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Last Updated on 06/16/2024

Graded Bullion Coins
Buying Guide

with a list of Reputable
Graded Coin Dealers

The Sheldon Scale for Graded Bullion Coins

2024 First Strike - Silver Eagle Graded Coin

"Graded Coins" are coins certified by a grading service, encased in sonically-sealed protective plastic called "coin slabs," indicating their physical condition and appearance.

The most important thing to know about Graded Coins is what determines its value.  Numismatic grading services use the Sheldon Scale to determine a coin's quality.

The Sheldon Scale has become an industry standard after William Sheldon, a numismatist, created it for grading coins in the late 1940s.

The Sheldon Scale is a widely used tool in the coin industry, aiding dealers, collectors, and investors in accurately assessing the grade of coins.

Investors looking for graded bullion coins with the best investment value only need to concern themselves with the higher grades of the Sheldon Scale because most bullion coins with a grade lower than MS-60 aren't worth much more than its precious metal's spot price.

  • Mint State (MS) - Uncirculated Coins are struck in the same format as circulation coins but never circulated. A Mint State coin can range from one covered with marks (MS-60) to a flawless example (MS-70). 

The following five grades are not part of the Sheldon Scale but are commonly used to grade bullion coins; however, the Sheldon Scale equivalences are provided.

  • Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) - The coin has a below-average strike with several abrasions and large scratches; its grade is comparable to coins graded MS60 to MS62.

  • Choice BU - The coin has an average strike; it has many surface marks and imperfections in different sizes.  The grade is equivalent to coins graded MS63.

  • Select BU - The coin has a slightly better-than-average strike but has hairline marks and minor flaws; its grade is equivalent to MS64.

  • Gem BU - A coin with a good strike. The coin has minor marks and scratches while retaining luster; its grade is equivalent to MS65.

  • Superb BU - A well-struck coin with very minor imperfections, the imperfections should be hard to see with the naked eye, and this coin should have luster. Comparable grades are MS66 and MS67.

Click here for more information about the BU grading designation from PCGS. 

  • Near Choice Uncirculated (MS-68) - An Uncirculated coin very sharply struck with few slightly visible imperfections. No scuff marks show on the surface of the coin.

  • Choice Uncirculated (MS-69) - A fully-struck coin with microscopic imperfections under examination. A tiny imperfection may be able to be viewed with the naked eye.

  • Perfect Uncirculated (MS-70) - The finest quality uncirculated coin, showing no marks, blemishes or wear.  A coin with no post-production imperfections at 5x magnification. Coins with this grading are of the finest quality and garner the highest prices.

Third Party Coin Grading Services and their Premiums

There are five well-known and respected coin grading services that investors look for when they want to purchase a graded coin.

The Top Grading Services are:

Four Graded Bullion Coins from ICG, ANACS, NGC, PCGS

PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) Established in 1985, PCGS experts work independently in a controlled environment that provides optimum conditions for studying the characteristics and physical condition of each coin.  A series of graders enter independent determinations into a computer database until a consensus is reached and the final grade is assigned.   PCGS-graded coins are known for their accurate grades and receive high premiums.

NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation) Established in 1987, NGC strives to ensure impartiality and accuracy by having three numismatic experts evaluate each coin submitted for grading, a grading finalizer assigns a final grade to the coin.  NGC-graded coins are trusted for their accurate grades and receive high premiums.

ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service) Established by the ANA (American Numismatic Association) in 1972, ANACS is considered the third leading service and is credible; however, their graded coins do not carry the market acceptance or value of PCGS or NGC-graded coins.

ICG (Independent Coin Graders) Established in 1998, ICG-graded coins are evaluated by at least two ICG expert graders, with additional examination if necessary, and a final grade is assigned when a consensus is reached.

CAC (Certified Acceptance Corporation) was founded in 2007 as a company that re-certified NGC and PCGS coins to ensure their quality.  In 2022, CAC formed a Grading Service by those in the numismatic community who originally founded the company in 2007 to establish stringent standards with a level of expertise for every submitted coin.


In 2007, the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) published a report about grading services and standards.

The survey indicated the professional opinions of numismatists who buy and sell coins.  No grading service was listed as "outstanding," PCGS and NGC were ranked as "superior," and ANACS and ICG were ranked as "good."

Turning an Investment Coin
into a Collectable

Government mints that produce bullion coins for the general public offer them in three versions: bullion coins for investors, proof, and uncirculated bullion coins for collectors. 

Proof (mirror-like) and uncirculated (matte, satin, or burnished) bullion coins are specifically made for collectors, struck with special dies, with limited mintages, and sold individually in a box with a certificate of authenticity.

On the other hand, bullion coins for investors are mass-produced and stored in coin tubes inside large plastic boxes known as "Monster Boxes."  In general, bullion coin prices are based predominately on their precious metal content, with some exceptions.

Because bullion coins are made and handled in this manner, many of them have imperfections that are too small for the human eye to detect; however, when graded under a magnifying glass, many will receive a BU grade, MS-68, or MS-69 with even fewer receiving an MS-70 (perfect) grade.

Grading a bullion coin turns an investment coin into a collectable.

However, depending on its condition and year of issue, an ungraded bullion coin becomes more collectible as it ages, and the premium it receives rises accordingly.

Premiums on
Graded Bullion Coins

Premiums on graded coins aren't only based on the grade; premiums are also subject to which third-party grading service grades the coin. 

Coins graded by PCGS or NGC attract higher premiums than coins graded by other grading services.

