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What is Coin Grading?

Posted on May 14th, 2019 by JoeG

Coin collecting is not only a hobby, but it can also be an investment as well. Prices have been steadily increasing over the last 40 years not only due to the silver and gold market, but the longer out the time frame in which certain coins were minted, the rarer date and scarcer mint-marked coins become more expensive as well as harder to find in uncirculated condition.

What Are Coin Grading Classifications?

Major authority grading services like NGC and PCGS help to determine the classification grades on coin grading. NGC and PCGS grade and encapsulate the coins. By doing this the collector and the dealer numismatist can then sell the coins with confidence. These companies grade United States coins, as well as foreign and ancient coins. The difference between a grade can mean hundreds to several thousand dollars for the same coin. The grading system that NGC and PCGS use are the world standard.

The Grading System

  • About Good (AG): a heavily worn coin where one might not even see the date
  • Good (G): coins that have a date but are very worn and may not even have a rim around the periphery of the coin
  • Very Good (VG): coins that have details yet are not sharp and definitive everywhere
  • Fine (F): a coin with moderate to heavy even wear but will have bold design features
  • Very Fine (VF): a coin with moderate wear on the high points of the design, but all the major details are present.
  • Extra Fine (XF): coins that gradually are exhibiting sharper details like feathers on the eagle’s breast, lines on a shield, or the tail and horn on a buffalo etc.
  • About Uncirculated (AU): coins that may have been stored but someone along the way mishandled them or they may have been obtained from the bank 100 years ago yet still incurred some contact with another coin or object to cause rubbing on the coin that can be seen with magnification.
  • Mint State Uncirculated (MS): a coin with no wear on the high points of the design and all the design elements are sharp. These coins may have some mint luster, but also coins with toning (patina) are desirable and qualify for this grade.

Different Degrees Of The Uncirculated State

  • Mint State or MS 60
  • MS 61 MS 62
  • MS 63
  • MS 64
  • MS 65 starting to exhibit almost no imperfections at all
  • MS66
  • MS67
  • MS68
  • MS69.
  • And finally MS70, which is the top of the scale. An MS70 coin will not have any bag marks, rub or show that the coin has had any contact or mishandling even in the slightest degree.

Mint State

The Mint State or MS grading system will apply to proof coins as well. Proof coins are coins that were usually minted for presentation or collector use only. They were never meant for business or commercial trade and examples that are from the 1800s and early to mid-1900s are very rare and valuable. The Mint State goes as low as MS60 and as high as MS70. MS70 is the top of the scale. An MS70 coin will not have any bag marks, rub or show that the coin has had any contact or mishandling even in the slightest degree.

Correct Coin Grading Importance

The difference between grades can range from hundreds of thousands of dollars. An example of this is an 1889 Carson City silver dollar. This specific silver dollar in good condition is $550.00; in Almost Uncirculated is $5,750.00; in MS 60 $22,500.00 & in MS65 $265,000.00. It may be rare to find in the top tier grades of MS65 and higher, but even in the lower grades, proper grading can mean the difference of several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

If you have coins that you would like to know their value and grade, you can bring them into Chicago Gold Gallery and we can give you our opinion and evaluation for consultation or purchase. We are your Chicago coin buyers and we are here to help you!

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I find that Joe at Chicago Gold Gallery consistently offers and pays more for my coins than coin dealers in Chicagoland. He's very nice and easy to deal with. Don't hesitate to call him and preferably visit him.

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