Coin Collectors Grading Guide

Check out our selection of coin grading videos!

A coins grade is measured using a scale from zero to seventy (seventy being the highest point grade).

Here are the grading terms from highest to lowest:

MS  = Mint State
AU = Almost Uncirculated
EF = Extremely Fine
VF = Very Fine
F  = Fine
VG = Very Good
G  = Good
AG = Almost Good
FC = Fair Coin
BC = Basal Coin

The explanations on how to grade coins are below:

1. “Mint State”  or MS Coins

Coins with a  value of 60 to 70 in the Shelby’s grade scale. This means that the coin has no blemishes whatsoever. Most of the coins in this category are never in circulation, shiny, new coins, with no signs of wear whatsoever.

2. “Almost Uncirculated” or AU Coins

The “Almost Uncirculated” coins have a point grade of 50, 55, or 58.

It is very important to note that in these coins, coin collectors must know the locations of the high points in a particular coin. By checking the difference of the light reflected in the high points to the other parts of the coin, an “Almost Uncirculated” coin is separated from the Mint State coins.

3. “Fine Coins”

These can further be classified as” Extremely Fine” or EF (40, 45), “Very Fine” or VF (20, 25, 30, and 35) or “Fine” or F (12) depending on the sharpness of the remaining details on the coins.  Coins with a fine type of grade  have wear but the designs are still intact.

For “Extremely Fine” coins, the mint luster is still present.

“Very Fine” coins can be compared to coins which have been used for 1-3 years. Minor features of the coins are already gone.

4. “Good Coins” or GC

These coins can be specifically defined as “Very Good”  or VG(12), “Good” or G and “Almost Good” or AG coins.

Coins in this category well worn. Very weak designs can be seen since the high points of the design are worn down and nearly smooth.

Full rims must be observed for the “Very Good” coins category.

In the case of “Good” coins, the mint mark and the date must be visible.

 “Almost Good” coins are the most worn of coins in this category.

5. “Fair Coins” or FC

This grade of coin is  “worn out”, but can still be distinguished as belonging to one of the types of coins.  It it looks like a coin the it is a Fair Coin!.

6. “Basal Coin” or BC

This grade of coin is a round metal that can be determined to be a coin but the kind of coin it is is impossible to determine.

Doctor William Shelby introduced this point scale in his work “Penny Whimsy”.