CAC Grading Details Code Breakdown

Modified on Thu, 15 Feb 2024 at 09:00 AM

What is a “Details” graded coin?  

What does “Details” mean? A details graded coin is a coin that has been assigned a non-numerical grade (e.g., XF, AU, UNC) but with a qualifier that indicates that the coin has some form of damage, alteration, or other issue that prevented it from receiving a full grade.  


For example, a coin may be assigned a grade of “AU Details” (AU stands for “About Uncirculated”) if it has some wear or other damage that prevents it from receiving a full AU grade but is still considered to be “collectable.”  


The specific qualifier used may vary, but some common ones include “Cleaned” or “Environmental Damage.” These qualifiers are intended to provide additional information to potential buyers and collectors about the condition of the coin and to indicate that it may be less valuable or desirable than fully graded coin of the same grade.  


It’s important to note that the presence of a qualifier on graded coins does not necessarily mean that the coin is not valuable or desirable and that some collectors actively seek out and collect coins with details grades as part of their collections. However, it’s important to be aware of the specific issue that led to the details grade and to factor that into your decision when purchasing or collecting coins.  

While CAC holders a great many details codes as outlined below, please keep in mind CAC Grading does not holder ALL details codes. Please pay careful attention to the lists below, and if you have additional questions on this policy, please feel free to contact CAC Grading Customer Care at 

Detail Codes CAC Grading DOES Holder

Environmental Damage: These coins exhibit signs of pitting and corrosion, which have eaten into the metal's surface.

Cleaned: These coins exhibit signs of surface manipulation through abrasion or "over-dipping". Cleaning is generally performed erroneously by someone attempting to improve a coin's appearance. "Dipping" a coin in a mild acid solution may successfully remove tarnish. However, it can obliterate flow line reflectivity if left in the solution for an extended period. Dipping a coin is not recommended for beginners.

Questionable Surfaces:  These coins exhibit signs of abnormal surfaces that call into question their originality (i.e. cannot be authenticated to be original beyond a reasonable doubt). Coins that receive this grade may appear lacquered, oiled, puttied, waxed or greased to conceal the underlying problematic surfaces.

Questionable Toning: These coins exhibit signs of coloration that may not be original or natural. People may add, accelerate, or attempt to enhance toning as a shortcut to higher returns. We consider this practice unethical.

Questionable Color: These coins exhibit signs of unoriginal metal coloration. It is most commonly found on copper and gold coinage. Questionable Color differs from Questionable Toning in that Questionable Color refers to the color of the base metal.

Spot Removal: These coins exhibit signs of an attempt to remove a spot that would otherwise handicap a coin's grade. Spot removals are commonly attempted with fine tools like a needle.

Damage: These coins exhibit signs of metal movement that is overwhelmingly problematic.

Scratched: These coins exhibit a scratch that is more significant, profound, or noticeable than a hairline. Length, placement, and freshness/age of the scratch(s) are additional factors to consider.

Corrosion: These coins exhibit signs of environmental damage that is more severe than coins receiving the Environmental Damage classification.

Tooled: These coins exhibit signs of metal movement applied to a coin to conceal, minimize, or abolish a pre-existing issue, such as a scratch or heavy bag mark. We consider this practice unethical.

Rim Filed:  These coins exhibit signs of test cutting, bullion theft, or attempts to conceal pre-existing rim damage:

-Test cutting is when someone files off a sample of metal needed to test a coin's composition—a pawn shop, for instance.

-Theft of bullion is the act of removing precious metal from coins to accumulate a substantial amount of ""free bullion"" over time. Theft of bullion is more common on older coinage.

-Concealing pre-existing rim damage may occur if someone attempts to remove a rim ding/problem by filing off the entirety of the surrounding rims. Theft of bullion may apply here as well.

Planchet Flaw:  These coins exhibit signs of a planchet deficiency, impurity, or contamination. The severity can determine whether or not the coin goes through the encapsulation process. "Planchet Flaw" is reserved for less severe cases where we will encapsulate the coin.

Questionable Film: These coins exhibit signs of a coating or film on the surface that may make it impossible to investigate the underlying surfaces reliably, whether intentionally applied or not.

Brushed: These coins exhibit signs of having been wiped or cleaned using harsh material abrasion—for instance, a wire brush, sandpaper, steel wool, or the abrasive side of a sponge.

Excessive Hairlines: These coins exhibit a large number of hairlines deemed overly distracting to the coin's surface. Hairlines may occur by sliding coins across tabletops, cabinet wear, or dust getting inside a sliding window album. Proof coinage is more susceptible to hairlines though all coins can be affected by them.

Burnished: These coins exhibit signs of burnishing, a method that attempts to improve a coin's surface that relies on metal movement through high-speed rubbing. Burnishing differs from polishing in that Polishing strips metal, while burnishing moves it across the surface. Both methods obliterate the coin's originality.

Wiped: These coins exhibit a localized concentration of hairline scratches; this may be caused by simply wiping the surface of a coin with a cloth to remove debris.

