I have determined thru extensive research and data collecting that numismatists (a person who collects coins and currency), are a cagey bunch. They do not mean to, they just speak in terms that make non collectors turn their head like the RCA dog when they speak.


See collectors love to be exact. They really want to make other collectors understand what they have in their collection and what they are looking for. To try and make it easier then carrying around all the coins in the world (they get heavy) or a large photo album (we use to not have iphones) they made this handy dandy scale to determine how awesome a coin is. It is called the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale (thanks to William Herbert Sheldon). It is a 70-point scale. Yes I have no idea why 70 points and not 100, but is what we use here in the US. So a coin can be a 1 or a 70. There is no zero. If you have a chunk of metal, it is round, and is a US coin it is a 1, the size will tell you what it is, even if nothing is left on it!

Look here is an Ike dollar, can’t you tell by all the detail……

So you say, a 70 point scale, got it. Well now they will put a few letters in front of the number just to help clarify (really?) what they are talking about. So you may hear them say I have a MS67 (yea) or an AG3 (boo). To them it is crystal clear. To an outsider is it like listing to Russian, you know it is a language, but you are also not sure they are just making fun of you. Plus they will mention a year, mint maybe a domination, possibly another term. So “I have a 1918D MS61 full bands” or “did you see that 1904O Morgan, its MS64”.  Did you notice they did not say dime or dollar….. It is fun.

So that is coin grading. It is how collectors and dealers explain how new (Uncirculated, never been used in commerce) or worn (from repeated usage) a coin is. The more wear a coin has, the lower the overall “grade” is. Sometimes the dies used to strike a coin weren’t prepared properly with all the details that should be present. This could make a coin made one year look much more worn than from another year though they are exactly the same grade. Knowing the specific differences can help in determining value.

(Ailie, you just talked about dies, really a new term?)