ABC to Coin Collecting Glossary

Keeping up with the Terms, Abbreviations and Jargon

can be sometimes frightening - We made it easier to understand

We hope that the following Coin Collecting Glossary on the most frequently used terms, acronyms, and definitions will be beneficial to you.

Coin Term Glossary

























About Good


This grade is given to a coin that falls short of Good. Only the main features (such as the Peripheral lettering, date, stars, etc.) of the coin are present in this grade or partially worn away. This grade is also sometimes referred to as grade AG-3.

About Uncirculated


At first glance, these coins would appear Uncirculated but will show slight friction or slight wear when they are investigated closer. The grades given for them are AU50, 53, 55, or 58.


Any Area(s) of the coin where a foreign object or another coin has displaced metal in an abraded fashion.


A miscellaneous grouping of coins, and should not be confused with a coin collection. Examples of these are a grouping of a particular type, date, or series. (Example: an accumulation–of coins with Swallows or a certain animal on.)

Adjustment Marks


These are Pre-striking file marks usually found on gold/silver coins that were minted before 1840. After 1840 these are not seen due to the improvement of the striking process and that the filing was on the rim.


About Good (the Grade). The letter(3) refers to the corresponding numerical description. The lettering on the coin is readable, with some moderate-heavy wear on the rim.


Actual Gold Weight - This refers to the physical amount of pure gold in a coin, medal or bar. Any alloys are included in the gross weight of the gold coin but excluded when referring to the AGW. 22 Carat Gold coins do have a percentage of copper in them.

Album Friction


Friction might be slight, due to rubbing on the high points – Similar to album slide marks.

Album Slide Marks

Lines, due to the surface of a coin by the plastic partition of an album.


A mixture of two or more metals. Metals are sometimes mixed to make the coins more durable or a metal value less.

Almost Uncirculated

Opposite of About Uncirculated.



Inclusion of date, mintmark, or other feature that has been changed, added or removed, usually to simulate a rarer issue. An example of this is the “99” over-stamped ZAR Kruger Pond which only 130 were produced.

American Eagle

The United States Mint started in 1986 to sell silver bullion coins in the denomination of $1. The following year, they added a series of gold coins to the series and expanded it to 1/10, ¼, ½, and 1-ounce versions. On the reverse of each coin, a family of eagles is shown, hence the name.


American Numismatic Association - Founded in 1888 as a non-profit numismatic organization founded to promote numismatics.


American Numismatic Association Certification Service - Started originally only doing authentication, but grading services were later introduced. This service was later sold and now operates as a third-party grading service, under the same name.

ANACS Certificate

This certificate is supplied by the ANA Certification Service to authenticity
and/or grade coins.


Any coins in the world struck circa 600 B.C. to circa 450 A.D.



The heating of a die or planchet softens the metal. This is done before
preparation of the die or striking of the coin.


American Numismatic Society

Anvil Die


The die upon which a planchet rests prior to it getting struck. Lower die refers usually to the reverse – although, on some issues with striking problems, the obverse was employed as the lower die. The fixed lower-die impression is in some cases better struck than the upper-die impression, due to the process of minting.


 To file or collect


Normally design element – Look at the left claw of the eagle seen on many United States coins.

Arrows and Rays

Refers to the quarters and a half dollars of 1853. The rays were removed in 1854 – This was done due to the complexity of this design.

Arrows at Date

A term referring to the arrows to the right and left of the date, added to the dies to indicate a weight decrease of increase.

Artificial Toning

Colouring to the surface of a coin using heat or the introduction of certain chemicals.

Asking Price


The price or selling quotation on any form of publication, this can be either on the internet, newspaper, newsletter or in person.


To test (analyze or examine) the metallic content of a coin.


The elements that make up a coin’s grade, for example, the marks, lustre, strike, and eye appeal.

AU-50 , AU-53, AU-55, AU-58

About Uncirculated(the grade) and50(the numerical designation of that grade). There are four AU grades. AU-50 is the lowest. The other grades are AU53, AU55, and AU58. High points of the coin will have wear that is easily noticeable to the naked eye. AU-58 shows the slightest wear on the high points, even though it may be necessary to tilt the coin towards the light source to see the friction.


Auctions are taking place every day and a very good example is or bidorbuy. Coins are offered for sale – Buyers interested will look at pictures and descriptions and based on this, bid against other buyers. The price is not fixed.


The process of determining the genuineness of a coin or numismatic item by inspecting it and using consistent methods.



Cloth sacks that are used to store or transport money in.

Bag Mark

A generic term is applied to a mark on coins that occur during transport and is caused by other coins.

Bag Toning

Coins that are stored in bags sometimes react to the sulfur content, paint, or other chemicals from the bag, especially when they are stored for long periods.

Bank-wrapped rolls

Coins are wrapped by banks in rolls of paper or plastic.

Barber Coinage

A common name for the Charles Barber designed Liberty Head coins(dimes, quarters, and half dollars) struck between 1892 and 1916.

Basal State

The condition of a coin that is identifiable only as to date mint mark(if present), and type; one-year-type coins may often not have a date visible.

Basal Value

The value base from which Dr William H. Sheldon's 70-point grade/price system.

Base Metal

A metal not classified as a precious metal (i.e. copper, zinc).

Baseball Cap Coin

Jargon for a Pan-Pac commemorative gold dollar coin. The figure wears a cap similar to a baseball cap.


This process improves the surface using polishing a die to impart a mirrored surface or to remove clash marks or other injuries during the die.

Beaded Border

Small, round devices around the edge of coins.


A coin comprised of two different metals, bonded together



Seller submits a bid on a particular product. The highest bidder at the close of the bid is the winner – Sites offering these services are eBay or BidorBuy.



Refers to the person(participant) who bids or the electronic trading systems that are interacting during an auction.

Bidder Number

The number or a unique number assigned by auction websites/houses to its participants.


An alloy of gold or silver with a predominant base metal.


The flat metal disc of metal, before it is struck by the “coining machine” or dies. The surface is clean, flat and has no impression on it. Also referred to as “flan” or Planchet.


A term applied to an element of a coin (design, date, lettering, etc.) that is worn into another element or the surrounding field.


The term is used to refer to the lustrous appearance of a coin immediately after striking - caused by the clash of the metal die and planchet.


The United States Wholesale(blue in colour) pricing book is issued yearly and in demand by collectors and sellers of coins.


Jargon for the Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter.


Abbreviation for Branch Mint”. Refers to US Mint other than Philadelphia.





Jargon for a coin returned from a grading service in a plastic sleeve within a flip. These coins were not graded or encapsulated, due to various reasons, such as questionable authenticity, cleaning, polishing, damage, repair, etc.


Just another word for “Coin show”

Bourse floor

The physical area where a coin show is taking place.

Boy wonder


Jargon's name for a young inexperienced coin dealer that quickly makes a success in dealing with numismatics.

Braided Hair

Style of hair on half cents and large cents from 1840.

Branch mint

One of the various subsidiary government facilities that struck, or still strikes, coins.


The term refers to the removal of a coin from its certified slab for re-submitting to the same or different certification service for a hoped-for-upgrade.

Breast feathers

The central feathers are seen in many of the eagle designs.


A coin with full lustre, unhindered by toning, or impeded only by extremely light toning.

Brilliant Uncirculated

A generic term for any coin that has not been in circulation.


Refers to a Mint error. Most brokerages are partial; full brokerages are rare and the most desirable collector coins.


An alloy of copper, tin, and zinc. Copper is the principal metal.


the term applied to a copper coin that has lost the red/yellow colour of copper.


Brilliant Uncirculated

BU Rolls


Wrapped coins (usually in paper) in specific quantities for each coin type or denomination. These rolls make handling, managing and transporting coins easier.

Buckled Die

A die that produces coins that are slightly “bent”, possibly from excess clashing. This normally affects only on side of the coin.

Buffalo Nickel

Jargon for the Indian Head nickel(1913-1938). The buffalo depicted on the coin is an American Bison.

Bulged die

A die has been used so many times that small indentations are formed in it. This causes small uneven areas when the coins are struck.


Only the precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, palladium and in some cases Copper) are included as bullion.

Bullion Coin

A legal tender coin that trades at a slight premium to its raw value. This coin can easily be transferred to cash.


Given a glossy surface by a buffing wheel. Proof dies were usually burnished before striking. A coin burnished after striking would be considered impaired or it means abrasively cleaned after it leaves the mint.


A process by which the surface of a coin is made to shine through means of rubbing or polishing it.

Burnishing Lines

Lines resulting from burnishing.


