China’s New Coin Grading System

On the 5th August 2014 China officially announced the preliminary release of its first coin appraisal and grading system.

Here is a brief look at some of the major features of the “现代贵金属纪念币品相评级标” (Modern Precious Metals Commemorative Coins Rating Standard), and how it differs from the PCGS and NGC systems currently in use.

In light of the experience of international systems of coin grading, and in combination with the unique characteristics of the Chinese currency market, the creators of China’s new grading system (currently still in its trial stages) have decided to use a 100-point scale. Within this scale, coins graded 80-100 are not for general circulation (meaning those coins produced for numismatic collectors and investors). Coins with grades below 80 are for general circulation. Therefore modern gold and silver coins would have grades within the 80-100 interval.

For coins graded 80-100, there are 11 major categories at two-point intervals (80, 82, 84, …, 96, 98, 100). For each of these intervals there are now corresponding written descriptions which detail the state and condition of a typical coin that would fall into that particular category. One benefit of this is that it ensures consistency, allowing for different currency types or non-conventional currency to be conveniently integrated into the new system. So, for example, it can be applied to uncirculated coins, or old coins that are no longer in circulation. In addition to this, the 11 categories applied to modern precious metal commemorative coins also corresponds to the grades 60-70 used in the United States, allowing for direct comparisons to be made between the Chinese and other international grades.

One major difference between the Chinese system and those currently used in the US is that, for the time being, the Chinese system makes no distinction between proof and BU coins. This is mainly because the production methods and distribution processes for BU and proof coins in the US are very different, whereas in China the process is actually quite similar.

Another important difference is that when assessing coins, the Chinese system puts more emphasis and value on the arts and crafts used in the production process, and the resulting effect of these techniques on the appearance of the coin. This apparently allows for a better, well-rounded on-the-spot assessment of the coin, since the methods of production employed by the mints in China are more numerous and relatively more complex than those used elsewhere.