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MS-70 and Proof-70 Grades for Coins...
Ian Russell on Sat, Jun 18, 2011 02:08:34 PM
The perfect grade is MS-70 or Proof-70 and in many cases, they are not easy to come by.  For example, we have clients that submit 1,000s of coins a year to PCGS and NGC, and depending on the coin issue, sometimes less than one in 1,000 get the perfect 70 grade.

As a result, many MS-70 and Proof-70 coins have very low populations at the major grading services and they sell for high premiums above MS-69 or Proof-69 examples.

Generally speaking, coins with high premiums over MS-69/Proof-69 prices mean that the percentage of perfect grades assigned is low.  Those which are assigned the perfect grade more often, usually trade at a smaller premium.

We get many questions from collectors that purchased coins directly from the U.S. Mint, assuming that their "never-touched" coin would automatically be assigned the perfect 70 grade.  This is not the case.  There are several different levels of coin production at the Mint, and depending upon how your coin is struck, how it is handled directly afterwards, as well as how the item is packaged will affect what grade your coin is ultimately assigned.

Certain Mint State general issues (take a Lincoln Cent made for circulation, for example) are very difficult to obtain in the perfect 70 grade.  This is simply because after the coins are minted, they fall into a hopper and then counted by machines etc. - this process ever-so-slightly damages the coin.

Difficult Coins for MS-70/Proof-70 Grades:

1986-2005 Silver Eagle Mint State
1986-2002 Silver Eagle Proofs
Eisenhower Dollar Proofs

Easier Coins for MS-70/Proof-70 Grades

Recent American Gold Eagle Proofs
American Gold Buffalo Proofs
Gold Spouse Series

Please note, when I say "easier", it still means they are not a guarantee - though for fresh issues listed under "Easier", perhaps 25-30% on average might be assigned the perfect grade.