Jargon for a coin that has been over-dipped to the point where the surfaces are dull and lacklustre.

Business strike

Coins that received only one strike from a die and were intended for commercial use or general circulation (commerce).


The head, neck and partial shoulders of a portrait.

Bust dollar

Refers to Silver dollars struck from 1795-1803.



Mintmark used to signify coins struck at the Charlotte, North Carolina branch Mint.



Cabinet Friction

Slight hairlines or friction seen on coins were stored in wooden boxes. Today coins are housed in capsules before they are placed in these wooden boxes.




The term applied to coins, usually to describe proof and proof-like coins.


Any coins and numismatic items of Canada.

Canadian silver

Silver coins of Canada are about 80% pure Silver.

Cap Bust

The alternate form of Capped Bust.

Capped Bust


A term describing any of the various incarnations of the head of Miss Liberty represented on early U.S. coins by a bust with a floppy cap. This design is credited to John Reich.

Capped Die


The term applied to an error in which a coin gets jammed in the coining press and remains for successive strikes, eventually forming a “cap” either on the upper or lower die. These are sometimes spectacular with the “cap” often many times taller than a normal coin.

Carbon Spot

A spot seen mainly on copper and gold coins, though also occasionally found on U.S. nickel coins (which are 75% copper) and silver coins (which are 10% copper). Carbon spots are brown to black spots of oxidation that range from minor to severe – Some coins could be so damaged by carbon sport that they are not gradable.

Carson City Mint

Located in Nevada, this mint produced gold and silver coins from 1870-1893. This mint uses the “CC” mintmark on all their coins.


Seen on some coins when they are rotated in a good light source. The lustre rotates around like the spokes of a wagon wheel.


Made by pouring molten metal directly into a mould. This method is not being used anymore.

Cast Blanks

Planchets are made by a moulding method, rather than being cut from strips of metal.

Cast Counterfeit


A replication of a genuine coin is usually created by making moulds of the obverse and reverse, then casting base metal in the moulds. A seam is usually visible on the edge unless it has been ground away.

Castaing Machine

A device invented by French engineer Jean Castaing, added the edge lettering and devices to early U.S. coins before they were struck. This machine was used until close collar dies were introduced which applied the edge device in the striking process.


A printed listing of coins for sale either by auction or private treaty. As a verb, to write the description of the numismatic items offered.


Coarse Beard – see Coarse Beard.


Mintmark used to signify coins struck at the Carson City, Nevada branch Mint.


The term applied to coins struck at the Carson City, Nevada branch Mint.


Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter.


Certified Coin Exchange.


Coin Dealer Newsletter.


Refers to any number of coins certified and graded in a specific grade by grading services.

Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter

The official name for the Bluesheet that lists bids/market prices for third-party certified coins.


Certified Coin Exchange.



Charlotte Mint

Located in North Carolina, the branch Mint at Charlotte operated from 1838-1861. The Charlotte mint struck only gold coins. The coins bear the “C” mintmark.


A practice which forgers use to re-create a mint mark on a coin. It involves heating a particular surface and affecting the metal to re-create the mintmark.


To mislead, recognize and buy rare/scarce coins, as a common coin from an unsuspecting/inexperienced seller.


An adjectival description applied to the coin's grade, e.g., choice Uncirculated, Choice Very Fine, etc. Used to describe an especially attractive example of a particular grade.

Choice UNC

Choice Uncirculated.

Choice Uncirculated

An Uncirculated coin grading MS-63 or MS-64.


Coins that have been handled and shows wear, ranging from slight rubbing to heavy wear.


A term applied to coins that have been used for trade/commerce.

Circulation strike

An alternate term for Business Strike or Regular Strike. A coin meant for commerce.


A term used to describe any modern coins that have layers of copper and nickel. The copper core is surrounded by a copper-nickel alloy, to make it look more durable.

Clash Marks

The images of the dies are seen on coins struck from clashed dies.

Clashed Dies

Dies that have been damaged by striking each other without a planchet between them.

Classic Head

A depiction of Miss Liberty that looked like a Roman or Greek athlete wearing a ribbon around the hair.


Removal of the original surface using any form of cleaning.


A coin struck from a clipped planchet.


Planchet with an irregularly cut or shape. A clip can be curved or straight.

Clogged Die

A die has grease or contains a contaminant in the recessed areas. Coins struck from lack enough detail or it’s completely missing.

Close Dollar

The edge device, sometimes called a collar die, surrounds the lower die. The close collar imparts reeding or a smooth, plain edge.

Closed Collar

An alternate form of a close collar

Coarse Beard

Refers to the coarse beard on the Obverse of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek(ZAR), 1874 coins.


The use of any metal and formed in the shape of a disc(This artefact have a consistent weight, design, thickness, diameter, metal index) and is authorized by the government as means of payment.

Coin Collection

A systematic grouping of coins assembled for a hobby, fun or profit.

Coin Collector

An individual or person who accumulates coins in a systematic manner. It also refers to a numismatist (a person who devotes time to studying coins).

Coin Dealer Newsletter

Weekly periodical commonly called the Greysheet, listing bid and ask prices for many United States coins.

Coin Friction

A term applied to the area resulting when coins rub against each other in bags or rolls.

Coin Grading

Coin grading is in the eye of the beholder and the grade should always be universal and common to every grader and coin. Any artefacts after the coin leave the mint press such as rim nicks, rim bumps, blemishes or scratches with lower the coin value. 3x-5x magnification is used to inspect and study coins.

Coin Show

A show composed of coin dealers displaying their wares for sale and trade. These shows are normally hosted by the mint.

Coin Struck

The Vertical axis on the obverse design is opposite (180 degrees) to that of the reverse.

Coin Universe

The Internet site was established in 1994 for the trading of numismatic items.

Coin Universe 3000

An index of 3000 prices of the most important the United States rare coins in the most collectable grades.

Coin Universe Daily Price Guide

A price guide available on the internet listing approximate selling prices for PCGS graded coins of nearly every United States issue in multiple grades. These prices are compiled from electronic networks, auctions, price lists, coin shows, and so on.

Coin Universe Hall of Fame

A listing of famous numismatists, past and present, is available on the internet through the Coin Universe portal.

Coin World

Weekly numismatic periodical was established in 1960.


The metallic money of a specific country.


A metal piece that either positions a planchet beneath the dies and/or restrains the expanding metal of a coin during striking. Collars are considered the “third” die. Today this is used to impart the edge markings to a coin. Collars can a simple hole in a flat piece of metal or a set of segments that pull away from the coin after it is struck.


Short for “coin collection.”


An individual or person who collects a group of coins or other numismatic items of value.




Coins are issued to honour a place, event or person.

Commercial grade


A grade that is usually one level higher than the market grade; refers to a coin that is pushed a grade, such as an EF/AU coin (corresponding to 45+) sold as AU-50.

Commercial strike

A synonym for a regular strike or business strike.


This refers to the numismatic issues of a series of coins.

Common Date

A particular issue within a series that is readily available. No exact number can be used to determine which coins are common dates as this is relative to the mintage of the series.

Complete Set

A term for all possible coins within a series, all types, or all coins from a particular country Mint.


The state of preservation of a particular numismatic issue.

Condition Census

The listing of finest-known examples of a particular date coin is listed according to their condition.

Condition Rarity

A term to indicate a common coin that is rare when found in high grades. Also, the rarity level at a particular grade and higher.

Consensus Grading

The process of determining the condition of a coin by using various graders.

Contact Marks

Marks on a coin are incurred through contact with another coin or a foreign object. These are generally small, compared to other types of marks such as gouges.

Contemporary Counterfeit

A coin, usually base metal, is struck from crudely engraved dies and made to pass for face value at the time of its creation. Sometimes such counterfeits are collected along with the genuine coins, especially in the case of American Colonial issues.

Continental Dollars

1776 dated “dollars” struck in pewter (scarce), brass (rare), copper (extremely rare) and silver (extremely rare). Although likely struck sometime later than 1776, these saw extensive circulation. The design was inspired by certain Benjamin Franklin sketches. Some of these were possibly struck as pattern “cents” instead of “dollars.”

Copper Spot

A spot(small red/orange areas) or stain commonly seen on gold coinage, indicates an area of copper concentration that has oxidized or impurities in their alloy. Copper spots or stains vary from tiny dots to large blotches.


Jargon for half cents, large cents, and pre-Federal copper issues.


Any reproduction, fraudulent or otherwise, of a coin.

Copy Dies

Dies are made at a later date, usually showing slight differences from the originals.

Coronet Head

An alternate name for Braided Hair design by Christian Gobrecht (also called Liberty Head design).



