Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins

Posted by on October 26, 2011

When collecting and investing in numismatic silver coins understanding condition grades is as important as knowing the year and place the coin was struck. The following general information about numismatic grading is applicable to NGC grading, PCGS grading, and ANACS grading.

5049791466 67f73ccab4 z 248x300 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins

1885-O Morgan Silver Dollar

The current generally used grading system is an outgrowth of the demands of the market place.  A hundred years ago coins were considered to fall into three states of condition: “Good” (well used), “Fine” (used), and “Very Fine” (hardly used).  However with the increase in collectors, auctions, and prices a better way of describing the condition was needed.  Especially with the ever widening price difference between the “Very Fine” condition silver coins and “Fine”.   This also caused the “Very Fine” grade to be considered too simplistic and incapable of describing a coin with no ware, very little ware - and then those with a bit more.  A standard of grading and an in-depth stratification of what those grades meant had to come into being.

3214917885064040 1 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins
1986 LINCOLN CENT APPEARS TO HAVE 6/6 SHADOW (USE LOUPE)
$0.99
Time Remaining: 10h 8m
3610218481264040 1 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins
1996 LINCOLN CENT APPEARS TO HAVE 9 & 6 SHADOW (USE LOUPE)
$0.99
Time Remaining: 10h 8m
2912109506924040 1 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins
1979-S CAMEO PROOF SBA $1 & 30X JEWELERS LOUPE & 2014 NATIVE AMERICAN GOLDEN $1
$0.99
Time Remaining: 2d 19h 50m
2912109594694040 1 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins
1776-1976 CAMEO PROOF BICENTENNIAL IKE DOLLAR & DUAL POWER CHROME JEWELERS LOUPE
$2.75 (3 Bids)
Time Remaining: 2d 20h 20m
3511389970964040 1 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins
1942-S SAN FRANCISCO MINT SILVER WALKING LIBERTY HALF & NEW 20X15M JEWELER LOUPE
$0.99
Time Remaining: 2d 20h 50m
4007600146024040 1 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins
1992/2 LINCOLN CENT---GET OUT YOUR LOUPE---PRETTY COMMON ERROR
$1.75
Time Remaining: 8d 13h 40m
2912171106194040 1 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins
1986-S CAMEO PROOF LIBERTY ½ & 30X JEWELERS LOUPE & 2014 NATIVE AMERICAN DOLLAR
$0.99
Time Remaining: 9d 19h 40m
3511451638644040 1 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins
1973 CAMEO PROOF SAN FRANCISCO MINT IKE $1 & 10X CHROME GLASS LENS JEWELER LOUPE
$0.99
Time Remaining: 9d 20h
3511451878814040 1 Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins
1943-P PHILADELPHIA MINT SILVER WALKING LIBERTY HALF & NEW 20X15M JEWELER LOUPE
$0.99
Time Remaining: 9d 20h 50m

The grade of a coin is determined by how much wear a coin shows.  This is first evident on the highest surfaces of the coin.  These vary from series to series, but in general the coin's detail is less and less evident as a coin is worn by handling.   Each part of a coin is considered when it is graded.  Each coin is considered to have three sides: the Obverse side; (head) usually has a portrait/bust image and year of mintage, the Reverse side; (tail) has the value/denomination, and the third side is called the Edge; plain, grooved, or ornamented.

The Obverse and Reverse share characteristics: the Field is the flat portion of the coin, the Relief is the raised portion (design) of the coin; the Rim is the raised area running around these sides, the Legend refers to the inscriptions of value and country of mintage.

Grading for wear as a state of condition is now widely done using the 70 point Sheldon Scale grading system, developed in 1948 by Dr. William M Sheldon and is in general use today.

MS   60-70              Mint State (Uncirculated)

-no wear is apparent at all although there maybe some contact marks and dulling of the original luster.

AU   50, 53, 55, 58     About Uncirculated

-all detail is readily apparent with only slight signs of wear.

XF   40, 45             Extremely Fine

-lightly worn but the relief is bold and details mostly apparent.

VF   20, 25, 30, 35     Very Fine

-moderately worn, the relief is fully apparent some details are worn.

F    12, 15             Fine

-well worn, some of the relief’s details show.

VG   8, 10              Very Good

-the relief images are worn but clear.

G    4, 6               Good

-the relief images are outlined but without details, the rim maybe worn away in spots.

AG   3                  About Good

-the relief is apparent but some of the outlines are worn flat and obscured.

FA   2                  Fair

-the mint and date are barely legible, but the series is apparent.

PR   1                  Poor

-these heavily worn coins are barely identifiable as to their series and may not have a visible date or mint mark.

The three top rated coin grading services are:

ANACS: American Numismatic Association Certification Service

NGC; Numismatic Guarantee Corporation

PCGS; Professional Coin Grading Service



4 comments on “Numismatic Grading for Silver Coins

  1. Jamey nyc on said:

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  3. nice article..:)

  4. Evonne Emmerling on said:

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