What do you need to know about grading coins and what does PF/PR or MS mean in coin grading?

NGC Holder PF PR and MS

Coin grading involves assessing the condition or state of preservation of a coin. The main purpose of grading a coin is to assign a grade or rating to it based on its state of preservation. Grading helps determine a coin’s value in the marketplace, and it can be a major factor in buying, selling, and collecting coins.

The grading process involves several steps, including examining the surfaces of the coin, its wear, and other signs of damage or alteration. Professional coin appraisers use various grading systems to evaluate coins, such as the Sheldon Scale, which grades coins on a scale of 1 to 70 based on their condition, rarity, and historical significance.

The main purpose of grading a coin is to determine its value on the market. The grading of a coin can have a significant impact on its market value, with higher gradings usually resulting in higher prices. For example, a coin graded MS70 (Mint State 70) may be worth significantly more than the same coin graded MS60 (Mint State 60).

Grading also plays an important role in coin collecting and preservation. Collectors often look for coins with higher grades because they are more aesthetically pleasing and have greater historical significance. In addition, coins with higher grades are less susceptible to further deterioration or damage, making them more suitable for long-term storage.

Another important purpose of grading is to detect counterfeit coins. Counterfeiters often try to pass off fake coins as genuine, and grading can help identify such fakes. A properly graded coin has been subjected to a thorough examination, including checking the weight, size, and metal composition, so that any signs of tampering or alteration can be detected.

In summary, the main purpose of grading a coin is to assign a value to it based on its state of preservation. Grading helps determine a coin’s value in the marketplace and plays a critical role in buying, selling and collecting coins. It also helps in detecting counterfeit coins and preserving coins for future generations.

Different terms are used by NGC and PCGS when grading coins. Let’s take a closer look at what MS70 and PR/PF70 mean.

What does “MS 70” mean before the numerical grade of a coin?

NGC and PCGS use two-digit codes before the numerical grade of a coin to describe its method of manufacture and appearance. The most common for modern coins are“MS” for “Mint State” coins (these coins are minted for circulation) and“PF/PR” (NGC uses “PF” and PCGS uses “PR” for “Proof”/PP coins) for “Proof” coins (these coins are minted more for collectors).

Both NGC and PCGS grade coins and medals according to the internationally recognized Sheldon scale of 1 to 70(70 is the highest grading level). A coin with a grade of 70 shows no post-processing defects at 5x magnification.


USA – 10 Dollar – 2007 – First Spouse Series – Thomas Jefferson’s Liberty – NGC MS70

This particular issue was graded MS70 by the NGC, the highest grade, making it a top pop piece; no coin has ever been graded better. This makes the coin very interesting for collectors.

Mexico 1962 Cinco De Mayo 1862 Centenario Gold Medal NGC MS67

This edition was certified by the NGC and received a very high rating of MS67. Only 2 issues have ever been rated better by the NGC.

Australia – Lunar I Series – Tiger – 1998 – 100 Dollar – NGC MS70 – 1oz Gold

The gold coin was graded by the NGC and given the highest grade MS70. It is practically flawless. Thus, we also have a so-called top pop here.

USA – 20 Dollars – American Eagle – 2009 – Ultra High Relief – 1oz Gold – MS70

What does PF / PR70 mean before the numerical designation of a coin?

“PF” (used by NGC) and“PR” (used by PCGS) = Proof. Proof coins are coins minted in a special format for collectors. A “proof” coin in perfect condition would be a PR70 (PCGS) or PF70 (NGC). NGC defines a PF70 coin as having no post-processing defects at 5x magnification, similar to MS70 for uncirculated coins, as described above.


USA – American Buffalo Gold – 2008 – Proof – 1oz – NGC PF70 Ultra Cameo

This issue was rated PF70 Ultra Cameo, the NGC’s highest rating, so it is considered top pop. This makes them very interesting for any collector and investor.

Krugerrand – 2015 – Winston Churchill – Gold – NGC PF70 UCAM

This vintage gold coin is dedicated to Winston Churchill. For this special vintage, the coins were then also minted with a corresponding mintmark. The special edition was rated PF70 Ultra Cameo by NGC. There are only 161 of this edition in the world.

South Africa Big Five 2020 – Leopard – Series I – 1 oz Gold – Polished Plate – NGC PF70 UCAM

What makes this issue special is that it has been certified by the NGC with PF70 Ultra Cameo, which makes it a top pop and of which there are only 3 also certified NGC issues in the whole world.