How Coins Are Graded


Coinage is one of the oldest methods of exchange. It is believed to have been used by the ancient Babylonians. They first used gold and silver as money around 2000 BCE. However, the metals used were not in any standard form, so every time a piece changed hands, the people had to test it for purity. Eventually, a civilization in Asia Minor, Lydia, came up with bean-shaped lumps of electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver. Later, this metal was stamped with official symbols, and the early coins were used to trade.

There are many kinds of coins. There are numismatic and aesthetic terms for various types. For example, deep cameo coins have a deep, frosted central device with lettering that contrasts sharply with the mirror-like field. These coins are also known as “black and white” cameos. Some coins have portraits that appear satiny, while others are made with a highly polished die.

Another important aspect of coin grading is hair. Whether the hair on a coin is straight or wavy can be an indication of a coin’s grade. The edges of coins are usually rounded. Orientation is also important. To determine which side is the obverse, flip the coin horizontally, while to determine a medallic coin, flip it vertically. However, it is not necessary to reverse the coin to read the reverse.

Another type of clad coin is the nickel. The outer layer is made of nickel and copper, while the interior layer is made of zinc. These layers make coins last a long time. These metals are not alloyed, but instead are mixed together. This way, they can withstand high-pressure and temperature. The metals used to make coins are more resistant to corroding and damage. In addition to nickel, copper is also used to make a penny.

While most coins are genuine, there are also many counterfeits. Some are made using crude dies and are even circulating in circulation. While these counterfeits are not legal tender, they are still collectible. Some even come in different versions of Liberty, resulting in different varieties of this coin type. These coins are also called mis-struck coins.

Another grading system is based on the quality of the coin’s condition. This system grades coins from poor to perfect. A coin in its basal state, or uncirculated, can be worth as little as five cents. Then, you multiply this value by the numerical grade of the coin, such as VF-20.

A coin with mottled toning is an example of this type. The color is uneven and dull. This type of toning is caused by the surface of the coin being exposed to moisture. Mottled toning can cause slight pitting.