Lets’ start with grading-what is it?
Grading is an assessment of the quality and condition of a coin. It’s a way of determining how much circulation a coin has seen and how worn down it is. An uncirculated or mint state coin that appears to be brand new or as it left the Mint is also be scored on it’s quality, physical condition and flaws. Grading a coin can be challenging and often buyers and sellers don’t agree on the grade and this may be biassed towards buying and selling prices.
Sheldon Coin Grading Scale/Numerical Scale
For example: VG10, VF25, XF40, AU55, MS64
is a 1-70 point numeric grading scale of coin quality first devised by Dr William H Sheldon in 1949 and adapted by the ANA for use on American coins. It’s now a universally accepted grading scheme across coins worldwide.
For Example: Good, Fine, Uncirculated, Gem, FDC
describes a coins condition. This grading system is interpreted and used differently in different countries worldwide. It is not used uniformly across sellers/buyers in Australia.
Sheldon Scale vs The Adjectival System
There is no hard and fast conversion of the PCGS Sheldon or numerical grading system to the Australian Adjectival System. There are even differences to the way the Adjectival system is interpreted if you are grading coins in say the UK compared to us here in Australia and those who grade to the ANDA standard .
The important thing to know is that PCGS (the Professional Coin Grading Service in the United States) are the most popular and credible independent grading service. PCGS is consistent with their grading and this is across the board for every coin they grade. PCGS have graded and encapsulated over 35 million coins from all over the world and are the most reputable third party grading service. Owning a coin in a PCGS slab will ensure the best price is achieved when the coin is offered for sale or resale.
Collectors in Australia are not always comfortable with the grading system PCGS uses which is why we often put our own conversion on the coin listing. Generally we call MS60-63 Uncirculated, MS64 Choice Uncirculated and MS65 or better Gem Uncirculated but it does depend on each individual coin. Eric of Drake Sterling Numismatics has an interesting conversion graph that will help.
A PCGS slab also offers other guarantees aside from the grade assigned. You are assured the coin you are purchasing is genuine and not a counterfeit.