The condition of a coin plays a huge role in how much it is worth. The difference between a “good” and an “extremely fine” silver dollar could be as much as $5,000! Several different grading scales exist, but the Sheldon Scale is the most common and is based on a 70 point scale.
Here is a simplified rundown of the Sheldon Scale:
• (P-1) Poor: Barely identifiable; must have date and mintmark.
• (VF-20) Very Fine: Moderately worn, with some finer details remaining. All letters should be legible.
• (EF-40) Extremely Fine: Lightly worn; all details are clear.
• (AU-50) About Uncirculated: Slight traces of wear on high points.
• (MS-60) Mint State Basal: Strictly uncirculated but without luster and obvious contact marks.
• (MS-65) Mint State Choice: Uncirculated with strong luster, few contact marks.
• (MS-68) Mint State Premium Quality: Uncirculated with perfect luster, no visible contact marks to the naked eye.
• (MS-70) Mint State Perfect: Bright and lustrous. No flaws even when viewed under a microscope. Any coin with MS-70 is an accomplishment.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and Professional Coin Grading Service are the world’s leading experts on coin grading and information. Check out their websites here:
• Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
• Professional Coin Grading Services