Coin grading is the process of determining the grade or condition of a coin, one of the key factors in determining its value. A coin’s grade is generally determined by five criteria: strike, preservation, luster, color, and attractiveness. Several grading systems have been developed. Certification services professionally grade coins for tiered fees.
As the collector market for coins grew rapidly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it became apparent that a more precise grading standard was needed. Some coins were simply more fine than others, and some uncirculated coins showed more luster and far fewer marks than others. Terms like “gem uncirculated” and “very fine” began to see use, as more precise grading descriptions allowed for more precise pricing for the booming collector market.
In 1948, well-known numismatist Dr. William Herbert Sheldon attempted to standardize coin grading by proposing what is now known as the Sheldon Scale. Sheldon’s 1 to 70 grading scale, included in his book “Penny Whimsy”, was originally devised for U.S. large cents but it is now applied to all series
Sheldon Coin Grading Scale