Grading is a method of determining a coin’s relative state of preservation, using a system of standards and terminology generally accepted by the collecting community. Such well-defined standards were not always in place, and even after they were adopted, they continued to evolve and still do to this day.
Most numismatists agree that grading coins is an art and not a science. Since grading is subjective, naturally it is open to a certain amount of interpretation. Ken Bressett, noted numismatist and member of the American Numismatic Association Hall of Fame believes that grading is quite simple. All that is required is, “a good light, good magnification and about 20 years of experience.”
The following definitions and images are representative of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Grading Standards. While it is always best to view a coin first hand, hopefully the following images will provide a useful guide to grading the popular Morgan Series. The ANA offers live classes periodically in all phases of grading and counterfeit detection. Find more information on upcoming numismatic seminars and educational opportunities here.
The grading set below includes Poor through Mint State 67.
Click thumbnail images for enlarged lightbox views and descriptions.
To view the coins in 600dpi high-definition, click corresponding obverse and reverse links highlighted in yellow.
A Mint State coin with attractive mint luster, but noticeable detracting contact marks or minor blemishes; some of which may be in prime focal areas. This grade is the benchmark "average" grade for Morgan dollars.