Coin grading was not always there. It started a long time ago but was standardized much later. A lot of discrepancies have been at play while grading coins and it was not until a standard form was created that coins started being graded uniformly.
As early as 1800, coins were being collected with the same enthusiasm as today. However, since there was no standard measure, the value of collected coins was often underestimated. Sometimes, rare coins were attached more value simply because they were rare and not based on quality. In short, every dealer had his own grading system.
Even though grading was varied at that time terms like Good, fine, very fine and uncirculated were already in use. As we entered the 20th century, the demand for coin grading sky-rocketed but it was only in 1949 that a standard was established.
Sheldon’s Grading system
Dr. William H Sheldon created what is today known as the Sheldon grading system for coins. This grading system assumed a 70 point grade for coins, with 1 being the least and 70 being the best.
ANA grading standards.
In 1977 Abe Kosoff added explanations to Sheldon’s 70-grade system. Each grade now stood clear and explained with illustrations. This detailed system was then assumed by coin collectors and coin dealers as the standard for coin certifications. With the passage of time, the system and illustrations were better defined and upgraded.
Coin grading then became a standard. Various services for grading of coins were established, both online and offline. Coin certifications are no possible through various online services like PCGS and NGC. These grading services specialize in grading, certifying and sealing coins. While many of these services require membership, they are a huge assistance for private coin collectors.
Grading of coins enabled coin collectors to place value on them. Thus with the growth of the coin collection industry, old coins gained a different kind of value as well as price.