Sign In or Create Account

Knowledge Center

What are the scales for coin grading? 

There is a 70-point grading scale that is most used known as the Sheldon Scale. It ranges from Poor (P-1) to Perfect Mint State (MS-70) which assigns a numeric and adjective value to a coin. Adjectives like Good, Fair, and Excellent were initially used but the subjective nature of those terms made it hard for collectors and dealers to agree on the same values.  

William Herbert Sheldon presented his scale in 1949, making it the first to use numerical values and adjectives. The American Numismatic Association adapted the Sheldon Scale in the 1970s to update the scale for future use.  

Two letters are often used before the numerical value to indicate the coin’s strike type. Mint State (MS) is for coins struck in the same form as circulation issues and is used for grades 60 to 70. Proof (PF) is for coins struck in a unique and collectible format, while Specimen (SP) is a mix between Mint State and Proof.  

NGC and PCGS are two reputable coin grading companies that can grade coins individually sent in or provide graded options to distributors like APMEX. NGC’s website provides a simplified example of the Sheldon scale:  

Adjectival Grade Label Abbreviation Numeric Grade Range 
Poor PR 
Fair FR 
About Good AG 
Good 4–6 
Very Good VG 8–10 
Fine 12–15 
Very Fine VF 20–35 
Extremely Fine XF 40–45 
About Uncirculated AU 50–58 
Mint State / Uncirculated* MS 60–70 
Proof PF 60–70 

Quick Guides to Investing

Step 1:

Why Buy Physical Gold and Silver?

If you are concerned about the volatility of the stock market, you’re not alone. The extreme highs and lows of the stock market often lead investors towards safe-haven assets, like bullion. Historically, the Precious Metals market has an inverse relationship with the stock market, meaning that when stocks are up, bullion is down and vice versa.

Step 2:

How Much Gold and Silver Should You Have?

This question is one of the most important for investors to answer. After all, experts suggest limits on how much of any types of investments should go into a portfolio. After deciding to purchase and own Precious Metals and considering how much money to allocate, one can then think about how much and what to buy at any point in time.

Step 3:

Which Precious Metals Should I Buy?

With the frequent changes in the market and countless Precious Metal products available, choosing investments can be difficult. Some want Gold or Silver coins, rounds or bars while others want products that are valuable because of their design, mintage or other collectible qualities. Also, collectors may shop for unique sets and individual pieces for their collections.

Step 4:

When to Buy Gold & Silver

After considering why, how much, and what Precious Metals products to buy, an investor’s next step is when to buy them. This decision requires an understanding of market trends and the impact of economic factors on precious metal prices.

Explore More On APMEX



Rare Coins