Credits for this glossary go to
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. This was a fairly common practice
on many early U.S. coins, in particular bust
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 cupro-nickel.
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 500 A.D.
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
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
A coin with the center and outer
ring(s) having different metal alloys.
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 details.
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
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
A coin struck with the intent of
serving in the channels of commerce, i.e. to be
Post confederation Canadian
A coin, usually a Proof strike, with
a frosted or satiny central device surrounded by a
The pattern of light reflected by
flow lines of mint state coins, resembling spokes of
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 professional service.
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
An organized unit of various
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 history.
The finest known specimens of a
particular coin type or variety.
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
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
mirrorlike 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
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
Nornal 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
A frequently-used spelling of "dime"
in the 17th century.
An error in which a coin is restruck
by the die pair of another denomination.
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
A U.S. $10 gold coin minted from 1795
through 1933. Also, the current U.S. bullion program
The perimeter of coin, sometimes
referred to as the "3rd" side.
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 engraver's
Tokens, medals and other non-monetary
The ordinary monetary worth of a coin
or note at the time of issue.
The background on a coin, not used
for a design or inscription.
The head of Liberty on U.S. coins
with her hair tied with a band, generally on the
The purity of a precious metal coin,
usually expressed as a percentage one thousand
A 3 cent silver U.S. coin sometimes
referred to as a trime. Also, a 5 cent silver
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 of decree.
Minute oxidation spots on a coin,
often caused by small dropplets 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.
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 cents).
A U.S. $5 gold coin minted from 1795
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 "soft"
A coin (usually a U.S. Buffalo
nickel) reengraved to produce a different image.
Having a hole drilled through it,
usually for jewelry use.
A device designed for storage and/or
display of numismatic items.
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 of relief).
The legend or lettering on a coin.
Net metallic value sans
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
Chet Krause/Clifford Mishler number
assigned to a coin in popular referrence books.
A defect caused by metal detaching
from the rest of a coin. Somewhat common with clad
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
The inscription found on the edge of
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 doubling).
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
A raised rim around the outer surface
of a coin.
A manufacturing facility for
The number of coins produced by a
mint for a specific time period.
The original surface of a newly
minted coin (see lustre).
A letter or symbol used to denote the
mint which produced the coin.
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
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 intended location.
A world or phrase found on a coin,
e.g "E Pluribus Unum".
A coin struck from two dies not
intended to be used together.
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 another coin.
The art and science relating to the
study of coins, tokens, medals, paper money and
A student and/or collector who is
knowledgeable in numismatics.
A small ancient Greek silver coin
(worth 1/6 of a drachma).
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
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 struck coin.
The formation of oxides or tarnish on
the surface of a coin from exposure to humidity, air
pollutants, or other environmental elements.
Paper notes with standardized
characteristics issued as money.
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 dies.
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 undesirable traits.
Coins struck mainly for collectors as
special presentation pieces using specially polished
or otherwise prepared dies.
An business strike coin having
mirrorlike fields giving it an appearance similar to
that of a proof strike.
A specially packaged set of proof
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 coin.
A former basic monetary unit of Spain
and Spanish colonies.
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
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
The outer edge of a coin, often
raised to avoid premature wear.
Roman Finish Proof
Term given to designate certain U.S.
proof coins made at the Philadelphia mint in
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 decision.
Unavailable for examination prior to
a final purchase decision.
Paper money that was once redeemable
for its face value in silver.
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
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 -
Precious metal used to back money,
usually gold and silver.
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
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
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
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 contact marks.
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
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
A plastic container designed for
storing a roll or similar quantities of coins of the
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
A state of preservation used to
describe coins that never circulated in the channels
of commerce, i.e. a coin without any wear from
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 type.
A tabulation of collectibles sought
by a collector, often including limits on condition
Metal lost during handling and
contact with other objects.
Alteration by mechanical polishing to
produce a shiny surface.
A collection of coins issued by
A collection of coins with one of
each denomination for a specific year and country. A
popular birthday gift.