The damage that results when reactive chemicals act upon metal. When toning ceases to be a protective coating and instead begins to damage a coin, corrosion is the cause. Usually confined to copper, nickel and silver regular issues, although patterns in aluminium, white metal, tin, etc., also are subject to this harmful process.


The price paid for a numismatic item.


A fake coin that is not genuine. The term also applied to issues with added mint marks, altered dates, artefacts after the coin was struck, etc.



A stamp or impression is placed on a coin after it has left the Mint of origin. Counterstamp leaves a permanent impression on the coin and may increase
or improve its value. it is sometimes used as an advertising gimmick.

Counting Machine Mark

A dense patch of lines was caused by the rubber wheel of a counting machine where the wheel was set with insufficient spacing for the selected coin. Many coins have been subjected to counting machines – among these are Mercury dimes, Buffalo nickels, Walking Liberty half dollars, Morgan and Peace dollars, and Saint-Gaudens double eagles.


A word that is used to describe a coin that is graded the same at two different grading services.


British name for a five-shillings coin and also refers to the Silver Five Shillings(1892 only) produced as part of the President Kruger series.




Coin Universe 3000



An area of a coin struck by a die that has a complete break across part of its surface. A cud may be either a retained cud, where the faulty piece of the die is still in place or a full cud, where the piece of the die has fallen away. Retained cuds usually have dentil detail if on the edge, while full cuds do not.


A term for a coin excessively worn or damaged. These coins are non-collectables, due to their extremely bad condition. These coins will not grade as Poor-1, due to environmental damage, excessive handling or post-striking damage.


Any alloy of copper and nickel. Now usually used about the modern “sandwich” issues. The copper-nickel cents, three-cent nickel issues, and nickel issues are also cupro-nickel.


This refers to improving the appearance of a coin by cleaning and stabilizing its surface using the use of non-abrasive methods.


Money in any form when in actual use as a medium of exchange.




Mintmark was used on gold coins of the Dahlonega, Georgia, Mint from 1838 to 1861 and on coins of all denominations struck at the Denver, Colorado, Mint from 1906 to the present.



A term used for the gold coinage struck at the branch Mint in Dahlonega, Georgia, from 1838 to 1861, and for the coinage struck at the branch Mint in Denver, Colorado, from 1906 to the present.


The numerals on a coin represent the year in which it was minted.

Date Set

A collection of coins all marked with the same year


Deep Cameo.


Short for Deep Cameo.


Doubled Die Obverse.


Someone whose occupation is buying, selling, and trading numismatic material.


This refers to underweight coins or coins whose precious metal content is inferior to legal standards.

Deep Cameo


The term applied to coins, usually Proofs and prooflike coins, that have deeply frosted devices and lettering that contrast with the fields - often called “black and white” cameos.

Deep Mirror Prooflike

Any coin that has deeply reflective mirror-like fields.


Removed from circulation or declared not to be legal tender.


The face value of a coin. The value assigned by a government to a specific coin.



The tooth-like devices around the rim seen on many coins. Originally these are somewhat irregular, later much more uniform - the result of better preparatory and striking machinery.


Short for denticles.

Denver Mint

The Denver Mint was established in 1906. It had formerly been an Assay Office since 1863. Today, this Mint manufactures coins of all denominations for general circulation, medals, coin dies, stores gold and silver bullion, and manufactures uncirculated coin sets and commemorative coins. This mint uses the “D” mintmark.


A particular motif on a coin or other numismatic item. The Seated Liberty, Barber, Morgan, etc. are examples of designs.

Design Type

A specific motif placed upon coinage may be used for several denominations and subtypes, e.g., the Liberty Seated design type used for silver coins from half dimes through dollars and various subtypes therein.


The individual is responsible for a particular motif used for a numismatic series.  The initials of the designer are normally found on the coin just below the portrait.


Any specific design element. Often refers to the principal design element.

Device Punch

A steel rod with a raised device on the end is used to punch the element into a working die. This technique was used before hubbed dies became the norm.


A steel rod that is engraved, punched or hubbed with devices, lettering, the date, and other emblems.

Die Alignment

Term to indicate the relative position of the obverse and reverse dies. When the dies are out of alignment, several things can happen: If the dies are out of parallel, weakness may be noted in a quadrant of the coin's obverse and the corresponding part of the reverse; and if the dies are spaced improperly, the resultant coins may have an overall weakness; if the dies are spaced too close together, the resultant coin may be well struck but the dies wear more quickly.

Die Breaks


Raised irregular areas on a coin, the result of metal from the planchet being forced through a portion of the die which has broken and fallen out during the minting process. Dies are made of steel and they crack from use and have to be checked often. When the die breaks apart, the resultant break will result in a full, or retained, cud depending on whether the broken piece falls from the die or not.

Die Crack

Raised, irregular lines on a coin, the result of a die having cracked and metal being forced through those cracks at the time of striking

Die Line


These are the raised lines on the coins that result from the polish lines on the die, which are incuse, resulting in the raised lines on the coins.

Die Polish(ing)

An area of raised lines or highly reflective area of a coin, most often in the fields, that resulted from striking from dies that had been recently polished.

Die Rust

Rust that has accumulated on a die that was not stored properly.

Die Stage

There are two definitions for this term. One, many numismatists use it as a synonym for die state. Two, some numismatists use the term die stage to refer to the specific status of a certain die state.

Die State


A readily identified point in the life of a coinage die. Often dies clash and are polished, crack, break, etc., resulting in different stages of the die. These are called die states. Some coins have barely distinguishable die states, while others go through multiple distinctive ones.

Die Striations


Raised lines on coins that were struck with polished dies. As more coins are struck with such dies, the striations become fainter until most disappear.

Die Trial

A test striking of a particular dies in a different metal.

Die Variety

A coin that can be linked to a given set of dies because of characteristics possessed by those dies and imparted to the coin at the time it was struck.

Die Wear


Deterioration in a die caused by excessive use. This may evidence itself on coins produced with that die in a few indistinct letters or numerals or, in extreme cases, a loss of detail throughout the entire coin.


The denomination, one-tenth of a dollar, issued since 1796 by the United States.


Jargon term for a small to medium size mark.


A term applied to a coin that has been placed in a commercial cleaning liquid, it can be a mild acid wash that removes the toning from most coins. Some dip solutions employ other chemicals, such as bases, to accomplish a similar result. Dipping coins will remove tarnish, natural toning or dirt from a coin.

Dipping Solution

Any of the commercial dips available on the market, usually acid-based.



The original spelling of dime, the s silent and thought to have been pronounced to rhyme with steam. (This variation was used in Mint documents until the 1830s and was officially changed by the Coinage Act of 1837.)


Deep Mirror Prooflike


Did Not Cross (Grading fees still apply)


A term used for a numismatic item that has been enhanced by chemical or other means. Usually, this is used in a deprecating way.

Double Eagle

Literally two eagles, or twenty dollars.

Double Edge Lettering-Inverted


It is normally a coin sent through the edge lettering device a second time with one set of lettering upside down. It also includes doubling any design element due to the slippage of the edge lettering device, such as a P mintmark over the 9 of the date.

Double Edge Lettering-Overlap


It is normally a coin sent through the edge lettering device a second time with the lettering in the same direction. It also includes doubling of many design element due to slippage of the edge lettering device, such as a P mintmark over the 9 of the date.

Double(d) die


A die that has been struck more than once by a hub in misaligned positions, resulting in a doubling of design elements. When this doubled die is used and area or the entire devices of one side of the coin appears doubled.


Jargon for the rare 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent variety.



A condition that results when a coin is not ejected from the dies and is struck a second time. Such a coin is said to be double-struck. Triple-struck coins and other multiple strikings also are known. Proofs are usually double-struck on purpose to sharpen their details; this is sometimes only visible under magnification.


Daily Price Guide


Deep Prooflike

Draped Bust


The design attributed to Mint engraver Robert Scot that features Miss Liberty with a drape across her bust. Scot presumably copied the design after a portrait by Gilbert Stuart.

Drift Mark


An area on a coin, often rather long, that has a discoloured, streaky look. This is the result of impurities or foreign matter in the dies. One theory is that burnt wood was rolled into the strips from which the planchets were cut, resulting in these black streaks.


A term for a numismatic item that is lacklustre. This may be the result of cleaning, oxidation, or other environmental conditions.



Early American Coppers


An area of certain coins that is significant to the strike.

Early Strike


One of the first coins struck from a pair of dies. Such coins are generally fully struck, with no die flaws, and they are usually Prooflike and/or exhibit cameo contrast.


