If you’re interested in coin collecting, learning how to decipher coin grading can be helpful. In doing so, you determine whether the quality, value, and coins are proofs or cameo proofs. With this information, you can move on to the grading scales, which help coin collectors determine the quality of the coins they collect.
In the U.S., the American Numismatic Association (ANA) method is typically used to grade coins. A certified numismatic can conduct ANA grading by identifying the coin’s mint luster, number, bag mark placement/depth, and strength of its strike. Although various grading scales have been used throughout the years, the 11-point scale is standard for uncirculated gradings.
If you want to have a coin officially classified, there are certification organizations you can rely on for these purposes. You pay a nominal fee and receive a coin’s grading with your coin returned to you, certified, graded, and sealed in a slab. For more information on deciphering coin grades, read on for a comprehensive approach to this process.
Determining Classifications: coin grades
Before submitting your coins for professional grading, you can decipher certain aspects of your coins yourself. You may not have the training of a numismatist to determine the coin grades, but certain features can be spotted for educated estimation. For instance, if you see a frosty effect on your coin, you likely have a cameo proof. Cameo-proof coins are highly sought-after as they indicate that the polishing and sandblasting occurred to raise the images.
Circulated Vs. Uncirculated Coins
The next step is determining if you have a circulated or an uncirculated coin. Coins that are circulated show wear. In contrast, uncirculated coins are in pristine condition. Naturally, these coins hold more value, so investors and numismatics focus solely on obtaining uncirculated coins.
In coin grading, “proof” refers to a coin struck at least twice with prepared materials and heavy pressure to induce a complete strike. These coins are harder to find and are more valuable. However, some are considered circulated because collectors and investors have held onto them.
Numismatic Coin Grading
- The straightforward approach to deciphering coin grades is to leave it to a professional.
- Numismatic coin graders are trained to interpret numismatic coins based on ANA guidelines.
- A certified numismatic will inspect all the criteria you’ll need as the investor or collector.
- Numismatic coin graders can identify and rank the numismatic coins from “Poor” to “Very Choice About Uncirculated” for circulated coins.
- “Mint State” or “MS-60” is the lowest mark for uncirculated coins, and the highest uncirculated grade is “MS-70.”
Here’s a recap on how you can determine the basics of your coins:
- Determine if the coin is likely circulated or uncirculated by noting signs of wear.
- Familiarize yourself with the coin grades: 13 grades are circulated, and 11 are uncirculated.
Getting Informed about Coin Classifications
Contact a relevant organization to determine the coin grades of your numismatic coins. The more you learn about coin classifications, the better informed you’ll be about building your portfolio and collections.