Professional Coin Grading: How To Find Someone To Grade Your Coins

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Trying to determine a coin’s value?

Before you can determine the value of a coin, you first need to know the “grade” of your coin.

In fact, coin grade is simply one of a number of factors that must be determined in order to find the true value of your coin.

How to find a professional to grade your coin.

Professional Coin Grading Services

Determining the grade of a coin is very serious business!

There are professional coin agencies and experts who do coin grading for a living… full-time… for pay.

These 4 professional coin grading services are the most widely respected and trusted:

How The Pros Grade Coins

It’s not as easy as you might think. In fact, the process of determining the value of a coin is a very complicated process.

You see, there is a somewhat complicated formula that coin experts use to accurately determine “grade”.

Check out this PCGS coin grading video to see exactly how your coins get graded:

PCGS Webinar - Coin Grading 101: Introduction to Coin Grading

The biggest thing to remember when trying to find the value of coins is that a qualified coin expert must visually examine your coin, in order to determine its true value.

This can be done, in person at a coin show or a coin dealer’s office OR via U.S. mail using one of the agencies above.

Basic Coin Grades Explained

how-to-grade-us-coins-book.jpgCoin grades are determined by the levels of wear that a coin has. These levels of wear are what make it possible for coin collectors to determine a coin’s ultimate value.

A coin with less wear generally has a higher value than the same coin with less wear.

Since you can find detailed information about coin wear in various coin books and online, I will simply summarize the basic coin grades (or levels of “wear”) here:

Coin grades and their abbreviations:

  • FDC (Fleur-de-Coin) – Absolutely flawless, there is no sign of wear, no scratches or fingerprints
  • Unc (Uncirculated) – In new condition, as issued by the U.S. Mint, but not perfect
  • EF or XF (Extremely Fine) – There are slight surface marks or wear that is visible upon close examination
  • VF (Very Fine) – There is some wear on the raised surfaces, but the main features are still sharp and have good detail
  • F (Fine) – There is considerable wear on the raised surfaces, but the main features are still sharp and have good detail
  • VG (Very Good) – A well-worn coin with major design elements visible. Outlines of portraits, wreaths, eagles, and similar design features are seen but absent virtually all of their center details.
  • G (Good) – A heavily worn coin with major design elements visible only by outline, with no interior details evident. The rim may not be fully complete.
  • AG (About Good) – A very heavily worn coin with some of the inscriptions on an example of this grade obliterated or incomplete. The date may not be completely readable, with the rim worn into many of the peripheral elements of the design.
  • Fr (Fair) – Very worn, but the main features are still distinguishable
  • Poor (Poor or Worn) – Some features and lettering are worn away

Remember, coin grading is not a science. It is not precise. For that reason, it’s wise to get the opinion of more than one coin professional — in order to determine the exact grade of your coin.

If you’re interested in grading coins yourself at home, start here!

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22 thoughts on “Professional Coin Grading: How To Find Someone To Grade Your Coins”

  1. My grandmother pasted away and in a few boxes I have some coins one says its 1861 US Gold Coin and I don’t really know how to go about finding out if it is really or not. Any way you come help?
    Or point me in the right direction?

  2. On the package it came it says 65 I did a little research on it only 6002 were made and it’s the one that 90% gold && 10% copper. I just don’t understand where to take it to figure out. Sorry so many questions just no idea about any of this

    • When it comes to old gold coins I’m always extra cautious because there are so many replicas floating around out there. Without seeing your coin in person or having the ability to weigh it, I’m a bit hesitant. There are some surface issues with that piece that lead me to wonder if it is authentic.

      Then again, it could be a lighting issue — very common matter when photographing coins!

      I suggest taking it to a coin dealer. In fact, I will say this right now — don’t go to jewelers or pawn shops. Coin dealers are the most knowledgeable when it comes to coins and will pay you more in general.

      As mentioned in a previous reply to you, I suggest this list for searching coin dealers near you:

      Here are tips on finding a reputable coin dealer:

      Good luck!

    • Hi, Baldyriek!

      That all depends on how high of an uncirculated grade we’re talking. Its value could range from about $3 to $5 to more than $150, contingent on its Mint State grade.

      Best wishes,

        • Hi, Baldyriek –

          If you see very few surface marks, it might behoove you to get it graded. Otherwise, if it appears to have some nicks, spots, or other imperfections, it’s likely a “standard” uncirculated issue and is worth roughly what I suggested above on the lower end of the price range — $5 to $10.

          I hope this info is helpful,

  3. Hi Joshua,
    I am currently in southern Ca, Orange County. I am looking for some one to authenticate my error coins to sell. I cracked open the piggy bank and found some serious treasures.
    Do you know of a reputable appraiser and Coin dealer in the Orange County Area that can assist with a market trend plan?

    • Hello Cheryl —

      You are in total luck… One of the most well-known error coin specialists in the entire country is located in Encino… Fred Weinberg. I’ve interviewed him before for various articles, as have countless others. He is he go-to expert. Here’s his link:

      Best wishes!

      • Hi Jason,
        I have a collection of modern error Lincoln cents I need authenticated/graded for immediate sale and auction
        I am currently in Northern Cal. 45 miles north east of Sacramento. I am a novice to the coin rolling world, but believe I have some valuable errors. 1969-S, 1992 C-AM, 1970-S Lg date DDO. 1972 DDO, 1972 Ike DDO $1.
        Do you know of a PCGS dealer in my area with in 200 miles that grades & purchases that I can trust?
        Thanks so much

  4. Hi Joshua,
    I am currently in southern Ca, Orange County. I am looking for some one to authenticate my error coins to sell. I cracked open the piggy bank and found some serious treasures.
    Do you know of a reputable appraiser and Coin dealer in the Orange County Area that can assist with a market trend plan?

  5. Hi Joshua,
    I dont know if you still look into this but I have two sacagawea 2000 series coins and a 2011 Ulysses S. Grant series coins. I live in hotsprings AR and was wondering where I could get them authenticated at. I had a buddy say something about the sacagawea 2000 P and D series possibly being something quite rare and I have had both that and the 2011 D series of Ulysses S. Grant in my back pocket withing my wallet for more than a year because I see them more of a good luck charm than anything but since he brought it up I was confused and wondering if he could be right. Any ideas completely new and fairly below the level of novice.

    • Hi, Jake —

      The 2000 P and D Sacajawea coins are actually quite common, as is the 2011-D Grant dollar. So if they are authentic, they unfortunately wouldn’t be worth much money. In fact, uncirculated examples — those never spent as money or worn through handing — are generally worth between $1.05 and $3 apiece, depending upon condition.

      I’d be happy to check your coins out by photograph if you wish you upload women clear photos of the coins here.

      Thank you for reaching out,

  6. Hello I just had a question for you I was just going through some of my collection of penny’s an noticed that one of my 1997 d penny has a perfect period in-between the letters I and c in the word America have you ever seen this or heard of it?

    • Hi,

      It appears the coin has very little, if any, wear on its high points. If so, the coin likely has some slight mint luster, which may have been just slightly impaired from light circulation, creating the satiny appearance.

      The weight of 6.03 grams you stated is above even the higher end of the tolerance for a clad quarter strike. Assuming your scale is calibrated correctly, I would be curious to view a photo of the edge of this coin to see if it shows an orange/brown strip indicating that it’s indeed clad or none — suggesting it may be a heavier silver error strike.



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