Coin collecting has been a popular hobby for centuries. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting out, it’s important to understand how to assess the condition and value of your coins.

Using a coin grading chart is an essential tool for assessing the condition and value of your coins. The ANA grading chart provides a standardized way to evaluate coins, and by following the steps outlined in this article, you can use the chart to determine the grade of your coins. Remember that coin collecting is a long-term investment, and values can fluctuate over time.

While it may be easier and save both time and money to consult a coin grading expert, there are a few tips you can follow in order to grade coins yourself. In this article, we’ll explore a coin grading chart and how to use it to evaluate your coins, as well as answering some FAQs about coin grading and collecting.

Coin Grading: Background

Coin Grading_ Background

Coin grading is the process of determining a coin’s condition – this can greatly affect its value. The grading system has evolved over time, with different systems used by various organizations and expert individuals. The two most widely recognized grading systems are the Sheldon Scale and the numerical grading system.

The Sheldon Scale, developed by Dr. William Sheldon in the 1940s, grades coins on a scale from 1 to 70. A coin graded 1 is barely identifiable, while a coin graded 70 is flawless. The numerical grading system is similar but uses a scale from 1 to 100.

To determine a coin’s grade, various factors are considered including its luster, surface preservation, and strike quality. These factors are often listed on a coin grading chart, providing a standardized way to assess the condition of a coin.

Coin Grading Chart

Coin Grading Chart

The grading chart we’ll be focusing on in this article is the American Numismatic Association (ANA) grading chart. The ANA is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the study of numismatics (the study of coins and currency).

It’s important to note that different grading systems may have slightly different descriptions and criteria for each grade.

The ANA grading chart uses a scale of 1 to 70, with each grade representing a specific range of conditions. In this chart, we’ll list coin grades from worst (poor) to best (uncirculated or mint state).

Grade Sheldon Scale Description Characteristics
Poor (P) 1 A coin that is barely recognizable Little or no design elements remain, only lettering may be faintly visible
Fair (F) 2 A coin with most details worn away Only basic design elements remain, but some lettering may be visible
About Good (AG) 3 A coin that is barely identifiable Design details are mostly worn smooth, some may be faintly visible
Good (G) 4-7 A coin with very heavy wear Design details are very weak, some may be worn smooth
Very Good (VG) 8-11 A coin with heavy wear Major design details are visible, but with heavy wear
Fine (F) 12-19 A coin with considerable wear Design details still visible, but with moderate to heavy wear
Very Fine (VF) 20-39 A coin with moderate wear Moderate wear on the high points, clear but some details may be worn
Extremely Fine (XF) 40-49 A coin with light wear Slight wear on the high points, clear details
About Uncirculated (AU) 50-59 A coin that may have been briefly circulated but has only minor signs of wear Slight traces of wear on the highest points, nearly complete luster
Mint State (MS) 60-70 A coin that has never been in circulation (uncirculated) No trace of wear, luster may be intact

Using The Coin Grading Chart

Now that you understand the different grades on the ANA grading chart, let’s explore how to use the chart to evaluate your coins. It’s important to get your coins properly graded as this will raise the value of the coins when selling (with the exception of some cases).

First up though, a little information on tools used for coin grading.

Magnifying Glasses

Magnifying Glasses

Magnifying glasses are an essential tool for coin grading. When examining a coin, it is important to be able to see the details clearly in order to accurately assess its condition. A magnifying glass allows the grader to see tiny details such as the edges of lettering, the texture of the fields, and any signs of wear or damage.

There are many different types of magnifying glasses available, including handheld magnifiers, desk lamps with built-in magnifiers, and digital microscopes. The most common magnification levels used for coin grading are 5x and 10x, although some graders may use higher magnification levels for particularly small or intricate coins. It is important to choose a magnifying glass that is comfortable to use and provides a clear, distortion-free image. With the right magnifying glass, a coin grader can accurately assess a coin’s condition and assign it an appropriate grade.

Here are the key steps in grading coins when using the grading chart…

Step 1: Examine the Coin’s Surfaces

The first step in using the grading chart is to examine the coin’s surfaces. Look for any signs of wear, such as dullness or scratches. Coins with heavy wear will likely fall into the Poor to About Good range, while those with moderate wear will fall into the Good to Very Good range.

Step 2: Look for Key Features

Next, look for key features of the coin that can help you determine its grade. These features include:

  • Luster – The shine or glow of the coin’s surface. Coins with strong luster will likely fall into the Extremely Fine to Uncirculated range.
  • Strike Quality – The sharpness of the coin’s design. Coins with strong strike quality will likely fall into the Extremely Fine to Uncirculated range.
  • Surface Preservation – The degree to which the coin’s surfaces have been preserved. Coins with excellent surface preservation will likely fall into the Uncirculated range.

