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 Lincoln wheat pennies is a skill that has taken even the best coin collectors many years of experience to perfect and this 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 is not an exact science where a formula can be applied and everyone comes out with the same result. But over the years, 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 Lincoln Wheat pennies.
Understanding Grades for Lincoln Wheat Cents
About Good-3 (AG3 or AG-3)
Lincoln Wheat Cent Graded About Good (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 . For the most part, Lincoln's portrait is flat and only an outline remains. The legend and date are readable but are almost worn flat and are merging into the rim.
Reverse . The entire design is flat. The wheat ears are mostly flat with maybe some remnants of the grains of wheat still faintly recognizable.
Tip. Click on the photos at the left to view a larger and more detailed image.
Good-4 (G4 or G-4)
Lincoln Wheat Cent Graded Good (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 portrait of Lincoln is well-worn and some details are starting to show through on his coat and the upper part of his hair. The legend and date are visible and are separated from the rim of the coin.
Reverse. The overall design is flat and some details in the grains of wheat are barely visible.