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Information on this page has been sourced from www.eurocoins.liesemeijer.com

Coin Grading Terminology

Abbreviation Terminology Definition
CIR Circulated A coin made for circulation with wear marks. So it has circulated. Circulated coins are graded according to the level of wear marks.
UNC Uncirculated or Mint State A coin made for circulation without wear marks. So it has not circulated. Uncirculated coins can have marks caused by the production proces (i.e. coins fall in buckets and are packed in rolls/bags)
FDC Fleur De Coin (Flower of the die) A collectors coin like an uncirculated coin, but without packing (bag/roll) marks. They are preserved strait from the coin press, without touching other coins.

Portuguese mint definition: Coins struck with “Fleur-de-Coin” (FDC) finish on specially polished metal blanks.

BU Brilliant Uncirculated Same as FDC, but dies and blanks are handled with extra care. The are almost prooflike in appearance.
Note: In my experience many brilliant uncirculated issued euro coins don't have this prooflike appearence.

Portuguese mint definition: Coins struck with brilliant uncirculated (BU) finish on specially prepared metal blanks using polished dies.

PL Prooflike A collectors coin with a mirrorlike reflective surface due to polished blanks (or dies). Dies are handled with extra care, but don't have the characteristics of polished proof dies. They are automaticly minted with continuous quality control.
Note: Dies of prooflike euro coins are sometimes used after for circulation coin production.
PR Proof A collectors coin struck using fully polished dies and blanks to get a full mirror reflective surface. They are manually minted in a clean room to ensure maximum quality. After each strike the dies are inspected and the dies are repolished often.
Note: In my experience it is difficult to say whether proof issued euro coins are realy proof or closer to prooflike.

Portuguese mint definition: Coins struck with special proof finish on specially prepared metal blanks using polished frosted dies.

 

Abbreviation English Italiano Francais Deutsch Español Nederlands
CIR Circulated     Zirkuliert   Gecirculeerd
UNC Uncirculated or Mint State     Unzirkuliert   Ongecirculeerd
FDC Fleur De Coin Fior Di Conio Fleur De Coin   Flor De Cuño Fleur De Coin
BU Brilliant Uncirculated   Brillant Universel Stempelglanz / Normalprägung No circulante Brilliant Uncirculated
PL Prooflike   Belle Epreuve Spiegelglanz   Prooflike
PR Proof
Fondo Specchio Flan Bruni Polierte Platte Proof Gepolijste Stempel (Proof)

 

  Proof Uncirculated (UNC) Extremely Fine (EF) Very Fine (VF) Fine (F) Good Poor
USA (also see below Proof MS60-63 XF45-AU53 VF20 F12 G4 P1
Brazil - (1)FDC or FC (3) S (5) MBC (7) BC (9) R UT GeG
Denmark/Norway M 0 01 1+ 1 2 3
Finland 00 0 01 1+ 1 2 3
France FB - Flan Bruni FDC - Fleur de Coin SUP - Superbe

TTB - Très très beau

TB - Très beau TBC - Très Bien Conservée BC - Bien Conservée
Germany PP - Polierte Platte ST - Stempelglanz VZ - Vorzüglich SS - Sehr Schön S - Schön G - Gut Gering erhalten
Italy FS - Fondo Specchio FDC - Fior di Conio SPL - Splendido BB - Bellissimo MB - Molto Bello M -
Netherlands Proef FDC - (as France) Pr. - Prachtig Z.f. - Zeer Fraai Fr. - Fraai G -
Portugal Sobera Bela MBC BC REG MC
Spain Prueba SC EBC MBC BC+ RC MC
Sweden Polerad 0 01 1+ 1 2 -

The United states of America grading system deserves a special mention because it seems the most logical and probably the easiest system to learn for a beginner. It consists of the basic British range of grades plus a number from 1-70 (You could even just use the numbers). '1' is the worst (Poor) and 70 is perfect (and virtually unobtainable!). A rough idea of the numbers and their equivalent British Grades can be obtained from the above chart. 

There are two subtle differences with the abbreviations....It seems in American English 'Extremely' begins with an 'X' not an 'E' so the 'EF' for 'Extremely Fine' is 'XF' for 'Xtremly Fine' using the American system! Also the 'MS' is an abbreviation for Mint State and covers the British 'About UNC' grade up to BU.

Coin Terminology

See Coin Glossary page.

Euro Coin Terminology

See Euro Coin Glossary page.

 

Poor

A coin that is usually barely identifiable, often with some of the writing/date worn away. Coins in this condition are not usually wanted by coin collectors unless very very rare, but can still have sentimental historical value.

Good

Confusingly 'Good' coins are not really that good at all. Usually although very worn Good coins should be identifiable with clear dates. All the writing and main designs should be distinguishable. Like above, not usually wanted by coin collectors unless very very rare, but can still have sentimental historical value.

Fine or just F

Usually with earlier 'Milled' coins this is the first truly collectable condition and often very good value because sometimes there are considerable leaps in value between a Fine coin and the next grade up. Fine coins still show considerable wear to all raised surfaces. More detail should be visible on the designs and some of the main hair volume should be visible on the Monarchs head. Not individual strands, but maybe a parting or signs of head-dress. Many of the coins in your pocket even after just 30 years or less of use could probably be described as 'Fine'

Very Fine or VF

A coin with some wear to the highest areas of the design but has seen limited circulation. More hair detail is evident and also detail on the other designs. Just as an average guide a coin that has been in normal circulation for approximately 5 years would probably qualify for VF status.

Extreem;y Fine or EF

A coin with little sign of being circulated. There may be only the slightest wear to the highest areas and minimal scratches and other marks. Usually some of the mint lustre is visible on coins of this grade. As a rough idea a coin in your change would probably be an EF if it had been lucky and was minted just 1 year ago

Uncirculated or UNC

Like the name suggests the coin should be as it left the mint with no signs of circulation or wear. Not necessarily perfect though, because coins can pick up scratches and what's known as 'bag' marks during mass production and contact with other coins at the mint. The coin should have most of its lustre present and some dealers may expect 100% lustre on coins stated as Uncirculated. An Uncirculated coin would be given to you from a freshly opened bag of new coins in your change.

Brilliant Uncirculated or BU

BU is not an official grade but is often used to refer to an Uncirculated coin with full mint lustre.

Proof

 

You may see a coin referred to as a 'Proof'. This is not a grade but the name given to a coin that is made using specially prepared dies (The dies are the inverted images used to strike coins) and often alternative metals. The flat areas of proofs often have a mirrored finish, and you can literally see your face in them.

 

As well as the basic grades listed on this page, collectors will often encounter grades like 'GVF' for example. This indicates the coin is not exactly a 'VF' (Very Fine). In fact the 'G' stands for 'Good' so a GVF coin would be better that VF but not quite EF. 

The preceding letters encountered using the British grading system are: 'G' for Good, 'N' for Near and 'A' For about. The range between VF and EF for example looks like this: VF, GVF, NEF, AEF, EF.... And from F to VF looks like this: F, GF, NVF, AVF, VF.

Sometimes, mainly due to a coin being struck with one sides design slightly higher than the other it is possible that a coin will have less wear on the 'Heads' side than the tail (or vice versa). If this is the case you may see some coins graded as, for example VF/NEF. This does not mean the coin is somewhere between VF - NEF it means that the obverse (heads side) is Very Fine and that the reverse (tails side) is Near Extremely Fine. It is usual practice to list the obverse before the '/'.