Today I read an interesting article about a coin collection that was allegedly stolen and then sold to the Las Vegas Gold & Silver Pawn Shop that is featured on the History Channel's show, Pawn Stars (which admittedly I have watched once or twice). The coins were apparently graded and slabbed.
A Pawn Shop spokesperson (I didn't realize Pawn Shops had spokespersons) stated "If the grader is not someone we trust, the cases are cracked open and the coins are sent out to be melted down."
The melting of any historic coin brings a tear to my eye. But here, I smell a rat.
The coins included a Saint Gaudens double eagle, morgan dollars, and an American Buffalo gold coin. The fact that the coins may have been overgraded by a disreputable third party grader would not produce grounds for melting the coins. All of the coins, even at relatively low grades, would have at least some premium to the bullion value. Even if they had no premium, melting them would still make no sense. Any nitwit knows an American Buffalo coin contains one ounce of pure gold. If it is melted into a clump of gold, its purity will be unknown to anyone except those wishing to conduct extensive tests. Silver investors frequently buy silver coins (rather than no-name silver bars) because they know the composition.
And so, why were the coins so quickly melted? One reason is that it could provide cover in case the coins turned out to be stolen.
As a postscript, the article claims the collection included a rare 1903 Saint Gaudens double eagle -- which would indeed be rare since the series did not start until several years later. I assume the year was a typo.
The original article can be found here.