Stained:  These coins exhibit signs of discoloration that appears to be irreversible or permanent. This discoloration may cover all or a part of the coin's surface and be caused intentionally or accidentally.

Bent: These coins exhibit signs of being bent or having once been bent.  This term is reserved for coins with post-mint damage, as some coins are issued with a concave/convex, saddled, or irregular shape.

Wheel Marks: These coins exhibit highly-concentrated patches of hairlines that are the result of running through the rapidly spinning rubber wheel of a coin counter. This wheel revolves at speeds high enough to briefly superheat/melt contact points on the coin's surface, giving Wheel Marks their distinct look.

Saltwater Effect: These coins exhibit signs of corrosion specifically from extended exposure to saltwater or saltwater solutions.

Porosity: These coins exhibit signs of environmental damage where Environmental Damage is too harsh a classification. The indicator is typically tiny holes in the surface of the coin.

Sample:  These coins are encapsulated for marketing purposes, lack a numerical grade, and say "Sample" on the holder.

Detail Codes CAC Grading DOES NOT Holder


Counterfeit: These coins exhibit signs of being a forgery.

Altered Devices: These coins exhibit signs of manipulation to the appearance of a coin's devices. For instance, adding a "frosty" substance to a proof's devices in hopes of receiving a CAM or DCAM designation. We consider this practice unethical.

Altered Mintmark: These coins exhibit signs of manipulation through the alteration of a coin's mintmark. Example: Changing the Denver mintmark on a 1913-D 5c Type 1 to appear as a scarcer San Francisco issue.

Added Mintmark: These coins exhibit signs of manipulation through the addition of a mintmark, making the coin appear rarer than it is. Example: Placing a Denver mintmark on a 1927 St. Gauden's Double Eagle.

Removed Mintmark: These coins exhibit signs of manipulation through the removal of a mintmark. Example: Removing the mintmark from a heavily circulated 1895-S Morgan Dollar to make it appear as a low-grade proof (as Philadelphia did not issue coins for circulation in 1895.)

Re-Engraved: These coins exhibit signs of an attempt to strengthen, change, or add devices through engraving or metal movement. Examples: 1) Strengthening the devices of a Chain Cent hoping it will grade VF20 instead of F15, 2) making a Mercury Dime appear to have full bands, 3) altering the letter "R" in "LIBERTY" on the Silver 1971-S Ike Dollar to appear as the Peg Leg variety, and 4) changing a 1917 Standing Liberty Quarter to appear as a 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter.

Questionable Authenticity: These coins are those that we cannot, for any reason, determine the authenticity with certainty.


Polished: These coins exhibit signs of polishing, which relies on the metal being stripped from the surface to expose underlying metal. This is a method that attempts to improve a coin's surface.

Graffiti: These coins exhibit intentional scratching or carving into a coin's surface. Historically, some collectors have added their initials to coins, carved symbols, or other added patterns.

Mutilated: These coins exhibit harsh abuse or damage, approaching the point of being authenticity unverifiable. 

Mounted: These coins are those submitted while still attached to a form of jewelry.

Mount Removed: These coins exhibit signs on their edge that they were previously housed in a piece of jewelry; a coin will receive this classification even if the obverse and reverse surfaces are otherwise eligible for grading.

Soldered: These coins exhibit signs of leftover bonding agent, usually metal, welded to the surface or rims. For instance, if a coin is cracked, the intent could be to improve its appearance by filling in the crack. If a coin were soldered as part of jewelry, the coin would be classified as Ex-Jewelry. 

Bezel Removed: These coins exhibit signs of having been recovered from a bezel, such as from an "ex-key chain". Typically, the evidence is near the inside of the collar on both sides.

Plugged: These coins once had a hole going partially or entirely through them that was later filled using non-original metal.

Holed: These coins exhibit a hole--not original--where air can travel freely from obverse to reverse. Coins and medals issued with a hole(s) remain eligible to receive a numeric grade. 

Ex-Jewelry: These coins exhibit signs of having once been jewelry.

Whizzed: These coins exhibit signs of having been held against a high-speed wire brush to strip the surface and simulate an uncirculated coin.


PVC: These coins exhibit signs of "PVC," or Polyvinyl Chloride, on the surface. PVC is a substance used in plastics to manipulate the viscosity, flexibility, and softness and was used in many vinyl coin holders through the late 1980s. Over time, PVC reacts with coins (or metal) stored in these plastics, damaging the coin's surfaces and appearing green.

Glue Residue: These coins exhibit signs of glue or adhesive substances attached to the surface, hiding the underlying surfaces and restricting our ability to evaluate them reliably.

Planchet Lamination

Planchet Lamination: These coins exhibit delamination, or flaking, in surface metal, indicative of a deficiency, impurity, or contamination in a planchet. Encapsulating these coins risks further delamination.


Ineligible for Certification: Coins submitted that CAC does not encapsulate will be returned with no grading fee as "Ineligible For Certification."

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