EF-40 - Official A.N.A. Definition of Grade EF-40

1917 Lincoln Cent Graded EF 40

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A circulated coin graded EF-40 (aka. XF-40, Extremely Fine 40)has only slight wear but more extensive than the preceding, still with excellent overall sharpness. Traces of mint luster may still show. All design element show clearly.

Notes And Commentary on EF-40 Coins

The exact descriptions of circulated grades vary widely from one coin issue to another, so the preceding commentary is only of a very general nature. It is essential to refer to the specific descriptions for a particular coin type when grading coins. The correct adjectival term is Extremely, not Extra, in connection with such categories as EF-40 and EF-45, and the correct abbreviation, for example, is EF-40, not XF-40.

While numbers from 1 through 59 are continuous, it has been found practical to designate specific intermediate numbers to define grades, resulting in steps. Hence, this text uses the following descriptions and their numerical equivalents, as approved by the ANA Board of Governors.

Improving Your Grading Skills

While the above guidelines will undoubtedly prove useful to the reader, it is strongly advised that viewing actual coins in the marketplace will enable you to determine better grading practices affecting the series which interest you most. For example, the collector of Morgan silver dollars would do well to examine Morgans graded by a variety of services and sellers to determine in general what is considered to be MS-63, MS-64, MS-65, and higher grades.

Reproduced with permission from The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins, 6th edition, © 2005 Whitman Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Going beyond the Grade

The EF-40 grade is most commonly assigned to coins that only have the slightest evidence of wear on the highest points of the coin on both the obverse and the reverse. Some grading guides have color maps that illustrate the highest design elements on the coin. These can vary from coin to coin depending upon the striking pressure. If the coin is not fully struck, the highest points will be flat even on an uncirculated coin.

Since the EF-40 grade indicates that the coin has seen some circulation, copper coins will never be entirely red with this grading designation. Copper is a highly reactive metal that will turn brown as the surface reacts with the elements in the atmosphere. At best the coin will be a deep red-brown color. Most examples will be fully deep chocolate brown. (see also: Grading the Color of Copper Coins)

Silver coins will exhibit a dull gray color with traces of darker hues in the protected area of the coin between the devices and the field. Any silver coin that grades EF-40 and has a brilliant silver color has been improperly cleaned through chemical or mechanical methods.

Additionally, any remaining luster will be dull or muted. Large silver coins, such as silver dollars, may not be fully struck. This will result in a lack of detail on the highest points of the coin.

What keeps a coin in the EF-40 grade as opposed to an About Uncirculated (AU-50 through AU-59) is the amount of wear on the highest points of the coin. And About Uncirculated coin will barely have anywhere on the highest points of the coin. An Extra Fine coin will have a slight flattening on the highest points of the design on the surface of the coin.

Grading Differences between Coin Types

Although the definition and discussion of the EF-40 coin grade presented here are general, you will need to familiarize yourself with each different coin design that you want to learn how to grade. For example, the smallest coin currently minted by the United States is the dime. Its copper-nickel composition gives it a tough and durable surface. Therefore, combining its lightweight and durable surface lends itself to resist bag marks during production.

Morgan silver dollars minted from 1878 through 1904 and again in 1921 are the largest coins minted for circulation. Its composition of 90% silver and 10% copper give it a soft composition that is susceptible to bag marks and scratches during production. When these big heavy coins are moved around, they tend to bang into each other and leave a variety of bag marks and scratches on the surface of the coins.

Reproduced with permission from The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins, 6th edition, © 2005 Whitman Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.