Environmental Damage


The third side of a coin. It may be plain, reeded, or ornamented – with lettering or other elements raised or incuse. The edge is the actual side of the coin and should never be confused with the rim.

Edge Device

A group of letters or emblems on the edge of a coin.


Extremely Fine' (the grade) and40(the numerical designation of the grade). Also called XF-40. About 90% of the original detail is still evident and the devices are sharp and clear.


Extremely Fine(the grade) and45(the numerical designation of the grade). Also called XF-45. About 95% of the original detail is still evident and the devices are sharp and clear.


The coin is created by the electrolytic method, in which metal is deposited into a mould made from the original. The obverse and reverse metal shells are then filled with metal and fused – after which the edges sometimes are filed to obscure the seam.


For numismatic condition purposes, the various components of grading. In other numismatic contexts, this term refers to the various devices and emblems seen on coins.


 Symbol or mark used as an identifying mark.

Emission Sequence

The order in which die states are struck. Also, the die use sequence for a particular issue.


This refers to the grading service's practise of placing a certified coin in a sealed plastic holder. Once encapsulated, the coin is protected and bears the certified grade, guarantees, etc. before being returned to the submitter.


The person is responsible for the design and/or punches used for a particular numismatic item.

Envelope Toning

A term applied to tone that results from storage mainly in 2 x 2 manila envelopes; most paper envelopes contain reactive chemicals.

Environmental Damage

The Corrosion-effect seen on a coin that has been exposed to the elements. This may be minor, such as nearly black toning, to major - a coin found in the ground or water which has severely pitted surfaces. PCGS does not grade coins with environmental damage.

Eroded die

Synonym for “worn die


A numismatic item that by coincidence varies from the standard. Ordinarily, overdates are not errors since they were done intentionally while other die-cutting “mistakes” are considered errors. Double dies, planchet clips, off-metal strikings are also referred to as errors.


A term for trial, pattern, and experimental strikings. The anglicized version is an essay and means a test or trial.


This refers to the lower part of the design, below the main design and generally separated from the field by a line.


A specialist in a particular numismatic area. (i.e. A copper expert, a gold expert, a paper money expert, a D-Mint expert, etc.)

Extra Fine

The alternate form of Extremely Fine

Extremely Fine

The grades EF40 and 45. This grade has nearly full detail with only the high points worn, the fields rubbed often with lustre still clinging in protected areas.

Eye Appeal

The element of a coin's grade that grabs the viewer. The complete appearance of a coin.



Fine (the grade) and 12 (the numerical designation of the grade). The design detail is partially in evidence. The coin is still heavily worn. If there is any eye appeal in this grade it comes from the smooth surfaces associated with this grade, as any distracting marks have usually been worn off through circulation.


Fine (the grade) and 15 (the numerical designation of the grade). Most of the letters in LIBERTY are visible, about 35-50% of the wing feathers are visible, or whatever applies to the coin in question. In other words, the coin is still in a highly collectable shape.

Face Value

This is the stated value on a coin, at which it can be spent or exchanged. The face value is usually different from a coin’s numismatic or precious metal value.


The adjective corresponding to the grade FR-2. In this grade, there is heavy wear with the lettering, devices, and date partially visible.


Jargon for a counterfeit or altered coin.

Fantasy Pieces

A term applied to coins struck at the impulse of Mint officials.


Jargon for the Small Size Capped Bust quarter and half eagles.


Full Bands or Fine Beard.


Full Bell Lines


Full Head

Fiat Currency

Coins and paper money that does not have metal value or is not backed up by metal value.

Fibre Coins

This series was struck by schools to teach kids the use of money. All the pieces were struck onto a fibre material coloured (bronze, silver, gold) to resemble the different coin values.


An old numismatic term for a mint-error.


The flat area of a coin between the legend and the design. There is no design on this portion of the coin. In some cases, these can have a slight curve. 


A PCGS grader who, before computers were used for this task, compared his grade with those of other graders and determined the final grade. The verifier replaced the finalizer after PCGS began inputting the grades by computer.


A grading term indicating moderate to considerable wear. The adjective corresponding to the grades F-12 and 15. In these grades, most of a coin's detail is worn away. Some detail is present in the recessed areas, but it is not sharp.

Fine Beard

Refers to the find beard on the Obverse of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR), 1874 coins.

Finest Known

The best-known condition example of a particular numismatic item.

First Shot

Slang for the opportunity to get the first opportunity to buy items from a particular numismatic deal or a particular dealer.

First Strike (TM)


Beginning in 2004, PCGS began designating coins delivered by the U.S. Mint in the 30 days following the initial sales date of a new product as First Strike. For instance, new American Silver Eagles typically go on sale each January 1st, thus any coins delivered between January 1 and January 31 qualify for the First Strike (TM) designation.

First Type

The first design of a series of coin designs.


Short for a five-dollar gold coin or half eagle.

Five Indian

Slang for the Indian Head half eagles struck from 1908 to 1929.

Five Lib

Slang for the Liberty Head half eagles struck from 1839 until 1908.

Fixed Price List

A dealer listing of items for sale at set prices.

Flat Ddge

A term referring to the particular specimens of High Reliefs that do not have a wire edge.

Flat Luster

A subdued type of lustre seen on coins struck from worn dies. Often these coins have a grey or otherwise dull colour that makes the fields seem even more lacklustre.


The first meaning implies the plastic sleeve(flip) in which coins are stored or the sell of a recently purchased coin.

Flip Rub

Discoloration, often only slight, on the highest points of a coin resulting from contact with a flip.


To sell a new purchase for a small profit, just to rectify the mistake.


Refers to the Silver Two Shilling produced between 1892 and 1897 and is part of the President Kruger Series(Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek, 1892 to 1897)and 1923 to 1936 King George V Series.

Flow Lines

The lines, sometimes visible, resulting from the metal flowing outward from the centre of a planchet as it is struck.

Flying Eagle

Flying Eagle Cent.

Focal Area

The area of a coin to which a viewer's eye is drawn.


Fraudulent imitation.


Any numismatic item or product outside your country.

Four-Dollar Gold Piece

Struck as a pattern(1879-1880) and also known as Stella.


Fixed Price List.


Fair(the grade) and2(the numerical designation that means Fair). A coin that is worn out. There will be some detail intact, the date will be discernible (if not fully readable) and there is almost always heavy wear into the rims and fields.


Franklin Half Dollar

Franklin Half Dollar

The John Sinnock designed a half dollar(1948 to 1963). This coin features the Liberty Bell on the reverse and Ben Franklin on the obverse.


Slight wear on a coin's high points or in the fields, due to handling.


A crystallized-metal effect seen in the recessed areas of a die, thus the raised parts of a coin struck with that die. This is imparted to dies by various techniques, such as sandblasting them or pickling them in acid, then polishing the fields, leaving the recessed areas with frost.

Frosted Devices

Raised elements on coins struck with treated dies that have frost in their lower areas.

Frosty Luster

The crystalline appearance of coins struck with dies that have frost in their recessed areas. Such coins show vibrant lustre on their devices and/or surfaces; the amount of crystallization may vary.


Full Steps

Full strike

A numismatic item that displays the full detail intended by the designer.



Good (the grade) and 4 (the numerical designation of the grade). The major details of the coin will be worn flat. Minor wear into the rims is allowable, but the peripheral lettering will be nearly full.


Good (the grade) and 6 (the numerical designation of the grade). A higher grade (i.e., less worn) than a G-4 coin. The rims will be complete and the peripheral lettering will be full.


The large metal relief used in the portrait lathe from which a positive reduction in steel, called a hub, is made.


An adjectival description applied to Mint State and Proof-65 coins. It also is used for higher grades and as a generic term for a superb coin. gem refers to a coin GRADING 65 on the SHELDON SCALE.

Gem BU

Gem Brilliant Uncirculated


Gem Uncirculated - an adjectival equivalent of Mint State 65 or 66.


Gobrecht dollar

Gobrecht dollar

The silver dollars dated 1836, 1838, and 1839 struck in those years and restruck later (some 1836-dated coins were struck in 1837). These are named for their designer, Christian Gobrecht.


AU, a precious metal

Gold Commem

Gold Commemorative

Gold Commemorative


Any of the eleven commemorate coins struck in gold from 1903 until 1925. Also, any of the modern United States commemorative gold issues, sometimes called modern gold commems.

Gold Dollar

The small coins of one-dollar denomination struck from 1849 until 1889


The adjective corresponding to the grades G-4 and G-6. Coins in these grades usually have little detail but outlined major devices. On some coins, the rims may be worn to the tops of some letters.


