Determining the value of a coin is a process that involves more than a simple appraisal. It's not just about the type of coin you have, but how well it's been preserved. Grading, a process of thoroughly examining the condition of a coin, is how this is achieved. If you have rare coins that you plan to have appraised, it's helpful to be familiar with the process so you know what to expect.
Grading involves much more than simply looking at a coin and saying it's in excellent condition or fair condition. There are more than 40 different main grading levels and then a host of other sub-categories, including special grading just for problem coins. Here are just some of the factors examined during the grading process.
Detailing primarily focuses on lettering and the rim of the coin. Is the lettering or the rim still raised or has it been worn to the point that it is either flat or only slightly raised above the rest of the coin's surface? If the latter is true, this coin could be categorized as having poor detail and would likely be of lower value than a coin with better detailing.
Stricking, sometimes referred to as coining, is the final stage of production. In simple terms, it's the point when the coin is pressed or imprinted. A coin without imperfections in its stricking design is great. However, imperfections are sometimes welcomed too. This is especially the case if it's rare, such as two denominations struck on a single coin. However, a coin that was poorly struck and has a number of imperfections might not be as popular.
The color of a coin is another important factor. Obviously, coins in their natural color will receive a higher grading than coins that have suffered environmental damage, been dipped in copper or undergone artificial re-toning. The reflective qualities of the coin are also examined. A coin with mirror-like qualities, known as proof like quality, will have a higher rating than a coin with a cloudier appearance.
It's important to note that grading is somewhat varied. While there are internationally recognized grading systems, the reality is that not everyone uses the same system. For this reason, you might find that if you use more than one grading service, you might have some variances in the way rating that your coin receives so keep this in mind. For more information, contact coin grading services in your area.