More Than Just Nickels And Dimes: An Introduction To The Importance Of Coin Grading

Collecting coins has been a hobby that has been enjoyed by millions of Americans for decades, as it combines the thrill of owning a legitimate piece of history with the challenge of finding rare coins that are in mint condition.

If you're considering starting your own coin collection, the process of coin grading is perhaps the most important thing you'll need to understand before you start making purchases.

What Is Coin Grading?

Coin grading essentially determines the value of a coin by evaluating the following aspects: 

  • How well the coin was made.
  • How well the metal of the coin has been preserved.
  • How much wear and tear the coin has.

Coins are graded using the Sheldon Scalewhich assigns them a value of 1-70. The scale follows a rigorous grading criteria because of the high circulation of most coins, which in turn means it is incredibly rare to find coins that are actually in mint condition.

Grading Coins On Your Own

While you can buy rare and collectible coins online, you can still visit local specialty shops and coin shows if you want to buy coins in person. Doing so allows you to interact with the seller and ask any questions that you might have but, more importantly, you'll also be able to get a look at the coins and examine them up close.

Grading Basics

  • Check The Edges Of The Coin: When first examining the coin, look at its edges (otherwise known as the high point of the coin). If the color is dulled or lighter than the rest of the coin, it has likely been circulated, which can significantly decrease its value.
  • Read The Coin: The coins condition is important, but you'll also want to make sure it's authentic and not a reproduction. This will require you to be familiar with the history of the coin in order to make sure it has all of the proper information. The two most important things you'll want to look for are the coin's mint mark and date. 
  • Focus On "Grade-Sensitive" Areas: The grades for some coins are entirely dependent on the condition of certain areas. If a coin has a flag, face, insignia, or anything similar, you'll want to examine these areas closely, as any type of imperfection could significantly decrease the value of the coin.

Other Options

If you aren't entirely confident in your own abilities when it comes to coin grading, you can always rely on the help of professional coin grading services. It takes a significant amount of expertise to be certified as a professional coin grading service, which means you can rest assured that someone with the training and knowledge is determining the value of your coins. 

More importantly, coin grading services can potentially save you a significant amount of money by helping you determine if a coin is overvalued or a reproduction. And when it comes to collecting coins, saving money is always a good thing!

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