Today United States coins are most often graded on a scale that goes from 0 to 70 point. This scale was originally devised by Dr. William Shelby and is used by the major coin grading services today.
A coin that's graded zero means that you can probably tell that at some point in time it was a coin. However, a coin that achieves a grade of seventy means that it is perfect.
If you invest in US coins it is extremely important to know the grade of the coins that you buy as well as the company that graded the coin because both have a huge influence on how much the coin is worth. Generally speaking, the higher the grade of the coin the more valuable it is - that is if it's graded by one of the two major coin grading services.
Some people say grading coins is a science and some say it's an art. Most people agree, however, that grading coins has become a very profitable big business.
What Makes a Coin an MS-70 Coin?
MS stands for Mint State. It is an uncirculated coin that has absolutely no trace of wear. A perfect MS-70 coin has great color, a good strike, no blemishes, and a number of other qualities important to the coin collector and connoisseur. Any coin that you come across in your loose change is highly unlikely to be graded MS-70.
What is the Most Beautiful, Most Affordable MS-70 United States Coin?
Many investors and collectors feel that the American Silver Eagle, which was first minted in 1986, is the most beautiful U S coin that was ever minted.
The Silver American Eagle, whose obverse design was taken from the "Walking Liberty" half dollar designed by Adolph A. Weinman, contains one troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver. The other side of the coin, the obverse, is inscribed with the phrase In GOD WE TRUST, the word LIBERTY, and the year in which it was minted.
Between 1986 and 2005 only bullion or proof Silver Eagles were minted. During that period of time one of the best known and most respected grading services only gave 16 coins that were submitted to them an MS-70 grade. From 2006 through 2008 the US Mint issued an uncirculated, collectible Silver Eagle at the West Point Mint. It bears a W mintmark.
These coins are sometimes called "W Uncirculated" or "Burnished Uncirculated" because each of them was struck on a specially burnished blank. There weren't any burnished uncirculated silver eagles minted in 2009.
Considerably more 2006 or newer Silver Eagles have been graded MS-70. These are much more affordable than the earlier issues.