Grading of a coin: NGC and PCGS

PCGS NGC Grading

The degree of preservation of a coin shows how much a coin is worn. Coin collectors prefer coins with a high degree of preservation, this means with little or in the best case no circulation marks. The degree of preservation usually also has a strong impact on the collector value of a coin. Thus, when assessing the value of rare coins, the degree of preservation is definitely important.

The best known providers are NGC and PCGS


With numerical grades, NGC, Numismatic Guaranty Company, an international third-party coin grading and certification company, indicates a coin’s pristine condition. The company is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida.

Some coins require a detailed description of their condition/appearance. For such coins, NGC staff supplement the numerical grade with a character called a “mintmark.” NGC receives millions of coins each year from dealers and collectors who trust the security of the NGC holder, the consistency of NGC coin certification and grading, and the strength of the NGC guarantee.

The NGC certification and grading process for coins involves several steps, including:

the assumption

the evaluation

the encapsulation and


NGC coin grading scale

NGC uses the internationally recognized Sheldon rating scale of 1 to 70, first used in the United States in the late 1940s. This scale was adopted by the NGC when it began operations in 1987 and is considered the industry standard. Below are the NGC classification standards for each numerical class, as well as the major blow types and designations. For example, 70 MS/PF means: a coin with no post-processing defects at 5x magnification (highest level) or 69 MS/PF: a fully minted coin with barely noticeable defects. MS stands for Mint State, (example: Centenario 1943 gold coin 50 pesos PCGS MS64) translated from English: Mint State and PF for Proof or in German Polished Plate. Proof coins are coins minted in a special format for collectors.

Numerical ratings

NGC uses a numerical rating to succinctly describe the condition of a problem-free coin. The available numerical values range from 1 to 70 and are based on an internationally recognized scale developed in the 1940s. The higher the numerical value, the better the condition of the coin. Below the value of 60, above which a coin is considered uncirculated, some numbers are skipped.

Mint mark

Mint marks are used to describe how well an area of a coin is struck and when the information is of particular interest to collectors. For example, mint marks can describe the degree of contrast on a proof coin (Cameo and Ultra Cameo/UCAM example: Krugerrand 1 oz 1969 Proof NGC PF64 UCAM gold coin) or other distinguishing characteristics.

Ultra Cameo

Applies only to proof (polished plate) coins. The fields are deeply mirrored and the coins are heavily frosted for strong contrast on both sides of the coin.


Applies only to proof coins. The fields are deeply mirrored and the coins are frosted on both sides of the coins for moderate contrast.

The NGC Guarantee

An NGC-certified coin, token, or medal (collectively, a “coin”) enclosed in an NGC holder warrants that

-thecoin is genuine; and

-is notoverrated. This means that the coin is graded no higher than according to NGC grading standards


Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) is an American third-party coin grading, authentication, attribution and encapsulation service founded in 1985. The company is headquartered in Santa Ana, Calif. The company has divisions in Europe and Asia and is owned by the parent company Collectors Universe.

PCGS certifies most U.S. coins, as well as foreign coins, by grading, authenticating, assigning and packaging them in clear and in airtight plastic containers. PCGS services include special label programs, “first strike” designations, True View (high quality photography), preservation, and tiered certification (pricing based on value and turnaround time). Coins that are improperly cleaned, tampered with, damaged, or otherwise compromised will not be graded numerically by PCGS, but will still be authenticated and provided with verbal “detail” grading upon request.

Coin holder

The PCGS holder (also called slab) is made of clear, inert plastic and is stackable. Tamper-resistant measures include a hologram on the back, markings inside the holder and a near field communication (NFC) chip embedded in some holders. Printed on the front of the blue paper insert are the coin type, denomination, value grade, assignment, pedigree (if any), serial number, Universal Product Code (UPC) and other relevant information. The first generation PCGS coin holders are smaller and do not have the raised stackable edges of the later editions. Your insert was printed on plain white paper.

PCGS was the official grading service of the PNG (Professional Numismatic Guild) for a time; at that time the PNG logo was on the holder. This design was replaced by another when PNG changed its affiliation to NGC.

The PCGS rating scale is also based on the numbers 1-70 of the Sheldon scale. For example:

MS/PR-69 – means practically mint with tiny imperfections. MS stands for Mint State and PF for Proof or Polished Plate.

MS/PR-70 (highest level) – Freshly minted, with full mint luster. Examples:

100 Ruble Gold Coin 1999 Pushkin Proof PR70DCAM

200 Ruble Gold Coin 2000 Snow Leopard Proof

Krugerrand 1997 1oz Proof NGC PF70 Ultra Cameo

PCGS provides a complete description for each grade with additions for certain grades as well as codes for unclassified coins.

Review of NGC certification tool

Since 2008, every coin graded by NGC is photographed in its holder before it is returned to the submitter. These images, along with the NGC certification data, can be helpful additional information in assessing the authenticity of an NGC holder. Images and certification data are available for free in the Verify NGC Certification Tool on the NGC website and on the NGC mobile app.

PCGS also offers this review. You can find it under: Cert Verification

Would you like to know more about grading or have your own coins graded. Then please feel free to contact us.
In our store you will also find a whole range of coins graded by PCGS or NGC.