Whether your for or against grading / slabbing, one thing for sure is that this phenomenon is here to stay. In recent years the coin industry has seen an explosion in the number of coins being sent to either NGC or PCGS for third party grading. This article is not here to explore the pro’s and con’s of their service, however we intend to hopefully clear up the confusion that surrounds the comparisons between the Sheldon scale that both graders use and that of the English Standard for grading.
The Sheldon Coin Grading Scale is a 70 - point coin grading scale that derives from the 1949, original scale was first presented in "Dr. William H. Sheldon's Early American Cents" titled "A Quantitative Scale for condition" as a way to grade US Large Cents. Today’s scale used by TPG’s is a modification of the original Sheldon scale, with added adjustments, additions, deletions, and modifications to it. Below is a table showing the criteria for each level of grade.
English Standard Grading is far more simplistic, and based on the grading of a coin in 7 stages of preservation. Poor, Fair, Fine (F), Very Fine (VF), Extremely Fine (EF), Uncirculated (UNC) and Fleur-de-Coin (FDC) although the latter is generally a description you would more associate with a Proof or modern issued coin.
The confusion between the two styles of grading arises when grading terms such as VF are used on slabbed coins and when one assumes that this is the equivalent of a English Graded coin. Below we have set out a table showing how the levels compare with each other in terms of standards, which hopefully will clear up the conflict between the two.