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Coin Collecting: How To Grade And Price Coins

(NC)-As with most collectibles, rarity and condition usually determine the price of coins. An acknowledged, standardized system of determining the state of preservation, or grade, of a coin is therefore pretty important.

Early on in the game there was a time when coins were described with any old biased adjectives the seller could come up with. Eventually standard definitions and a numbering system, ranging from one to seventy were adopted.

Ever since collectors began to show a preference for well preserved, versus worn, coins, grading has been controversial. Getting the two sides in a transaction to agree on condition has always been a problem. Here is a basic breakdown of how coins are graded by the collector:

Good - 4: A worn coin with designs visible but usually no remaining detail.

Very Good - 8: Worn with few fine details remaining.

Fine - 12: Design and lettering clearly visible but showing signs of wear.

Very Fine - 20: Uniform light wear, but lettering and major elements are sharp.

Extremely Fine - 40: Very slight wear with all details sharp, some lustre may remain.

About Uncirculated - 50: Traces of wear on all surfaces, at least 50 per cent of the original lustre remains.

Mint state coins are free from any signs of wear. Their grading is based on the quality of the strike, condition of the coin, and lustre.

MS-60: Showing some bag marks and edge nicks.

MS-63: Few surface marks and most lustre remaining.

MS-65: A quality coin, appearing almost perfect, minor flaws only appearing on later examination.

Numismatists put coins into two groups. Coins in your pocket are known as "Business Strike" or circulation coins, "Numismatic" coins are minted in precious metals (silver, gold, platinum) and are not mass produced.

For more information on this exciting hobby, and ideas on what to collect, visit the Royal Canadian Mint website at www.mint.ca.

- News Canada

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