James Bucki is a coin collector, part-time coin dealer and a professional numismatic writer. He has received national recognition for assembling outstanding registry sets of U.S. coins and has won various awards for his coin exhibits at coin shows.
Grading Morgan Dollars (1878-1904 & 1921) is a skill that takes even the most experienced coin collector years to perfect. This grading guide will get you started. Remember that coin grading is the expression of an opinion that describes the condition of an individual coin that most dealers and collectors would agree with. Grading Morgan Dollars is not an exact science where a formula can be applied and everyone comes out with the same result. Over time, numismatists and coin grading services have agreed upon certain definitions, descriptions and Sheldon's numeric values that help all coin collectors describe their coins accurately (to a certain extent). This guide will help you understand those terms and descriptions so you can accurately grade your Morgan Dollars.
Understanding Grades for Morgan Dollars
About Good-3 (AG3 or AG-3)
Morgan Dollar Graded About Good-3 (AG03). Photo courtesy of Teletrade Coin Auctions, www.teletrade.com Summary. The coin is very heavily worn and barely legible. Some of the devices. lettering, legends and date may be
worn smooth, but the date is readable. Portions of the rim blend into the lettering.
Obverse . Liberty's head is almost flat with only the elementary details visible. The stars are flat and the rim is blending into the field.
Reverse . The eagle is just an outline with a few feathers showing. The rim is blending into the field and the letters.
Tip. Click on the photos at the left to view a larger and more detailed image.
Good-4 (G4 or G-4)
Morgan Dollar Graded Good-4 (G04). Photo courtesy of Teletrade Coin Auctions, www.teletrade.com Summary. The coin is heavily worn overall. The devices, lettering, legends and date are readable but may have some faintness in a few areas. All major features are visible in at least outline form and the rim is mostly complete but may be incomplete in a few spots.
Obverse. The rim is mostly complete. Some details in Liberty's cap are starting to appear. Her hairline is barely visible and blends mostly with her face. The stars and lettering are flat but distinct.
Reverse. The eagle is mostly flat but well defined. Some detail in the arrows is visible. All lettering is separate from the rim.