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Oh no, as if worrying about your grades or your kids' grades wasn't enough, now you need to watch for coin grades. What does "choice" mean? Is that like USDA choice? What does "fine" mean or "very fine"? Is there an "Excellent" or "Outstanding"? How about MS or AU?
Some pointers to remember...take notes, there will be a test!
* American Numismatics Association grades are different than world grades. For a collectible coin, dealers and enthusiasts in Tokyo and Toronto use Fair, Fine, Very Fine, Extremely Fine, Uncirculated and Fleur-de-coin (N.B.: the best)--like different grading systems in colleges and high schools abroad.
* MS is the honor roll. It means mint state, and there are only a few numbers to remember. MS-70 is the ideal, and is rare. MS-60 to MS-65 are the norm, and the higher the number, the better the coin. The luster may be lacking, but as long as the coin has no wear, you have a MS-quality United States coin
* AU means almost uncirculated. It's the B+ or A- of circulated coins, just traces of wear.
* "Choice" means light or even wear on the coin's lettering and design. It's the equivalent of taking points off because you didn't spell check.
* If you receive a coin that's AG-3, that's the equivalent of writing your paper that morning: it's passable, but with defects (heavily worn, date may not be visible).
* Remember split grades? Your prof said the content in your last paper bordered on a B+ but the thesis was original and thought-provoking, an A, so you received a B in the final analysis. If your paper were a collectible coin, it would receive a G/VG or F/VF. The obverse (heads) may be good, but the reverse (tails) is very good. Usually, though, the overall grade is based on the obverse, which means that you lose points for the content of the coin.
Now, the final exam question: Is coin grading difficult? Is it worthwhile? Discuss why or why not. Relax--this is one of those open-end essay questions. While you don't want to end up with a bad grade or bad penny, one won't change your entire life. But you will get a great education.