ANA Official Grading Standards

The accurate grading of coins is an important part of the numismatic field.  To many, grading is considered an art that requires years of experience to master.  Since 1977, the ANA has published its official grading standards, with Abe Kosoff compiling the first edition of the book, Q. David Bowers writing the introduction, and Kenneth Bressett providing the grading descriptions throughout the publication.

The following grades and descriptions are the American Numismatic Association's official grading terminology and standards for mint-state and circulated coins.

UNCIRCULATED COINS

MS-70 - The perfect coin.  Has very attractive sharp strike and original luster of the highest quality for the date and mint.  No contact marks are visible under magnification.  There are no noticeable hairlines, scuffs, or defects.  Eye appeal is attractive and outstanding.  If copper, the coin is bright, with full original color and luster.

MS-69 - Has very attractive sharp strike and full original luster for the date and mint, with no more than two small non-detracting contact marks or flaws.  No hairlines or scuff marks can be seen.  Has exceptional eye appeal, with full original color and luster.

MS-68 - Has attractive sharp strike and full original luster for the date and mint, with no more than four light scattered contact marks or flaws.  No hairlines or scuff marks show.  Has exceptional eye appeal.  If copper, the coin is lustrous and has original color.

MS-67 - Has original luster and normal strike for date and mint.  May have three or fours very small contact marks and one more noticeable but not detracting mark.  On comparable coins, one or two small single hairlines may show, or one or two minor scuff marks or flaws may be present.  Eye appeal is above average.  If copper, the coin has luster and original color.

MS-66 - Has above average quality of surface and mint luster, with no more than three or four minor or noticeable contact marks.  A few light hairlines may show under magnification, or there may be one or two light scuff marks showing.  Eye appeal is above average and very pleasing for the date and mint.  If copper, the coin displays original or lightly toned color (which must be designated).

MS-65 - Shows an attractive high quality of luster and strike for the date and mint.  May have a few small scattered contact marks, or two larger marks may be present.  One or two small patches of hairlines may show.  Noticeable light scuff marks may be seen on the high points of the design.  Overall quality is above average and eye appeal is very pleasing.  If copper, the coin has some attractive luster with original or darkened color, as designated.

MS-64 - Has at least average luster and strike for the type. Several small contact marks in groups, as well as one or two moderately heavy marks may be present.  One or two small patches of hairlines may show.  Noticeable light scuff marks or defects might be seen within the design or in the field.  Overall quality is attractive, with a pleasing eye appeal.  If copper, the coin may be slightly dull.  Color should be designated.

MS-63 - Mint luster may be slightly impaired.  Numerous small contact marks and a few scattered heavy marks may be seen.  Small hairlines maybe visible without magnification.  Several detracting scuff marks or defects may be present throughout the design or in the fields.  The general quality is about average, but overall the coin is rather attractive.  Copper pieces may be darkened or dull.  Color should be designated.

MS-62 - An impaired or dull luster may be evident.  Clusters of small marks may be present throughout with a few large marks or nicks in prime focal areas.  Hairlines may be very noticeable.  Large unattractive scuff marks might be seen on major feature.  The strike, rim, and planchet quality may be noticeably below average.  Overall eye appeal is below average.  If copper, the coin will show a diminished color and tone.

MS-61 - Mint luster may be diminished or noticeably impaired, and the surface may have clusters of large ands mall contact marks throughout.  Hairlines could be very noticeable.  Scuff marks may show as unattractive patches on large areas or major features.  Small rim nicks and striking or planchet defects may show, and the quality may be noticeably poor.  Eye appeal is somewhat unattractive.  Copper pieces will be generally dull, dark, and possibly spotted.

MS-60 - Unattractive, dull, or washed-out mint luster may mark this coin.  There may be many large detracting contact marks, or damage spots, but no trace of circulation wear.  There could be a heavy concentration of hairlines or unattractive large areas of scuff marks.  Rim nicks may be present, and eye appeal is very poor.  Copper coins may be dark, dull, and spotted.

