iccoins's Blog

16 Oct 2017

Coin Grading Scale

Coins | iccoins

The coin grading scale is very important to finding the value of a coin. The Sheldon coin grading scale, which is the most common grading scale and is used by the grading services, contains grades from 0 to 70, with 70 being the best and 0 being the worst. One or two letters are in front of the number to include the more overall grade. 

The grading scale is especially helpful if you're new to coin collecting and is unaware of coin grades and would like to learn or is just curious what those numbers on the coin slabs by PCGS, NGC, ANACS, and IGC mean.

P-00 (No Grade): This "grade" is used for coins in which the coin, date, and/or mintmark cannot be identified. This grade is used only for coins in very bad condition. This grade is not used by the popular grading services, like PCGS and NGC.
P-01: This is used when the date, type, and mintmark can be identified, but the other details cannot. The rims are worn, the high details are gone, and the coin is in poor condition.
FR-02: The coin is in poor condition, the rims are barely visible, and few details are visible. 
AG-03: Most letters and details on the the coin are visible and/or readable.
G-04: Letters are mostly full, but rims are worn.
G-06: Letters and many details are full and the rim is less worn.
VG-08: The entire coin is worn and letters, while full, are soft.
VG-10: The entire coin is worn and the letters, while full, are soft, but sharper than VG-08.
F-12: Letters are sharp, but parts of the coin are still worn.
F-15: Letters are sharp, but parts of the coin are slightly worn.
VF-20: Details are not sharp, but all shown to some extent.
VF-25: Almost complete details, but many design areas are soft.
VF-30: Almost complete details, and the design areas are sharper than VF-25.
VF-35: While wear is clear, all details are shown clearly.
EF-40: Also known as XF-40, minor wear is on the high details.
EF-45: Also known as XF-45, minor wear is on some of the high details.
AU-50: Slight wear is obvious, especially on the high points.
AU-53: Slight wear can be seen, but mostly on the high points.
AU-55: Slight wear can be seen, but only on the high points.
AU-58: Slight wear can be seen only on the highest points of the coin.

60-70 is reserved for uncirculated and proof coinage that is uncirculated. Uncirculated coins that were meant for circulated or had a circulating finish will get an MS, or mint state grade, while proof coins that were meant for collectors with a special proof finish and careful handling will get a PR, or proof grade. PR can also be stated as PF. The lower grades in these categories are reserved for coins with several marks and imperfections, while the higher grades are reserved for coins with no marks or incredibly minimal marks and exceptional eye appeal.

One can use this scale to grade your coins yourself* or to provide an approximate estimation of the grade of a coin you're about to send off to be graded. 

*If you grade a coin yourself, it will most likely not be the exact correct grade that a company like PCGS would give it. Please be aware that any grade you put on a coin is mostly for your own use and should not be used to sell a coin. 



Level 5

Nice blog! Just remember that "Proof" is a method of manufacture, not an actual "condition." There have been numerous proofs that have entered circulation, and as a result, have grades below that 60-70 range. So, saying "60-70 is reserved for uncirculated and proof coinage" must be qualified with this information - a proof can be graded less than 60; just check out the population reports for grading companies for 1895 Morgan dollars - many of the specimens for this "Proof only" date have been circulated. -Sam Gelberd, ANA Numismatic Educator.


Level 4

Thanks :) And thanks for suggesting me to put in the proof exception statement!


Level 7

Hi thanks for the list. Just be careful when you do your own grading. One point either way could mean hundreds if not thousands of dollars. I keep a list of coins I send away to see how well I have done. I enjoy it but it does take years or training and reading. But I do send some coins or tokens in just for protection I don't worry about the grade. Enjoy it and keep reading up on it that's were the answers are there in books. Thanks for your sharing I enjoyed it. Mike.


Level 4

Thanks for the comment! I warned people in mine post that it's for your own use and shouldn't be used to sell. I've gone to shows and seen some dealers write the "grade" on the holders. I don't really consider those as the correct grade. It can be far different from what they say, especially since they want to sell the coins. I put an approximate grade onto the holders of many of mine, but I don't ever consider it the correct grade unless I get it graded.

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