PCGS Grading Standards

Grade Description
PO-1 Identifiable date and type
FR-2 Mostly worn, though some detail is visible
AG-3 Worn rims but most lettering is readable though worn
G-4 Slightly worn rims, flat detail, peripheral lettering nearly full
G-6 Rims complete with flat detail, peripheral lettering full
VG-8 Design worn with slight detail
VG-10 Design worn with slight detail, slightly clearer
F-12 Some deeply recessed areas with detail, all lettering sharp
F-15 Slightly more detail in the recessed areas, all lettering sharp
VF-20 Some definition of detail, all lettering full and sharp
VF-25 Slightly more definition in the detail and lettering
VF-30 Almost complete detail with flat areas
VF-35 Detail is complete but worn with high points flat
EF-40 Detail is complete with most high points slightly flat
EF-45 Detail is complete with some high points flat
EF-45+ Detail is complete with a few high points flat. Superior eye appeal.
AU-50 Full detail with friction over most of the surface, slight flatness on high points
AU-50+ Full detail with friction over most of the surface, very slight flatness on high points. Good eye appeal.
AU-53 Full detail with friction over 1/2 or more of surface, very slight flatness on high points
AU-53+ Full detail with friction on only 1/2 of surface, extremely slight flatness on high points. Positive eye appeal.
AU-55 Full detail with friction on less than 1/2 surface, mainly on high points
AU-55+ Full detail with slight friction on less than 1/2 of surface, on high points. Eye appeal is good.
AU-58 Full detail with only slight friction on the high points
AU-58+ Full detail with the barest trace of friction on the highest points. Superior eye appeal.
MS/PR-60 No wear. May have many heavy marks/hairlines, strike may not be full
MS/PR-61 No wear. Multiple heavy marks/hairlines, strike may not be full
MS/PR-62 No wear. Slightly less marks/hairlines, strike may not be full
MS/PR-62+ No wear. Still slightly above number of marks/hairlines, strike may not be full. Attractive eye appeal for grade.
MS/PR-63 Moderate number/size marks/hairlines, strike may not be full
MS/PR-63+ Average number of marks/hairlines, strike will be close to average. Good eye appeal for grade.
MS/PR-64 Few marks/hairlines or a couple of severe ones, strike should be average or above
MS/PR-64+ Very few marks/hairlines or a couple of heavier ones, strike should be average or above. Superior eye appeal.
MS/PR-65 Minor marks/hairlines though none in focal areas, above average strike
MS/PR-65+ Very minor marks/hairlines though none in focal areas, above average strike and eye appeal
MS/PR-66 Few minor marks/hairlines not in focal areas, good strike
MS/PR-66+ Very few minor marks/hairlines not in focal areas, very good strike with superior eye appeal
MS/PR-67 Virtually as struck with minor imperfections, very well struck
MS/PR-67+ Virtually as struck with very minor imperfections, very well struck with attractive eye appeal
MS/PR-68 Virtually as struck with slight imperfections, slightest weakness of strike allowed
MS/PR-68+ Virtually as struck with very slight imperfections, the strike must be virtually full. Eye appeal must be very good.
MS/PR-69 Virtually as struck with minuscule imperfections, near full strike necessary
MS/PR-70 As struck, with full strike

In addition to the 1-70 scale presented above, the suffixes described below are added to some grades in certain series to expand on the numerical grade.

Designation
Description
Color: RD Red (more)
Color: RB Red-Brown (more)
Color: BN Brown (more)
Strike: FS Full Steps (more)
Strike: FB Full Bands (more)
Strike: FH Full Head (more)
Strike: FBL Full Bell Lines (more)
Surface: DM Deep Mirror Prooflike (more)
Surface: PL Prooflike (more)
Surface: DC Deep Cameo (more)
Strike: CA Cameo (more)
Strike: BM Branch Mint Proof
Strike: BMCA Branch Mint Cameo
FS First Strike (All Eagles, Gold Buffalos and Gold Spouse Coins)
SF Satin Finish
SMS Special Mint Set
SP Specimen (more)
Pos. A Edge Lettering on 2007 to Date $1 coins - Edge lettering is facing up when the reverse side of the coin is facing up
Pos. B Edge Lettering on 2007 to Date $1 coins - Edge lettering is facing up when the obverse side of the coin is facing up

PCGS No Grades

Occasionally, the experts at PCGS encounter coins which, for one reason or another, cannot be authenticated or graded. These "No Grade" coins fall into three categories: problem coins, inconclusive, or ineligible. "No Grades" in the first category will be placed in a PCGS Genuine capsule (except where noted). Those in the final two categories will be returned to the submitter un-encapsulated. All coins, encapsulated or not, will receive one of the "No Grade" codes listed in the tables below.