Grade Point Average


The numerical or adjectival condition of a coin based on a standard set of rules.

Grade Point Average

Refers to the Grade Point Average of a PCGS Set Registry set. If a set is unweighted the GPA is figured by adding up the grades of each coin and dividing the sum by the number of coins in the set. If a set is weighted (and someday all of the sets will be weighted) then the rarity of the coins is also factored into the equation.


An individual or company that evaluates the condition of coins.


The process of numerically quantifying the condition of a coin. Before the adoption of the Sheldon numerical system, coins were given descriptive grades such as Good, Very Good, Fine, and so forth.


Abnormalities on a coin's surface, caused by oil or grease dropped onto a die during the minting process.


Coin Dealer Newsletter



The area of a coin that represents hair and maybe an important grading aspect.


Thin scratches on a coin, usually in the fields or across the devices which are caused by rough or careless cleaning, wiping or drying of a coin.


Jargon for a half dollar.

Half Crown

Refers to the Silver Two and a Half Shillings produced between 1892 and 1897 as part of the President Kruger series(Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek)

Half Dollar

The denomination was first struck in 1794 and still minted today.

Half Rolls

At times rolls were issued with one half the number of coins in a roll that we consider to be normal today.

Halogen Light

A powerful light source that enables a viewer to examine coins closely. This type of light reveals even the smallest possible flaws.

Hammer Die

The upper die, usually the obverse – which descends to STRIKE the PLANCHET in the coining chamber.


A cloudy film, original or added, seen on both business-strike coins and Proofs.

Heraldic Eagle

Also referred to as the large eagle, this emblem of Liberty resembles the eagles of heraldry.

High End

A term applied to any coin at the upper end of a particular grade.

High Points

The area that is the highest on the coin and prone to wear.


A group of coins held for either numismatic or monetary reasons.

Hoard coin

A coin that exists, or existed, in a quantity held by an individual or organization.


An individual who hoards a large number of numismatic products.

Holder Toning

Any toning acquired by a coin as a result of storage in a holder. Mainly refers to toning seen on coins stored in any type of cardboard holder which contained sulfur and other reactive chemicals.


Minting term for the steel device from which a die is produced. The hub is produced with the aid of a portrait lathe or reducing machine and bears a positive image of the coin's design – that is, it shows the design as it will appear on the coin itself. The image on the die is negative– a mirror image of the design.


Impaired Proof

This refers to a circulated proof, and grades less than PR-60.

Incandescent Light

Direct light from a lamp for photography, as opposed to indirect light such as that from a fluorescent bulb.

Incomplete Strike

A coin that is missing design detail because of a problem during the striking process. The incompleteness may be due to insufficient striking pressure or improperly spaced dies.

Incuse Design

The intaglio design used on Indian Head quarter eagles and half eagles. These coins were struck from dies which had fields recessed so that the devices – the areas usually raised – were recessed on the coins themselves. This was an experiment to try to deter counterfeiting and improve wearing quality.

Indian Cent

The common name for an Indian Head cent.

Indian Head Cent

James Longacre design cents(1859 to 1909). Coins between 1859-1864 were produced with copper-nickel alloy, and between 1864 to 1909 in Bronze.

Indian Head Eagle

The Saint-Gaudens designed ten-dollar gold coin struck from 1907 to 1933.

Indian Penny

Jargon for an Indian Head cent.


A square piece of cast metal, usually of gold or silver, with weight and fineness, specified used in the production of coins.


The legend which is struck onto the coin, some coins have an inscription on the obverse, reverse and even the rim.

Intrinsic value

The value of the metal(s) contained in a numismatic item.


An individual who buys numismatic items strictly for profit. These people do not care to complete a set or particular collection but look at the mintage, scarceness, value and profit ranges.


Jefferson nickel

The Felix Schlag designed five-cent coin first struck from 1938 to date.


Key Coin

The major, or most important, coin in a particular series. The keycoin is usually the lowest-mintage coin and/or the most expensive coin in a particular set.

Key Date

 It refers to a scarce date required to complete a collection, usually more difficult to find and afford.


The number one coin. The 1804 dollar was referred to as the King of Coins in an 1885 auction catalogue. Since then, the word King has come to mean the most important coin of a particular series.

Knife Edge

Jargon for wire edge.




Bullion-gold coins produced by the South African Mint. This was the world's first, government-backed gold coin produced.



A thin piece of metal that has nearly become detached from the surface of a coin. If this breaks off, an irregular hole or planchet flaw is left.


This is the area where the rim extends above the fields to protect the coin. Enables the stacking of coins.

Large Cent

A large copper U.S. coin or South Africa 1cent coin. These were later replaced by a much smaller cent made from a copper-nickel alloy. The value of copper in a large cent had risen to more than one cent, requiring a reduction in weight.

Large date

A term referring to the size of the digits of the date on a coin. Use of this term implies that a medium or small date exists for that coin or series.

Large Eagle

The alternate form of Heraldic Eagle.

Large Letters

A term referring to the size of the lettering of the date on a coin. Use of this term implies that medium or small letters exist for that coin or series.

Large Motto

Common short name for the particular variety of two-cent coin of 1864 with large letters in the motto. Example of the inscription is “IN GOD WE TRUST”

Large Size

A term referring to the particular diameter of a coin in a series. Use of this term implies that there is a small size or diameter with the same motif.


Large Date

Legal Tender

Coins and currency issued by the government as official money that can be used to pay legal debts, transact and obligations.


A phrase that appears on a coin – for instance, SOUTH AFRICA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, etc. The legend is also referred to as the Inscription. The legend tells us important things, such as who made the coin or how much it is worth.

Lettered Edge

A coin edge that displays an inscription or other design elements, rather than being reeded or plain. The lettering can be either incuse (recessed below the surface) or raised. Incuse lettering is applied before a coin is struck; the Mint did this with a device called the Castaing machine. Raised lettering is found on coins struck with segmented collars; the lettering is raised during the minting process, and when the coin is ejected from the dies, the collar falls apart, preventing the lettering from being sheared away.


The alphabet characters used in creating legends, mottoes, and other inscriptions on a coin, whether on the obverse, reverse, or edge.


Jargon for Liberty Head. (i.e. a twenty Lib, a Ten Lib, etc.)


The symbolic figure used in many U.S. coin designs.

Liberty Cap

The head of Miss Liberty, with a cap on a pole by her head, used on certain U.S. half cents and large cents.

Liberty Head

The design used on most U.S. gold coins from 1838 until 1908. This design was first employed by Christian Gobrecht, with later modifications by Robert Ball Hughes and James Longacre. Morgan dollars and Barber coinage sometimes are referred to as Liberty Head coins.

Liberty Nickel

Short for Liberty Head or “V” nickel struck from 1883 until 1912.

Liberty Seated

The motif designed by Christian Gobrecht first used on the Gobrecht dollars of 1836-1839 featuring Miss Liberty seated on a rock.

Light Line

The band of light seen on photographs of coins, especially Proofs.


Jargon for a Lincoln Head cent.

Lincoln penny

Jargon for Lincoln Head cent.


A coin that is on the cusp between two different grades. A 4/5 liner is a coin that is either a high-end MS/PR-64 or a minimum-standard MS/PR-65.

Lint Mark

A repeating depression on a coin, usually thin and curly, caused by a thread that adhered to a die during the coin's production. Lint marks are found primarily on Proofs. After dies are polished, they are wiped with a cloth, and these sometimes leave tiny threads.


Large Letters


The unique number assigned by the auction house to an item(s) to be sold in a particular sale.


A magnifying glass used to examine coins.


The brilliance or shine on a metal. In numismatics, the amount and strength of light reflected from a coin’s surface or its original mint bloom. Lustre is the result of light reflecting on the flow lines, whether visible or not.


An alternate form of lustre.


A term used to describe coins that still have an original mint bloom.


Major Variety

A coin that is easily recognized as having a major difference from other coins of the same design, type, date, and mint.

Market Grading

A numerical grade that matches the grade at which a particular coin generally is traded in the marketplace. The grading standard used by PCGS.


Any imperfections acquired after the striking process.

Master Die

The main die produced from the master hub. Many working hubs are prepared from this single die.

Master hub

The original hub created by the portrait lathe. Master dies are created from this hub.

Matte Proof

An experimental Proof striking, produced by the U.S. Mint mainly from 1907 to 1916, which has sandblasted or acid-pickled surfaces.


Medium Date


A coin-like piece of metal made in honour of a person or event. Not authorized as legal tender nor intended to circulate. Not made to a recognized weight or fineness.


see Medal

Medal Press

A high-pressure coining press acquired by the U.S. Mint, circa 1854-1858, to strike medals, patterns, restrikes, and some regular-issue Proofs.

