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Grading Standards

 

The grade for the obverse and reverse of a coin may differ slightly. In cases like that the obverse usually dominates in making a decision. Unless there is something very negative about the reverse, the obverse grade will become the unified grade.

PO-1
Low grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Poor. A coin of this grade is basically uncollectible due to its terrible condition, but coins of great rarity (such as an 1802 half dime) are still of considerable value and in demand in this grade. In order to "reach" this grade a coin must be identifiable as to date and type and not be horribly damaged (such as holes).

FR-2
Low grade....is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Fair. A coin that is well worn. There will be some detail intact, the date will be discernible (if not fully readable) and there is almost always heavy wear into the rims and fields.

AG-3
Low grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means About Good. Most of the lettering on the coin is readable, but there is moderately heavy wear into the rims. This grade is frequently found on Barber coins where the obverse is fully (or better) but the reverse is heavily worn.

G-4
Low grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Good. The major details of the coin will be worn flat. Minor wear into the rims is allowable, but the peripheral lettering will be nearly full.

G-6
Low grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Good. A higher grade (i.e., less worn) than a G-4 coin. The rims will be complete and the peripheral lettering will be full.

VG-8
Low grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Very Good. A slight amount of design detail is still showing on the coin, such as a couple of letters in the word LIBERTY

VG-10
Low grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Very Good. A higher grade (less worn) than the VG-8 coin. Design detail is still heavily worn but the major devices and lettering are clear. A Very Good+.

F-12
Mid grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Fine. The design detail is partially in evidence. The coin is still heavily worn. If there is any eye appeal in this grade it comes from the smooth surfaces associated with this grade, as any distracting marks have usually been worn off through circulation.

F-15
Mid grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Fine. A Fine+. Most of the letters in LIBERTY are visible, about 35-50% of the wing feathers are visible, or whatever applies to the coin in question. In other words, the coin is still in highly collectible shape.

VF-20
Mid grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Very Find. Wing feathers show most of their detail, lettering is readable but sometimes indistinct and some minor detail is sometimes separate but usually blended.

VF-25
Mid grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Very Fine. In this grade about 60% of the original detail is evident, with the major devices being clear and distinct.

VF-30
Mid grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Very Fine. A Very Fine+. The devices are sharp with only a small amount of blending. Up to 75% of the original detail is evident.

VF-35
Mid grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Very Fine. A VF/XF.  This grade used to be called VF/EF (or VF/XF) before numerical grading was accepted throughout the industry. Devices are sharp and clear and up to 80% of the detail is in evidence.

EF-40
High grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Extremely Fine. Also called XF-40. About 90% of the original detail is still evident and the devices are sharp and clear.

EF-45
High grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means Extremely Fine. Also called XF-45 or XF+. About 95% of the original detail is still evident and the devices are sharp and clear.

AU-50
High grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means AboutUncirculated. Also called Almost Uncirculated-50 This is the lowest of the four AU grades, with the others being AU53, AU55, and AU58. Between 50% and 100% of the surfaces will exhibit luster disturbances, and perhaps the only luster still in evidence will be in the protected areas. The high points of the coin will have wear that is easily visible to the naked eye.

AU-53
High grade... is the numerical designation out of “70” that means AboutUncirculated. Also called Almost Uncirculated-53 There is obvious wear on the high points with light friction covering 50-75% of the fields. There are noticeable luster breaks, with most of the luster still intact in the protected areas.

AU-55
High grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means AboutUncirculated. Also called Almost Uncirculated-55 or AU+. There is slight wear on the high points with minor friction in the fields. Luster can range from almost nonexistent to virtually full, but it will be missing from the high points. The reverse side will have friction on the high points. The grade of Choice AU equates to AU55.

AU-58
High grade...is the numerical designation out of “70” that means AboutUncirculated. Also called Almost Uncirculated-58 or AU/BU. There is the slightest wear on the high points, even though it may be necessary to tilt the coin towards the light source to see the friction. In many cases the reverse of an AU58 coin will be fully Mint State Less than 10% of the surface area will show luster breaks. The grade of "BorderlineUnc equates to AU58.

MS-60
Mint State 60 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. This is the lowest of the eleven Mint State grades that range from MS60 through MS70. An MS60 coin will usually exhibit the maximum number of marks and/or hairlines. The luster may range from poor to full, but is usually on the poor side. Eye appeal is usually minimal.

MS-61
Mint State 61 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. This grade meets the minimum requirements of "Mint State" plus includes some virtues not found on MS60 coins. For instance, there may be slightly fewer marks than on an MS60 coin, or better luster, or less negative eye appeal.

MS-62
Mint State 62 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. This grade is nearly in the "choice" or MS63 category, but there is usually one thing that keeps it from a higher grader. Expect to find excessive marks or an extremely poor strike or dark and unattractive toning. Some MS62 coins will have clean surfaces and reasonably good eye appeal but exhibit many hairlines on the fields and devices.

MS-63
Mint State 63 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. The equivalent of "choice" or "Choice BU" from the days before numerical grading was prevalent. This grade is usually found with clean fields and distracting marks or hairlines on the devices, or clean devices with distracting marks or hairlines in the fields. The strike and luster can range from mediocre to excellent.

MS-64
Mint State 64 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. This grade is also called "Borderline Gem" at times, as well as "Very Choice BU." There will be no more than a couple of significant marks or, possibly, a number of light abrasions. The overall visual impact of the coin will be positive. The strike will range from average to full and the luster breaks will be minimal.

MS-65
Mint State 65 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. This grade is also called"Gem" Mint State "Gem BU" There may be scattered marks, hairlines or other defects, but they will be minor. Any spots on copper coins will also be minor. The coin must be well struck with positive (average or better) eye appeal. This is a NICE coin!

MS-66
Mint State 66 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. This is a Gem-plus coin, with the eye appeal above average to superb. The luster is usually far above average, and any toning can not impede the luster in any significant way. This is an extra-nice coin.

MS-67
Mint State 67 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. A superb-quality coin! Any abrasions are extremely light and do not detract from the coin’s beauty in any way. The strike is extremely sharp and full, and the luster is outstanding. This is a spectacular coin!

MS-68
Mint State 68 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. An almost perfect coin and with only minute imperfections visible to the naked eye. The strike will be exceptionally sharp and the luster will glow. This is an incredible coin.

MS-69
Mint State 69 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. Virtually perfect in all departments, including wondrous surfaces, a 99% full strike (or better), full unbroken booming luster and show-stopping eye appeal. You may have to study this coin with a 5X glass to find the reason why it didn’t grade MS70.

MS-70
Mint State 70 is the numerical designation out of “70” that meansUncirculated. A perfect coin! Even with 5X magnification there are no marks, hairlines or luster breaks in evidence. The luster is vibrant, the strike is razor-sharp, and the eye appeal is the ultimate. Note: Minor die polish and light die breaks are not considered to be defects on circulation strike coins.