Coin collectors will no doubt want to be able to look at their coins in order to determine at least an approximate grade.
A coin’s grade will give you important information that will ultimately be used in determining the coin’s worth.
I might as well tell you now that you’re not going to be able to do this if you’re just beginning to collect coins.
Being able to grade a coin accurately comes from a lot of experience. It’s usually left up to professional coin graders. like PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service ).
Here’s an overview of how coins are graded…
How Coins Are Graded
Coins are most widely graded using the ANA (American Numismatic Association ) Grading Standards.
If you view what a coin is worth in any type of coin price guide. they are using the ANA grading system.
Any coin can be graded using ANA’s guidelines — from the oldest obsolete coins to coins still in production today.
How A Coin’s Design Affects Its Grade
A coin’s design always has certain vulnerable areas. Some parts of the design are more highly raised than others and will show wear the quickest. Likewise, some of the engraved lines are shallower than others and will be worn more quickly from day-to-day handling.
By carefully examining
a coin and checking these vulnerable areas you can determine if a coin is circulated or uncirculated. If a coin is circulated, its vulnerable areas can also establish a specific grade by the amount of wear that they’ve absorbed.
When grading coins, especially if they’re your coins, you have to stick to the strict guidelines. You can’t say, “Well my coin’s just half of a hair away from being MS-60 so I’ll grade it MS-60”. A lot of times, a coin in MS-60 condition can be worth 200% more than if it were graded one grade lower — which is why it is important to grade them accurately, even if they’re your own coins.
Many sellers do this nowadays, trying to make more money for their coins. They’re betting that the buyer won’t be able to tell that slight difference and pay for a grade that they’re not actually receiving. This is called slider grading… stay away from it.
Coin Grade Abbreviations
Using the ANA coin grading system, there are standards for every type of coin. This article just covers the basics. We talk about grading individual types of coins at length in other articles.
To begin grading coins you’ll need to know the grades and their abbreviations.
Here is the list of grades and what they mean: