Grading - The Root of All Evil
I am joking of course, in using the title above, but determining the accurate grade of any object is the primary way to establish a reasonable value for the item. This is true whether it is a coin, token or medal, 1965 Mustang, baseball card or little red wagon. Traditionally, the biggest conflict in the coin hobby between the dealer and collector has always been over this issue.
One only has to look through our "Rogues Gallery" section to find coins that were misdescribed or over-graded - the differences in value are considerable. In most case, the customer simply trusted the dealer and did not know enough to realize that the coin was badly over-graded. Regardless of whatever an individual may claim as to their honesty and integrity, it is still incumbent upon the customer to know enough to protect their own interest. After all, even the most honest person makes a mistake every now than then. I recently purchased a collection in which there are a couple of coins that I misattributed and/or mis-graded some years back, and which I am buying back from the customer at the price paid (more than they are currently worth) due to my error.
Below is a basic primer on grading, including standard terms used in the hobby and on this website, and will offer some tips on how to grade, learning how to grade (not necessarily the same thing) and some reflections on value.
Standard Grading Terms:
Tipsico Coin uses the standard grading terminology defined by and used in the American Numismatic Association "Official A.N.A. Grading Standards for United States Coins"©. While the specific listed standards for each grade defined may be subject to interpretation, the basic terms used are the industry standard, having been in general use for over 60 years. We recommend that every collector (and dealer) should have a copy of this text, as well as others that are available.
These are the typically used adjectival (verbally descriptive) grade "points" used in industry practice, followed by the typically accepted NUMERIC equivalents, such as used on Certified coinage.
|Adjectival Grade||Numeric Equivalent||Commonly Used Shorthand Version|
|About Good||AG-3||Abt. Good, AG|
|Very Good||VG-8||V. Good, VG|
|Very Fine||VF-20||V. Fine, VF|
|Choice Very Fine||VF-30||Ch. V. Fine, Ch. VF|
|Extremely Fine||EF-40||E. Fine, E (sometimes called "Extra Fine"|
|Choice Extremely Fine||EF-45||Ch. E. Fine, Ch. EF|
|Choice Almost Uncirculated||AU-55||Ch. AU, AU/Unc|