I. R. Bama's Blog

15 Jun 2020

I think I need a microscope

Collecting Tips | I. R. Bama

I'm just finishing up the first course of the Diploma program and one thing I picked up is that I'm going to need to buy a stereo microscope if I'm going to be any good at grading coins and down the road identifying counterfeits and altered coins. I did a little browsing on line and saw one that seemed suitable, but one of my better strengths in all of this is knowing what I don't know, so I'd like to hear from you all on your experience with these microscope s along with pros and cons of ones you have had or use... Please school me!


Numinerd pretty much covered it... anyhow good luck finding a good microscope, as they a very useful tool


Level 4

I use a USB scope from Pluggable for searching for errors and die varieties, but a stereo scope might be a bit overkill for grading.


Level 6

Congratulations on finishing your grading course! Hope you're able to find the right microscope for you ; )


Level 5

Hi I.R. Bama. A stereoscope is good to help with die variety verification or counterfeit detection, but I'm not sure how good it would be for basic coin grading. For grading, a power of about 5x-10x is standard, depending upon your vision. Once you start going over 10x, there is a tendency to "micro-grade" a coin - the smallest hits start to look like the Grand Canyon with too high power of a glass. You might want to look into (no pun intended) digital microscopes; I'm not trying to give a sales pitch, but check out the offerings from Dino Lite; we use their products during our educational seminars all the time. https://www.dino-lite.com/ And of course, lighting is crucial - about a 70w-100w incandescent bulb is ideal - and tilt and rotate your coins a LOT - inspect them from many different angles under that light. Best of luck! -Sam Gelberd, ANA Numismatic Educator.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Thanks Numinerd, I guess I'm forward looking in view of the course on counterfeit coins. I have a digital magnifier, that does a pretty good job but I have to hold it carefully to keep it still and also keep the rotation correct. It does take pictures which is a big plus., I wish I had some kind of stand for it. Hmmm.....maybe I can fabricate something to help. Thanks for getting me thinking!


Level 6

This is what I was, awkwardly, trying to say. Thanks Sam.


Level 6

It sure couldn't hurt. I have an old one that is pretty messed up. As far as grading goes, if you go to NGC's web site they will tell you what they use to grade. I believe they use 10X and less for everything but counterfeit detection. I could be wrong but I'm close. I use a digital microscope to look for my VAM varieties. It is way less than a stereo scope. The graders don't have the time to go into super detailed looks on every coin Whatever you get, I would make sure it connects to your computer.. My opinion. Thanks. Good blog.

It's Mokie

Level 6

I use a traditional loupe and a lighted magnifying glass but I would love to have a stereo microscope as well. Looking at Amazon, looks like a decent one would be between 150 and 250. Gotta start saving.


Level 7

When I send something to NGC I have studied the token of coin for a week. It's my process. On the copy we keep I write the grade next to the amount. It was very hard at first but my rating is 94% . I use everything I need including a haligion bulb. That's like natural kite. When I forget to check that there done and the grades are in jobsite they call and am if I want to know my grade.? I tell them line by line from my sheet what it is... Thats after many years and burning my eyes out. Thanks for the blog. You will get it. It takes time patience I use a loupe. I see nothing at 5× I go to 10×. Nothing there I know it will grade good.


Level 5

Me too. I need some help on this area also. I would love to have a microscope and photo equipment to see details. Going to follow and learn something.

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