Medal Struck

The design of the obverse is of the same vertical axis as that of the reverse design.

Medium Date

A term referring to the size of the digits of the date on a coin. Use of this term implies that a large or small date exists for that coin or series.

Medium Letters

A term referring to the size of the lettering of the date on a coin. Use of this term implies that large or small letters exist for that coin or series.

Medium of Exchange

Money in any form when in actual use as a medium of exchange.


Jargon term for the intrinsic value of a particular numismatic item.

Mercury Dime

The common name for the Winged Liberty Head dime(1916 to 1945).

Metal Stress Lines

Radial lines, sometimes visible, that result when the metal flows outward from the centre of the planchet during the minting process.


Struck on planchets cut from rolled strips. Often wrongly used to denote the reeded edge of a coin.

Milling Mark

A mark that results when the reeded edge of one coin hits the surface of another coin. Such contact may produce just one mark or a group of staccato-like marks.

Minor Variety

A coin that has a minor difference from other coins of the same design, type, date, and mint. This minor difference is barely discernible to the unaided eye. The difference between a major variety and a minor variety is a matter of degree.


A coining facility that is registered and Government-owned. This facility is authorised by law and strictly audited and managed.

Mint Bloom

The Original lustre that is still noticeable on a coin.

Mint Luster

The dull, frosty, or satiny shine found on uncirculated coins.

Mint Mark

Variation of the mintmark. This is a letter or symbol of where the coin was minted.  Mint Marks is used for quality control and indicates where it was minted.

Mint Police

Special force or security team that protects all Mint buildings.

Mint Set

A set of Uncirculated coins from a particular year comprising coins. Each coin of the particular series is normally included in this set or available as single MS coins.

Mint Set Toning


This term refers to the colours and patterns coins have acquired from years of storage in the cardboard holders in which Mint Sets were issued from 1947-1958. Since 1959, Mint Sets have been issued in plastic sleeves, thus they do not tone as spectacularly.


Mint State

Mint State

The term corresponding to the numerical grades MS-60 through MS-70 used to denote a business strike coin that never has been in circulation.


The number of coins of a particular date struck at a given mint during a particular year.


The tiny letter(s) stamped into the dies to denote the mint at which a particular coin was struck.


A term applied to the error coins that have striking irregularities.

Mishandled Proof

A Proof coin that has been circulated, cleaned, or otherwise reduced to a level of preservation below PR-60.

Miss Liberty

The term applied to the various incarnations of the emblematic Liberty represented on United States coinage.

Missing Edge Lettering

Is a coin which does not display any of the intended design on the edge of the coin.


Medium Letters


see Mintmark


Jargon for an incredible coin, usually one that grades MS/PR-67 or higher. A secondary use is as an adjective, such as monster lustre or monster colour.


Jargon for an incredible coin, usually one that grades MS/PR-67 or higher.


Short for “Morgan dollar.”

Mottled Toning

Uneven toning, usually characterized by splotchy areas of drab colours.


An inscription or phrase on a coin. An example is a word EENDRAG MAAK MAGorUNITY IS STRENGTHon some South African coins. The Motto has a special meaning and can be emotional or inspiring.



This is for Mint State(the grade) and60(the numerical designation of that grade). This is the lowest of the eleven Mint State grades that range from MS60 through MS70. An MS60 coin will usually exhibit the maximum number of marks and/or hairlines. The lustre may range from poor to full but is usually on the poor side. Eye appeal is usually minimal.



This is for Mint State(the grade) and61(the numerical designation of that grade). This grade meets the minimum requirements of Mint State plus includes some virtues not found on MS60 coins. For instance, there may be slightly fewer marks than on an MS60 coin, or better lustre, or less negative eye appeal.


Mint State(the grade) and62(the numerical designation of that grade). This grade is nearly in the choice or MS63 category, but there is usually one thing that keeps it from a higher grade. Expect to find excessive marks or an extremely poor strike or dark and unattractive toning. Some MS62 coins will have clean surfaces and reasonably good eye appeal but exhibit many hairlines on the fields and devices.


Mint State(the grade) and 63(the numerical designation of that grade). The equivalent of choice or Choice BU from the days before numerical grading was prevalent. This grade is usually found with clean fields and distracting marks or hairlines on the devices OR clean devices with distracting marks or hairlines in the fields. The strike and lustre can range from average to excellent.



Mint State(the grade) and64(the numerical designation of that grade). This grade is also called Borderline Gemat times, as well as Very Choice BU. There will be no more than a couple of significant marks or, possibly, a number of light abrasions. The overall visual impact of the coin will be positive. The strike will range from average to full and the lustre breaks will be minimal.


Mint State(the grade) and65(the numerical designation of that grade). This grade is also calledGemorGem Mint StateorGem BU. There may be scattered marks, hairlines or other defects, but they will be minor. Any spots on copper coins will also be minor. The coin must be well struck with positive(average or better) eye appeal.


Mint State(the grade) and66(the numerical designation of that grade). This is not only a Gem-quality coin, but the eye appeal ranges from above average to superb. The lustre is usually far above average, and any toning can not impede the lustre in any significant way.



Mint State(the grade) and67(the numerical designation of that grade). A superb-quality coin! Any abrasions are extremely light and do not detract from the coin’s beauty in any way. The strike is extremely sharp (or full) and the lustre is outstanding.



Mint State(the grade) and68(the numerical designation of that grade). A nearly perfect coin, with only minuscule imperfections visible to the naked eye. The strike will be exceptionally sharp and the lustre will glow.



Mint State(the grade) and69(the numerical designation of that grade). Virtually perfect in all departments, including wondrous surfaces, a 99% full strike (or better), full unbroken booming lustre and show-stopping eye appeal. You may have to study this coin with a 5X glass to find the reason why it didn’t grade MS70.


The Perfect Coin


Mint State(the grade) and70(the numerical designation of that grade). A perfect coin! Even with 5X magnification, there are no marks, hairlines or lustre breaks in evidence. The lustre is vibrant, the strike is razor-sharp, and the eye appeal is the ultimate. Note: Minor die polish and light die breaks are not considered to be defects on circulation strike coins.

Mule Error

This is a rare Mint error when the obverse die is of one coin and the reverse die is of a different coin.

Examples of Mule errors: Sacagawea dollar/Washington quarter Mule, where a Washington quarter obverse is paired with a Sacagawea reverse.


Describe a coin that has been damaged and in such a bad state, that it can no longer be graded.


Net Grading

Refers to a compromising method of grading a coin. For example, if a particular coins' OBVERSE grades MS65 but it's REVERSE only warrants a grade of MS63, then the dealer/grader might label the coin MS64. It may also refer to a coin which might otherwise grade MS65 but has been cleaned so it isn't graded MS62.


A term for a coin that never has been in circulation.

New Orleans


The branch Mint established in 1838 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It struck coins for the United States until its seizure in 1861 by the Confederacy. (Some 1861-O half dollars were struck after the seizure.) It reopened in 1879 and struck coins until 1909 (actually closed in 1910). Now, this facility is a museum.

New Orleans Mint

The New Orleans opened its doors in 1838 and closed in 1942. This mint uses the “O” mintmark.


Numismatic Guaranty Corporation


A popular term for a five-cent piece struck in a cupro-nickel alloy(actually 75% copper, 25% nickel).

No “CENTS” nickel

Those Liberty Head or “V” nickels struck in 1883 without a denomination. This was very confusing to the public and led to the “racketeer” nickel scandal.

No Arrows

A term applied to coins without arrows by their dates during years when other coins had arrows by the date.

No Motto


Coins struck without the motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST.” This motto was mandated by an act of Congress and appeared on nearly every United States coin since the 1860s. (Teddy Roosevelt felt this was disrespectful and had it removed from the 1907 eagles and double eagles. Citizen protests soon were overwhelming and it was reinstated in 1908.) This also refers to coins struck before the motto was added in the 1860s.

No Stars

Term applying to the Christian Gobrecht designed Liberty Seated coins that do not have stars.


A term applied to a coin returned from a third-party grading service that was not encapsulated, because of varying reasons. (This could be for cleaning, damage, questionable authenticity, etc.) This no-grade is still charged for.

Numerical Grading

Specifically, the Sheldon 1-70 scale employed by PCGS and others.


The science of money; coins, paper money, tokens, inscribed bars, and all related items are included.


Any person who is interested and studies or collects money or substitutes thereof. This term describes anybody who is serious about coin collecting, grades, catalogues or sells coins for a living.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation

Third-party grading service based in Parsippany, New Jersey.



