Why are Coins Graded?

The value of a coin is determined by its rarity and its condition. Of these factors, rarity has always been the most easily understood. For years, however, the condition of a coin was more arbitrarily assigned. Dealers and collectors would label it with such imprecise terms as Good, Fine and Uncirculated. In 1948, Dr. William Sheldon standardized coin evaluation by instituting what is now known as the Sheldon Scale. It assigns a grade from one to 70 (one is basal condition; 70 is perfect). Though this was a vast improvement over grades such as Good or Fine, there was still room for doubt.

A buyer with an untrained eye, unable to judge the slight differences between a coin graded MS-63, for example, and another graded MS-65, was at the mercy of the seller of the coin, who determined the grade. The difference in value between two such grades could be thousands of dollars. Clearly, coins could not become a truly viable option for a portfolio as long as so much was left to subjective individual interpretation. This situation cried out for certainty and consistency in grading.

Many collectors find certification valuable, whether it's encapsulating a coin to maintain its present condition or because certification makes it easier to sell coins when disposing of a collection.

Rare coins are like no other collectible. Steeped in history, they possess a unique attraction that captures the imagination. From enthusiasts to serious collectors to dealers, those involved in numismatics find great pleasure in learning and appreciating the qualities that make each coin special.

Related Content: