criteria.
Single notes listed in the Coins & Paper Money > Paper Money: US or Coins & Paper Money > Paper Money: World with a starting bid price, reserve price, or Buy It Now price of $2,500 or more must receive a numeric grade from an approved grading company, and the numeric grade must be included in the listing.
Approved grading companies: