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Light friction rubbing or scuffing which is different
from hairlines and bag marks. Sometimes referred to as "cabinet
friction" because many times it is caused by a sliding action in a
Quantities of coins, tokens and other numismatic material
which has not been sorted, classified, attributed nor organized in any
meaningful way, unlike a true coin collection.
Marks or grooves caused by filing a planchet prior to
striking in order to reduce it to a standard weight. These
scratches were made at the mint in order to reduce the weight of a coin
so that its metal value wouldn't exceed its face value. As such,
adjustment marks do not reduce the value of a coin nearly as much as a
series of equally visible scratches which were not
"mint-caused." This was a
fairly common practice on many early U.S. coins, in particular bust
dollars and gold coins, but can be found on copper and lower
denomination silver coins as well.
A holder with slots for storing and displaying coins in a
book type manner. Common brand names include Whitman, Dansco and Harco.
A combination of two or more metals, such as electrum or
Illegal practice of tampering with the date, mint mark,
or other feature of a coin in an attempt to be deceptive. For example,
adding an "S" mintmark to a 1909-VDB Lincoln Cent struck at
the Philadelphia Mint.
A coin produced prior to the generally accepted date of
Adding color(s) to a coin by various treatments with
chemicals, heat and other methods in an attempt to increase its value.
While a coin with natural toning may at times provide exceptional
eye-appeal and command higher prices than an untoned specimen, a coin
known to have been artificially toned (a deceptive practice) will bring
much lower than usual prices.
noun: A specific characteristic of a coin.
verb: Identifying a coin via the origin, denomination, type,
date, mintmark, variety, etc.
Determination by a numismatic expert as to the status of
a coin being original and genuine - not counterfeit.
Nicks and scratches resulting from contact with other
coins in the same mint bag. Especially common on large, heavy coins such
as Morgan Dollars.
Paper money issued by a bank and payable to bearer.
A style in which the design elements are raised within
depressions in the field, so that no part of the design is undercut.
A low-grade alloy of silver and other metals, usually
copper, which is used in minor coinage.
A coin with the center and outer ring(s) having different
Spanish pieces of eight were physically cut into eight
pieces with each piece as one bit. The quarter dollar is sometimes
referred to as two bits, so that an eighth of a dollar would be one bit
or 12 and one-half cents.
A piece of metal (usually round) being prepared for
coinage before the rims have been raised via the upsetting mill.
Minor nicks, marks, flaws or spots of discoloration that
mar the surface of a coin.
A place where dealers, collectors and the general public
get together to buy, sell and trade coins with each other. Usually the
most active section of a coin show.
A yellowish alloy consisting mainly of copper and zinc.
A coin struck without a firmly seated collar which
results in an outwards "spread", but still includes all design
A mirror image of a design from one side of a coin
impressed on the opposite side, e.g. a newly struck coin may adhere to
the die, causing the next coin struck to have a First Strike Mirror
Brockage of the coin stuck to the die; by the second strike the mirror
is distorted, and later strikes are termed Struck Through A Capped Die.
An reddish/brown alloy consisting mainly of copper and
tin, with a small amount of zinc.
A coin or other object composed primarily of a precious
metal (such as gold, silver or platinum) with little to no numismatic
value over and beyond that of the metal itself.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
An agency of the U.S. Treasury Department responsible for
the production of currency.
A coin struck with the intent of serving in the channels
of commerce, i.e. to be circulated.
Post confederation Canadian numismatics.
A coin, usually a Proof strike, with a frosted or satiny
central device surrounded by a mirror-like field.
The pattern of light reflected by flow lines of mint
state coins, resembling spokes of a wheel;
Name given to the British pennies and twopences of 1797 due to their
unusually broad rims.
A coin authenticated and graded by an unbiased, 3rd-party
To secure the purchase a rare variety of a coin worth a
premium over the seller's asking price for a common variety.
A symbol added to money by someone other than the
government which issued it to indicate authenticity. Commonly found on
U.S. Trade Dollars which circulated in the Orient.
Denotes money that has served a purpose in the channels
of commerce, i.e. it is no longer mint state (uncirculated).
Composed of more than one metallic layer, e.g. dimes,
quarters, and halves currently minted by the U.S.
Elements of designs from the opposite side of a coin
which is the result of coin dies clashing into one another when no
planchet is present during the striking process.
Any procedure that removes corrosion, unattractive
toning, etc. such as dipping or rubbing with abrasive materials.
A coin which has been dipped, polished, whizzed, wiped,
etc. Generally speaking, a certain amount of very light cleaning (such
as dipping) done by a professional may be acceptable.
A coin, planchet or blank missing a portion of metal from
its periphery, caused by an error during production of the blank,
usually at the end of a strip.
Deliberate shearing or shaving from the edge of gold and
silver coins. Was quite common from the Byzantine to the Colonial eras,
so much so that many authorities employed edge devices in order to
discourage this practice.
A piece of metal (usually round) with a distinctive stamp
and of a fixed value and weight issued by an authority and intended to
be used as a medium of exchange.
An event where numismatic items are bought, sold, traded
and often exhibited.
A device in a coining press used to restrict the outward
flow of metal during striking. Allows the rounding of coins to be much
more precise. Also, can be used to put an edge design on the coin.
An organized unit of various numismatic holdings.
A coin issued by a colony, such as those produced in the
eastern American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries.
A coin with a design honoring a person, place or event in
The finest known specimens of a particular coin type or
Small surface scratches or nicks which is caused by
contact of coins in the same bag.
A fake coin deceptively made with the intent of passing
it off as if it were the genuine article.
A raised lump of metal on a coin caused by a piece of the
die breaking off.
A coin that is worn to the point of being barely
identifiable, and/or damaged.
cupro-nickel (or copper-nickel)
Composed of an alloy of copper and nickel, such as the
U.S. Flying Eagle cents struck from 1856 thru 1858.
See paper money.
A problem such as scratches, nicks, holes, harsh
cleaning, pitting, etc. which lowers the value of a numismatic item.
The year(s) stamped on a coin, representative of the year
it was minted.
An individual or organization that regularly buys, sells
and trades coins.
deep mirror prooflike
An attribute given to coins with highly reflective mirror-like fields,
giving it a similar look to that of a proof strike.
Metal missing (or nearly so) from the surface due to
incomplete bonding in the planchet.
An ancient Roman silver coin weighing about 3 grams,
roughly the same size as a U.S. dime but much thicker.
The face value of a coin.
Tooth-like raised features near the rim of a coin.
The arrangement of devices, lettering, etc. on a coin.
The artist(s) responsible for a coin's design.
A major design element, e.g. the bust of a person or a
ship on the high seas.
A piece of steel (usually cylindrical) bearing at one end
the design of one side of a coin.
A small fragment broken off from a die similar to a cud,
but much less dramatic.
Upper and lower dies coming together in a coin press
without a planchet between them.
A narrow fissure in the surface of a die which produces a
raised line on the coins it strikes.
Normal wear on a die from its use in the minting process.
The condition of a die at a specific time in its life.
Small raised lines in the field of a coin resulting from
polishing of a die to remove chips, clash marks, etc.
A form of cleaning by immersion in a liquid which is
capable of causing molecular changes in the surface (with the intent of
providing a more appealing look).
A frequently-used spelling of "dime" in the
An error in which a coin is restruck by the die pair of
A term sometimes intended to mean a doubled die coin and
sometimes indicating a machine doubled coin (note that there are vast
differences in the values).
A die with doubled device details, letters and/or
numerals resulting from an error in manufacture. Also, a coin struck
from such a die.
A U.S. $20 gold coin, minted from 1849 through 1933.
An ancient Greek silver coin weighing about 3 grams. The
predecessor to the Roman denarius.
A U.S. $10 gold coin minted from 1795 through 1933. Also,
the current U.S. bullion program pieces.
The perimeter of coin, sometimes referred to as the
A naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold. The
earliest coins of ancient Asia Minor and many Byzantine issues were
struck in this metal.
E Pluribus Unum
The Latin motto found on many U.S. coins - translates to
"Out of many, one".
Any mistake in the minting process which results in a
different appearance than intended on the resulting coin(s).
The lower section of a coin or medal, usually divided
from the field by a line and often containing the date, mintmark or
Tokens, medals and other non-monetary coin-like objects.
The ordinary monetary worth of a coin or note at the time
The background on a coin, not used for a design or
The head of Liberty on U.S. coins with her hair tied with
a band, generally on the forehead.
The purity of a precious metal coin, usually expressed as
a percentage one thousand parts.
A 3 cent silver U.S. coin sometimes referred to as a
trime. Also, a 5 cent silver Canadian piece.
Another term for a planchet.
A plastic coin holder, usually with 2 sections - one for
the coin - one for a small card containing information about the coin.
Microscopic lines in the surface of a coin resulting from
the outward flow of metal during the striking process.
Money not backed by specie and is legal tender by virtue
Minute oxidation spots on a coin, often caused by small
droplets of spittle from talking over the coin.
The first coin issued by authority of the United States
in 1787. Fugio is Latin for "I fly", in this instance,
referring to time.
An epoxy coated plaster relief model of a coin created in
order to produce master hubs, which in turn produce coin dies.
Condition assigned to a coin mainly in an effort to
determine its relative value. See our article on Grading
United States Coins.
The nickname given to the Coin Dealer Newsletter,
a price guide for U.S. coins intended primarily for dealer-to-dealer
transactions for uncertified coins.
Light scratches in the surface of a coin, usually caused
by light polishing.
A U.S. copper coin minted from 1793 through 1857 (1/200th
of a dollar).
A U.S. silver coin minted from 1794 through 1873 (five
A U.S. $5 gold coin minted from 1795 through 1929.
The areas of highest relief in a coin design. Usually the
first to show evidence of wear or abrasion. May be incomplete due to a
A coin (usually a U.S. Buffalo nickel) reengraved to
produce a different image.
Having a hole drilled through it, usually for jewelry
A device designed for storage and/or display of
A steel bar used to make coin dies.
A proof coin with wear or damage resulting from
circulation or mishandling.
Design elements are impressed into the surface (opposite
The legend or lettering on a coin.
Net metallic value sans numismatic/face value.
Conjoined busts facing the same direction slightly offset
from each other in such a way as to allow the bottom bust to be
partially seen while the top bust is shown in its entirety.
The rarest (or one of the most rare) and therefore most
expensive members of a coin series, e.g. the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent or
1916-D Mercury dime.
Chet Krause/Clifford Mishler number assigned to a coin in
popular reference books.
A defect caused by metal detaching from the rest of a
coin. Somewhat common with clad coinage.
A U.S. copper coin minted from 1793 through 1857, similar
in size to a current U.S. quarter (worth 1/100th of a dollar). Also, a
similar Canadian coin issued between 1858-1920.
The principle inscription on a coin other than the
denomination or nation which issued it.
The inscription found on the edge of a coin.
Popular name for the Canadian loon dollar coin first
issued in 1987.
A type of magnifying glass used by numismatists to more
closely examine a coin.
The glossy brilliance of a coin seen from the reflection
of light off the flow lines.
Doubling of details resulting from loose dies during the
striking process (much more common and much less valuable than die
A proof coin with a grainy surface appearance produced by
dies treated to obtain a minutely etched surface.
A coin-like object struck to honor one or more persons or
events, but without any denomination (which may then classify it as a
The value of precious metal in a coin (see intrinsic).
A raised rim around the outer surface of a coin.
A manufacturing facility for producing coins.
The number of coins produced by a mint for a specific
The original surface of a newly minted coin (see luster).
A letter or symbol used to denote the mint which produced
A specially packaged group of uncirculated coins from one
or more mints of the same nation containing at least one coin for most
or all of the denominations issued during a particular year.
A level of preservation signifying the same basic
condition as when originally delivered from the mint (uncirculated).
One or more digits of a date punched away from the
A world or phrase found on a coin, e.g. "E Pluribus
A coin struck from two dies not intended to be used
Coloration resulting from chemical change on the surface
during normal environmental exposure over a prolonged period.
A small mark on a coin usually caused by contact with a
The art and science relating to the study of coins,
tokens, medals, paper money and similar objects.
A student and/or collector who is knowledgeable in
A small ancient Greek silver coin (worth 1/6 of a
The front or "heads" side of a coin, usually
the side with the date and main design.
An error caused by incorrectly centering the planchet
during the striking process, which results in part of the design missing
from the coin.
Refers to a coin that has not been "doctored",
i.e. cleaned or tampered with post the original minting process.
A coin struck from a die with one or more digits of the
date repunched over a different digit, e.g. the 1942/1 Mercury dime.
The practice of assigning a higher grade to a coin than
it truly deserves.
A mintmark punched on top of another mintmark, such as a
'D' over an 'S'.
An impression made with different dies on a previously
The formation of oxides or tarnish on the surface of a
coin from exposure to humidity, air pollutants, or other environmental
Paper notes with standardized characteristics issued as
Another term for exonumia.
A surface film found on coins (usually brown or green)
caused by oxidation over a long period of time.
A coin struck as a trial or test piece for a new design -
many times without all final legends, dates, design details, etc. - may
be struck on different alloys than the final issue.
piece of eight
An early Spanish coin with a face value of eight reales.
