ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Are Coins Graded – The Grading Scale Explained

Updated on November 17, 2011

The Coin Grading Scale -

Think you have a valuable coin? Are you now in the process of determining its actual worth? When trying to determine how much your coin is worth, it’s important to understand coin grades. The value of your coin is completely based on what condition or grade it’s in. Higher grade coins can sometimes mean hundreds of dollars more in value. By now, you’re probably wondering what the heck coin grading is and how are coins graded. In this article, I’ll cover exactly what the coin grading scale is and how coins are graded using it.

_________________________________________________________________

How are Coins Graded - Professionally Graded Mint State 64 Washington Dollar
How are Coins Graded - Professionally Graded Mint State 64 Washington Dollar

What are Coin Grades?

In order to correctly put a value on your coin, you’ll need to know where your coin grades at. In Layman’s terms, you have to find out what condition your coin is in. Standard coin grading associates the condition of your coin to a number on a one through seventy scale. One being the worst possible grade, and seventy being a perfect coin.

How are Coins Graded?

Official coin grading services grade coins based on, but not limited to, luster, contact marks, blemishes and overall wear. Grading services give an official grade for your coin, but it does cost to use these services. If you would like to estimate the grade yourself, the table below will help you to determine an approximate grade for your coin. Please note that on high value coins, purchasing dealers will most likely want to have them officially graded for an exact grade and authenticity.

_________________________________________________________________

Uncirculated, Mint State Penny above and below.
Uncirculated, Mint State Penny above and below.

The Grading Scale:

Mint State/Uncirculated – Mint State (MS 60-70) or Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) coins are the highest quality grades possible. These coins show no trace of wear, but may have varying degrees of slight imperfections from the minting process.

  • · MS-70 : Perfect Grade. The coin in question shows no trace of wear, no contact marks from other coins and perfect Mint luster. It’s important to note that almost no normally minted coins grade a perfect MS-70. Perfect looking specimens from the Mint usually grade MS-68 or MS-69.
  • · MS-65 : Near Perfect Grade. These coins are usually downgraded from higher grades due to the slightest contact marks on the rim or surface. These coins are uncirculated and exhibit perfect mint luster and no evidence of wear.
  • · MS-60 : This is the lowest of the uncirculated grade, but still a desired condition. Coins of this grade may exhibit slightly more contact marks on the surface and rim and may have a luster slightly less than those of the MS-65 grade. Still exhibit no wear.

_________________________________________________________________

Almost Circulated. Notice almost full Mint luster, but the slightest minor wear is evident.
Almost Circulated. Notice almost full Mint luster, but the slightest minor wear is evident.

Almost Uncirculated – Almost uncirculated (AU 50-59) coins refer to the highest grades that a circulated coin can receive. Once coins have been passed through the hands of people, they are no longer Mint State.

  • · AU-55 : May look uncirculated to the eye, but contains evidence of wear on the high points of the design. The majority of the mint luster is still present.
  • · AU-50 : Coins in this grade exhibit light wear on the high points of the design. At least half of the mint luster must remain for a coin to grade AU-50.

_________________________________________________________________

Extremely Fine. Lettering and Design is bold, but there is wear along rim and mint luster has almost completely faded.
Extremely Fine. Lettering and Design is bold, but there is wear along rim and mint luster has almost completely faded.

Extremely Fine – Extremely Fine (EF 40-49) generally refers to coins with little to no remaining Mint luster, but still contain a “crisp” design.

  • · EF-45 : Overall light wear is present on high points of design. Details and lettering are still very sharp and some mint luster may remain.
  • · EF-40 : Overall light wear is present throughout the design, but details and lettering remain sharp. Only slight traces of Mint luster may remain.

_________________________________________________________________

Very Fine. Coin exhibits no mint luster and there is consistent light wear across the coin. Lettering is still very bold and clear.
Very Fine. Coin exhibits no mint luster and there is consistent light wear across the coin. Lettering is still very bold and clear.

Very Fine – Very Fine (VF 20-39) coins usually exhibit no traces of Mint luster and light wear consistently across all aspects of the coin. All major detailing on the coin should be clear and bold.

  • · VF-30 : No Mint luster exists, but details and lettering should still be sharp. Light even wear will exist on all aspects of the surface.
  • · VF-20 : Major detailing should be clear and evident, but the coin will exhibit signs of slight wear on the Lettering and minor details in the design. Overall moderate wear will be evident on the high points.

_________________________________________________________________

Fine Condition. Moderate to heavy wear is evident, but lettering is clear and appealing.
Fine Condition. Moderate to heavy wear is evident, but lettering is clear and appealing.

Fine – Coins graded as Fine (F 10-19) will exhibit varying degrees of moderate to considerable wear throughout the design. Coins should still have great eye appeal as the major detailing should still be clear.

  • · F-12 : Eye appeal exists because the overall features are still bold and clear, although worn. Moderate to heavy wear will exist throughout the coin’s design.

_________________________________________________________________

Good condition. Design has good eye appeal, but is flat and worn completely in areas.
Good condition. Design has good eye appeal, but is flat and worn completely in areas.
Almost Good. The coin is flat in appearance with heavy wear. Date is almost worn off.
Almost Good. The coin is flat in appearance with heavy wear. Date is almost worn off.

Good – Coin graded Good are the worst condition on the grading scale. Just because a coin grades Good doesn’t mean it is worthless. There are still plenty of coins that are highly valued even if they have low grades.

  • · VG-8 : Although the coin may be well worn and “flat” in appearance, the main features should still be clear to the eye.
  • · G-4 : Coins of this grade appear heavily worn and will look flat. The design will be present, but may be faded in some areas.
  • · AG-3 : Coins of this grade are heavily worn and may exhibit portions of lettering or the date being worn completely smooth.

I hope that through this article you’ve gained a better understanding of coin grades and how coins are graded. Even if you don’t get your coins professionally graded, you’ll at least be able to now approximate your coins grade and finally find out how much it’s worth!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Kirk 

      16 months ago

      Thanks. I have what may be a 1966, but on closer exam, might be a '68. New to this and is exciting. Is it common to see dates like this?

    • canddcoins profile image

      Doug West 

      3 years ago from Raymore, MO

      Good Hub. I put an embedded link to your Hub in mine: Advice on Selling your Coin Collection: U.S. Cents

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 

      4 years ago

      Grade is important, and a good grading service can add credibility to the grade claimed, but check yourself. Coins can change grade in slabs. And coins can be devalued for things like improper cleaning, scratches, and so on, getting a "Details" grade. Nice grading summary.

    • Trading Lapel Pin profile image

      Trading Lapel Pin 

      6 years ago from Front Row Marketing, Inc. 4142 Ogletown Stanton Road Unit # 555 Newark, DE 19713.

      Looking very nice coins, i love coins, i have a huge coins collection.i have different types of coins.i am crazy in coins collection. i love your blog too. really a great effort for coins collection.

    • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

      Zach 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Most definitely! When a coin is graded by a professional service, you'll at least know that the coin in question is authentic. this alone means a lot to purchasers of expensive coins

    • qsera profile image

      qsera 

      7 years ago

      A very nice hub :) By grading the coin, the value of the coin increases too! As coin collectors are more confident in purchasing graded coins.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)