05/25/2024 04:17:07 AM

Coin Grading

Coin Grading

What is Coin Grading?
Coin Grading is a method of determining the physical condition of a coin. Depending on the coin grader, grades can range anywhere from Poor (almost completely worn) to Perfect Uncirculated (absolutely no wear or flaws). Once the coin’s condition is determined and certified, the coin’s value can be calculated.

How Can I Get My Coins Graded?
Coin grading is a service offered by a handful of trusted Coin Grading Organizations. For a small fee, any one of these organizations will certify and grade your coin for you. Once certified and graded, your coin is encapsulated in a “coin slab”, an air-tight rectangular piece of hard plastic that ensures your coin is best preserved in the condition it was in when graded. Your slabbed coin will contain a label displaying your coin’s assigned grade, designation (optional), unique barcode and certification number.

Some of the most well known and respected Coin Grading Service Organizations are:

  • PCGS – Professional Coin Grading Service
  • NGC – Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
  • ANACS – American Numismatic Association Certification Service

BGASC is a PCGS Certified Dealer and NCG Collector’s Society Elite Member.
Our affiliation with these two world class coin grading services means that we can submit your coins to either company for certification and grading on your behalf.

PCGS Grades

Below are PCGS Coin Grades reprinted with permission from PCGS along with a brief description of each grade.

Grade Description


Identifiable date and type


Mostly worn, though some detail is visible


Worn rims but most lettering is readable though worn


Slightly worn rims, flat detail, peripheral lettering nearly full


Rims complete with flat detail, peripheral lettering full


Design worn with slight detail


Design worn with slight detail, slightly clearer


Some deeply recessed areas with detail, all lettering sharp


Slightly more detail in the recessed areas, all lettering sharp


Some definition of detail, all lettering full and sharp


Slightly more definition in the detail and lettering


Almost complete detail with flat areas


Detail is complete but worn with high points flat


Detail is complete with most high points slightly flat


Detail is complete with some high points flat


Detail is complete with a few high points flat. Superior eye appeal.


Full detail with friction over most of the surface, slight flatness on high points


Full detail with friction over most of the surface, very slight flatness on high points. Good eye appeal.


Full detail with friction over 1/2 or more of surface, very slight flatness on high points


Full detail with friction on only 1/2 of surface, extremely slight flatness on high points. Positive eye appeal.


Full detail with friction on less than 1/2 surface, mainly on high points


Full detail with slight friction on less than 1/2 of surface, on high points. Eye appeal is good.


Full detail with only slight friction on the high points


Full detail with the barest trace of friction on the highest points. Superior eye appeal.


No wear. May have many heavy marks/hairlines, strike may not be full


No wear. Multiple heavy marks/hairlines, strike may not be full


No wear. Slightly less marks/hairlines, strike may not be full


No wear. Still slightly above number of marks/hairlines, strike may not be full. Attractive eye appeal for grade.


Moderate number/size marks/hairlines, strike may not be full


Average number of marks/hairlines, strike will be close to average. Good eye appeal for grade.


Few marks/hairlines or a couple of severe ones, strike should be average or above


Very few marks/hairlines or a couple of heavier ones, strike should be average or above. Superior eye appeal.


Minor marks/hairlines though none in focal areas, above average strike


Very minor marks/hairlines though none in focal areas, above average strike and eye appeal


Few minor marks/hairlines not in focal areas, good strike


Very few minor marks/hairlines not in focal areas, very good strike with superior eye appeal


Virtually as struck with minor imperfections, very well struck


Virtually as struck with very minor imperfections, very well struck with attractive eye appeal


Virtually as struck with slight imperfections, slightest weakness of strike allowed


Virtually as struck with very slight imperfections, the strike must be virtually full. Eye appeal must be very good.


Virtually as struck with minuscule imperfections, near full strike necessary


As struck, with full strike

In addition to the 1-70 scale presented above, the suffixes described below are added to some grades in certain series to expand on the numerical grade.

Designation Description

Color: RD


Color: RB


Color: BN


Strike: FS

Full Steps

Strike: FB

Full Bands

Strike: FH

Full Head

Strike: FBL

Full Bell Lines

Surface: DM

Deep Mirror Prooflike

Surface: PL


Surface: DC

Deep Cameo

Strike: CA


Strike: BM

Branch Mint Proof

Strike: BMCA

Branch Mint Cameo


First Strike (All Eagles, Gold Buffalos and Gold Spouse Coins)


Satin Finish


Special Mint Set



Pos. A

Edge Lettering on 2007 to Date $1 coins – Edge lettering is facing up when the reverse side of the coin is facing up

Pos. B

Edge Lettering on 2007 to Date $1 coins – Edge lettering is facing up when the obverse side of the coin is facing up

PCGS “No Grades”

Occasionally, the experts at PCGS encounter coins that cannot be authenticated or graded for various reasons. These “No Grade” coins fall into three categories: problem coins, inconclusive, or ineligible. “No Grades” in the first category will be placed in a PCGS Genuine capsule (except where noted). Those in the final two categories will be returned to the submitter un-encapsulated. All coins, encapsulated or not, will receive one of the “No Grade” codes listed in the tables below.

Problem Coins

All of the coins in this category (other than 83 and 99) submitted through the regular PCGS services are placed in a PCGS Genuine holder, ungraded, with one of the following numerical codes placed after the coin number on the holder insert. On certain No Grades (as noted in the table below) the problem is more fully described on the insert.

