Grades as Reported on Rare Coins 101

Correlations Between Adjectival and Numeric Grades

Most of the charts displayed on Rare Coins 101 depict price movements from 1990 to the present. Trendlines calculated from these data points serve as the basis for our Key Date List of Recommendations.

However, there are coin values reported going as far back as 1950, as seen on the "$ Trends 1950-1990" charts. In nearly all cases, this “way back” data further bolsters the argument for a coin to be included on the Key Date List.

1950-1990 gateway
At the bottom of every Key Date recommendation value trend chart, the $ Trends 1950-1990 link serves as a gateway to historical pricing data from the years 1950 to 1990 for that coin. Take a ride in the “Way-back Machine” and you’ll see for these special coins, value trends from the long ago past are just as impressive as those in more recent decades.

All grades on Rare Coins 101 are reported as numeric grades on the American Numismatic Association scale, as was introduced in the “Boogeyman” chapter in some detail.

Since there is data on this site researched from before the ANA scale was published in 1977, obviously there had to be some correlations made between adjectival and numeric grades.

Thus, for years prior to 1977, the values reported as MS-60, for example, should be viewed as the "Uncirculated" listings of those years, since this was before numeric grades came into vogue.

Likewise, PF-65 corresponds to simple "Proof" value listing of the same time period, while G-4 corresponds to the "Good", VG-8 to "Very Good", and so forth.

This is a relatively minor point, but one that deserves clarification.

Also… value trends for coins with special indicators (Stars, “Green Beans”, and “Plus” Grading) are not listed specifically on this site. Rather, we track historic prices for coins considered “average” for the grade.


What a Difference 74 Years Can Make

Compare a modern day price guide to a 1950 Redbook and it’s stunning to see how defined and sophisticated we’ve gotten in grading (many would complain it's gotten too complicated).

Consider the 1877 Indian Head cent for a moment. In 1950, estimated values for only four grades were listed in the Redbook.  In 2024, as reported in the Coin World online price guide, the number of grades for the same coin has ballooned to 26!

The introduction over the years of many in-between numerical grades and copper color qualifiers (Brown, Red-Brown, Red) has led to an eye-popping increase in the number of grades reported on. The Coin World online price guide now lists values on 26 grades for Indian Head cents. Obviously, the screenshot of their online price guide is too small to read, but you get the idea of the breadth of grade categories being reported on nowadays. Image by Coin World .

Quick Links to Other Coin Grading Chapters...

The next chapter in this section is Suggested Coin Grading References.

Use the links directly below to navigate the "What is Coin Grading?" section:

All the chapters referenced above are accessible from any other chapter in this section.  Thus, no need to return to this Introductory page to link to other chapters.