PCGS – “No Grades”, Genuine Service, and Designations

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Coins submitted through any Secure Plus service that receive a No Grade will NOT be placed in a PCGS holder.

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 No Decision Coin's status inconclusive. (more) Yes No
90 Not Genuine Fake coin or altered mintmark, date, variety. (more) Yes No


Code Reason Explanation Described Holdered
87 No Service - undervalued Not eligible for selected service. (more) No No
96 No Service PCGS does not currently grade this item. (more) Yes No


PCGS assigns the following attributes where appropriate:

Full Band (FB) - 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.

Full Head (FH) - 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.

Full Steps (FS) - 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.

Full Bell Lines (FBL) - Franklin Half Dollars. MS60 or better. Must exhibit complete, uninterrupted lower lines on the Liberty bell.

Proof Like (PL) - 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.

Deep Mirror Proof Like (DMPL) - Morgan Dollars.

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

Cameo Proofs (CAM) - 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.

Deep Cameo Proofs (DC) - 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.

Copper Coinage -

  • BN - Brown – less then 5% original red color
  • RB – Red and Brown – between 5% and 95% original red color
  • RD - Red – more than 95% original red color

Specimen (SP) – struck well like a Proof, but with a satiny, sometimes matte, semi-granular looking

Circulated Grades - from Poor to About Uncirculated

Uncirculated Grades - from Mint State-60 to Mint State-70

Grade Prefix -

  1. MS = Mint State (grades from 60-70)
  2. PR = Proof (may be any grade, but usually PR-50-70)
  3. AU = About or Almost Uncirculated (grades 50, 53, 55,or 58)
  4. XF = Extremely or Extra Fine (grades 40 or 45)
  5. VF = Very Fine (grades 20, 25, 30, or 35)
  6. F = Fine (grades 12 or 15)
  7. VG = Very Good (grades 7, 8, or 10)
  8. G = Good (grades 4 or 6)
  9. AG = About Good 3
  10. Fr = Fair 2
  11. Po = Poor 1

PCGS Holder/Slabs - Our holders have been lab tested and will not discolor coins. We can not disclose any information regarding our holders. Refer to The Official Guide to Grading and Counterfeit Detection .

Testing of Modal Window | Close


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)

No Opinion | Close

Fee 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, a no-grade 86 will be issued.

Questionable Authenticity | 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.)

Not Eligible for Service Selected | Close

Fee refunded. PCGS fees are based on value estimates provided by the submitter. In cases where a coin is undervalued for purposes of reducing the grading fees, the coin will be returned ungraded. There are two ways to approach coin valuations: 1) base the value on what you think the final grade will be and/or 2) base the value on what you believe is a fair replacement value for your coin in case of loss.

No Service | Close

Fee refunded. These are coins that PCGS does not certify (i.e. medals, some privately made issues, etc.) or cannot certify (i.e. over-sized coins that will not fit in a PCGS capsule)

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)