How to Crack Out a Coin from a PCGS Slab

a cracked out coin from a PCGS encapsulated slab
Learn how to crack a coin out of a PCGS coin slab without damaging it. James Bucki
  • 01 of 10

    Tools, Equipment and Safety

    Tools Needed for Cracking a Coin out of a PCGS Encapsulated Coin Holder
    Tools and Equipment Needed for Cracking a Coin out of a PCGS Slab. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    Occasionally the need may arise where you would like to remove a coin from a third-party grading service encapsulated coin holder such as a PCGS slab. It may be that you want to resubmit the coin to the grading service in hopes of achieving a higher grade or you would like to place it in a coin album to add it to your collection. Regardless of the reason here is an easy way to remove the coin from its slab without damaging it.

    First and foremost, the right tools are required to remove the coin without damaging it nor injuring yourself. Use or purchase the following items:

    1. A soft cotton hand towel that is clean and free of dirt and grime.
    2. A gallon size Ziploc bag.
    3. Channellock 10-Inch End Cutting Nipper Pliers (Part #: 148-10)

    I specifically like the Channellock brand of pliers because of their durability and accuracy when cracking out coins. Only the Channellock pliers use a knife and anvil style cutting edge to ensure perfect mating and superior cutting edge. I know these usually cost more than generic end nipping pliers, but the money you will save by not ruining your first encapsulated coin will be well worth it. Also, the longer the handle length, the less force you will need to exert to crack the plastic. Anything shorter than 10 inches and you risk losing control of the pliers and possibly damaging your coin.

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  • 02 of 10

    Hold the Coin Firmly but Don't Crack It Yet

    Grip the edge of the PCGS slab with the end nipping pliers
    Firmly grip the edge of the slab with the end nipping players. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    It is important to work over the soft cotton towel in case you drop the coin at any time during this process. The first step is to grip the edge of the slab with the end cutting nipper pliers approximately where the insert that holds the coin on the inside of the slab is closest to the edge. Squeeze the players hard enough, so the slab does not fall out but not too hard that you start to crack the plastic.

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  • 03 of 10

    Safety Is Job #1

    Place the PCGS coin slab being held by the players inside the Ziploc bag.
    Use a plastic bag to protect yourself from splintering plastic shards. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    While holding the PCGS coin slab with the end nipping pliers place the slab inside the plastic bag. Using a plastic bag will prevent any plastic splinters or shards from flying across the room or getting embedded in your eye. Be careful not to drop the slab or have the position of pliers move while you do this.

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  • 04 of 10

    Make the First Crack

    Firmly grasp the pliers with two hands while holding the opening of the plastic bag closed.
    Get ready to make the first crack. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    With your other hand, firmly grasp the end nipping pliers with both hands. Gather some of the plastic bag under your hand to minimize the opening of the plastic bag. Firmly squeeze down on the pliers using an even motion until the plastic cracks. Carefully remove the pliers from the plastic bag without touching the part of the coin that is now exposed. Reach into the plastic bag and remove the plastic piece(s) that broke off.  [CAUTION!] Exercise extreme caution because the cracked edges of the plastic may be very sharp. If the piece did not separate from the slab, remove the slab and the piece together from the bag. Otherwise, remove the slab from the plastic bag last.

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  • 05 of 10

    The First Crack Is Complete

    First Crack of a PCGS slabbed coin.
    First Crack of the PCGS Slabbed Coin. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    Although it is impossible to predict exactly how the slab will crack, more often than not  the slab will crack diagonally from the point where the pliers made an impact to the bottom of the coin slab. If the piece did not separate from the slab, carefully slide the piece off the slab so you do not scratch the coin. [CAUTION!] Exercise caution because the cracked edges of the plastic may be extremely sharp.

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  • 06 of 10

    Get Ready for Crack #2

    Grasp the other side of the coin slab with the pliers.
    Get ready to make the second crack. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    Using the end nipping pliers grasp the other side of the coin slab approximately halfway down where the inert plastic insert is closest to the edge of the slab. Use enough pressure, so the slab does not fall away from the pliers and possibly damaged the exposed part of the coin.

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  • 07 of 10

    Carefully Make Crack #2

    Carefully Place the Coin Slab inside the Plastic Bag Again and grip the pliers with both hands.
    Place the coin slab inside the plastic bag again and grip the pliers with both hands. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    Carefully place the coin slab inside the plastic bag again. Be careful that you do not lose your grip and the coin slab falls away from the pliers. Losing your grip may damage the exposed part of the coin. While gripping the pliers with your other hand, gather some of the plastic bag to minimize the opening. Once again, firmly squeeze the pliers until the plastic cracks.

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  • 08 of 10

    Remove the Final Piece

    the second crack on the PCGS encapsulated coin slab is now complete.
    The second crack is now complete. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    Remove the slab and any remaining pieces from the plastic bag. Be careful that you do not scratch the coin with the pliers or the broken pieces. [CAUTION!] Once again, be careful because the cracked edges of the slab may be very sharp. 

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  • 09 of 10

    Remove the Coin and Insert from the Slap

    a cracked out coin from a PCGS encapsulated slab
    The coin is now cracked out of the PCGS coin slab. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    Carefully slide the coin and the inert plastic insert out of the slab. Be careful not to scrape the coin against the sharp edges of the broken encapsulated holder. Remember, the edges are sharp so be careful not to cut yourself.

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  • 10 of 10

    Remove the Coin from the Inert Plastic Holder

    PCGS encapsulated coin slab crack out inert holder and coin
    Remove the coin from the inert plastic insert. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    Now that the coin and the inert plastic insert has been removed from the slab, carefully slide the coin out of the inert plastic insert. It is best done with cotton or powder-free latex gloves. Your coin is now ready for re-submission or addition your coin collection.