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Ancient coins are often of high artistic quality, although the striking process caused variations and defects making each coin to some extent unique. Most were discovered buried in the ground, causing chemical changes ranging from toning on precious metal coins to patination on bronze coins. Many ancient coins, particularly those buried in acid soil, have suffered from corrosion.

Grading ancient coins is different from grading modern coins, all struck alike on automatic machines. When a modern coin is described as "Very Fine" the collector has an accurate idea of its condition, though variations in toning and strike are still encountered. Two ancient coins of the same type may each be accurately graded "Very Fine" for preservation, yet be very different from each other. Thus a description with three elements is often used:

[Defect(s)] otherwise [Preservation Grade] with [Exceptional feature(s)]

The [defects] and [exceptional features] elements are omitted, if not applicable to the specimen described.

Finally you, the collector, are the ultimate judge of condition. If a coin pleases you, don't worry too much about fine details of grading. Conversely, never buy a coin you don't like whatever its technical grade. Some celebrated collections, now standard references, were formed by collectors who didn't hesitate to acquire coins in lower grades if they were types missing from their collection.

Example Defect(s) Preservation Grade Exceptional feature(s)
exampleTh.gif (10116 bytes) Striking weakness on edge Extremely Fine Exceptional Portrait

Description: Slight striking weakness on edge, otherwise Extremely Fine with exceptional portrait

See these links for detailed information on:

Defects Preservation Grading Standards Exceptional Features

Defects Information Page

good Extremely Fine to Fleur de Coin

Features Information Page

Very Fine to Extremely Fine
nearly Fine to nearly Very Fine
Poor to Very Good

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