• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

History of Grading....... Part I

2 posts in this topic

I just posted this over at ICG board and thought you guys might be intrested. In a little while I'm going to post infomation on Brown and Dunn





I was looking up some information today and I found this in the April 1945 issue of THE NUMISMATIST it is an article by Sturart Mosher and is titles "The Condition of a Coin" pg.321. I wish I had a scanner because the whole thing is very interesting. It goes into how we should not shun a coin because it has wear on it and how style of coinage and how it was struck important (that has to do with ancients more than modern coin. But there are some series that just by design wear out quicker because of the design such as earlier Walking liberty halves and Buffalo five-cent pieces.) He also touches upon a little bit on good verses bad on toning (what he called coloring. I don't think toning was used yet as a term). I want to try and retype the last page and half that deals with grading what he calls classification of condition).





The Classification of condition is a perennial for collectors and dealers alike. Their aim is to improve upon existing methods and to establish a workable system that will be accepted by the whole coin collecting fraternity.


So far no one has devised such a system and what is more, none ever will. It is not possible to apply the same system to all coins. Most of the terms in current use mean little or nothing when standing alone. Take for the term “uncirculated” and apply it to a group of coins including a Greek tetradrachum, a Roman bronze, a medieval denier, A Pine Tree Shilling, a copper cent of 1793, a silver dollar of 1794, and a quarter dollar

of 1921. Each of these coins might be “strictly uncirculated” Yet supplementary terms are needed to describe them accurately.

It is unfortunate for both the dealer and the collector that there are no hard and fast rules by which to grade the condition of a coin. Various systems have been designed, some of which have not been with out merit, but the insurmountable factor of personal Opinion will never permit everyone to see eye-to-eye in deciding the comparative merits of each coin. This situation leaves room for an honest difference of Opinion yet this difference is of small importance if you but your coins from a dependable cataloguers who have experience, integrity, and good eyesight.

Though the adjectives used in describing condition are familiar ones it may startle the beginner to learn that a coin classified as “very good” is actually in wretched state and what is worse almost unsalable. “Uncirculated” is another confusing term. In it’s proper sense it means a coin that has not been circulated. Yet any coin that is free from signs of wear is called “uncirculated.”





For the Sake of clarity these terms are arranged in order of merit rather than alphabetically


PROOF (PR.)- A coin with a mirror-like surface struck with polished dies on a polished planchet. Usually sold at a premium by the mints.


UNCIRCULATED (UNC.)- In perfect condition showing no signs of wear or damage but not necessarily brilliant. Sometimes known as MINT STATE.



EXTREMELY FINE (EX. F.)- No definite signs of wear but having a less desirable surface than an uncirculated coin.


VERY FINE (V. F.)- Showing inconsequential signs of wear but only slightly less desirable than the preceding classification.


FINE (F.)- Perceptible signs of wear but still a desirable piece.


VERY GOOD (V.G.)- definite signs of wear but still not altogether unattractive.


GOOD (G.)- Worn but lettering and design all clear.


FAIR (FR.)- Quite badly worn and usually undesirable.


POOR (P.)- Less desirable than FAIR yet the design can usually be distinguished.




The rest of the article goes into how some catalogers can mix up an uncirculated and proof coins and how some people use extra descriptions to highlight the positive aspects of a coin and that should be done to highlight the negative parts also.










Link to comment
Share on other sites

Neat stuff Chris. You mention that the article goes on to clarify confusions. How about the general confusion of uncirculated and mint state (which the author confuses)? I realize their potential synonymy but also understand their difference, albeit theoretical for the very fact of loss of chain of custody. Still, I read this kind of thing with the same amusement that I read older scientific articles that often conclude upon nothing more than superlative. (Just as I have grin.gif)



Link to comment
Share on other sites