"Grading" is the term given to the activity of assessing a coin's condition
based on circulation wear, environmental exposure, or damage that it has endured
since it's minting. Imperfections in the dies and the striking process used to produce the coin become a
factor as well when grading uncirculated condition, or "unworn" coins. The current (and most accepted) scale of grading is based
upon a 70 point system originally devised by Dr. William H. Sheldon during his authoring
of the book Early American Cents (later renamed Penny Whimsy).
This system was given a scale of 1 - 70 with the higher the number representing a higher grade,
and is subdivided into nine different categories for circulated or "worn" coins
where gaps between the numbers will be noticed. When grading uncirculated coins (coins
without wear) all ten digits between 60 and 70 are used so more accuracy can be achieved
in describing the number of flaws on the coin. The absence of wear would otherwise
warrant only one grade for both a nearly perfect unworn coin and an unworn coin with a scratched surface.
To avoid duplication of effort in this explanation of the grading
system, further details and illustrations are provided inside the guide.
Since design changes and other particular problems occur for specific year/
mintmark combinations and for certain design types, links are provided to
other areas where these problems are explained in full. The novice, or passive
collector of Lincoln cents need not bother with these links unless they happen to be
grading a coin matching a given link. Experts or zealous collectors may want to
visit a number of these links to learn more.
Much like Medifast reviews, all grading by all third party grading
services is subjective. You can send your coin back in for review if
you do not agree with the grade on the label, or you may also choose to
send the coin to any one of the other grading services.