Having a rough surface due to loss of metal by corrosion.
A piece of metal - previously termed a blank - now with
raised rims from an upsetting machine - but not yet struck by the coin
A holed coin that has been filled.
Having a granular surface as the result of oxidation.
A set of coins produced by the U.S. Mint containing one
or more proof commemorative coins released in the same year, as well as
a proof cent, nickel, dime, quarter and half.
Any coin that has been cleaned, damaged or has other
Coins struck mainly for collectors as special
presentation pieces using specially polished or otherwise prepared dies.
An business strike coin having mirror-like fields giving
it an appearance similar to that of a proof strike.
A specially packaged set of proof coins.
A U.S. $2.50 gold coin minted from 1796 through 1929.
Generally relates to the infrequency or relative
unavailability of a coin, as a direct function of important factors such
as the original mintage and overall survival rate.
A convention for designating the relative rarity of a
A former basic monetary unit of Spain and Spanish
The nickname for A Guide Book to United States Coins,
a retail price guide for U.S. coins published annually since 1947.
The edge of a coin with grooved lines that run vertically
around its perimeter.
The part of a coin design that is raised above its
surface (opposite of incuse).
A date with one or more of the digits punched more than
once in different locations and/or orientations.
A mintmark punched more than once in different locations
and/or orientations. (RPM)
A coin struck with authentic dies later than the original
date of issue.
The back or "tails" side of a coin.
The vein lines on the surface of a leaf.
The outer edge of a coin, often raised to avoid premature
Roman Finish Proof
Term given to designate certain U.S. proof coins made at
the Philadelphia mint in 1909-1910.
A deep line or groove in a coin caused by contact with a
sharp or rough object (much more dramatic than a hairline).
One coin of each year issued from each mint of a specific
design and denomination, e.g., Shield Nickels 1866-1883.
Available for examination prior to a final purchase
Unavailable for examination prior to a final purchase
Paper money that was once redeemable for its face value
A clad coin with one layer containing silver, e.g. U.S.
half dollars 1965-1970.
A coin produced by the U.S. mint beginning in 1986
containing one ounce of silver and a face value of one dollar (not
intended for circulation).
The sealed hard plastic holder used by 3rd-party
professional grading services to house coins they have determined to be
authentic - has a label denoting the specific grading service, grade
assigned to the coin and other information.
A coin which is just this side of uncirculated with only
very slight traces of wear - (AU58).
Precious metal used to back money, usually gold and
Assigning individual grades to the obverse and reverse
sides of a coin.
A small area of corrosion or foreign substance. Also,
short for spot price.
The market price for immediate delivery of a commodity,
such as gold, silver or platinum.
Difference between buy and sell prices on the same coin(s)
from the same party. Also, the degree of separation between impressions
on a doubled die.
A U.S. $4 gold coin pattern minted 1879-1880.
Thin raised lines on the surface of a coin, caused by
excessive polishing of the die.
The process of impressing a design into a planchet by
force of the dies to create a coin.
Another term for machine doubling.
An ancient Greek silver coin weighing about 13 to 17
grams, similar in size to a U.S. quarter but much thicker.
The rubbing of skin oil onto a coin in an attempt to hide
A coin-like object redeemable for a particular product or
service, such as bus rides, beer or video games.
Color acquired from chemical change on the surface.
A U.S. dollar coin minted from 1873 through 1885
specifically for commerce in the Orient;
A U.K. dollar coin minted from 1895 through 1935 specifically for
commerce in the Orient.
A small U.S. 3 cent silver coin minted from 1851-1873.
The sharply cut off bottom edge of a bust.
A plastic container designed for storing a roll or
similar quantities of coins of the same size.
Any coin of a particular design and denomination, usually
referred to one of the more common dates of any specific series.
A collection of coins of various designs.
A state of preservation used to describe coins that never
circulated in the channels of commerce, i.e. a coin without any wear
A coin of which only one specimen is known to exist, e.g.
the U.S. 1870-S $3 gold piece.
A variety of U.S. silver dollar described in the book Morgan
and Peace Dollars by Van Allen and Mallis.
A minor change from the basic design of a specific coin
A tabulation of collectibles sought by a collector, often
including limits on condition and/or price.
Metal lost during handling and contact with other
Alteration by mechanical polishing to produce a shiny
A collection of coins issued by various nations.
A collection of coins with one of each denomination for a
specific year and country. A popular birthday gift.