Mail Bag – What’s The Best Coin Grading Book

Today’s Mail Bag question comes from Randy and their question is about a coin grading book. Specifically, they want to know which one is the best one to use for grading their collection as well as learn a little bit more about them. In my view, there is only one answer to Randy’s question.


Thanks for answering my question. I’m just starting out my collection but want to get better and grading my coins. What is the best coin grading book out there? I’ve seen some but I would like to know what you use.



Randy, in my view, the single best coin grading book you could buy for yourself is the The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins. I believe it is the single best coin grading resource that you could have on hand to help you learn how to grade coins but also learn a bit about them along the way.

The Grading Standards for United States Coins is 375 pages that is spiral bound with a hard cover. 322 of the pages are dedicated to grading, starting with the Half Cent and going up through commemorative coins. The other 53 pages are dedicated to grading techniques and ANA details on coin grading, as well as a glossary of terms that are used throughout the book.

Grading Standards for United States Coins 7th Edition
Grading Standards for United States Coins 7th Edition

For each coin type in the book, there are up to 16 grades described. These start at MS-70 and go down to AG-8 but with some modern coins, like the Susan B Anthony Dollar, there are only MS and AU (About Uncirculated) grades. For each grade, a description is provided as to where to look for wear on the coin to help you determine the grade. That description, in most cases, points out exactly where to look for wear, not just in general terms. This helps you learn how to be a better grader of say Lincoln Cents or Morgan Dollars by focusing on those key wear areas. Finally, every coin the majority of the grades have a photo of the coin in that grade to help you do a stare-and-compare with your coin.

Any time I am grading coins in my own collection, this is the book that I use to help guide me. Grading is something that you only really learn to do well by continually doing the activity. This book will help you not only get started, but will help you further down the road as you start trying to find the nuances between a MS-67 and MS-68 coins.

I actually reviewed this book back in June 2019 and the only thing that has changed is the price table at the bottom of that review. You can now pick it up for just $18.64 on Amazon (Affiliate Link). If you want to get more details on my thought about the book, head over to that review. Ultimately though Randy, I personally feel this is a book every collector should have on hand.

Thanks for writing in Randy!

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