Many people begin collecting United States coins as a child and keep collecting throughout their lives. Therefore, estate sales are often a great place to find coins to add to your own collection. Before you start to an estate sale, however, you should learn how to grade different coins.
Grading is done on the Sheldon Scale that ranges from 1 to 70. Those rated poor have been worn down until they are barely recognizable with only the basal remaining. These coins are given a one. Unless they are extremely rare, they are usually not worth adding to your collection.
Professionals give a two rating to coins that have some identifiable features remaining but that are basically worn smooth. Again, unless these coins are extremely rare, you may not want to add them to your collection.
Those coins that are rated from three to 10 or good. They have signs of wear with the features of the coin being worn almost flat. Unlike those coins receiving a poor rating, these coins have wording that is still readable. In order to be rated good, the entire coin must be present.
The next grouping of coins are those that are rated fine and range from 12 to 45 on the Sheldon Scale. These coins must show details on the features of the coins with higher scores given to ones that show great highlights.
Almost all uncirculated coins are very eye appealing. All the details are still there with little sign of wear. When examining coins, pay special attention to the highest points of the coin and look for wear in these areas. For example, if you look at a quarter that is in your pocket, then you should examine George Washington’s face. These coins get a score from 45 to 58.
The best scores are reserved for those coins that are in mint conditions. In order to be considered in mint condition they have had to come out of the United States mint in perfect condition without any strike marks. Then, since they have been minted nothing can leave even the tiniest scratch or dent in these coins.