Littleton Coin Company has been a leader in the numismatic field for over 70 years. One of the many reasons we have been able to remain a leader is the quality of our coins and paper money. That quality is not attained by accident. It is due, in large part, to the keen eyes of our coin graders.
Here at LCC, we employ 20 full-time people in our technical grading department. Their job, day in and day out, is to carefully and thoroughly examine both sides of collectible coins and paper money to determine their condition or grade.
LCC prides itself in having very strict grading standards. We use a combination of grading references such as the: American Numismatic Grading Standards, Photograde and more. Plus, we use extensive visual aids and graded samples developed by our expert coin buyers. A peer-to-peer training model also ensures the grades maintain LCC grading standards at all times. For those unfamiliar, or wanting to learn more about the art (yes, it’s an art!) of coin grading, check out our blog post, Coin Grading 101.
We’re picky about what we sell
Armed with a quality magnifier, a strong light and a sharp eye, our graders will inspect thousands and thousands of coins each year. The quality, for which we are known, comes from the fact that we are so picky about the coins we sell. Believe it or not, we typically reject more than 50% of the coins we examine!
Recently I had a chance to talk with our Senior Numismatist and Buyer, Butch Caswell, about just how much goes into being an LCC Coin Grader. Butch has been with Littleton, grading coins and training our coin graders, for over 40 years.
The first question I just had to ask Butch was “How many coins come through the grading department every year?” I knew the number was huge, but I was amazed when he told me they inspect well into the millions (that’s right – multiple millions!) of coins a year!
Three to five years to grade Collectible Coins
According to Butch, it takes three to five years from the time a new candidate walks through the door until they’re fully trained in grading collectible coins. Their training starts out with simple tasks like sorting coins by date and mint mark. This allows the trainee to get a better idea of the different denominations and types of coins.
As their training progresses, the trainees will learn the many characteristics of each coin type, including key dates and date spans within each coin series.
Each grader inspects and grades thousands of coins each month, all while receiving constant feedback from Butch and the other trainers. This helps them to better hone their skills and provide accurately graded coins to our customers.
I asked Butch if certain types of coins are harder to grade than others. He explained that, based on the characteristics of certain coin types, it may take longer to learn one type over another. He cited the Lincoln cent as one type that, due to strike and color issues, can take longer to learn how to accurately grade than other coins.
As many will attest, coin grading is an art not a science. It is not something one just picks up – it takes hours and days and months and years of tirelessly pouring over coin after coin to develop the skills necessary to properly and correctly grade coins. We are fortunate to have an outstanding team of highly skilled graders (and trainers!). They are committed to carrying on the tradition of providing the highest quality coins and notes, for which Littleton is known, to our customers.