Grading / Mintmark Guide
United States Mints and Mintmarks
Mintmarks are small letters designating where the coins were made. Coins struck at Philadelphia before 1979 (except 1942-1945 five-cent pieces) do not have a mintmark. Starting in 1979, a letter "P" was used on the dollar, and thereafter on all other denominations except the cent. The position of the mintmark is on the reverse of nearly all coins prior to 1965 (except the cent), and on the obverse after 1967. Letters used:
- C = Charlotte, North Carolina (gold coins only, 1838-1861)
- CC = Carson City, Nevada (1870-1893)
- D = Dahlonega, Georgia (gold coins only, 1838-1861
- O = New Orleans, Louisiana (1893-1861, 1879-1909)
- P = Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1793-date, P not used in early years)
- S = San Francisco, California (1854-date)
- W = West Point, New York (1984-date)
- H = Heaton Mint, Ralph Heaton and sons
- C = Royal Canadian Mint, Ottawa
This is a general guide. Grading is subjective and can vary from dealer to dealer. Coins are graded using ANA standards and 30 years experience.
- PROOF = Is a manufacturing process which results in a special surface or finish on coins made for collectors. Coins are distinguished by sharpness of detail and usually with a brilliant, mirrorlike surface.
- GEM PROOF (PF-65) = Brillant surface with no noticeable blemishes or flaws. A few scattered, barely noticeable marks or hairlines.
- CHOICE PROOF (PF-63) = Reflective surface with only a few blemishes in secondary focal places. No major flaws.
- PROOF (PF-60) = Surface may have several contact marks, hairlines or light rubs. Luster may be dull.
- MINT STATE = The terms "Mint State (MS)" and "Uncirculated (UNC)" are interchangeable and refer to coins showing no trace of wear. Such coins may vary slightly due to minor surface imperfections as described the following sub-divisions.
- MS-65 (Gem Uncirculated) = Coin shows an attractive high quality of luster and strike for the date and mint. A few small scattered contact marks or two larger marks may be present, and one or two small patches of hairlines may show under magnification. Noticeable light scuff marks may show on the high points of the design. Overall quality is above average and overall eye appeal is very pleasing.
- MS-63 (Choice Uncirculated) = Mint luster may be slightly impaired. Has some distracting contact marks or blemishes in prime focal points. The general quality is about average, but overall the coin is rather attractive.
- MS-60 (Uncirculated) = Has no trace of wear but may show a number of contact marks, and surface may be spotted or lack some luster.
- AU-55 (Choice About Uncirculated) = Evidence of friction on high points. Most of the mint luster remains.
- AU-50 (About Uncirculated) = Traces of light wear on many of the high points. At least half of the mint luster is still present.
- CH-XF (Choice Extemely Fine,EF-45) = Light overall wear on highest points. All design details are very sharp. Mint luster is usually seen only in protected area's of the coins's surface such as between the star point and in the letter spaces.
- XF (Extremely Fine, EF-40) = Only slight wear but more extensive than the preceding, still with excellent overall sharpness. Traces of mint luster may still show.
- CH-VF (Choice Very Fine, VF-30) = Light even wear on the surface design detail on the highest points lightly worn, but with all lettering and major features sharp.
- VF (Very Fine, VF-20) = Moderate wear on high points of design. All major details cllear.
- F (Fine, F-12) = Moderate to considerable even wear. Entier design is bold. All lettering, including the word "Liberty" (on U.S. coins with this on the shield or headband), visible, but with some weaknesses. Overall pleasing appearance.
- VG (Very Good, VG-8) = Well worn with main features clear and bold, although rather flat. Head of Liberty, wreath and other features visible in outline form without center detail.
- G (Good, G-4) = Heavily worn. Major designs visible, but faint in areas. Many details are flat.
- AG (About Good, AG-3) = Very heavily worn with portions of lettering, date and legend worn smooth. The date barely readable.
- Filler = Extremely worn. But still shows date and have problems (rim dents, nicks, etc..)