How to Grade a Coin


The first coin known to have been used for money dates back to the Kingdom of Lydia, around 188-172 BCE. The Lydian kings were the first known to use coins, gradually replacing lumps of electrum with coins stamped with the King’s seal. Coins that were used as legal tender in China and India began to emerge around the same time. Archaeologists excavated an area around the ancient kingdom of Loulan, China, and found coins from this period.

Today, coins feature images, portraits, and the date of minting. They are also distinguished by the type of background on which they are minted, called the field. Coins made of 90% silver, or copper, are considered clad coins. Their surfaces often feature groves or ridges along the edges. These grooves help protect the design from wear and tear. In addition, they are a source of interest for coin collectors.

Grading coins is not an exact science. While the standards are universal, a coin’s value depends on several factors. Its quality, preservation, and damage can push it up or lower on the scale. Beginners should focus on the wear and tear, and generally grade coins on a 70-point scale. Nevertheless, it’s always important to seek professional assistance when you are unsure about a coin’s grade. So, before you spend time studying the details of coin grading, know what to look for and how to grade it.

The portrait on the coin is called a “legend” and can reveal the date of coin production. The country name also appears on the coin, and sometimes there are inspirational sayings, such as “In God We Trust,” and other inspirational messages. Aside from these features, coins also bear a “mintmark” – a small symbol that indicates where they were minted. In addition to this, the year of minted and denomination of the coin are also engraved on the coins.

Besides the design and face, there are several terms that you can use when describing coins. The obverse, on the other hand, refers to the side of the coin that has images. Depending on the country and its coin, this side of the coin may be reeded, lettered, or decorated in some way. This part of the coin has a flat surface and is a protected area for the design.

The market exchange value of a coin derives from the intrinsic and historical value of its component metal. While most modern coins are made of base metal, their value is derived from their status as fiat money. Because coins are based on government fiat rather than people’s agreed-upon values, their value is determined by the government. Therefore, coins are more like tokens than actual money. For this reason, it is important that they are standardized in weight and purity.

To make a proper coin grade, you will need an excellent light source for your grading project. A 75-watt bulb or an LED light will suffice. A good magnifier is also necessary. Ideally, the magnifier should have a magnification of 5 to 8x. Magnifiers with a higher magnification are rarely used in coin grading. Those with magnification levels below 5x won’t be able to see fine details or minor damage marks.