Buffalo Nickel Grading Guide

The following guide has been created to assist the user. This is not meant to replace existing reference materials or set a standard.

Disclaimer: This grading guide is merely that...a guide. These hobbywide accepted standard grade descriptions are reproduced by permission from the grading book "Photograde" as stated in the Copyright Rules. We hereby acknowledge the use of Photograde for description purposes. Having stated this, grading is subjective and potential buyers should be familiar with accepted standards and market actualities. The author(s) will in no way be held liable for misuse in any form of these grading standards.



Grade AG-3:


(About Good - Outlined design. Parts of legend and date worn smooth)
Obverse: The rim will be worn down into the letters. Only a partial date will show, but the date must be recognizable.
Reverse: The rim will be worn down into the letters.

AG3 Obverse
AG3 Reverse



Grade G-4:


(Good - Heavily worn. Design and legend visible but faint in spots)
Obverse: The rim will be worn down into the tops of the letters of "Liberty". The date will be readable but some of the numbers will be well worn.
Reverse: The rim may be worn down into the tops of the letters. The horn need not show.

G4 Obverse
G4 Reverse



Grade VG-8:


(Very Good - Well worn. Design clear but flat and lacking details.)
Obverse: The rim may touch the tops of the letters of "Liberty". The date will be distinct.
Reverse: There will be a full rim. Half of the horn will show. The bisons back will be almost smooth.

VG8 Obverse
VG8 Reverse



Grade F-12:


(Fine - Moderate to considerable even wear. Entire design clear and bold.)
Obverse: "Liberty" will be separated from the rim. The date will be very bold.
Reverse: Two thirds of the horn will show. The major detail on the bison's back will show.

F12 Obverse
F12 Reverse



Grade VF-20:


(Very Fine - Light to moderate even wear. All major features are sharp.)
Obverse: The hair braid and cheek will show some detail but be flat on the high spots.
Reverse: There will be a full horn but the top may not be well outlined. The hair on the bison's head will be well worn.

VF20 Obverse
VF20 Reverse



Grade VF-30:


(Very Fine - Choice - Light to moderate even wear. All major features are sharp.)
Obverse: Hair shows nearly full details. Feathers and braid are worn but sharp.
Reverse: Head, front leg and hip are worn. Tails shows plainly. Horn is worn but full.

VF30 Obverse
VF30 Reverse



Grade XF-40:


(Extremely Fine - Typical - Very light wear on only the highest points.)
Obverse: The hair braid and face details on the Indian are now very bold with only slight wear on the high points.
Reverse: A full sharp horn will show. The tail will show on the hip. Flat spots of wear will show on the head, upper front leg, and on the hip.

XF40 Obverse
XF40 Reverse



Grade XF-45:


(Extremely Fine - Choice - Traces of mint luster may still show)
Obverse: Slight wear shows on the hair above the braid. There is a trace of wear on the temple and hair near cheek bone.
Reverse: High points of hip and thigh are lightly worn. The horn and tip of tail are sharp and nearly complete.

XF45 Obverse
XF45 Reverse



Grade AU-50:


(About Uncirculated - Typical - Small trace of wear visible on highest points)
Note: Traces of mint luster still show.
Obverse: There is only the slightest trace of wear on the highest point of the cheek.
Reverse: There will be only a trace of wear on the highest points of the upper front leg and hip. The tail will be sharp.

AU50 Obverse
AU50 Reverse



Grade AU-55:

(About Uncirculated - Choice - Small trace of wear visible on highest points)
Note: Half of the mint luster is still present
Obverse: Only a trace of wear shows on high point of cheek.
Reverse: A trace of wear shows on the hip.

AU55 Obverse
AU55 Reverse



Grade MS-60:

(Uncirculated - Typical - A strictly uncirculated coin with no trace of wear, but with blemishes more obvious than for MS-65. May lack full mint luster and surface may be dull or spotted. Checks points for signs of abrasion: High points of Indian's cheek, upper front leg, hip and tip of tail. Shallow or weak spots in the relief are usually caused by improper striking and not wear.)

MS60 Obverse
MS60 Reverse



Grade MS-62:

(Uncirculated - A strictly uncirculated coin exhibiting less bagmarks and abrasionthaan MS60, but may have toning or spotting problems. Luster may be impaired compared to an MS63 example.)

MS62 Obverse
MS62 Reverse



Grade MS-63:

(Uncirculated - Choice - The term choice refers to coins which have better than average surfaces, are free of major contact marks and are reasonably well struck for their particular date and mintmark. It corresponds to the numerical grades MS63 & MS64.)

MS63 Obverse
MS63 Reverse



Grade MS-64:

(Uncirculated - Choice/Near Gem - The term choice refers to coins which have better than average surfaces, are free of major contact marks and are reasonably well struck for their particular date and mintmark. It corresponds to the numerical grades MS63 & MS64.)

MS64 Obverse
MS64 Reverse



Grade MS-65:

(Uncirculated - Gem - The term gem describes coins which possess superior surfaces, have only the most minor contact marks and are well struck. It corresponds to the numerical grades of MS65 and higher. No trace of wear; nearly as perfect as MS-70 except for small weakness or blemish. Has full mint luster but may be unevenly toned or lightly fingermarked. A few barely noticeable nicks or marks may be present.)

MS65 Obverse
MS65 Reverse



Grade MS-66:

(Uncirculated - Gem - The term gem describes coins which possess superior surfaces, have only the most minor contact marks and are well struck. It corresponds to the numerical grades of MS65 and higher.)

MS66 Obverse
MS66 Reverse