Step 3: Compare to the Grading Chart

Once you’ve examined the coin’s surfaces and identified key features, compare your observations to the grading chart. Find the grade that best fits the condition of the coin based on the criteria listed in the chart. It’s important to note that the grading process is subjective, and different people may have different opinions on the grade of a particular coin.

Step 4: Determine the Coin’s Value

After determining the grade of the coin, you can use various resources to estimate its value. Coin value is affected by a number of factors, including rarity, demand, and historical significance. Some resources for determining coin value include price guides, auction results, and online marketplaces.

It’s important to remember that the value of a coin is not solely based on its grade. Other factors, such as its rarity and historical significance, can greatly impact its value. Additionally, coin collecting is a long-term investment, and values can fluctuate over time.Top of Form

Coin Collector’s Corner: Stories And Jokes

For all you keen coin collectors out there, we have a couple of exciting anecdotes and jokes from the world of coin grading to tickle your fancy…

In 2013, a rare 1794 silver dollar sold for over $10 million at auction, setting a new record for the highest price ever paid for a coin. The coin was graded as “Specimen-66” by the Professional Coin Grading Service, indicating that it was in nearly perfect condition. The coin’s exceptional grade, combined with its rarity and historical significance, made it one of the most valuable coins in the world. The sale of the coin generated significant media attention and helped raise awareness of the importance of coin grading in determining a coin’s value.

Why did the coin collector take up gardening? So she could grow some change!

What do you call a coin that has been graded too many times? Overgraded!

Also Read: 11 Rare Coins Worth Money (1933 Double Eagle Last Sold At Auction In June 2021 For $18.8 Million)


What is coin grading?

Coin grading is the process of evaluating a coin’s physical condition to determine its overall quality, rarity, and value. It involves examining the coin’s surface, edges, and overall appearance to assess the amount of wear and damage it has sustained over time.

Why is coin grading important?

Coin grading is important because it helps collectors and dealers accurately determine the value of a coin. The grading process provides a standardized system for describing a coin’s condition, which allows buyers and sellers to agree on a fair price.

Who performs coin grading?

Coin grading is typically performed by professional coin grading services, such as the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). These services employ experienced graders who use established grading standards to evaluate coins.

What are the most commonly used coin grading systems?

The most commonly used coin grading systems are the Sheldon Scale and the Universal Coin Grading System (UCGS). The Sheldon Scale is a 70-point scale that ranges from 1 (Poor) to 70 (Mint State), while the UCGS is a 10-point scale that ranges from 1 (Poor) to 70 (Perfect Mint State).

Can I grade my own coins?

While it’s certainly possible to grade your own coins, it’s generally recommended that you rely on the expertise of professional coin grading services. These services have the knowledge and experience to accurately evaluate a coin’s condition and assign an appropriate grade.

How does coin grading affect a coin’s value?

A coin’s grade can have a significant impact on its value. Higher-grade coins are generally more valuable than lower-grade coins, and coins with high grades are often more sought after by collectors and dealers.

What factors affect coin grading?

Several factors can affect a coin’s grade, including the amount of wear and damage it has sustained, its level of detail and clarity, and its overall appearance. Coins with fewer blemishes, scratches, or other signs of damage generally receive higher grades than those with more damage.

How can I learn more about coin grading?

There are many resources available for learning more about coin grading, including books, online guides, and educational courses. You can also consult with experienced coin collectors or dealers to gain additional insights and advice. We recommend these useful resources:

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  1. Hector Legrand says:

    Can you please help me? Been all over the internet trying to find the OFFICIAL ABBREVIATIONS for the American Numismatics Association’S COIN GRADING SYSTEM (not for the Sheldon Scale). Can you please tell me where to find them by themselves, not mixed among other abbreviations used by the ANA for items other than grading. Thank you!!

    1. Unfortunately there does not seem to be an official published list of abbreviations solely for the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) coin grading system. However, based on my research, these appear to be the main grading abbreviations used by the ANA:

      MS – Mint State
      PF – Proof
      PL – Prooflike
      DMPL – Deep Mirror Prooflike
      PR – Proof-like
      SP – Specimen
      RB – Red Brown (copper coins)
      BN – Brown (copper coins)
      RD – Red (copper coins)
      CAM – Cameo
      DCAM – Deep Cameo
      The ANA utilizes the standard Sheldon 70-point coin grading scale for indicating the grade (1-70). They may also add a “+” or “-” to indicate if a coin is on the higher or lower end of a grade.

      While there does not seem to be an official published list, these abbreviations are commonly used in certification labels and descriptions from ANA authorized dealers and major coin grading companies like NGC and PCGS.

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