Over the past 30+ years, the two major third party coin certification companies (PCGS and NGC) have greatly expanded their holder and label offerings. Originally, both grading services offered just one standard issue holder with variation whatsoever. However, as time has passed, both companies have introduced a plethora of new options.
One of the very first special labels was the PCGS gold foil label used for S.S. Central America shipwreck treasure. In the late 1990s, a large hoard of coins was recovered from the bottom of the ocean and graded by PCGS. As recovered shipwreck treasure, these coins carried an extremely special status – and were immensely valuable as such. To commemorate this, PCGS certified the coins with a noticeable (and attractive) gold foil label. This made coins from the S.S. Central America discovery instantly recognizable.
Around the same time, PCGS also began experimenting with labels bearing the signatures of important Americans. President Gerald Ford, for instance, was an early participant in this program. The notable figure would sign a blank PCGS insert, which would them be printed with the description and grade of a matching coin. When the coin was graded and encapsulated, it would be sealed in the holder with the hand-signed label.
This signature concept is now employed by both PCGS and NGC. A vast array of politicians, coin designers, mint directors, engravers and numismatic personalities have signed PCGS/NGC labels. Examples include former U.S. Mint directors Edmund Moy and Philip Diehl, Congressman Michael Castle and 2014 Baseball commemorative coin designer Cassie McFarlin. Both grading services have also issued labels with facsimile signatures from deceased U.S. Mint engravers (like Augustus St. Gaudens and James Earle Frazier).
More recently, NGC has issued different colors for their holders. Customarily, NGC coins featured a white core, but in the past few years the company has released green, blue, black, pink and red inner cores. For instance, Pandas might be paired with the traditional Chinese color of red, coins struck at the West Point Mint would have an Army blue core, etc.
While collectors may like the appearance of certain labels and holders, it’s important to note that a holder alone will not drastically alter a coin’s value. Ultimately, the primary determinants of a coin’s value are rarity and condition. While a good argument can be made for paying slightly more for certain holders and labels, it’s debatable whether they are worth hundreds or thousands more. Just as a picture frame does not double the value of a fine painting, a special PCGS/NGC will not multiply the value of a rare coin.