THE NGC COIN GRADING SYSTEM

NGC Coin Certification and Grading – Receiving Coins   NGC Coin Certification and Grading – Grading Coins   NGC Coin Certification and Grading – Encapsulating Coins   NGC Coin Certification and Grading – Shipping Coins

Once coins are entered into our database, they are barcoded and stored within NGC's vault until they are ready to be assessed by the NGC coin graders. Before grading, coins that will include variety designations are examined by a numismatist who specializes in variety attribution. Coins are compared individually against published references to determine whether it qualifies as a particular variety. If so, the appropriate descriptions and numbers are then added to its record. This work is performed without labeling that could identify the submitter, which makes NGC's coin grading system unique and unbiased.

Designation Abbreviations and Their Meanings
BN  =  Brown PF  =  Proof
CA  =  Cameo PL  =  Prooflike
DPL  =  Deep Prooflike RB  =  Red Brown
FB  =  Full Split Bands RD  =  Red
FBL  =  Full Bell Lines SP  =  Specimen
FH  =  Full Head UC  =  Ultra Cameo
FT  =  Full Torch 5FS  =  Five Full Steps
MS  =  Mint State 6FS  =  Six Full Steps


The coin grading scale utilized by NGC is the one universally accepted within the numismatic community. The following table lists the adjectival and numeric grades:

Business Strikes
MS 60–70 Uncirculated
AU 50, 53, 55, 58 About Uncirculated
XF 40, 45 Extremely Fine
VF 20, 25, 30, 35 Very Fine
F 12, 15 Fine
VG 8, 10 Very Good
G 4, 6 Good
AG 3 About Good
FA 2 Fair
PR 1 Poor
Proof issues incorporate the same grades. Proof coins will be so noted with the use of the prefix PF for all grades 1–70.
What is a 70? NGC defines a Mint State or Proof 70 coin as having no post-production imperfections at 5x magnification.

Grading is a team effort, with at least two professional numismatists examining every coin. To maintain impartiality, NGC's coin graders cannot be involved in the commercial buying and selling of coins. Each coin is examined by one NGC coin grader at a time, who enters the coin grade into the system.

In some instances, it may be necessary to add supplemental information that further describes a particular coin. For example, copper is a chemically reactive metal that tends to lose its mint red color over time, so the amount of red color is often diminished. Therefore, NGC coin graders must also enter the determination of whether a copper or bronze coin is fully red (RD), a mixture of red and brown (RB) or all or nearly all brown (BN). These designations appear following numerical coin grades. Other examples of supplemental designations assigned by the NGC coin grader include a determination of whether a Mercury Dime has full split bands (FB), or whether a Franklin Half Dollar displays full lines on its Liberty Bell (FBL). These distinctions may seem esoteric to the beginner collector, but they play a significant role in providing a more complete description, and thus they are essential in the coin grading system.

Coins that have been damaged or display excessive surface hairlines or other detrimental surface conditions must have their surface impairments properly described. This is done using NGC Details Grading, a service performed automatically when applicable. Coins with detrimental surface conditions are described using Details Grades that accord to the level of wear and descriptions of their impairments. They are then encapsulated using a distinctive purple NGC Details Grading label.

There are other coins that cannot be encapsulated by NGC at the determination of NGC coin graders. These include coins that are not genuine or have altered dates or mintmarks. Coins with active residue, including PVC, also cannot be encapsulated but many of these coins are likely to be eligible for NGC certification after conservation. Submitters to NGC can take advantage of its affiliation with NCS, a fellow independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group.

Following grading, coins are ready for encapsulation >

Watch a video of the entire NGC coin certification and grading process.