Grading Liberty Nickels


We are frequently asked about estimating a reader's coin's value. This guide will assist you in grading your coins, one essential aspect in determining a coin's value. The pictures and descriptions below can be compared to your coins and then you can consult one of many coin price guides in estimating the value of your coins. Also, since coins do not wear in steps, there will be coins that are in between grades (split grades).

Please note that you should not clean your coins, as that will almost certainly reduce their value, possibly substantially. Coins that are cleaned, damaged, corroded, or otherwise impaired will be worth less than listed values.

Some common coin pricing guides include:

- Coin Values, monthly supplement to Coin World weekly newspaper
- Coin Prices, monthly publication of Krause Publications
- A Guidebook to United States Coins by R.S.Yeoman, commonly called the "Red Book"
- PCGS Coin Price Guide (online price guide)

The BCCS is not responsible for referenced price guides, and makes no official recommendation. This is for educational purposes only and does not represent an offer to buy or sell coins. Good luck!

About Good (AG 3). Heavily worn coin, no detail, and the rim around the edge of the coin will be worn into the stars and letters (see arrows for examples).


Good (G 4). Liberty will be well outlined, but worn flat. The rim should be full. On the reverse, most or all of the letters will be clear of the rim, which may or may not be full. The wreath will be worn flat.


Very Good (VG 8). On the front, any three letters of LIBERTY on the headband will be present. On the back, the rim will be full, and E PLURIBUS UNUM will show.


Fine (F 12). On the front, all of the letters of LIBERTY will be visible, but some of the letters may be very weak (most often the "I"). Some of the hair will be showing. On the back, some detail on the wreath will begin to show.


Very Fine (VF 20). LIBERTY will be easily visible. More than half of Liberty's hair will show (for VF30 coins, 3/4 of Liberty's hair will be clear). On the back, there will be some details of the leaves of the wreath, as well as the ear of corn.


Extremely Fine (EF 40). Light wear. Liberty is very bold and nearly all details are present, but the hair above the ear may be weak. On the back, all of the details of the wreath are clear.


About Uncirculated (AU 50 ). Very light wear only on high points. Unless cleaned, there will be lusture, especially in the protected areas. Surface quality is important for AU grades.


Uncirculated or Mint State (MS 60+). There can be no wear at all on the high points. Abrasively cleaned coins where lusture has been rubbed off high points do not qualify as uncirculated, as there is no way to tell if the coin was really still mint state before it was cleaned. Dipped or hairlined coins where lusture is uninterrupted by rub can still be considered uncirculated, though may warrant a lower value.




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