In the end grading is a personal preference although there are resources available so that everyone can get a fair idea of just about any coin’s condition – just Google it, there’s a whole world out there…
Somehow you have to acquire a feel for the condition of a coin, and ideally an idea of what that looks like in a photograph.
The need for a reference set emerges – preferably for each type of coin you are really going for!
Perhaps the best way is to get yourself a slabbed reference set for convenience but if you don’t have access to one there are alternatives, such as photographs.
For example the two types of coins in the photographs.
Silver being what it is though, it’s important to understand a bit about the settings used to photograph the coin. Condition is significant, here, as a very high grade coin presents different challenges to photograph than a well circulated example. This is due to any lustre that may be present, there being well understood categories of lustre.
Of course the major measurement is wear, both the type and degree experienced – that is always the major consideration.
I sometimes feel that the American approach emphasises lustre a bit in comparison to the Australian adectival system, where wear is paramount, but really who knows…?
Some people are tough graders, but in the end it simply comes down as to how you interpret a number of key phrases in the ANDA Grading Guide, not surprisingly similar vocabulary crops up under Sheldon…
Anyway,…this is the turf being fought over with the third party grading companies – “It’s choice (MS 64), it says so on the box!” – Hmm…not all MS 64 coins look the same, yet they share common features.