Coin Grading and Explanation

Gold Sovereigns

As for most coins, collectors generally prefer coins in higher grades of preservation.

Although gold sovereigns possess an intrinsic value based on their gold content, their desirability, and therefore their premium value to a collector, will depend also on the condition or grade. The better the grade, the higher will be the value of its premium over its gold content.

FDC - Fleur-de-Coin

Normally only applied to proof coins. Literally means "Fleur-de-Coin", absolutely perfect, without any marks, wear or blemishes.

Uncirculated or Unc.

In new condition as issued by the mint, but owing to mass production methods, not necessarily perfect.

Almost Uncirculated or A.U.

Not quite Uncirculated condition as issued by the mint, but owing to mass production methods, not necessarily perfect. Possibly downgraded from Uncirculated due to heavy bagmarks. edge knocks, or some other undesirable feature, but without the slight signs of wear which would render it as only in EF grade.
Due to "grade inflation", there may nowadays be some very slight abrasion or "cabinet polish" on the high points.

EF or Extremely Fine (US = XF)

Showing few signs of having been in circulation, but may exhibit slight surface marks or faint wear on close inspection.

VF or Very Fine

Some wear on the raised surfaces having had only limited circulation, but still very sharp and pleasant.

Fine or F.

Considerable signs of wear on the raised surfaces, or design very weak through faulty striking.

Fair

Badly worn, but with the inscriptions and main features of the design still distinguishable, or a piece which is very weakly struck.

Poor (or Worn)

A very worn coin, with some lettering worn away, or parts of the design not visible. Of no value to collectors unless extremely rare.

 


Some supplementary or alternative terms

Almost or About

When combined with one of the above descriptions, means what it says, almost but not quite as good as the grade itself.

Good

When combined with one of the above descriptions, means what it says, better than the grade itself.

Good

When used on its own, an American grading term meaning poor.

VG or Very Good

An American grading term, roughly equivalent to fair to good fair in English or International grading.

Proof or Uncirculated

Proof is not a grade, but a type of specially produced coin.

If you are not sure about the difference between proof and non-proof sovereigns, you may wish to look at our Proof or Uncirculated page.

Grade C

We have some items available which are too good to scrap but not good enough for bullion. To read more about Grade C, read our blog here.

Differential Grading & Grading Standards

There is an intersting example of overgrading, and different grading standards on our 1821 sovereign page.

Other Coins

Other coins are, or should be, graded exactly the same as sovereigns. For our examples so far, we have chosen sovereigns, but we may later add other coins if they happen to portray the grade under discussion more precisely.