How to Grade Coins

grade coinsGrading a coin will teach you the value of that coin in the market. The metal of the coin, how the coin was struck originally, and how much wear and tear the coin has gone through since it was issued are contributing factors. The following information is mainly for beginners. You will be able to tell about the wear of your coin and its standing on the 70-point grading scale.

The 70-Point Grading Scale

Coins are graded on the Sheldon Scale using a numeric value. The range of this scale is from Poor or P-1 to Perfect Mint State or MS-70. The common points assigned on the scale have been listed below:

  • (P-1) Poor – It is almost identifiable. It is pretty thrashed except that it has the date and the mintmark.
  • (FR-2) Fair – Worn to an extent that it is almost smooth. However, it is not as damaged as the Poor coins.
  • (G-4) Good – In these coins, the inscriptions will be merged and the details are barely visible. In other words, these coins are heavily worn.
  • (VG-8) Very Good - These coins are also very worn, but you can see the major design elements clearly. In some cases they might be faint. Central detail may be minimal, if present.
  • (F-12) Fine – These coins are also worn out but they are bold in terms of overall design elements. The rims are almost fully-separated.
  • (VF-20) Very Fine – They are not extremely worn but are quite. They have a few finer details. The letters of LIBERTY are readable and the rims are full and clean in these coins.
  • (EF-40) Extremely Fine – They are not quite worn and you can make out the devices. The major devices are actually bold.
  • (AU-50) About Uncirculated – Wear is minimal. You may find contact marks here and there. These also have eye appeal to an extent.
  • (AU-58) Very Choice About Uncirculated - Extremely minimal wear marks can be identified in these. They have a lot of luster and the eye appeal is positive.
  • (MS-60) Mint State Basal – These coins were not circulated at all. These coins lack luster or contact marks.
  • (MS-63) Mint State Acceptable – These coins are also uncirculated but they come with nicks and contact marks. They luster is also impaired considerably. They are appealing and their strike is on the weaker side.
  • (MS-65) Mint State Choice – These uncirculated coins have a lot of luster and great eye appeal. Contact marks are a few. Their strike is above average.
  • (MS-68) Mint State Premium Quality – The luster on these uncirculated coins is perfect. The naked eye will not find any contact marks. The eye appeal is exceptional and the strike is attractive and sharp.
  • (MS-69) Mint State All-But-Perfect – These uncirculated coins have attractive strike and they are sharp with perfect luster and exceptional eye appeal. These are almost perfect. A few flaws may be noted if viewed under 8x magnification such as contact marks.
  • (MS-70) Mint State Perfect – Coins can’t get better than this. They have original luster, the planchet is flawless, the eye appeal is outstanding, they are perfectly centered, and the strike is sharp.