Coin Collecting: How To Make The Grade


Coin collection is not synonymous with possessing as many coins as possible. What is important is the quality of the coins rather than the quantity of them. The coin’s grade is the yardstick to measure its quality. You can measure the grade by using a scale ranging between 0 to 70 which is the highest point grade. This point scale was introduced by Doctor William Shelby in his work “Penny Whimsy”. The classifications of coins according to grade are as follows:

Coins in “Mint State”:

According to Shelby’s grade scale, this is equivalent to a value of 60 to 70. In other words, the coins are blemish-free. The majority of the coins of this type are new, shiny, uncirculated with absolutely no signs of wear n tear.

Coins that are almost uncirculated:

The point grade for these types of coins varies between 50, 55 or 58. The coin collectors need to be aware of the locations of the high points in a specific coin. An almost uncirculated coin is separated from the mint state coins by comparing the difference of the light reflected in other parts of the coin to the high points.

Fine coins:

Depending on the sharpness of the remaining details on the coins, fine coins can further be classified into FINE (12), VERY FINE (20, 25, 30 AND 35) OR EXTREMELY FINE (40, 45). The designs on the coins are still intact but the coins nevertheless show signs of wear n tear. The mint lustre is intact in EXTREMELY FINE coins. Very FINE coins resemble coins that have been in circulation for 1 to 3 years, with their minor features worn down by use.

Good coins:

This category can be further sub-divided into Almost GOOD, GOOD and VERY GOOD (12). THESE coins HAVE BEEN ALMOST completely WORN DOWN BY USE. THE DETAILS IN THE HIGH POINTS HAVE BEEN RENDERED nearly smooth and only weak designs can be observed. The VERY GOOD coins show full rims. The mint mark and the date must be visible in the case of GOOD coins. The ALMOST GOOD coins are the most worn-out ones.

Fair coins:

Any coin that can be identified is a FAIR C. Although worn out, they can still be distinguished as belonging to some of the other variety/types of coins.

Basal coin:

In this particular variety, the metals of which the coins are made can be distinguished, but the kind of coins cannot be determined.

Armed with the knowledge of classification and grades of coins, you will find it easy to grade a coin which is a great advantage while collecting them.