Mintmark used to signify coins struck at the New Orleans, Louisiana branch Mint.


A coin design or type that is no longer produced.


A term used for the coinage of the branch Mint in New Orleans, Louisiana.


The side of the coin that generally shows the Coat of Arms, President’s or Monarch’s bust. The obverse side is referred to as heads and is the front of the coin. Generally the date side.


Short for octagonal

Off center

A coin struck on a blank that was not properly centred over the anvil, or lower, die. Coins that are 5%, or less, off-centre are graded by PCGS as a regular coin. Those struck off centre more than 5% are graded as error coins.

Orange-peel Surfaces

The dimple-textured fields seen on many Proof gold coins; their surfaces resemble those of an orange, hence the descriptive term.


A naturally material from which metals are extracted by means of mining practices.


A term used to describe a coin that never has been dipped or cleaned.

Original Rolls

Coins in fixed quantities wrapped in paper and stored at the time of their issuance. Silver and gold coins stored in these rolls often have peripheral toning and untoned centres. The coins stored in rolls suffered fewer marks than those in coin bags.

Original toning

A term for the colour acquired naturally by a coin that never has never been cleaned or dipped. Original toning ranges from the palest yellow to extremely dark blues, greys, browns, and finally black.

Over -mintmark

A coin struck with a die on which one mintmark is engraved over a different mintmark.

Over Dipped

A coin that has become dull from too many baths in a dipping solution


A coin struck from a die with a date that has one year punched over a different year. Sometimes an effort is made to polish away evidence of the previous date. PCGS requires the overdate to be visible to be recognized.


Ounce. Precious metals use Troy Ounces that are slightly more than a normal Ounce.



Mintmark used by the Philadelphia mint, Pennsylvania.


A term applied to the coins struck at the main Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Short for the Panama-Pacific Exhibition.

Pan-Pac slug

Jargon for either of the 1915-dated Panama-Pacific fifty-dollar commemorative coins, the octagonal or the round.

Paper money

A term used among collectors for notes of the entire field of currency, no matter what medium on which they may be printed.

Partial Edge Lettering

Have at least one complete letter or star missing. Note: This variety will not be recognized if part of the edge design was caused by damage.


Synonym for Toning, describe lighter shades of toning.


A test striking of a coin produced to demonstrate a proposed design, size, or composition. Patterns often are made in metals other than the one proposed; examples of this include aluminium and copper patterns of the silver Trade dollar. Off-metal strikes such as this also are referred to as die trials of a pattern.


Professional Coin Grading Service

PCGS Population Report

A quarterly publication by PCGS listing the number of coins graded and their grade. Totals are for coins graded by PCGS since its inception in 1986. Available on the PCGS website.



Peace dollar

A common name for the silver dollar struck from 1921 to 1935. Designed by Anthony Francisci to commemorate the peace following World War I, the first year featured another coin designated High Relief. In 1922, the relief was lowered resulting in the Regular Relief type that continued until 1935.


A listing of a coin’s current owner, as well as previous owners.

Peripheral Toning

Light, medium, or dark colouring around the edge of a coin.

Philadelphia Mint

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania., This mint currently uses the letter “P” mintmark. Coins prior to 1980 don’t have a mintmark.

Pick off

Coin bought at a bargain price.

Picked off

Describe the dealer who sells a pick off


To soak in a liquid for some a period of time. 

Piedfort or Piefort

Means double thick, it usually refers to thick French coins that were made in double thickness to signify double value.

Pioneer Gold

Those privately-issued gold coins struck prior to 1861. These include coins struck in Georgia and North Carolina although no “pioneers” were responsible for the gold mined in those states.



Plain edge

A flat, smooth edge seen mainly on a small-denomination coinage



The clean, blank disk of metal just before it is struck by a coining press.

Type I planchets are flat.

Type II planchets have upset rims from the milling machine, these to facilitate easier striking in close collars.

Planchet defects

Any of the various abnormalities found on coin blanks. These include drift marks, laminations, clips, and so forth.

Planchet flaw

An irregular hole in a coin blank, sometimes the result of a lamination that has broken away.

Planchet Striations

Fine, incuse lines found on some Proof coins, though rarely on business strikes, usually the result of polishing blanks to impart mirrorlike surfaces prior to striking.



A term used to describe a coin to which a thin layer of metal has been an applied-for example, gold-plated copper strikings of certain U.S. pattern coins.


Precious metal sometimes used for coinage. These coins are very expensive.


A term used to describe a coin that has had a hole filled, often so expertly that it can only be discerned only under magnification.


Professional Numismatists Guild

PNG certificate

Before third-party certification was started by PCGS in 1986, these certificates were the best available protection for the coin buyer. Each PNG dealer could issue a certificate, one copy given to the buyer and one copy sent to the PNG main office. This provided not only a guarantee of authenticity but also provided a space for a description that could be useful in cases of stolen collections.



This is for Poor(the grade) and1(the numerical designation that means Poor). A coin of this grade is basically uncollectible due to its terrible condition, could be rare, making them popular.

Polished Die


A die that has been basined to remove clash marks or die injury. In a positive sense, Proof dies were basined to impart mirrorlike surfaces, resulting in coins with the reflective field.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

A chemical used in coin flips to make them elastic. This chemical will damage coins if it comes into contact for long periods. The plastic flips that are used to store coins for long periods, contains PVC and not recommended.


The grade PO-1. A coin with the readable date and mintmark (if present), but little more, barely identifiable as to type.

Pop Report

PCGS Population Report.

Pop Top

A coin that is on top of the Population Report and scores the maximum number of points on the PCGS Set Registry.


 The most important part of the coin is the portrait or bust of an important person(King, Queen, President).


A description indicating a rough or granular surface.


Premium Quality



Precious Metal

Gold, Silver & Platinum. As opposed to a base metal.

Pregnant Springbok

Refers to the South African, 1967 “Pregnant Springbok” one Rand (R1) coin. These coins are scarce.

Premium Quality(PQ)

A term applied to coins that are the best examples within a particular grade.

Presentation Striking

A coin, often a Proof or an exceptionally sharp business strike, specially struck and given to a dignitary or other person.


Any of the various coining machines. Examples include the screw press and the steam-powered knuckle-action press.


The asking quotation for a particular numismatic item.

Price guide

A publication, whether electronic or paper, listing estimated prices for numismatic items, whether wholesale or retail. These guides will give pricing per grade, show mintage, etc.


A term applied to coins in an original, unimpaired condition. These coins typically are graded MS/PR-67 and higher.

Professional Coin Grading Service

One of the major third-party authentication and grading service based in Newport Beach, Southern California. Established in 1985, this was the first third-party grading service to grade, encapsulate, and guarantee the authenticity for numismatic material.

Professional Numismatists Guild

A dealer organization began in 1955. The membership is restricted by financial and longevity requirements.



Specially polished dies are used to strike the designs onto specially prepared polished blanks. Sometimes more pressure is applied when striking these coins and the presses operate at slower speeds. These coins get a lot more attention and extra care. Proofs generally show much more detail than coins produced for circulating. Any coins prior to 1817 are recognized by the PCGS as Specimen Strikes (SP) and after 817 as Proofs (PR). Proof coins are not meant for circulation; they are for collectors and investors.

Proof Set

A coin set containing Proof issues from a particular year. A few sets contain anomalies such as the 1804 dollar and eagle in 1834 presentation Proof sets.

Proof dies


Specially prepared dies, often sandblasted or acid-picked, that are used to strike Proof coins. Often, the fields are highly polished to a mirrorlike finish, while the recessed areas are left “rough”; on coins struck with such dies, the devices are frosted and contrast with highly reflective fields. Matte, Roman, and Satin Proof dies are not polished to a mirror-like finish.

Proof-only issue

A coin struck only in Proof, with no business-strike counterpart.


Used to describe gold ZAR coins issued from 1959. Any coins that meet these prooflike standards are graded by PCGS as PL – Prooflike. The difference between Proof and Prooflike is debatable.


A term is synonymous with pedigree.


A steel rod with a device, lettering, date, star, or some other symbol on the end which was sunk into a working die by hammering on the opposite end of the rod.

Put-together roll

A term applied to a roll of coins that is not original, usually the best condition coins have been removed and replaced with lesser quality coins. (It is not unusual to find slightly circulated coins in such rolls.)


Polyvinyl Chloride

PVC Damage

A film, usually green, left on a coin after storage in flips that contain PVC. During the early stage, this film may be clear and sticky.

PVC flip

Any of the various soft coin flips that contain PVC



Coin of the quarter dollar denomination.