Code Reason Explanation Described   Holdered


Filed Rims Rim(s) and/or edge is filed.
When rim dents or bumps have been filed to give the edge an even appearance.
Yes Yes


Peeling Lamination Potential for sealing damage.
A coin which has a planchet flaw that is serious enough to flake away in the sealing process. This no-grade will not be sealed in a PCGS holder.
Yes No


Holed and/or Plugged Any filled or non-filled hole.
Coin has a drill hole through it that may or may not have been plugged. Plugged coins are usually then tooled to help cover up the noticeable plug.
Yes Yes


Questionable Color Any artificial re-toning & dipped copper.
Toning is a natural chemical process that occurs as a coin reacts to its environment. Collectors consider colorful, natural toning to be desirable and they often pay premiums for attractively toned coins. However, toning can be added, enhanced or accelerated by artificial means, creating the appearance of natural toning. Copper coins are sometimes stripped of their color to simulate their original, red appearance. In most cases, these treatments result in unnatural colors which the experts at PCGS will reject.
No Yes


Cleaning Harsh cleaning or polishing.
Surface damage due to any form of abrasive cleaning. “Cleaned” covers a wide range or appearances, from a grossly polished coin to one where faint hairlines can be seen only at a particular angle or in only one area on an otherwise perfectly normal coin. This is perhaps the most frustrating of all the No Grades, because subtle cleaning is often difficult to detect in less-than-optimal grading conditions. “Dipping”, or the removal of toning with a chemical bath, is not considered cleaning under this definition.
No Yes


Planchet Flaw Generally large & prominent flaw(s).
Metal impurity or defect in the planchet. Small, unobtrusive planchet flaws are acceptable. Large, obvious, poorly placed, or distracting flaws are rejected. Context is also important. Planchet flaws on certain U.S. Colonial coins are expected; planchet flaws on Morgan Silver Dollars are not.
No Yes


Altered Surfaces Any applied substance (wax, putty, lacquer).
This No Grade covers anything added to the surface of the coin to either “improve” its appearance or to cover marks. Surface alteration methods include adding: dental wax, putty, lacquer, nose grease, etc. “Thumbing” is the application of a putty-like material to fill in marks, scratches, and other defects or to haze over portions of the coin. Coatings (such as lacquer), while intended to protect coins, result in a No Grade because it is impossible to determine the quality of the underlying surfaces.
No Yes


Scratch(s) Large & prominent scratch(s).
Depends on the severity and/or the quantity of the scratch(s). Faint, old, toned-over scratches may be acceptable; bright, fresh scratches may not. Placement is an important factor.
No Yes


Environmental Damage Corrosion, excessive toning, verdigris.
Coins that are damaged because of improper storage may be rejected. Corrosion is caused by storage in areas of high humidity, sea salvage coins, and coins found in the ground. Toning that is excessively dark or heavy, or which burns into the surface of the coin, may be rejected.
No Yes


Damage Any metal movement.
Any form of metal movement, either intentional or accidental. Damage may include excessive or heavy rim dings and bruises, deliberate surface damage such as graffiti, attempts to remove spots, etc. The severity and extent of the damage affects whether it will get a “No Grade” decision. Whizzing is the use of a high-speed, rotating wheel to buff the surfaces of a coin, which actually moves the metal on the surface and leaves ridges on many of the devices.
Yes Yes


PVC Residue Oily polyvinylchloride substance.
PVC is a plasticizer used to produce vinyl coin holders. Over time, PVC leaches out of these holders and will eventually damage the surface of the coin. PVC is seen as small green specks or a slimy green film. (This no-grade will not be sealed in a PCGS holder).
Yes No


Code Reason Explanation Described   Holdered


Authenticity Unverifiable Coin’s status inconclusive.
Fee not refunded. In the rare instances where the experts at PCGS are unable to determine conclusively that a coin is either genuine or counterfeit, that coin will be returned to the submitter ungraded. PCGS spends a great deal of time examining coins that have been harshly cleaned, corroded and or tooled. PCGS must be able to positively determine that a coin is both genuine and has not been “holed and plugged”. In some situations the surface of the coin is completely destroyed, and in these instances PCGS will not render an opinion on the coin. Many counterfeit coins are harshly altered or intentionally damaged in an attempt to fool the grading services. If a coin is worn or damaged to an extent that makes it impossible to identify the date, mint mark, or variety, an Authenticity Unverifiable will be issued.
Yes No


Counterfeit Fake coin or altered mintmark, date, variety.
Fee not refunded. The coin is either a known counterfeit or exhibits characteristics of known counterfeits and is therefore highly suspect. This category includes otherwise genuine coins which have been altered to simulate rarities (re-engraved dates, added mintmarks, removed mintmarks, etc.)
Yes No


Code Reason Explanation Described   Holdered


No Service PCGS does not currently grade this item.

Grading (Standard or Secure) Service: Fee refunded. These are coins that PCGS does not certify (i.e. medals, some privately made issues, etc.) or cannot certify (i.e. oversized coins that will not fit in a PCGS holder).
Restoration Service: Coins submitted for PCGS Restoration Service that we determine will not benefit from being restored, nor should be restored, will be charged a $10 evaluation fee.

Yes No