While looking at coin price guides you will see some of these symbols for grading like FR, PR, AG, G, VG, VF, EF AU and MS. All of these acronyms stand for certain words or phrases that describe the condition of coins. They encompass a universal system that is used by price guides, dealers and experts to identify and figure the values of coins based on their grade.
 Not everyone will agree on the grade of a particular coin and one must watch out for unscrupulous sellers that over-grade or leave out other problems a coin may have like scratches, corrosion, cleaning, etc. (I will discuss problems a coin may have later.)
 The best way to start grading is to examine your coin to see if has a full date. If it doesn’t then it may grade FR or PR, but if the date is full then it may grade G-4. Then look at the over- all design of the coin (You may want to look at a few examples on an Internet coin site or grading book for help.) and begin adding points and grades with how many more features you can identify with the coin in question. The more features the coin has evident, the higher the grade.

 Below is a guide to the many grading words and phrases including their acronym symbols and number grades.  Most, universally, use the symbols in the right hand column.

Coin Grading Acronyms:

Basal (Basal State)        A flat piece of metal with no features whatsoever.
Poor                                               1      =   PR1
Fair                                                 2      =   FR2
About Good                                3      =   AG3
Good                                              4      =   G4
Very Good                             8-11 =   VG8
Fine                                        12-19  =   F12
Very Fine                             20-29  =  VF20
Very Fine                             30-39  =  VF30
Extremely Fine                  40-49  =  EF40 or EF40
Almost Uncirculated      50-59  =  AU50-AU58
Mint State                            60-70 =   MS60-MS70
 So as not to confuse the reader PR can also mean Proof, but will be followed by a number 60 or higher. One example is the 1895 Morgan Dollar, and it can have a grade of PR60 which means Proof 60. Also, PF can be used to designate a proof coin.

 It is obvious that grading is very subjective and is different when it comes to each coin type. Grading comes with experience, and I mean years of experience. It is always best to consult professional grading publications and trusted dealers for reference, or submit your coin to a third party grading company like PCGS, NGC, ICG, ANACS.

I have more information on this subject on my website. Click here for more I also have picture grading guides. Click here to see them