Coin Grading Standards
We have coins that are both professionally graded and coins that are "raw" meaning, not graded by a professional company. For raw coins, we use standards from the most recognized and professional grading companies which are, PCGS (professional coin grading service) and NGC (numismatic guaranty corporation). It is interesting to note that professional coin grading is somewhat of an art and a coin's slabbed condition is at the mercy of the grader (within reason of course); this is why some grading services are more accepted and trusted than others. Coins that are graded by PCGS and NGC are the most trusted and run higher in price than coins that are graded by other grading services and not professionally graded; you can note this difference when comparing prices on online auctions and coin dealer sites.
For your interest we have put together a list of standards used to grade according to the nationally accepted and recognized ANA (American Numismatic Association) standards. It may help you get an idea of what a coin you have may be worth and how we decide a coin's value. They are listed in order from the most pristine condition to most common. When you are trying to determine the condition of your coin it is important to read about details for your specific coin which can be found in coin guide books.
Remember: Do not ever clean your coin(s)! It will lessen the value of your coin and in some cases drop it as low as 50% its value otherwise.
We carry the official red book guide for U.S. coins and you can pick one up at our shop for $14.95 plus tax.
Mint State (MS) 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 absolutely no hairlines, scuff marks or defects. Attractive and outstanding eye appeal. Copper coins must be bright with full original color and luster.
MS-69. Must have 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. Copper coins must be bright with full original color and luster.
MS-68. 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. Exceptional eye appeal. Copper coins must have original color.
MS-67. Has full original luster and sharp strike for date and mint. May have three or four very small contact marks and one more noticeable but not detracting mark. On comparable coins, one or two small single hairlines may show under magnification, or one or two partially hidden scuff marks or flaws may be present. Eye appeal is exceptional. Copper coins have lustrous original color.
MS-66.Must have above average quality of strike and full original mint luster, with no more than two or three minor but noticeable contact marks. A few very light hairlines may show under magnification, or there may be one or two light scuff marks showing of frosted surfaces or in the field. The eye appeal must be above average and very pleasing for the date and mint. Copper coins display full original or lightly toned color as designated.
MS-65.Shows an attractive high quality of luster and strike for the date and mint. A few small scattered contact marks, or two larger marks may be present, and one or two small patches of hairlines may show under magnification. Noticeable light scuff marks may show on the high points of the design. Overall quality is above average and overall eye appeal is very pleasing. Copper coins have full 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 under magnification. Noticeable light scuff marks or defects might be seen within the design or in the field. Attractive overall quality with a pleasing eye appeal. Copper coins 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 are 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 features. The strike, rim and planchet quality may be noticeably below average. Overall eye appeal is generally acceptable. Copper coins will show a diminished color and tone.
MS-61.Mint luster may be diminished or noticeably impaired, and the surface has clusters of large and small contact marks throughout. Hairlines could be very noticeable. Scuff marks may show as unattractive patches on large areas or major features. Small rim nicks, 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 absolutely no trace of 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.
About Uncirculated (AU) Coins
AU-55. Barest evidence of light wear on only the highest points of the design. Most of the mint luster remains.
AU-50. Has traces of light wear on many of the high points. At least half of the Mint luster is still present.
Extremely Fine (EF), Very Fine (VF) & Fine (F) Coins
EF-45. Light overall wear shows on highest points. All design details are very sharp. Some of the Mint luster is evident.
EF-40. Design is lightly worn throughout, but all features are sharp and well defined. Traces of luster may show.
VF-30. Light even wear on the surface and highest parts of the design. All lettering and major features are sharp.
VF-20. A moderate amount of wear is noticeable on the high points of the coin's design. All major details are clear.
F-12. The coin shows moderate to considerable even wear throughout. Entire design is bold with an overall pleasing appearance.
Very Good (VG) & Good (G) Coins
VG-8. Well worn with main features clear and bold although rather flat.
G-4. Heavily worn with the design visible but faint in areas. Many details are flat. Common coins in "Good" condition are not particularly desirable pieces for collectors. Rare or valuable coins in this condition, however, are often saved when no others are available.
About Good (AG-3). Very heavily worn with portions of lettering date and legends worn smooth. The date may be barely readable.