How to Grade Standing Liberty Quarters

What is The Grade or Condition of My Standing Liberty Quarter?

Standing Liberty quarters are one of the most difficult U.S. coin series to learn how to grade. It is a skill that has taken the most experienced coin collectors numerous years to perfect and this guide will get you started on your way to becoming a top notch coin grader.  Remember that coin grading is the expression of a judgment that describes the condition of an individual coin that most dealers and collectors would agree upon.  Grading is not an exact science where a formula can be applied...MORE and everyone will arrive at the same result.  But over the years, numismatists and coin grading services have agreed upon certain definitions, descriptions and Sheldon's numeric values that help all coin collectors describe their coins accurately (to a certain extent).  This guide will help you understand those terms and descriptions so you can start accurately grade your Standing Liberty quarters.

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    Understanding Grades for Standing Liberty Quarters

    Standing Liberty Quarter Design High Points
    Standing Liberty Quarter Design High Points. Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Standing Liberty quarters can be difficult to grade. There are three basic type designs that were used to manufacture the coins over the 14 years that the coin was produced. Each one of these changes to the motif resulted in creating a new master hub that had slight differences from the previous design.

    This photo illustrates the highest points on the coin's design (indicated by the red coloring on the coin). If you believe your Standing Liberty quarter is uncirculated, look at these areas on...MORE the coin first to see if you can spot any wear. If there is evidence of wear, then it is not uncirculated.

    Tip: Clicking on the photo will open a new window with a larger photo.

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    Good-4 (G4 or G-4)

    Standing Liberty Quarter Graded Good-4 (G04)
    Standing Liberty Quarter (Type 3) Graded Good-4 (G04). Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Summary: A Good-4 coin is heavily worn over the entire surface of the coin. The devices, lettering, legends, and date are readable but may have some faintness in a few areas. All major features are visible in at least outline form and the rim is mostly complete but may be incomplete in a few spots.
    Obverse: On Type 1 coins a majority of the date is worn away and is barely decipherable. On Type 2 and Type 3 coins the date is readable but the top may be worn flat. The rim is complete but may be...MORE worn flat.
    Reverse: The eagle is worn almost smooth and is mostly just an outline. The rim is complete but worn flat.

    Tip: Click on the photos at the left to view a larger and more detailed image.

  • 03 of 12

    Very Good-8 (VG8 or VG-8)

    Standing Liberty Quarter Graded Very Good-8 (VG08)
    Standing Liberty Quarter (Type 3) Graded Very Good-8 (VG08). Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Summary: A Very Good-8 coin is well-worn. The design is clear and major elements are defined but are flat and lacking in detail.
    Obverse: The entire design on the obverse is weak but the major details are apparent. This includes most of the main details on Lady Liberty's gown but is flat. On Type 1 coins the date is heavily worn but distinguishable. On Type 2 & 3, all letters are clear and the numerals in the date only show evidence of wear on the very highest points.
    Reverse: The large...MORE feathers at the end of the eagle's wings are well separated and the eagle's eye is distinguishable. The rim is complete and full.

  • 04 of 12

    Fine-12 (F12 or F-12)

    Standing Liberty Quarter Graded Fine-12 (F12)
    Standing Liberty Quarter (Type 3) Graded Fine-12 (F12). Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Summary: A Fine-12 coin shows moderate even wear over the entire surface of the coin. The major design elements are bold and all lettering, legends, and date are clear and readable.
    Obverse: For Type 1 coins, details on the gown are worn nearly smooth across Lady Liberty's body but major details show at the sides. The top of the right leg is nearly flat and so is the toe. The date may be nearly complete. On Type 2 & 3, the details of the gown show clearly across the body although worn,...MORE some detail on the chain mail coat are visible. The outer edge of the shield is complete on both types of coins.
    Reverse: The eagle's breast is worn almost smooth and half of the wing feathers are visible.

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  • 05 of 12

    Very Fine-20 (VF20 or VF-20)

    Standing Liberty Quarter Graded Very Fine-20 (VF20)
    Standing Liberty Quarter (Type 3) Graded Very Fine-20 (VF20). Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Summary: Very Fine-20 coins show moderate to minor wear exists only on the highest parts of the design where a slight flatness is beginning to show.  The overall condition of the coin is pleasing and attractive.
    Obverse: Lady Liberty's breasts shows heavy wear but are distinct. Wear is also evidence on the shield and the leg. The gown line across her thigh is partially visible. The inner circle on the shield is complete.
    Reverse: The eagle's feather ends and folds are visible on the right...MORE wing. Some of the finer details in the feathers are starting to appear.

