How do you grade a coin ?
I consider myself a seasoned collector and I believe I have learned through the years how to grade a coin.
I still look at a slabbed coin and almost always look it over and grade it myself. Some series I always question
myself because I do not actively collect the series and haven't really studied the characteristics of the coins strike.
I want to know the coins high points and design flaws that may lead to a weak strike as opposed to wear for example.
Other series I trust my grading and sometimes it differs from a TPG's opinion. I do not look at a coin and say oh it's a
53 because the label says so.
When I was a kid and just learning I had a good mentor who was willing to always help out and I
asked him how he grades coins so quickly and so accurately. To this day I follow what he taught me
so many years ago.
This is my usual pattern and I would really like to know how many of you look at a coin and what your thought process is.
I first look at a coin overall and get a general feel for the coin. Obverse then reverse.
Is it uncirculated ? Is it almost uncirculated ? Is it extremely fine, fine, good etc. Just a first gut feel. Does it look right ? Should take 2-3 seconds. Next place I ALWAYS look is the rims. The rims tell you a lot about how much the coin has been through. Another couple of seconds. Then I start to zero in on the focal points, usually the face, neck etc. Then the fields. Another 5 seconds. Look to see if there are lines or major hits or funky colors at this point. First obverse then reverse. You should be within 1-2 grades at this point. Say between a 55 and a 58 for example.
If the coin still interests you at this point you can really zero in on points of interest or points of concern.
You should be there at this point.
If I want to buy the coin and it is a decent investment I will take out the loop and see whatever it is I want to see on the particular coin. If I am comfortable with the coin an offer is made and the coin is either mine or a placeholder for the seller.
And I have to always remind myself I might really want the coin but I am not in love with it so look at it objectively.
Remember your first gut feeling when you saw the coin and remember that the seller wants to sell the coin.
Do you do things differently ? If so please share.