Another important notable investors will regularly see when investing in graded bullion coins is that the lower the spot price of the bullion coin, the higher the premium. 

For example, a 1oz silver or fractional-sized gold, platinum, or palladium-graded bullion coin will have higher percentage premiums than a 1oz (or larger) gold, platinum, and palladium-graded bullion coin.

BU, MS-68, MS-69

Premiums on ungraded bullion coins vary from 5% to 30% over the metal spot price (or intrinsic value), depending on the type of precious metal used to mint the coin.

BU (Brilliant Uncirculated), MS-68, or MS-69 bullion coins frequently command premiums ranging from 20% to 80% above the coin's intrinsic value.

This may seem costly to some, but when compared to the collector's version of the identical bullion coin, premiums on these near-perfect graded coins range from 30% to 120% (+) above their spot price.

Note: If the bullion coin has a low mintage or some other collectible abnormality, it may garner higher premiums.  An example of a low-mintage bullion coin is the Mexican Gold and Silver Libertads.


MS-70 is a perfect grade for a coin; it has no post-production imperfections at 5x magnification.  

To find a perfect bullion coin is similar to finding a needle in a haystack; you'd think they would receive extremely high premiums, but that isn't the case. Compared to lower-graded bullion coins, they have high premiums, but compared to the collector versions of the coin, the premiums usually pale in comparison.

MS-70 graded bullion coins regularly command premiums ranging from 10% to 300%(+) above the coin's precious metal spot price.

In contrast, a collector's version of the same bullion coin with a flawless grade may command premiums ranging from 100% to 1000% or more over the spot value of the coin's metal content.

Limited Edition Labels on Graded Bullion

The First Strike, First Day of Issue, and Early Release labels boost the premiums on graded bullion coins, while signed limited edition labels significantly enhance their value.

Some of the signed names on these coins include Congressman Mike Castle, John Mercanti, who was the 12th Chief Engraver at the United States Mint, Edmund Moy, a former director of the United States Mint, and Emily Damstra, who is a Master Designer at the United States Mint. 

Signatures of celebrities and sports personalities can also be found on these graded coin slabs, increasing their premiums dramatically.

List of Reputable
Graded Bullion Dealers

BGASC - Buy Gold and Silver Coins

4.8 star Customer Reviews

Free Shipping on Orders $199 and up

BGASC graded coins

"BGASC" is a Precious Metals Dealer based in California.

From day one, their goal has always been to be the kind of gold & silver dealer they would want to trade with; to have coins in stock, ship fast, offer fair & reasonable prices, and to operate honestly and efficiently.

They offer a wide selection of world gold, silver, platinum and palladium bullion coin.  

Every single package BGASC ships is sent fully privately insured for its time in transit.

Small Affiliate Logo - Money Metals Exchange

Better Business Bureau Reviews

Free Shipping on Orders $199 and up

Money Metals Exchange - Graded Bullion Screenshot

Stefan Gleason is president of the Money Metals Exchange, a national precious metals investment company and news service with over 500,000 readers and 75,000 customers.

Gleason founded the company in 2010 in response to the abusive methods of national advertisers of collectible and numismatic coins.

Savvy, self-reliant investors are embracing Money Metals Exchange as their #1 source for gold & silver bullion. 

Small Affiliate Logo - SD Bullion

4.8 star Customer Reviews

Free Shipping on Orders $199 and up

SD Bullion - Graded Bullion Screenshot

SD Bullion is a Precious Metals Dealer located in Michigan and is part of the Silver Doctor's network.

In 2011, two doctors started the website SilverDoctors.com with one dream: To educate the masses on the value of hard assets and preparation.

The rapid success of this website gave way to the launch of SDBullion.com in March of 2012. SD Bullion now is one of the most trusted, lowest cost online retailers of bullion.

SilverGoldBull - SGB

5.0 star Customer Reviews

Free Shipping on Orders $199 and up

Gold and Silver Graded Bullion Coins

Silver Gold Bull - Graded Bullion Screenshot

SilverGoldBull is a trusted silver and gold dealer.

They provide you with competitive, up-to-minute pricing and we make sure your precious metals are delivered to your door discreetly and fully insured.
SilverGold Bull's in-house customer service representatives will work to assure your satisfaction in a timely, friendly, and professional manner. Never hesitate to get in touch - building relationships with our clients is our number one priority.

If you would like to learn more about what our customers are saying about our service, please view our customer reviews (below).

Royal Mint (UK) - Purple Logo - The Original Maker

4.8 star Customer Reviews

The Royal Mint - Delivery Rates ($)

NGC / PCGS Gold and Silver Graded Bullion Coins

The Royal Mint - Graded Bullion Screenshot

The Royal Mint is known as "The Original Maker" and has over millennia of experience in minting coins globally recognized for its designs and craftsmanship.

The Royal Mint strives to make the customer their primary focus by consistently improving their minting practices to make their bullion more appealing while protecting it from counterfeiters. 

The Sovereign, Britannia, and Queen's Beasts bullion coins showcase the Royal Mint's characteristics, which is what makes them sought after by collectors and investors; and as the Original Maker, the Royal Mint is staying true to its roots while keeping its eyes on the horizon.


Shipping Fees vary by item

Walmart Graded Bullion Screenshot

Throughout its 50+ years of history, Walmart has stayed true to its purpose and consistently striven to offer low everyday prices to its customers, and because of this, Walmart has built for itself a strong and loyal customer base.

Low-price leadership is primarily achieved through Walmart's extensive network of suppliers.

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