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The Slab Book

Welcome to SampleSlabs.com!

 

Why sample slabs? Why did they give them out? What are they worth? How do I collect them? All these thoughts may run through your head as you look over this site. Hopefully I can help clear things up and introduce you to the wonderful hobby of slab collecting. That’s right. Sample slab collecting.

A slab is a sonically sealed capsule that is used by a grading service to hold and certify a coin that is submitted to them for authentication and grading by a collector. Coin values are determined by the rarity and condition of the coin, and the grading services came about in the mid 1980’s. Since that time there have been numerous changes to their holders, labels and ways of certification. With so many changes, there had to be a way to easily show collectors their new product. Sample slabs were born!

Sample slabs are produced to be given away at shows and major coin events to collectors and dealers so they can become oriented with the services holder or new label type. It is a means of free advertising that promotes the service’s slab. A few companies made special types over the years just for dealers, but overall they are given away at shows to the general public. Each slab has a low value coin such as a Lincoln cent or Roosevelt dime within, but occasionally a service will use a more collectible item like a Sacagawea dollar or commemorative half instead. The latest trend is to use the most current State Quarter in sample slabs. It is relatively cheap for the service and a high enough value coin for a collector to keep.

Hallmark 2

In the beginning, the services just put a grade on each sample regardless of the coin warranting the assigned grade. They wanted to show where the grade would appear on the holder, but it created confusion among collectors. Today nearly all the services put “00” or “NG” (no grade) on the label where the grade should go.

Collecting sample slabs is easy and fun. It can be a simple as going to a show and stopping by a services table to pick a free one up or browsing eBay. They are relatively scarce, and usually no more than several hundred are made for each show or new label change. On average there are less than 200 produced and are never made again. Many collectors pick them up at the show and later crack out the coin and spend it, or just plain forget about them in some dusty drawer. New varieties are constantly being found which adds to the excitement of this new field.

Their scarcity does not keep them from being unattainable. Most samples can be found in the $8-$15 range and the more scarce ones in the $40-$55 (few dozen known) range. Bargains are definitely out there in dealer junk boxes, as most of them don’t know much about samples. Collecting scarce samples is fun, cheap and somewhat unappreciated right now. Soon there will be more interest, but in the meantime join me out there on the bourse floor, eBay and local shops to find more new samples and varieties. Have fun with your slabs!

-Cameron Kiefer




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