Understanding Coin Grading

Many people shy away from grading coins. This discussion explains the two major different approaches to coin grading, and highlights resources that will aid you in expanding your grading knowledge.


Hello. This is Rod Gillis, Education Director at the American Numismatic Association, and I want to spend a little bit of time talking with you today about grading. You know, if you’re fairly new to the hobby, grading is a very scary proposition. It’s something that requires a lot of time, and a lot of patience, and for those reasons, a lot of us really aren’t interested in learning how to grade. However, I would submit to you, that everyone has enough talent to be able to grade at least the coins in their own collection, and furthermore, that you really should learn how to grade. Because if you don’t, you’re really not getting everything out of the hobby that you need to.

Basically there are two types of grading. There is market grading, and technical grading. Now, technical grading really discusses the state of preservation of a coin. It really focuses in on the wear of that coin, hence the grade. Generally, technical grading is used for coins from that are very worn, up to, let’s say, extremely fine. Market grading is generally used for coins that are almost uncirculated through mint state. Market grading deals with the amount of luster that is shown on a coin, any detractions, sort of scratches or marks that are found on a coin, strength of strike and eye appeal.

Grading is very subjective. You know, it’s a fallacy to believe that all professionals grade coins exactly the same way. Generally, if two graders come up within one point of each other, then, that’s a good thing. Although, it is true to say that for some high level coins, the difference in one grade can mean up to tens of thousands of dollars.

If you are interested in learning how to grade, there are several ways that you can go about it. One is to take the ANA’s diploma program, of which learning how to grade is an important part. Perhaps an even better way, is to take some of the live classes that the American Numismatic Association offers. We offer classes on grading at many shows, including the two shows that the ANA puts on every year, the World’s Fair of Money, and National Money Show.

Of course, our best way to learn grading is at our marquee event, Summer Seminar, where we offer three levels of grading, Introduction to Grading, Intermediate, and Advanced Grading.

It’s best to learn how to grade. You’re gonna get the most from your coins if you do. This is Rod Gillis, from the American Numismatic Association, saying enjoy your hobby.


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