Learn more about the Sheldon Grading Scale

2014 1 oz Gold American Eagle MS-70 NGC Early Releases

2014 1 oz Gold American Eagle MS-70 NGC Early Releases

Why graded coins are so prized and valued by collectors

Here’s a collector’s horror story that never has to happen to you.

You fall in love with a coin that appears to be in absolutely perfect condition. Not a scratch or smudge – you’d never know anyone touched it since it left the mint. You pay top dollar. Then to your surprise, an expert looks at it and spots a barely discernible nick near the rim on the coin’s obverse. It’s a great coin, but it’s not worth what you paid for it.

That’s exactly the nightmare Dr. William Herbert Sheldon set out to eliminate when he created the Sheldon Grading Scale in 1949.

A standardized system to evaluate a coin’s condition

The Sheldon Grading Scale gives expert coin appraisers a system of standardized attributes to evaluate a coin’s condition. The expert appraisers inspect the coins and grade them on a scale of 1 – 70.

A grade of 1 means the coin may be clear enough to identify, but it may be badly corroded or so worn that a side of the coin is blanked. On the other end of the scale, 70 means uncirculated perfection – no trace of wear, handling, scratches or contact with other coins. All the mint’s original luster is intact.

No circulated coin receives a grade higher than 58. At that grade, just about all of the coin’s original mint luster remains. Uncirculated coins receive grades from 11 – 70.

Who makes the grade?

The Sheldon Grading Scale is not for amateurs. The people who grade coins and assign these values have to be extremely well trained and experienced. That’s why most coins are graded by professional grading services.

There are dozens of grading services, but two of the most popular and highly respected are the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

Coins graded by these services are highly valued for three reasons.

First, the people who grade coins for NGC and PCGS are unimpeachable experts. Their judgment is highly respected throughout the industry.

Second, after the coins are graded, they are sealed in airtight protective slabs, which help prevent tarnishing. They also provide a strong tamper-evident layer, so coins coin can’t be damaged in handling without a collector knowing about it.

Third, they label the coins with grades and findings. When you see a coin in a plastic slab labeled MS-70, you know it is an absolutely perfect coin. If it has an NGC Early Releases or PCGS First Strike designation, you know it arrived at the grading service within 30 days of the coin’s release by the mint.

Needless to say, graded coins are highly prized and valued.

 A treasure trove of collectibles

APMEX has a huge selection of graded coins, from uncirculated Silver Dollars that are more than 100 years old to the latest bullion coins receiving First Strike and Early Releases designations. Click here to see some of our more popular Graded Gold Coins and Graded Silver Coins.

 

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11 Precious Metals Investing Terms You Should be Familiar With

If you’ve ever spent time on APMEX’s website you may have come across a few terms that were deserving of a curious eyebrow raise.  Don’t worry; you don’t have to be a skilled numismatist to find out the meaning of all the hieroglyphic-like terms that your eyes are trying to decode. When you choose APMEX as your precious metals provider you’re not only picking the best bullion products available on the market, but you’re also investing in a skilled team of workers that can actually help answer your questions and lower your confused eyebrow. Check out this listing of some of the most commonly used terms. All terms have been taken directly from the APMEX Glossary.

Assay: A test to ascertain the fineness and weight of a precious metal.

Bid: The price at which a dealer is willing to buy.

BU: Brilliant uncirculated, is used to describe a coin in new condition. It is for a coin that has no wear, but it may have light handling marks or other imperfections.

Bullion: The term is used to describe: 1. Gold, silver, platinum or palladium coins which closely follow spot prices and have little or no numismatic value (such as restrikes) 2. The form in which metal is shaped such as bars, ingots or wafers. The most commonly traded gold bullion pieces among individual investors in the United States weigh 10 oz. or less.

Early Release: NGC designation for a coin received during its first month of release.

First Strike: These coins have been struck from a new set of dies within the first 30 days.

MS-60: The lowest grade of Mint State, or uncirculated, coins. Using the Sheldon Grading Scale, coins are grade from 1 to 70, with 70 representing a perfect coin. Coins grading MS60 or higher are uncirculated; coins grading below MS60, are circulated.

PCGS and NGC: Professional Coin Grading Service & Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, two major coin grading services in the United States.

Proof: Refers to the manner in which a coin was minted NOT to its condition. Highly polished dies and special planchet are used to produce coins with a mirror-like finish. A proof strike is very different from a business strike and proof coins are generally made for collectors not for normal use.

Spot: Term which describes one-time open market cash transaction price of a commodity, where it is purchased “on the spot” at current market rates. Spot transactions are in contrast to term sales, which specify a steady supply of product over a period of time. The price for the physical delivery of bullion bars, usually 100-oz bars of gold or platinum and 1,000-oz bars of silver.

Troy Ounce: One of the most common units of measure for precious metals. 480grains = 31.1035grams = 1.09711 avoirdupois ounces = 1 Troy Ounce.

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What is Coin Grading?

Questions about buying MS 70 coins? Email Tim Oakes.

2012-W 1 oz Gold Buffalo PR-70 PCGS First Strike (Black Diamond)While perusing APMEX.com, you might have come across a graded coin. These graded coins are priced at a premium compared to a similar product that is not graded, as is the case with this MS-69 2012 1 oz Gold American Eagle when compared to a 2012 1 oz Gold American Eagle. Why is the graded coin being sold at a premium? And how is it different? First, you should understand what grading means. Coin grading is the process of determining the condition of a coin by taking into account several criteria such as the strike, surface preservation, luster, coloration and eye appeal. There are two prevalent coin grading services: PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) and NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation). The grading range used by both services ranges from 1 to 70, with 70 being “As struck, with full strike.” A grade of 70 is considered “perfect.”

A coin that is graded MS-70 by PCGS or MS-70 by the NGC has no imperfections.  NGC is the official grading service of the American Numismatic Association and, according to its website, has graded more than 20 million coins since 1987. When you buy a graded coin from APMEX, the coin will be shipped to you in a tamper-evident plastic case called a slab. Once the coin is removed from the slab for any reason and resubmitted, there is no guarantee that the coin will receive the same grade that was previously assigned.

While grading in some cases can have a positive effect on the value of the coin, it is not necessary to have a portfolio comprised entirely of graded coins. Buying a graded coin does involve costs, and sometimes you want a coin just because it appeals to your eye. To buy a Perfect-70 coin from APMEX, go here.

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