Problem Coins

All of the coins in this category (other than 83 and 99) submitted through the regular PCGS services will be placed in a PCGS Genuine holder, ungraded, with one of the following numerical codes placed after the coin number on the holder insert. On certain No Grades (as noted in the table below) the problem is more fully described on the insert. To read a more comprehensive description of any No Grade, click on the “more” link of any No Grade category.

Code Reason Explanation Described Holdered
82 Filed Rims Rim(s) and/or edge is filed. (more) Yes Yes
83 Peeling Lamination Potential for sealing damage. (more) Yes No
84 Holed and/or Plugged Any filled or non-filled hole. (more) Yes Yes
91 Questionable Color Any artificial re-toning & dipped copper. (more) No Yes
92 Cleaning Harsh cleaning or polishing. (more) No Yes
93 Planchet Flaw Generally large & prominent flaw(s). (more) No Yes
94 Altered Surfaces Any applied substance (wax, putty, lacquer). (more) No Yes
95 Scratch(s) Large & prominent scratch(s). (more) No Yes
97 Environmental Damage Corrosion, excessive toning, verdigris. (more) No Yes
98 Damage Any metal movement. (more) Yes Yes
99 PVC Residue Oily polyvinylchloride substance. (more) Yes No

Code Reason Explanation Described Holdered
86 Authenticity Unverifiable Coin's status inconclusive. (more) Yes No
90 Counterfeit Fake coin or altered mintmark, date, variety. (more) Yes No

Code Reason Explanation Described Holdered
96 No Service PCGS does not currently grade this item. (more) Yes No
w | Close
 
Filed Rims | Close

When rim dents or bumps have been filed to give the edge an even appearance.

Peeling Lamination | Close

A coin which has a planchet flaw that is serious enough to flake away in the sealing process. (This no-grade will not be sealed in a PCGS holder)

Holed and/or Plugged | Close

Coin has a drill hole through it that may or may not have been plugged. Plugged coins are usually then tooled to help cover up the noticeable plug.

Questionable/Artificial Toning (or Questionable Color for copper) | Close

Toning is a natural chemical process that occurs as a coin reacts to its environment. Collectors consider colorful, natural toning to be desirable and they often pay premiums for attractively toned coins. However, toning can be added, enhanced or accelerated by artificial means, creating the appearance of natural toning. Copper coins are sometimes stripped of their color to simulate their original, red appearance. In most cases, these treatments result in unnatural colors which the experts at PCGS will reject.

Cleaned | Close

Surface damage due to any form of abrasive cleaning. "Cleaned" covers a wide range or appearances, from a grossly polished coin to one where faint hairlines can be seen only at a particular angle or in only one area on an otherwise perfectly normal coin. This is perhaps the most frustrating of all the No Grades, because subtle cleaning is often difficult to detect in less-than-optimal grading conditions. "Dipping" (the removal of toning with a chemical bath) is not considered cleaning under this definition.

Planchet Flaw | Close

Metal impurity or defect in the planchet. Small, unobtrusive planchet flaws are acceptable. Large, obvious, poorly placed, or distracting flaws are rejected. Context is also important. Planchet flaws on certain U.S. Colonial coins are expected; planchet flaws on Morgan Silver Dollars are not.

Altered Surface | Close

This No Grade covers anything added to the surface of the coin to either "improve" its appearance or to cover marks. Surface alteration methods include adding: dental wax, putty, lacquer, nose grease, etc. "Thumbing" is the application of a putty-like material to fill in marks, scratches, and other defects or to haze over portions of the coin. Coatings (such as lacquer), while intended to protect coins, result in a No Grade because it is impossible to determine the quality of the underlying surfaces.

Scratch | Close

Depends on the severity and/or the quantity of the scratch(s). Faint, old, toned-over scratches may be acceptable; bright, fresh scratches may not. Placement is an important factor.

Environmental Damage. | Close

Coins that are damaged because of improper storage may be rejected. Corrosion is caused by storage in areas of high humidity, sea salvage coins, and coins found in the ground. Toning that is excessively dark or heavy, or which burns into the surface of the coin, may be rejected.

PVC (Poly-Vinyl-Chloride) | Close

PVC is a plasticizer used to produce vinyl coin holders. Over time, PVC leaches out of these holders and will eventually damage the surface of the coin. PVC is seen as small green specks or a slimy green film. (This no-grade will not be sealed in a PCGS holder)

Authenticity Unverifiable | Close

Fee not refunded. In the rare instances where the experts at PCGS are unable to determine conclusively that a coin is either genuine or counterfeit, that coin will be returned to the submitter ungraded.

