When buying coins online the jargon regarding the condition or grading of the coin can be confusing and also deceptive. Here is a simple guide to the terms used. As a bullion merchant dealing only in new silver products I hope this information offers any potential buyers an indication of where my products sit in the grading system.
FLEUR DE COIN (FDC)
This literally translates as "Flower of the Die" and is the highest grade of coin, (a coin die is a metal stamping tool engraved with the negative of a design, from which the positive image is transferred to the coin blanks during minting). It would be very unusual to see coins of Fleur de Coin quality for sale. The item should be perfect with no sign of wear and certainly no marks. The original luster should be evident although it is acceptable for coins to have a patina (a film on the surface due to oxidation over a period of time).
The strike should be of excellent quality although a slight amount of die wear is acceptable with any marks being negligible. The mint luster should still be evident although patina on silver coins is acceptable. This is probably the best proof quality offered for sale and is sought by keen numismatics.
CHOICE UNCIRCULATED (CHU)
A very good strike should be evident, although some wear is acceptable. Marks should be insignificant and a high degree of luster should be evident.
The strike of these coins will be of a lesser quality, for example finer details fo the design may not be thoroughly reproduced. Marks are acceptable but not excessive.
ALMOST UNCIRCULATED (AUNC)
As opposed to the uncirculated grades above, these coins may show very minimal wear due to handling (circulation), particularly on the higher points of the design. Other aspects of this grade are on a par with UNC.
EXTREMELY FINE (EF)
Shows slightly more wear due to handling, usually hardly visible. It can sometimes be difficult to determine if this level of wear is due to handling or a weak strike.
VERY FINE (VF)
Shouw definite signs of wear, although the design should still be sharp and clear. Marks are more visible, particularly around the rim of the coin.
Most of the fine parts of the design have been worn away due to circulation. Coins in this category have seen a great deal of handling.
VERY GOOD (VG)
Shows significant wear, although the design is still visible. Virtually all the fine detail will be gone.
Please note that the above is only a rough indication of the quality of items and if you receive an item which does not match the description, always contact the seller in the first instance as all good coin merchants should have a returns policy in place.
As a silver bullion merchant I always hope that new mint deliveries arrive without marks, stains or damage and can therefore be sold within the Choise Uncirculated category. An element of quality control is required which involves examining 1000's of coins/bars. Please excuse human error if the occasional one with defects slips through the net!
Coin Buying Jargon
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2 September 2009
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