What grades are coins when they are first issued by the U.S. Mint?
Are they Mint State 60, Proof 60, etc.?
All coins struck by the U.S. Mint should be considered
Uncirculated when first issued. Thus, they would grade Mint State 60
or Proof 60 at the very least.
On the 70-point grading scale commonly used in the hobby, an
Uncirculated coin is one graded on a range from 60 to 70, with the
prefix “MS” denoting Mint State coins, and “PF” signifying Proof coins.
Mint State coins may exhibit multiple contact marks (often called
“bag marks”), subpar luster, uneven coloration and weak strikes, but
until the coins enter pockets, wallets and cash registers and receive
wear, they are still considered Uncirculated.
With that in mind, grade norms come into play that depend on each
particular coin series, involving how the coins are struck and how
they are handled by the Mint following their striking.
Coins minted specifically for collectors, such as commemorative
coins, Proof set coins or silver and gold bullion coins, typically are
struck using specially treated dies and are handled and packaged with
much more care than a coin intended to circulate in commerce.
For example, collectors will find most commemorative coins and
collectible American Eagle silver and gold coins exist in the higher
Mint State or Proof grades, usually no lower than MS-68 or Proof 68
and most often in MS-69, MS-70, Proof 69 or Proof 70 condition.
However, a collector who has opened a roll of Uncirculated
Presidential dollars, for instance, will see that these coins usually
are in nowhere near a high Mint State grade, with the majority in the
low- to mid-Mint State grades straight out of the roll.
These grade norms can be confirmed by coins graded and
encapsulated by the third-party grading services. For example,
Professional Coin Grading Service’s Population Report and Numismatic
Guaranty Corp.’s Census show that the vast majority of American Eagle
silver coins submitted to the services are graded MS-68 to MS-70. In
contrast, most of the Presidential dollars submitted receive MS-64 to
Learning the grade norms particular to a coin series is an
important factor that collectors should take the time to study. Grade
norms can be applied to every series of coins struck by the U.S. Mint,
both modern and classic. Ultimately, it helps signify the degree of
rarity of a given coin within a specific series, and, in turn, helps
determine that coin’s value.
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