Understanding The Sheldon Grading System:
Grading Scale: Numismatic coins use The Sheldon Grading Scale to determine the grade of the coin ranging from 1 to 70 (70 is a perfect coin)
Coins with no wear at all are alternately referred to as Uncirculated (Unc.), Brilliant Uncirculated (BU), and Mint State (MS). When a numerical grade is assigned to an uncirculated coin, it goes along with the abbreviation MS, such as MS-60.
Uncirculated (MS-60, 61, 62): An uncirculated coin with noticeable deficiencies, generally either an overabundance of bagmarks, a poor strike, or poor luster. Although most price guides will give a price for coins in MS-60 condition, in many cases this is a very unusual grade, with typical uncirculated pieces often grading somewhere in the MS-62 to MS-64 range depending on the series.
Select Uncirculated (MS-63): An uncirculated coin with fewer deficiencies than coins in lower uncirculated grades. In general, this will be an uncirculated coin with relatively ordinary eye appeal. Select Uncirculated is sometimes used to refer to a coin grading MS-62.
Choice Uncirculated (MS-64): An uncirculated coin with moderate distracting marks or deficiencies. These coins generally have average to above average eye appeal. Choice Uncirculated is sometimes used to refer to a coin grading MS-63.
Gem Uncirculated (MS-65, 66): An uncirculated coin with only minor distracting marks or imperfections. At this point, mint luster is expected to be full, although toning is quite acceptable.
Superb Gem Uncirculated (MS-67, 68, 69): An uncirculated coin with only the slightest distracting marks or imperfections. Toning is still quite acceptable and in these grades will usually be pleasing. Many circulating coins even of relatively recent dates are quite rare in such lofty grades, although modern bullion coins and commemorative s are often found in grades as high as MS-69.
Perfect Uncirculated (MS-70): An utterly flawless coin.
Numismatic Coin Terminology
Cameo: A coin with frosted appearance Circulated - A coin which has actually been used as money and shows some degree of wear
Commemorative: A coin with design struck in honor of some important, current event or historical famous person or special anniversary
Obverse: The heads side of a coin with portrait of national leader
Reverse: Back side or tails side of a coin
Mint State: An un-circulated coin in the same condition as when it was originally minted showing no signs of wear. Indicated on a graded coin as MS
Specimen: A coin minted for special sets using a different striking method. Not in circulation. Indicated on a graded coin as SP in place of MS
Proof Coin: Coins that are struck with greater pressure than normal using specially polished dyes to make the design more highly polished or mirror-like; it is indicated on a graded coin as PF or PR in place of MS
Proof Like: A coin minted for collectors using polished blanks rendering a polished coin with cameo frosted highlights. Indicated on a graded coin as PL in place of MS
Bullion: precious metals such as silver and gold in the form of bars, ingots, plate, and other items.
Certified coin: coins that has been authenticated and graded by an independent, third party professional coin grading service and encased in a plastic holder.
Intrinsic value: the melt value of the precious metal contained in a coin.
Slab: nickname for a hard plastic case used by professional grading services to encapsulate authenticated and graded coins.
Sterling silver: silver that is .925
Junk silver: Pre-1965 circulated 90 % silver dimes,quarters, half dollars, and dollars (40% silver half dollars of 1965-1969) that are valuable for their silver content.