Numismatist of the Century – David Hall

David Hall

Numismatist of the Century award recipient David Hall, 76, is the coin field’s greatest promoter and a brilliant wealth creator. He transformed the coin hobby into an industry and invented the “grading revolution” that started in 1986.

Founding PCGS

Out of a 1985 hotel meeting meant to be a book project came an independent coin grading service, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Under Hall’s auspices, PCGS became part of the holding company he helped to create, Collectors Universe.

Hall and his team took Collectors Universe public in 1999, where it traded on the NASDAQ as CLCT. In early 2021, Collectors Universe was valued at $853 million to facilitate a private stock sale to an investor group led by Nat Turner, D1 Capital Partners and Cohen Private Ventures (New York Mets owner Steven A. Cohen).

Getting Started in Numismatics

David Hall’s history in rare coins dates to when he was a child. But he says the biggest boost to his business came in January 1979 when he started publishing a monthly rare coin newsletter, David Hall’s Inside View. “At one point I was mailing 130,000 copies a month,” he said.

In the summer of 1985, the PCGS dealer network was put together. PCGS was ready to grade coins on the one through 70 scale and encapsulate them in sonically sealed, tamper-resistant holders in February 1986. “The first month, we received 18,000 coins, and the second month we received 35,000 coins,” Hall stated. “Within six months, we were grading 100,000 coins a month.”Hall was a player in the sports card market and reasoned that third-party grading could also work in that market, so PCGS launched Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA). “Today, I believe PSA grades more cards than PCGS grades coins,” Hall opined.

Coin Set Registry

Hall pointed out that PCGS launched a coin set registry, an online listing and ranking of coin sets, with individual holder serial numbers inputted by collectors to rank and compare their sets of coins to those of other collectors. “Some people became very obsessed with their registry sets, so much so that some fairly common coins in ultra-high grades began to bring astronomical prices.”

Hall said that the online set registry was a big factor in increasing prices and increasing grading submissions for both coins and cards.

Hall was inducted into the PCGS CoinFacts Hall of Fame in 2012. He is no longer part of Collectors Universe, but he channels his coin trading talents into his business, David Hall Rare Coins, in Santa Ana, California.

Coin Market Qualified

The latest Hall venture is a partnership with Stacks Bowers to confirm the grades of coins already certified by placing a sticker on the holder. The new entity is named Coin Market Qualified (CMQ).

“The major grading services (PCGS, NGC, CAC) are doing a good job,” Hall said. “But the market indicates that not all coins are the same, and not all coins fit the sight-unseen bidding model,” he continued. “So, we put a CMQ sticker on coins we would make a sight-unseen bid for,” he explained.

The coins are examined by Hall and Stacks Bowers CEO Greg Roberts. Coins they examine and agree are appropriate for sight-unseen buying are given a CMQ sticker.

Coinage’s 14 Numismatists of the Century were named in its 2024 Book of Lists collector edition. They will be individually featured in issues of Coinage throughout 2024. The Book of Lists can be purchased online or at newsstands near you.


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