  • 06 of 12

    Extra Fine-40 (EF40, XF40 EF-40 or XF-40)

    Standing Liberty Quarter Graded Extra Fine-40 (EF40/XF40)
    Standing Liberty Quarter (Type 2) Graded Extra Fine-40 (EF40/XF40). Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Summary: Extra Fine-40 coins only have the slightest wear on the very highest points of the coin. All details are sharp and all design elements are well defined. Some traces of mint luster may still exist.
    Obverse: Wear is evident on Lady Liberty's breasts and right leg. The gown line crossing her thigh is starting to become visible. Her right leg is flat on the top but is starting to show evidence of being rounded.
    Reverse: The high points on the eagle's wings are slightly worn and finer...MORE details in the recessed portions of the design are clearly visible. Traces of mint luster may remain.

  • 07 of 12

    About Uncirculated-55 (AU55 or AU-55)

    Standing Liberty Quarter Graded About Uncirculated-55 (AU55)
    Standing Liberty Quarter (Type 3) Graded About Uncirculated-55 (AU55). Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Summary: An About Uncirculated-55 coin has minor traces of wear or abrasions and they are visible on only the highest points of the coin.  Mint luster is almost complete and the surfaces of the coin are well preserved.
    Obverse: Only a trace of wear is evident on the highest points of the design. This includes Lady Liberty's head, breast, the inner part of the shield and her right leg above the knee.
    Reverse: On Type 1 coins only a trace of wear will show on the edges of the wings, breast and...MORE tail feathers. On Type 2 & 3, only a trace of wear will be evident on the eagle's breast and edges of the wings.

  • 08 of 12

    Mint State-63 (MS63 or MS-63)

    Standing Liberty Quarter Graded Mint State-63 (MS63)
    Standing Liberty Quarter (Type 3) Graded Mint State-63 (MS63). Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Summary: No traces of wear from circulation exist on a Mint State-63 coin. Mint luster is complete but shows minor impairments. Many contact marks, bag marks, and hairline scratches are visible without magnification on the coin's field and major design elements. Overall, the coin has an attractive eye appeal.
    Obverse & Reverse: There are no obvious signs of wear from circulation on the highest parts of the design. There may be a few distracting marks in the prime focal areas (Lady...MORE Liberty's body and the date) and several scattered bag marks and hairline scratches.

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  • 09 of 12

    Mint State-65 (MS65 or MS-65)

    Standing Liberty Quarter Graded Mint State-65 (MS65)
    Standing Liberty Quarter (Type 3) Graded Mint State-65 (MS65). Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Summary: A Mint State-65 coin has a high-quality mint luster that completely covers the surfaces of the coin and is undisturbed. Contact marks and bag marks are few and small.  The coin is well struck and a few hairlines may be seen under a magnifying glass. Overall the coin is brilliant and has an above average eye appeal.
    Obverse & Reverse: There are no traces of wear anywhere on the coin. There may be light and scattered contact marks, but no distracting marks in the prime focal areas....MORE Luster must be complete and overall pleasing.

  • 10 of 12

    Mint State-67 (MS67 or MS-67)

    Standing Liberty Quarter Graded Mint State-67 (MS67)
    Standing Liberty Quarter (Type 3) Graded Mint State-67 (MS67). Image Courtesy of: GreatCollections Coin Auctions - www.GreatCollections.com

    Summary: For a coin to grade Mint State-67, the original mint luster must be complete and almost perfect.  There are only three or four very small and unnoticeable contact marks. Overall, the coin has an extraordinary eye appeal that is hardly ever seen. A few minor hairlines can be found only with magnification.​
    Obverse & Reverse: No traces of wear are evident anywhere on the coin. There are no distracting marks and the mint luster is above average.  All details of the coin are sharp, even...MORE on the highest points of the coin and the eye appeal is superb.

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    Full Head (FH) Designation

    Standing Liberty Quarter Full Head (FH) Comparison
    Standing Liberty Quarter Full Head (FH) Comparison. Photo © 2014 James Bucki, All rights reserved

    If all the details on Lady Liberty's head are clearly visible on an uncirculated (i.e., Mint State) coin, then the Full Head ("FH") designation may be added as a suffix to the grade. The coin graders at NGC offers this definition, "All details in hair are well defined; hair line along face is raised and complete; eyebrow is visible; cheek is rounded."

    Notice that Lady Liberty's head in the photo ("Not Full Head" example) is flat. This is not because it was worn...MORE away, but because the coin was not fully struck in the metal did not flow into the deepest recesses of the die.

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    More Coin Grading Resources

    Grading Books
    Grading Books. (c) James Bucki

    Since there are three different subtypes of Standing Liberty quarters, I would recommend purchasing one of the following references to take your coin grading skills to the next level. Clicking on the links below will find the lowest prices on the Internet for you.

Having been a coin collector for a majority of my life, I have witnessed firsthand the evolution of coin grading standards over the last forty years. Most recently, I have studied coin grading with professional coin graders from NGC and PCGS. I have read many books and worked with many coin dealers to sharpen my skill of grading coins. Coin grading is an opinion that one person believes reflects and describes the condition of a given coin. The information presented in this article is my opinion on how to interpret the many coin grading standards that you will encounter. This is not a universal, absolute and definitive definition on how this particular coinage series should be graded.