PCGS spends a great deal of time examining coins that have been harshly cleaned, corroded and or tooled. PCGS must be able to positively determine that a coin is both genuine and has not been “holed and plugged”. In some situations the surface of the coin is completely destroyed, and in these instances PCGS will not render an opinion on the coin. Many counterfeit coins are harshly altered or intentionally damaged in an attempt to fool the grading services. If a coin is worn or damaged to an extent that makes it impossible to identify the date, mint mark, or variety, an Authenticity Unverifiable will be issued.

Counterfeit | Close

Fee not refunded. The coin is either a known counterfeit or exhibits characteristics of known counterfeits and is therefore highly suspect. This category includes otherwise genuine coins which have been altered to simulate rarities (re-engraved dates, added mintmarks, removed mintmarks, etc.)

No Service | Close

Grading (Standard or Secure) Service: Fee refunded. These are coins that PCGS does not certify (i.e. medals, some privately made issues, etc.) or cannot certify (i.e. oversized coins that will not fit in a PCGS holder).

Restoration Service: Coins submitted for PCGS Restoration Service that we determine will not benefit from being restored, nor should be restored, will be charged a $25 evaluation fee.

RD: Red | Close

Copper Coinage - more than 95% original red color

RB: Red-Brown | Close

Copper Coinage - between 5% and 95% original red color

BN: Brown | Close

Copper Coinage - less then 5% original red color

FS: Full Steps | Close

Jefferson Nickels. MS60 or better, at least five complete steps must appear on Monticello. Any steps that join or fuse together, whether created that way or subsequently damaged, cannot be considered for the Full Steps designation.

FB: Full Bands | Close

Mercury Head Dimes. The central bands on the fasces on the reverse should be completely separated from left to right, without any breaks, marks or gaps.

Note: PCGS may designate in grades of 60 and higher.

FH: Full Head | Close

Standing Liberty Quarters.

  1. Three leaves must be clear and distinct in Liberty’s hair.
  2. Earhole must be present.
  3. Hairline must be distinct from top of forehead to back of neck.

Note: PCGS may designate 1918/7 Quarters as Full Head in grades of XF40 and higher.

FBL: Full Bell Lines | Close

Franklin Half Dollars. MS60 or better. Must exhibit complete, uninterrupted lower lines on the Liberty bell.

DM: Deep Mirror Proof Like | Close

Morgan Dollars.

  1. Clear reflection in the fields on both sides from at least 6 inches away.
  2. Must be full, undistorted reflectivity on both the obverse and reverse.
PL: Prooflike | Close

Morgan Dollars.

  1. Clear reflection in the fields on both sides from 2-4 inches away.
  2. A misty effect or striations may impede the reflectivity.
DC: Deep Cameo | Close

1950-1970 Proof Coinage

  1. Heavily frosted devices on both the obverse and reverse, with no areas of the main devices unfrosted.
  2. Heavy contrast between the fields and devices.
SP: Specimen | Close

Struck well like a Proof, but with a satiny, sometimes matte, semi-granular looking

CAM: Cameo Proofs | Close

1950-1970 Proof Coinage.

The obverse and reverse must exhibit devices which are at least lightly frosted and create a contrast with the fields.

  1. Frostiness on the devices may be heavier yet contain areas where the frost is lacking or brilliance is evident.
  2. A coin that exhibits Deep Cameo attributes on one side and Cameo attributes on the other side is considered only a Cameo.
Damage | Close

Any form of metal movement, either intentional or accidental. Damage may include excessive or heavy rim dings and bruises, deliberate surface damage such as graffiti, attempts to remove spots, etc. The severity and extent of the damage affects whether it will get a “No Grade” decision. Whizzing is the use of a high-speed, rotating wheel to buff the surfaces of a coin, which actually moves the metal on the surface and leaves ridges on many of the devices.

The following damage descriptions are some of the more common that may be indicated on your 98 graded insert.

1. Graffiti (significant distracting etchings- occasionally net graded on early coins)
2. Planchet streak removed (usually found on gold coins)
3. Spot(s) removed (leaving some form of damage that is evident)
4. Surfaces tooled (major metal movement- whizzing, lasering, tooling)
5. Machine damage (either: counting machine or coin wrapping machine)
6. Rim damage (either: rim gouge or test cut)
7. Surface damage (either: large gouge/scrape, drill or chop mark)
8. Mount removed (located on either the edge or surface of coin)