Understanding How the Coin Grading Scale Works

This collectible coin grading scale will give you a better understanding of how the scale works so that you can do a better job properly identifying coin values.

I put this guide together to explain exactly how the collectible coin grading scale works, so that you can identify coins on your own. We will talk about the 70 point scale and how it relates to the actual condition of collectible coins.

Before we get started, take a close look at the coin grading scale above. By the way, you can click on the graph for a larger, more detailed image. It may not make sense now, but as you read through this article, the information will come together. When you’re finished reading the article, come back here and click on the graph again. When you finish reading this article, you’ll find this image to be a great graphical representation of the coin grading scale. All right, are you ready to learn how the scale works? Great! Let’s get started.

How the Coin Grading Scale Works

Just about everyone uses the 70 point scale nowadays. This scale was introduced back in the 1940s and is the staple today. All worthy professional coin grading services use this scale. The use of the same guidelines is what makes it easier to identify and know what you’re buying or selling as a coin collector.

I’ll start with the best condition and work my way down from there. I’ll provide the grade and description. I’ll also let you know the prefix and numerical grade used with that prefix.

Mint State Coins

Mint State (MS) coins are also referred to as uncirculated coins. These coins show virtually no trace of imperfections or wear. The highest of these would be MS70, which is a coin that looks as though it came straight from the mint. At the bottom of MS coins would be the MS60. These will have some contact marks, minor blemishes, or may be spotted. However, these coins still don’t show signs of wear.

  • MS70 (Best Condition)
  • MS69
  • MS68
  • MS67
  • MS66
  • MS65
  • MS64
  • MS63
  • MS62
  • MS61
  • MS60

About Uncirculated Coins

About Uncirculated (AU) coins range from AU50 to AU58. These coins may also show evidence of friction and wear, but still have about half of its original luster.

  • AU58
  • AU55
  • AU53
  • AU50

Extremely Fine Coins

Extremely Fine (EF) coins are starting to show some of the wear more so and have minimal luster. You’ll find that the features are still in extremely fine condition (hence the name).

  • EF45
  • EF40

Very Fine Coins

Very Fine (VF) coins show moderate wear but the features are still clear.

  • VF35
  • VF30
  • VF25
  • VF20

Fine Coins

Fine (F) coins are starting to show more wear. They have an overall clear but dull look to the design of the coin.

  • F15
  • F12

Very Good Coins

Very Good (VG) coins are pretty worn out. The features are still clear but pretty dull overall.

  • VG10
  • VG8

Good Coins

Good (G) coins are pretty worn out. I don’t know why they are called good, because they’re really not that good.  The design is still recognizable but definitely flat and worn out.

  • G6
  • G4

About Good, Fair and Poor coins

About Good (AG), Fair (F), and Poor (P) coins  are extremely worn and in bad condition. In the case of Poor coins, the coins may be hardly recognizable. As a collector, these are definitely not the types of coins you are looking for unless they are very old and a better alternative is not available.

  • AG3
  • FA2
  • PR1

Collectors Should Focus on Mint State (MS) Coins

As a collector, you should always look to acquire mint state coins whenever possible. These coins typically increase in value better than others. Not to mention, they are a much more enjoyable coin to look at in your collection.

I hope this has been helpful. Be sure to let me know if you have any questions at all! Also, don’t forget to scroll up to view the coin grading scale graph again, now that you have a good understanding of how everything works.

Happy collecting!

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