Coin Grading Concepts
Numismatic coins can be categorized as one of two fundamental classifications, Circulated and uncirculated. Circulated coins show wear, though uncirculated coins don’t. Uncirculated mint pieces have a tendency to be more profitable. Coin grading is done both by adjectives and on a 1-70 numeric scale, and standards are developed enough that most collectors will be able to accede on how a coin should look given how the coin’s grade is described.
Coin grades are as follows:
Poor (PO-1): Barely recognizable. Most of the design components will be consummately flat. The date may be partially visible or missing.
Fair (FR-2): Rims worn well into the design. There should be outlines of some of the images visible on both sides of the coin, but the lettering may be worned-out. The date should be visible to identify the coin.
About Good (AG-3): Most of the design of the coin will be outlined, but the rims will generally have worn far enough into the design to obliterate components of the lettering or stars. Sometimes referred to as Virtually Good.
Good (G-4, 6): The general design of the coin will be outlined, but there will be very little detail and some components may be very impotent. For the most part, the rim will be intact, but it may wear down to the tops of the letters or stars in some cases. Non-collectors will often refer to their coins as being in “Good” condition; a coin grading Good is genuinely a very worn coin.
Very Good (VG-8, 10): The coin will have medium to heftily ponderous wear, but some details will still be visible.
Fine (F-12, 15): The coin will have medium wear, with quite a few details visible and some high spots conspicuously worn away
Very Fine (VF-20, 25, 30, 35): The coin will have medium to light wear overall, and all general details will be visible.
Extremely Fine (XF-40, 45): The coin has light wear over the high points only. There may be some traces of mint luster. Commonly abbreviated as EF.
About Uncirculated (AU-50, 53, 55, 58): The coin has wear ranging from profoundly light to only a trace of friction on the highest points, along with medium to proximately full luster. Barest evidence of light wear on only the highest points of the design. Most of the mint luster remains.
Coins with no wear at all are alternately referred to as Uncirculated (Unc.), Brilliant Uncirculated (BU), and Mint State (MS). When a numerical grade is assigned to an uncirculated coin, it goes along with the abbreviation MS, such as MS-60.
Uncirculated (MS-60, 61, 62): An uncirculated coin with salient deficiencies, generally either an overabundance of bagmarks, a poor strike, or poor luster. These coins have no trace of wear but may show a number of contact marks, and the surface may be spotted or lack some luster.
Select Uncirculated (MS-63): An uncirculated coin with fewer deficiencies than coins in lower uncirculated grades. In general, this will be an uncirculated coin with relatively ordinary eye appeal.
Choice Uncirculated (MS-64): An uncirculated coin with moderate diverting marks or deficiencies. These coins generally have average to above average eye appeal.
Gem Uncirculated (MS-65, 66): An uncirculated coin with only minor diverting marks or imperfections. An above average Uncirculated coin which may be brilliant or lightly toned and has very few contact marks on the surface or rim. MS-67 through MS-62 indicate slightly higher or lower grades of preservation.
Perfect Uncirculated (MS-70): Perfect new condition, showing no trace of wear. The finest quality possible, with no evidence of scratches, handling or contact with other coins. Very few regular issue coins are ever found in this condition
Proof is not a grade. The term refers to a method of manufacture rather than the condition of the coin. Proof coins are graded precisely as other coins of the series, yet always receive the abbreviation PR (sometimes PF). If a proof coin has wear, then it is called an Impaired Proof and will receive the grade opportune to the amount of wear it has.
There are three major coin grading companies recognized worldwide. They are all suitable to quote in listings as they can confirm certification of coins against the Third Party Grading database (TPG). These companies are:
For a fee, individuals can submit a coin for grading, which will be returned certified, graded and sealed in a tamper -evident charge plate container known as a “slab .” Dealers themselves graded rare coins resulted in fraudulent grading. The third- party grading services were established in response to this fraud. These organizations neither buy nor sell coins.