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Introduction to Coin Grading

Introduction to Coin Grading - A Coin Magnifying Glass

Introduction to Coin Grading

Most of the experienced coin dealers or re-sellers I see on eBay don’t offer a coin grading in their listings without providing some type of disclaimer that they are not expert graders.  Some are even more cautious and clearly indicate that “the grading is up to you”, or “we’ll let you decide what you think the value of this coin is”.

When it comes to coin collecting, I frequently overhear customers debate about their coins. Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted coin grading standard.  Coin grading points differ between Canada and the United States (ICCS vs. PGCS).  Even the coin grading in the UK or Europe differ.  Consequently, the fact that no commonly accepted grading standard is still yet to be agreed upon doesn’t make things easier in this pastime.

Often, hobby collectors dispute how much their collection is worth based on their own criteria, not always the most objective approach to coin grading.  So many hobby collectors set them up for disappointment when they try to sell back their coins, but for get that dealers will not pay market price, but rather dealer prices, often discounted at 10-50% of market price.

To be sure, more experienced coin dealers or collectors are a step ahead of this and can determine from the selling price and seller’s feedback score what grading the coin may be expected to be but they will never offer a firm guarantee that their grading will be accepted by another coin dealer.

 

What You First Need to Know

Coin grading is an area of expertise that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  There is no standardized and widely accepted method to grade a coin but there is much information available to provide a basis for discussion.

I recommend a reputable coin grading service such as ICCS, out of Toronto.  However, I don’t always have the luxury of certifying a coin as there are associated costs and oftentimes the coin is certified to a lesser value than I would have thought.

Additionally, coins are valued based on their age, rarity, demand, condition, and denomination.  Another key factor, which drives up a coin’s value, is if there is demand for it in current markets.

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Coin Grading

Canadian Coin Grading

When it comes to coin collecting, I often hear customers discuss among themselves the value of their coins and the fact that no commonly accepted grading standard can be agreed upon.  Often, I hear disputes between these hobby collectors about how much their collection is worth based on their own criteria, which is not always the most objective approach to coin grading.

Most of the experienced coin dealers or re-sellers I see on eBay don’t offer a coin grading in their listings without providing some type of disclaimer that they are not expert graders.  Some are even more cautious and clearly indicate that “the grading is up to you”, or “we’ll let you decide what you think the value of this coin is”.

More experienced coin dealers or collectors are a step ahead of this and can determine from the selling price and seller’s feedback score what grading the coin may be expected to be but they will never offer a firm guarantee that their grading will be accepted by another coin dealer.

Nonetheless, without the aid of a standardized grading system, I am constantly faced with tough questions regarding coin grading and ultimately, the value of my customers’ coins.  Questions such as whether is MS-63 the same as BU (Brilliant Uncirculated) often come up.

With respect to the lack of a standardized coin grading system, new collectors must often develop trust with their coin dealers, as these are the only credible resources.  With that being said, a coin dealer is not necessarily an expert grader, but at least he or she can explain why they feel a coin deserves a particular grade.

 

Coin Grading