How to Recognize an AU-50 Coin

1918-S Lincoln Cent Graded AU-50

Teletrade Coin Auctions

A circulated coin graded AU-50 shows traces of wear on many of the highest parts of the design. On many of these coins, some of the original mint luster is still present. May have a few noticeable contact marks or flaws.

Also Known As

About Uncirculated 50

Common Misspellings

Almost Uncirculated 50

Example Usage

Only a trace of the original mint luster remains on this 1918 S-Lincoln cent that is graded AU-50.

  • Next higher grade: AU-53
  • Next lower grade: EF-45


Up until around 1970, coin grading was very subjective and it differed between coin collectors and coin dealers. Around this time the American Numismatic Association began to investigate the standardization of coin grading. They assembled a team of well-known coin dealers and numismatic researchers. Over the next few years, they met with dealers and collectors across the country.

By the late 1970s, coin dealer Abe Kosoff, author Kenneth Bressett, of Whitman Publishing Company, and well-known author Q. David Bowers began to assemble a list of detailed descriptions for every type of coin from the United States. Their works were assembled into a book titled Official ANA Grading Standards of United States Coins and were published in 1977. The first edition of this book includes pen and ink drawings of the coins. Subsequent additions included example photographs for each grade.

The standards that they developed differed from previous grading systems and that it and played a combination of adjective grades and the numeric Sheldon grading system. Although the Sheldon grading system appears to be a continuous scale from 1 to 70, they selected specific grades to correspond to each adjective grade.


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 for the "A" in AU is About, not Almost.
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.

While the preceding guidelines will undoubtedly prove useful to the reader, it is strongly advised that viewing actual coins in the marketplace will enable you to better determine 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 in order 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.