What’s It Worth? Our Experienced Metal Dealers Explain the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale

If you buy or sell rare coins online, you likely already know how much the grading of a coin can affect its value. All investors should have a basic understanding of how coins are graded, since even slight imperfections can mean a difference of hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.

Coins are graded using the Sheldon Scale, which assigns a numeric value from 1 to 70 based on how well the coin was struck, how well the metal of the coin has been preserved, and how much damage the coin has sustained.

Her are some of the most commonly used classifications on the Sheldon Scale:

  • Poor (P1). Barely identifiable except for a date and mintmark.
  • Fair (FR2). Almost completely almost smooth, but less damaged than Poor.
  • About Good (AG3). Very heavily worn, barely legible, and portions of the rim blend into the lettering.
  • Good (G4). Heavily worn overall, but the features, lettering, and date are readable (if faint). Rim is mostly complete.
  • Very Good (VG8). Well-worn, but the design is clear. Major features are flat but defined.
  • Fine (F12). Even wear over the entire surface of the coin; all major elements are bold clear and legible.
  • Very Fine (VF20). Moderate wear only on the highest points of the coin’s design; in overall attractive condition.
  • Extremely Fine (EF40 or XF40). Slight wear on the very highest parts of the coin, with all details sharp and well defined. Traces of mint luster may be present.
  • About Uncirculated (AU50). Very minor wear can be seen only on the highest points of the coin. Mint luster is almost complete.
  • Mint State (MS63). Complete mint luster with minor exceptions. Hairline scratches may exist on the coin’s field but major design features are visible with the naked eye.
  • Mint State (MS65). Well struck with brilliant mint luster. Hairlines may be seen only under magnification.
  • Mint State Premium Quality (MS68). Uncirculated, perfect luster, no visible marks, strike is sharp.
  • Mint State All-But-Perfect (MS69). Uncirculated, perfect luster, sharp and attractive strike, flaws can only be seen under 8x magnification or higher.
  • Mint State Perfect (MS-70). No flaws visible under 8x magnification; sharp, perfectly-centered strike; bright, even, original luster.

Unfortunately, many coins are graded above their true scale, giving investors an unfair disadvantage when selling rare coins. To find out what your coins are really worth, contact our certified coin grader today at (877) 795-9585 for a FREE coin appraisal, or fill out the quick contact form on this page.