Introductory guide to collecting MS70 and PR70 coins

Coins certified 70 are the best coins on the market and are virtually irreplaceable. Coins certified MS70 or PR70 are the pinnacle of the modern issue collectible coin market.

“Coin grade or condition” is a term used within the coin business to indicate the condition, amount of wear or state of preservation of a coin. The grade of a coin is important because it is one of the three critical factors in determining value and future price potential. The other two factors are rarity and demand.

In the United States coins are graded based on the Sheldon numerical scale created in 1949 by Dr. William Sheldon that grades coins from 1 (barely identifiable) to 70 (absolute perfection). Only a tiny fraction of the coins produced each year have the full strike and flawless surfaces required to be considered perfect mint state 70 (MS70) or Proof 70 (PR70). It’s no surprise that coins graded in MS70 or PR70 are highly sought after among collectors. As a result, coins with the grade of 70 generally tend to appreciate in value more quickly than coins in lesser grades. For example a 1995 PCGS certified American silver eagle is valued at $40 in MS69 and $4,000 in MS70. The Proof version of the 1995 coin struck at WestPoint has a list price of $3,400 in PR69 while the perfect PR70 coin lists for $30,000. Many perfect 70 coins issued after 1982 can still be bought for under $200. Buying modern issue 1982-2013 coins in perfect MS70 or PR70 condition soon after they are released is an inexpensive way to collect perfect coins!

Four independent coin-grading firms have gained prominence in providing unbiased third party evaluation of coins for a fee. They are in alphabetical order ANACS, ICG, NGC and PCGS. These organizations are staffed with well-trained and highly skilled experts in the art and science of coin grading. When you buy an independently graded coin certified by one of these organizations you can buy with confidence. These are the only four coin grading services recognized by EBAY.

What you get with a certified coin

When you buy a certified coin you are getting a guarantee from an independent third party source, ANACS, ICG, NGC or PCGS that your coin is authentic and genuine, that it has not been altered, tampered with or cleaned. Certified coins are set in clear plastic holders called “slabs”. These slabs are sonically sealed and tamper evident and help protect and preserve the coin in its original pristine MS70 or PR70 condition. A description of the coin and its numerical grade are sealed into the holder; making it easier to place a value on the coin when you want to sell it. Most coin collections are passed down from generation to generation, often the people inheriting the collection know very little about the coins, the certified holders will allow them to safely handle the coins without damaging them. The numeric grade will help them easily identify each coin and find its true value.
Handling Coins

Certified coins are encapsulated in clear plastic and can be handled without the fear of damaging the surfaces with oils and other contaminants on one’s fingers. The acid or other naturally occurring chemicals on your fingertips can leave a residue on a coin’s surface that can’t be removed. Improper handling of coins can cause abrasions, decreasing the value of the coin by exposing fresh metal that can oxidize and corrode.

Your questions Answered
What does it cost to have a coin graded?

The current fee charged by ANACS, ICG, NGC and PCGS is $30 per coin. The price may be higher or lower depending on the time it takes to grade a coin and the price of the coin.
Can anyone send in a coin to be graded?

Coin grading is available to anyone who pays the grading fee plus shipping and handling. The chances of submitting one coin and it coming back in perfect MS70 or PR70 are small.

How does the grading process work?

Each coin is inspected under magnification and in optimum light by two coin graders who assign a grade to the coin. If both graders assign the same grade the coin moves forward for encapsulation into a slab. If the first two graders disagree and don’t assign the same grade to the coin it is passed along to a more senior expert who will decide the final grade of the coin.

Is there an extra charge or fee for grading a coin in perfect 70?

No. You pay one fee regardless of the result. Dealers can’t pay extra to get more coins graded in perfect 70. Remember the coin grading service makes money from grading fees it has no interest in the retail value of the coin.
Aren’t all coins perfect 70 when they are released from the mint?

Coins are produced on a commercial production line in vast quantities and very few have the full strike and flawless surfaces required to be considered a perfect coin. Depending on how the coins are stacked and packed by mint employees, some perfect coins coming off the production line can already be damaged before they leave the mint. We recently submitted four mint sealed 500-coin boxes of silver Canadian Maple Leafs we bought on the first day of release. None of these coins graded perfect 70 and only 516 coins graded MS69. Maple Leafs are known for their high quality and sharpness of strike but this batch had residue on the surfaces and the coins did not make the grade leaving us thousands of dollars in the hole on grading fees.

Can every coin be graded in perfect 70?

Most circulation strike mint state coins like pennies, nickels, dimes and presidential dollar coins don’t grade perfect MS70. The highest known grades for these coins are MS68 and MS69. Proof versions of these coins, which are made to a much higher quality, do grade PR70.

Are all grading services the same or is one better than the rest?

Having four major coin grading services, ANACS, ICG, NGC and PCGS serve the interests of the coin collecting community better than having only two. The industry is very competitive and each service wants to gain the most market share and best reputation. The truth is it would be hard for any company to be number one because of the spectrum of coins they grade - Ancient Greek and Roman coins, Shipwreck coins, mint error coins, Classic gold coins, foreign coins, pennies, nickels and dimes etc. people have their own preference for a particular service because they deem it the best or because most of the other coins in their collection are graded by a particular service. Westminster Mint is an authorized dealer for all four services and can fill orders in any holders you require.

Are the prices of all MS70 and PR70 coins the same?

The short answer is no. Depending on how few or how many coins have been certified perfect 70 by a grading service, known as the (certified population), there can be a big difference in price. Take the 1995 silver eagle as an example. The coin lists on the PCGS price guide for $4,000 in MS70 because only one coin has been graded perfect MS70. Compare this to the NGC price guide that lists the same coin for $660. NGC has certified 360 coins in MS70. Back to MS70 Coins