PCGS - I was hired by PCGS as a professional vintage grader almost a decade ago. At the time, my only industry experience was working at some local coin shops and helping out at a few trade shows a year. I had taken several grading courses put on by the ANA, which is where my talent was first noticed. To say that I was both excited and nervous when I walked into the grading room on my first day would have been a major understatement. But, I had some experience in grading, and I was absolutely willing to learn from some of the best coin graders in the world. In this article, I hope to describe some of the proverbial tools that professional graders use to their advantage when determining the condition of your coins.
Lighting: One of the most important considerations when grading coins is lighting. Investing in proper lighting can help avoid costly mistakes from being made. The best conditions for grading coins is a completely dark room with a single light source. The best lamps to use have a "bell" end that covers the lightbulb completely. This allows the light source to be manipulated without any light pollution to occur. The best bulbs to use for grading coins are 75- to 100-watt incandescent. My personal preference is 75-watt, as it doesn't burn quite as hot and isn't as harsh on my eyes over long periods of time.