Grading Coins, Tokens, & Medals

The following grading information is a guideline provided for edification and to promote the hobby of Numismatics. It is by no means all-inclusive and does not address anomalies which can mask grade or the different degrees of uncirculated. The format presented is generally accepted throughout the numismatic community in the USA and was established in the early part of the twentieth century. The numismatic communities of some countries use standards stricter by half grade, while the numismatic communities of other countries can be lenient by the same margin.

GradeNomenclature & Description
MS 70--

Virtually a perfect coin. Has very attractive sharp details, no hairlines, scuff marks or defects. Attractive and outstanding eye appeal. Copper coins must bright with original luster.

MS 65Choice Uncirculated, Choice BU

An over all above average uncirculated coin. Attractive luster with very few contact marks on the surface or rim. Light toning acceptable. Overall eye appeal is pleasing.
MS 60Uncirculated, Unc, Mint State, MS, BU

Never been in commercial circulation or has no evidence of wear. Mint luster is unbroken. Bag marks or hairline scratches are typical. Natural toning is acceptable
AU 58Very Choice Almost Uncirculated, AU, Choice AU, AU/Unc
Very light, barely discernable evidence of wear on the extreme high points of the devices. Nearly full mint luster with the appearance of a higher grade.
AU 55Choice About Uncirculated, AU
Very light traces of wear on all the high points of the devices. Mostly unbroken mint luster.
AU 50About Uncirculated, AU
Light traces of wear on all the high points of the devices. More than 50% unbroken mint luster.
EF 45 Choice Extra Fine, CH EF, EF+, XF+, XF/AU
Light traces of wear on all the high points of the devices. Excellent overall sharpness of design and devices. Evidence of luster in the protected areas.
EF 40Extra Fine, EF, XF
Even wear on all the high points of the devices and rim. Features are sharp and well defined. Evidence of mint luster between the devices. May have circulation marks.
VF 30Choice Very Fine, Choice VF, VF, VF/EF
Even wear across all surfaces and rim. Design and devises sharp. No mint luster. May have circulation marks.
VF 20Very Fine, VF
Even wear across the surface and rim. Overall design is strong with 'soft' devises.
F 12Fine, F
Moderate to considerable wear. Overall design is bold but has a 'soft' appearance. Minor lettering is visible, but weak; such as Liberty in a headband or shield. 
VG 8Very Good, VG
Well worn. Most fine details such as hair strands, feathers, etc. are worn nearly smooth. Minor lettering and devises partially visible. Full rim.
G 4Good, G

Heavily worn devises with smooth centers, creating an outline effect. Partially worn down rim.

AG 3About Good, AG
Heavily worn devises, portions of all devises worn smooth, date barely visible, usually rimless. No major damage.
PoorPoor, Cull, Mutilated, Filler
Heavily worn, with very little detail. Barely recognizable. Cut, heavily damaged or mutilated coins fall into this category.

In conclusion, although grading is very technical in nature, the final assessment is an individual's own opinion. To date, no instrument has been invented that can differentiate all the variables of all circulating and non-circulating issues in the world, throughout all ages. Thus, it takes a good pair of eyes, lots of practice, and a forthright numismatist! We hope you find this guide helpful in your numismatic endeavors. Not sure of some of the industry specific terms? Check our Glossary.

Source Materials
How united states coins are graded,
     http://www.pcgs.com/News/, 08/21/2016
Official ANA guide to grading united states coins, 
     Whitman, 6th edition
Standard catalog of world coins, nineteenth century,
     Krause Publications, 4th edition
Official guide to coin grading and counterfeit detection, 
     Random House, 2004 2nd edition