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Magnification for grading coins?

fcloudfcloud Posts: 12,133 ✭✭✭✭
I was wondering what magnification other people use to check raw coins to make a determination for sending the coins in for grading? I use a 20x-30x that I have been using for about 25 years. I was told by a customer service rep at PCGS that this is way too much. Recommendations welcome, but please let me know why you're recommending a spacific size, type, or brand.


President, Racine Numismatic Society 2013-2014; Variety Resource Dimes; See 6/8/12 CDN for my article on Winged Liberty Dimes; Ebay


  • FairlanemanFairlaneman Posts: 10,393 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Light is more important.

    5 to 10 power should be fine. Higher power distorts the flaws a coin might have. The higher power is usually used for varieties, repunched Mint Marks and such.


  • wayneherndonwayneherndon Posts: 2,346 ✭✭✭
    I use a 7x to prescreen and then a 10x to finalize. I particularly like the 7x on larger coins because I can see more of the coin at a time. This greatly speeds up the process when examining several coins. I like the Hastings Triplet Bausch and Lomb brand magnifers because they magnify without distorting. (I guess due to the extra lens) they are a bit more expensive but well worth it if one uses magnification with much frequency.

  • fcloudfcloud Posts: 12,133 ✭✭✭✭

    Can you expand on the "Light is more important."

    Is there a spacific bulb or wattage?


    President, Racine Numismatic Society 2013-2014; Variety Resource Dimes; See 6/8/12 CDN for my article on Winged Liberty Dimes; Ebay

  • PCGS's collectors club email just mentioned several comments about magnification and light source. A search through the web site should bring up some information and shed some light on the subject. Also the video "Grading Mint state US coins" goes into alot of detail on the effects that lighting can have. BTW it is a 39.95 video free with a year membership/subscription to the ANA (39.00) (www.money.org).

  • DAMDAM Posts: 2,410 ✭✭

    I believe graders use 5X to grade with. Perhaps someone who knows for sure could let us know.

    Like the others I have different power lenses for different uses. I use a 4X to look at a coin. A 16X to look at detail. I also have a microscope with 10X and 40X. This is nice for looking at RPDs, RPMs, etc.

    I think using 20X and 30X is way to much to decide what a grade is because every little problem is going to show up.
  • FairlanemanFairlaneman Posts: 10,393 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Tony I use a 50 Watt halogen light. Before getting the halogen light I just kept missing hairlines. Very experienced coin graders can pick them out in a second but a novice like myself needs help. I believe the grading services use halogen lighting also. Hairlines and Slide Marks Kill Mercs grade wise. They will keep a Merc in a 64 and lower slab at PCGS. Coin must be tilted from side to side to see some of them.

    Again MHO.

  • mdwoodsmdwoods Posts: 5,525 ✭✭✭
    I use one of those lighted magnifiers on the extendable arm thingies. It is my understanding the PCGS graders do not use magnifiers except on coins that are being considered for MS70, or varieties that cannot clearly be seen with the naked eye. mdwoods

    added: I like the gizmo I use. It is about 2x, and provides a lot of light. A little rolling of the coin under the light quickly shows hairline scratches and chatter that is sometimes well hidden. Mine has a 60 watt "Reveal" bulb in it.
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  • fcloudfcloud Posts: 12,133 ✭✭✭✭
    Ken, I have a 60w Halogen. I just went down to the basement, in the dark, with only the halogen on, and I think I see what you mean. These lights seem to show the coin differently than normal bulbs. I will see if I can get a lower wattage and see what that does. Who knows, maybe at some point I will be able to tell an AU from mint state. image


    President, Racine Numismatic Society 2013-2014; Variety Resource Dimes; See 6/8/12 CDN for my article on Winged Liberty Dimes; Ebay

  • FairlanemanFairlaneman Posts: 10,393 ✭✭✭✭✭
    After using the Halogen for a little while you will not need it any more as you will know what to look for automatically. Finding what to look for is the problem that people have when learning how to grade. Again JMHO. Man it just kills me when going to Coin Shows and viewing dealers graded coins. Some are Great Graders and some miss by ten miles. I am presumimg they are honest.

  • Initially, I use 2x, then I go to 5x (if it has passed the 2X look). If it passes the 5x review, I go to a 10x loupe. I also have a 30x magnifier, but I only use that for determining cleaning, alterations etc.

    Don't worry, I do not spend too much time as a few coins pass the 2x review and very very few pass the 5x review.
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  • fcloudfcloud Posts: 12,133 ✭✭✭✭

    I was at a dealer last week who has a 1931-S raw. I looked at it with my 20x in the front window and didn't see a mark. He was willing to sell it to me at a fair price ($350). He has been dealing for many years and I trust his grading, however, after my AU ordeal with PCGS, I don't trust mine. The dealer is one who thinks I'm nuts for buying graded coins, yet he told me If I don't take the coin from him, he is sending it to NGC for grading (it should come back a solid 65FB--I wish him luck--but I'm chicken).


