Coin Grading Scales and How are Coins Graded

Grading Scales

Since rare coin quality varies widely, numismatists have adopted several coin-grading methods to assign more specific levels of quality to rare coins. The overwhelmingly popular method to use is the American Numismatic Association (ANA) grading scale.

The ANA grading scale divides circulated and uncirculated coins into 24 grades: 13 circulated grades and 11 uncirculated grades. The lowest circulated coin grade is Poor-1, and the highest circulated grade is Very Choice About Uncirculated-58. The lowest uncirculated coin grade is MS-60 (MS is short for “Mint State”), with the highest being MS-70, or a perfect coin.


How are Coins Graded

When a trained, certified numismatist inspects a coin to apply a personal interpretation of ANA grading criteria, he or she examines details such as:

  • Mint lusterhow are coins graded
  • Number
  • Placement and depth of bag marks
  • Strike strength
  • Other factors


The ANA grading scale was limited for years to the grades of MS-60, MS-65, and MS-70 for uncirculated coins. More recently, however, numismatists began seeing a need for additional grading classifications, due to the increasing price differences between similar coins in the three former grades. The ANA eventually approved the use of all grade numbers between MS-60 and MS-70, resulting in the 11-point grading scale that is used today.

An ANA grading can dramatically affect a coin’s future value appreciation. High-grade coins typically outperform their lower-grade counterparts in terms of investment performance.

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3 thoughts on “Coin Grading Scales and How are Coins Graded

  • February 26, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Dustin i have a question about a 1944 penny my penny looks like it was stamped over something i can’t tell what it is any Ideals Thank You Keep up the great work on coins

  • March 13, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Hi ☺??in all that U do I just wanted to let you know I have a lot of these coins and still good condition from old wheat pennies, Indian Head some strange looking Mercury dimes end a Liberty also the Cheerios 2000 P Sacagawea if you don’t mind I have a couple of questions I can’t afford to get them graded but I do want to sell them and get the highest dollar can you help me with that? or Atlanta gold and Thank you and have a blessed day Connie

  • June 13, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Hey, my grandfather and I recently started a coin collection and we’re looking on how to grade coins, or recognizing when coins are worth something, and how much they are worth, etc. please if you have any tips or information to help us out, please share. Thank you.


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