How are coins graded by PCGS, NGC?: Breaking down the basics of coin collecting

Coin World is introducing novices to numismatics one topic at a time
By , Coin World
Published : 05/15/14
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Collectors who want to have someone professionally grade their coins have several options, but the two most popular grading firms are the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).

Both firms rate coins from Poor to Mint State. Number grades, paired with an abbreviation of their general condition, fall between PR-1 (identifiable only by date and type) and MS-70 (appears as struck). 

Firms base their grades on factors that include wear and damage, improper cleaning and the artificial coloring that can result, and clarity of features including the mint mark, date and portraits. 

To have PCGS or NGC grade a coin, a collector can either send coins to one of the firms directly as a paid member of its respective collector group, or have a PCGS- or NGC-authorized dealer submit the coin on the collector’s behalf. 

When the grading process is complete, the grading firms will send a collector's coins back in clear plastic display cases that feature the grade of the coin inside and the firm’s branding. These cases are often referred to as “slabs."

This post is one in a Coin World series briefly explaining the basics of numismatics.

Check out other posts in the series:


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