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Before anyone can say how much a specific coin is worth, its grade must be determined first. Knowing a coin’s grade makes it easy to find the coin’s value, gives you an idea of what you can expect to pay for coins at a coin dealer, and helps you avoid getting ripped off when shopping for coins. When you grade a coin, you are actually paying more attention to how much wear a coin has rather than how it looks overall — because wear is the key factor in deciding a coin’s grade. Here’s how to determine the grade for practically every denomination of U.S. coin yourself — and where to get professional coin appraisals to find the grade & value of your coins.

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