CIRCULATED COINS

AU-58 (Also Very Choice About Uncirculated-58)¬ - The barest trace of wear may be seen on one or more of the high points of the design.  No major detracting contact marks will be present and the coin will have attractive eye appeal and nearly full luster, often with the appearance of a higher grade.

AU-55 (Also Choice About Uncirculated-55)¬ - Only small patches of wear are visible on the highest points of the design.  As is the case with the other grades described here, specific information is listed in The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for U.S. Coins  under the various coin types, for wear often occurs in different spots on different designs.  Eye appeal and surface are above average.

AU-53 (Also About Uncirculated-53)¬ - Noticeable spots of wear on several high points.  Very few contact marks or blemishes and generally good eye appeal.  Luster is diminished.

AU-50 (Also About Uncirculated-50)¬ - Shows traces of wear on many of the highest parts of the design.  On many of these coins, some of the original mint luster is still present.  May have a few noticeable contact marks or flaws.

EF-45 (Also Choice Extremely Fine-45)¬ - Has light overall wear on the coin's highest points.  All design details are very sharp.  Mint luster is usually seen only in protected areas of the coin's surface such as between the star point and in the letter spaces.

EF-40 (Also Extremely Fine-40)¬ - Has only slight wear but more extensive than the preceding (EF-45), still with excellent overall sharpness.  Traces of mint luster may still show.  All design elements show clearly.

VF-35 (Also Choice Very Fine-35)¬ - Surfaces show light overall wear with minor blemishes.  May have one or two small rim nicks.  All details show clearly.

VF-30 (Also Choice Very Fine-30)¬ - Light even wear shows on the surface; design details on the highest points begin to soften, but all lettering and major features are bold.

VF-25 (Also Very Fine-25)¬ - Entire surface shows light signs of wear and softening of design elements.  Major features are strong and clear.  Some of the minor details blend into the design.

VF-20 (Also VeryFine-20)¬ - Moderate noticeable wear on the higher parts of the design.  Minor details are beginning to flatten.  Surfaces are attractive and free of serious blemishes, erosion, nicks, or scratches.

F-15 (Also Fine-15)¬ - Shows moderate even wear through the surface.  Entire design is bold and clear with traces of flattening.

F-12 (Also Fine-12)¬ - Moderate to considerable even wear.  Entire design is bold.  All lettering, including the word LIBERTY (on coins with this feature on the shield or headband), is visible, but may only show parts of the letters.  Twenty cent coins with raised letters in LIBERTY are an exception.

VG-10 (Also Very Good-10)¬ - Even wear throughout the entire coin.  Parts of the rim may be flat but still discernable.  Some of the letters in LIBERTY are readable.

VG-8 (Also Very Good-8)¬ - Well worn.  Major design elements are visible, but with faintness in areas.  Head of Liberty, wreath, and other major features, as applicable, are visible in outline form, without center detail.  LIBERTY is mostly worn away.

G-6 (Also Good-6)¬ - Heavily worn, but with clean attractive surfaces and no major blemishes.  May have a few rim nicks and scratches.  Rim is very weak but basically complete.

G-4 (Also Good-4) - Heavily worn.  Major design elements are visible, but with faintness in areas.  Head of Liberty, wreath, and other major features, as applicable, are visible in outline form, without center detail.  Rims may be incomplete in spots.

AG-3 (Also About Good-3) - Very heavily worn, with portions of the lettering, date, and legends worn smooth.  The date is barely readable.  Rims merge into the lettering.

Fair-2 - Most of the design details are worn completely smooth.  Much of the legend and date are merged into the field.  Rims are flat or missing.  May have serious nicks, dents, and defects.

Poor-1 - Only the basic coin type is identifiable.  Date and mintmark must be strong enough to be readable.  Entire surface is worn and may be disfigured by numerous blemishes.