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Grading Coins 

A range of grades are used to describe the condition of coins.
Valuation of a coin is impossible without a sound knowledge of the grading of coins.
For this there is no real substitute for experience.
However, the following is a guide to the main grading scheme used for UK coins (please note that the UK standards are higher than for US coins):

Poor: Inscriptions worn off, date illegible, only outline of design visible. (US: AG-3)

Fair: Date, legends and denomination (if any) legible, type recognisable. Very little detail visible. (US: VG-8)

Good (G): (A US grade, better described as Mediocre) Inscriptions and date considerably worn but legible.

Very Good (VG): A US grade, Fair in UK. Considerable wear over the whole coin, and high spots worn through. Coins in this or the previous grades are really only collectable if extremely rare. (US: VG-8)

Fine (F): Worn over whole area, but only the highest spots are worn completely through. (US: VF-20)

Very Fine (VF): Detail clear, but obvious evidence of very limited circulation. High spots worn but detail remains. Traces of mint lustre may linger amongst the letters of the inscription. (US: EF-40)

Extremely Fine (EF): Slight wear on high spots on close inspection, and all other detail clear and sharp. Much mint lustre may remain. May appear uncirculated to the naked eye. (US: MS-60)

Uncirculated (Unc): No wear at all, although it is possible for the design not to be fully struck up in the minting process. There may be bag abrasions. Older coins may be tarnished or toned.(US: MS-62 to 65) There are two higher grades seen in dealers lists:

Brilliant Uncirculated (BU): Usually implies full mint lustre.(US: MS-67) FDC (Fleur de Coin):

Perfect mint state, with no abrasions or marks, and full lustre. Usually applied to proof coins only, or coins from sealed mint sets. (US: MS-70)

Proof: Not a condition, but the coin has been struck using specially prepared dies and blanks, and the minting process has been carried out usually twice with extra pressure to ensure the die is filled. Normally the fields are highly polished, with the design matte, however matte proofs where the whole coin is matte are known (especially the 1902 GB proofs), and sometimes even the design is polished (especially from the early 1970's for UK proof sets). Proof coins usually have very sharp edges.

Many coins fall in between grades, and so terms such as 'nearly VF', 'good VF', 'gem BU' are encountered.

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