Determining The Grade Of An Indian Head Cent

Posted on: 26 February 2016

A coin can be an attractive reminder of a time long past. For example, those who are used to seeing Lincoln's familiar profile on the one cent coin, may see an indian head penny as somewhat foreign and exotic. Whether you want the coin for a collection, for a piece of jewelry, or for some other purpose, you need to determine the grade of the coin in order to make sure that you are getting a fair price.

Understanding Abbreviations and Number Ratings

Coin collectors will use a series of abbreviations and numbers to indicate the condition that a coin is in. Deciphering this rating system is not tricky but it might seem so to the uninitiated. For help, please refer to the following explanation:

  1. AG—The lowest rating on the scale is AG, which stands for About Good. Coins in this range will be accompanied by a number between 1 and 3. Coins in this condition should show the profile of the indian head, the words one cent, and the garland around the words. While these basic features should be clearly visible, coins will lack detail on the feathers, the garland, the headband, the hair, and the rims of the coin. 
  2. G—The letter G stands for good. Coins in this range should be accompanied by a number between 4-7. Good coins will have a distinct rim and two letters of the word liberty will be visible on the headband. 
  3. VG—Very Good coins will have three letters of the word liberty visible. The abbreviation will be accompanied by numbers 8-11. The numbers are used to indicate subtle differences in the details that are visible on the coin. 
  4. F—Fine coins will show the whole word liberty. The abbreviation will be accompanied by numbers between 12-19.
  5. VF—Very fine coins will show the bottom trim on the headband, but the headband and the hair curl will blend together. The abbreviation will be accompanied by numbers 20-35.
  6. EF or XF—Extremely Fine coins will show a ribbon that is distinct from the hair curl. The best examples will also show the diamond pattern on the ribbon. The abbreviation will be accompanied by a number between 36-49.
  7. AU—Almost Uncirculated coins will have some mint luster, full detail, and few contact marks. Higher quality coins will have the fewest signs of damage. The abbreviation will be accompanied by a number between 50-59.
  8. MS—Mint State coins will have no obvious signs of wear, a large amount of mint luster, and very vey signs of contact marks. The abbreviation will be accompanied by a number between 60-66.

As you can see, the rating process has some objective markers to assist graders in determine the quality of a coin, but that is not to say that there is no subjectivity involved. At the very least, the above descriptions should help you to determine if a coin rating is near the mark. Price will depend on the quality of the coin, so making sure that a coin you want to purchase is rated properly is an important consideration in making sure you get your money's worth. 

To learn more, contact a company like Penny Pincher Coins & Jewelry