    President, Racine Numismatic Society 2013-2014; Variety Resource Dimes; See 6/8/12 CDN for my article on Winged Liberty Dimes; Ebay

  • prooflikeprooflike Posts: 3,879 ✭✭
    I use 1x for initial opinion and if necessary, 7x for confirming opinion.

  • fcloudfcloud Posts: 12,133 ✭✭✭✭
    Does 1x = naked eye?

    President, Racine Numismatic Society 2013-2014; Variety Resource Dimes; See 6/8/12 CDN for my article on Winged Liberty Dimes; Ebay

  • greghansengreghansen Posts: 4,301 ✭✭✭
    7X is about right. I think most graders like to use the most magnification they can while still being able to see the entire coin surface through the loup. 5-7X is about as much as you can go for that on the bigger coins. I use a 16X for looking @ mintmarks, overdates, etc.

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  • Cul8rCul8r Posts: 164 ✭✭

    From what i understand they don't use more than 8x mag when grading at pcgs

  • JonJetJonJet Posts: 524 ✭✭✭

    I believe that PCGS (as mentioned above) uses 5X magnification during the grading process

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  • kruegerkrueger Posts: 771 ✭✭✭

    I use bausch & lomb 3x-4x=7x on the bourse floor ( no longer made . Some Brick and mortars still have them.)
    nice large lens 36mm I believe, can see the whole coin at once. some well known dealer use this one.
    4x is as good as a 5x. flip of a finger to get 7X to look closer.
    With the 3X you can look thru normal thickness dealers cases on the bourse floor if dealer is too busy to pull a coin for you. using far field focus. neat trick.

    Also carry a ANCO silver 16X for varieties ,nice large lens (23mm?) to let more light in as the16X focal distance is very small,
    works well. My pouch usually also has some sort of 10X loupe. Eschenback 10X 23mm, Bolomo 10X 23mm etc.

    A new Zeiss 3x-6X=9X is also a very good lens. NGC graders use this one. The old East German Zeiss Jena's 3x-6x=9X are a touch better in my opinion. they have a black casing and reflect less light back at your eye then the new Zeiss's above.
    I may be wrong here but I think PCGS graders use various : Eschenback 5X glass, B&L 5x slide aspheric plastic, B&L 7x

    I collect loupes too.

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,467 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No magnification (distance glasses off), then nothing more than 10x to check suspicious bits. Consistent lighting is the key. Don't use a single LED in a dark room and an overcast sky and expect to see the coin the same.

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,728 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I prefer to use a 5x Eschenbach #1177 for grading. Many others use 7x (such as a Hasting Triplet) when grading. Higher power magnifiers are more important for varieties or details.

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  • Hello Everyone,

    I've collected for 66 of my 74 years. Grading standards are 8 to 10x. I don't think I'm incorrect. after all, only human :) I too am guilty of cropping way beyond professional grading standards. Additionally, when you do this... put it on Ebay or some other site with their intense magnification features .. it makes your coins so large it is WAY out of grading standards. I try to warn not to magnify for this reason. But, I found a better way. If you don't have a graphics program... please do get one. One I have used for years is ACDsee 17. I'm a professional photographer ... not that it means much, but does give me some advantages. Sorry, retired PP. In this program, after cropping .. resize image to 640. It will adjust the vertical automatically. Don't use 640x480 or your coin will be distorted. Let the auto feature do this. Then sites like Ebay with magnification cannot enlarge more than you have allowed. Maybe in the sub magnification of double clicking on the original image and seeing all magnifications of the entire photos you submitted ... but not extreme. Your coins will be judged on the extreme magnification and not the Grading Standard. So don't allow it... you be in control. Hope this helps.



  • P.S. When adjusting your graphics program of the coin, I said adjust to 640.... it will and should be in the first box when resizing regardless of your graphics program... not just ACDsee 17. Whether vertical or horizontal the first box for entering the pixel value is the key... not the lower value box.

    Have a good one all,


  • emeraldATVemeraldATV Posts: 3,684 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Magnification for a grade?
    That puts me in a pixel .
    "magnifiers are more important for varieties or details."
    What he said. (@291fifth)

  • coinkatcoinkat Posts: 22,432 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 17, 2021 7:26AM

    Lighting and how one examines the coin is more important. I use greater magnification than most. I am constantly told I use too much magnification... I remind those who make those friendly suggestions that I am the one considering the coin and it is my money.

    It is really a personal choice and having a comfort level which instills confidence in how and what you are looking at.

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