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PR70 : The “Perfect” Proof Grade

PR70 coins from CAC, NGC, and PCGS. Image: CoinWeek / BullionShark.
PR70 coins from CAC, NGC, and PCGS. Image: CoinWeek / BullionShark.

PR70, PF70, or Proof 70, is the highest possible grade that a Proof coin can earn and as such is the highest Proof grade in the Sheldon Grading Scale.

Initially conceived as a hypothetical grade, the increased quality control at the United States Mint and other world mints made it possible for collectors to acquire flawless coins with no mint-made or post-mint damage. With third-party grading and encapsulation, markets in PR70 modern coins blossomed, with the American Silver Eagle leading the way.

The first coins to receive the grade PR70 by a professional grading service were “four or five” Proof Statue of Liberty $5 gold pieces (1986), which, along with one uncirculated Statue of Liberty $5 gold piece, earned the perfect 70 grade from ANACS in July 1986. ANACS director Richard Montgomery announced the groundbreaking event to Coin World, which published the news in their July 30, 1986 issue.

Current Definitions of PR70 from Major Third-Party Grading Services

Current definitions of the term vary across the different grading companies.

CAC Grading:

PR70: There is no such thing as a “perfect” coin. Our PR70 coin is a coin that is nearly flawless when viewed at x5 magnification. It is exceptionally well-struck with minimal mint-made flaws.

NGC Grading:

NGC defines a Proof 70 coin as having no post-production imperfections at 5x magnification.

PCGS Grading:

In the PCGS Official Guide to Coin Grading and Counterfeit Detection, 2nd Edition, published in 2004, PCGS outlined its MS70 grading standard as follows:

A PR70 coin has no defects visible with a 5X (5-power) glass. A Proof 70 coin is 100% free of hairlines, planchet flaws, lint marks, and any other mint-caused or post-striking defects (p. 40).

This standard has been modified to the current standard, published on PCGS.com:

Fully struck and lustrous, free of visual marks. The PCGS 70 grading standard does allow for “as minted” defects, as long as those flaws are minor and do not impact the eye appeal of the coin.

Notes on Other Grades in the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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