Quarter Eagle


The correct terminology for a two-and-one-half dollar gold coin. This denomination, two and one-half dollars or one-fourth of an eagle, was first struck in 1796, struck sporadically thereafter, and discontinued in 1929.

Questionable toning


Term to describe the colour on a coin that may not be original. After a coin is dipped or cleaned, any subsequent toning, whether acquired naturally or induced artificially, will look different than original toning. PCGS will not grade coins with questionable colour.


Racketeer Nickel


A gold-plated 1883 No “CENTS” Liberty Head five-cent coin (“V” nickel). The story goes that a deaf-mute gold-plated these unfamiliar coins and would buy something for a nickel or less. Sometimes, he was given change for a five-dollar gold piece since the V on the reverse could be interpreted as either five cents or five dollars! (They have also been gold-plated since that time to sell to collectors.)

Rainbow Toning


A term for toning which is usually seen on silver dollars stored in bags. The “colours of the rainbow” are represented, starting with pale yellow, to green, to red, to blue, and sometimes fading to black.


A relative term indicating that a coin within a series is very difficult to find.


The number of specimens extant of any particular numismatic item.

Rarity Scale

A term referring to a numerical-rating system such as the Universal Rarity Scale.

Used primarily in PATTERN coinage, it is used to estimate the surviving POPULATION of a coin.


  • R-8 Estimated 1-3 known (Unique or Nearly Unique)

  • R-7 Estimated 4-12 known (Extremely Rare)

  • R-6 Estimated 13-30 known (Very Rare)

  • R-5 Estimated 31-75 known (Rare)

  • R-4 Estimated 76-200 known (Very Scarce)

  • R-3 Estimated 201-500 known (Scarce)

  • R-2 Estimated 501-1,250 known (Uncommon)

  • R-1 Over 1,251 known (Common)



Numismatic Jargon for a coin or other numismatic item that has not been encapsulated by a grading service or not Certified coin.


A term for the lines that represent sun rays on coins.


Red and Brown or Red-Brown




Numismatic Jargon for a genuine coin.

Recut Date

This term is used interchangeably with a re-punched date. PCGS prefers the term re-punched date as it is more accurate. Seerepunched date for a full definition.


A term used for a copper coin that still retains 95% or more of its original mint bloom or colour. PCGS allows only a slight mellowing of colour for this designation (RD).


A copper coin that has from 5%  to 95% of its original mint colour remaining (RB).


First issued in 1947, this yearly price guide has been the “bible” of printed numismatic retail price guides.

Reeded Edge

A term for the grooved notches on the edge of some coins. These were first imparted by the Mint’s edge machine, later in the minting process by the use of close collars - these sometimes called the third die or collar die. Reeded edge is the opposite to a smooth edge ;)


The Fluting or graining on the edge of the coin.

Reeding Mark(s)

A mark or marks caused when the reeded edge of one coin hits the surface of another coin. The contact may leave just one mark or a series of staccato-like marks.

Regular Issue

A term for the coins struck for commerce. These may be both Regular and Proof strikes of a regular issue. In addition, there can die trials of regular issues.

Regular Strike

Term to denote coins struck with normal coining methods on ordinarily prepared planchets. Synonymous with a business strike.


The height of the devices of particular coin design expressed in relation to the fields. It is the portion of the design that has been raised.


A copy, or reproduction, of a particular coin. Replicas are uniface, cast copies and the words replica are normally on them.

Repunched Date


If a date was punched into the die and then punched in again in a different position it is considered to be a repunched date.


A coin struck later than indicated by its date, often with different dies.


A term used to describe a coin that has been dipped or cleaned and then has reacquired colour, whether naturally or artificially.


The opposite side to obverse or tails side, of a coin. Generally the opposite of the date side.


A machine used by mints that screens out planchets of the wrong size and shape prior to striking.


The upraised area around the edges of both sides(obverse and reverse) of a coin.  The purpose of the rim is to make coins easy stackable, protects the coin's design from damage and helps bring up the devices during the strike process.

Rim ding

Jargon for a rim nick.

Rim Nick

A term for a mark or indentation on the rim of a coin or other metallic numismatic item.

Ring Test


A test used to determine whether a coin was struck or is an electrotype or cast copy. The coin in question is balanced on a finger and gently tapped with a metal object- a pen, another coin, and so on. Struck coins have a high-pitched ring or tone, while electrotypes and cast copies have little or none. This test is not infallible; some struck coins do not ring because of planchet defects such as cracks or gas occlusions; also, some cast copies have been filled with glass (or other substances) and do ring.


A numismatic purchase that is bought substantially below the price for which it can be resold.


A set number of coins “rolled up” in a coin wrapper. In old times, a roll meant the coins were rolled up in a paper wrapper, today they are likely to be slid into a plastic coin tube.

Roll friction

Minor displacement of metal, mainly on the high points, seen on coins stored in rolls.

Rolled Edge

A term is synonymous with rim (the raised edge around a coin). This has become part of the vernacular because of the Rolled Edge Indian Head eagle.

Rolled Edge Ten


A common name for the Indian Head eagle struck as a regular issue with a mintage reported by some as 20,000, but according to official Mint correspondence, the figure was 31,550. However, some have considered it a pattern because all but 42 coins were reportedly melted. It is occasionally seen circulated but the average coin is Mint State 63 or higher.

Roller Marks


Term to describe the mostly parallel incuse lines seen on some coins after striking. These were originally thought to be lines resulting from the debris “scoring” the metal strips before the blanks were cut. However, new research has pointed to the final step of strip preparation, the drawbar. To reduce the strips to the proper thickness, the final step was to pass them through the drawbar. It certainly seems logical that debris in the drawbar may cause these lines, if so, then draw-bar marks or lines would be a more appropriate term.

Roman Finish


An experimental Proof surface used mainly on U.S. gold coins of 1909 and 1910. This is a hybrid surface with more reflectivity than Matte surfaces, but less than brilliant Proofs. The surface is slightly scaly, similar to that of Satin Proofs.


Short for a Pan-Pac commemorative fifty-dollar coin.


A term for slight wear, often referring just to the high points or the fields.



Mintmark used by the San Francisco, California branch mint.


Short for 1909-S VDB Lincoln Head cent.


A term applied to the coins struck at the San Francisco, California branch Mint.


South Africa


Sacagawea Dollar

Sacagawea Dollar


The Sacagawea dollar is a one-dollar value circulating coin that was introduced in the year 2000. It is also called the golden dollar in the non-numismatic community because of its colour. The coin honours Sacagawea, a Shoshone Indian woman who was a guide and interpreter for the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804. Glenna Goodacre designed the obverse of the coin and Thomas D. Rogers created the reverse. Sacagawea dollars are struck for circulation at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints, while Proofs are struck in San Francisco.



Slang for the Saint-Gaudens inspired double eagle struck from 1907 until 1933. (The 1933 issue is currently considered illegal to own as the government insists that none of this date was legally released.) This low relief copy of the Extremely High Relief and High Relief designs was the work of Chief Engraver Charles Barber.



Last name of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the preeminent sculptor of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. At the request of President Teddy Roosevelt, he redesigned the eagle and double eagle in 1907 although he died mid-production. Also, slang for the Liberty Head double eagle or Saint.

Saltwater Unc


A very deceptive term. Generally, a term to describe coins with a finely pitted surface, however, recent discoveries of coins that have been exposed to saltwater for over a hundred years has made this term inaccurate, if not obsolete. The sand, not the saltwater, likely does the pitting on gold and silver coins in the ocean. A better term for these coins would be sandblasted UNC or sand-damaged UNC’s.

San Francisco Mint


The United States branch Mint located in San Francisco, California that struck coins from 1854 until 1955. After closing as a Mint, it served as an assay office until it reopened as a coinage facility in 1965. This facility manufactures annual proof coin sets, manufactures silver proof coin sets and manufactures commemorative coins. This mint uses the “S” mintmark.

Satin Finish

Another of the experimental Proof surfaces used on U.S. gold coins after 1907. The dies were treated in some manner to create the silky surfaces imparted to the coins.

Satin Luster

Fine, silky lustre is seen on many business strike coins, especially copper and nickel issues. Almost no “cartwheel” effect is seen on coins with this type of lustre.


A detracting line that is more severe than a hairline. The size of a coin determines the point at which a line ceases to be viewed as a hairline and instead is regarded a scratch; the larger the coin, the greater the tolerance. A heavy scratch may result in a coin not being graded by PCGS.

Screw Press

The first type of coining press used at the U.S. Mint. Invented by Italian craftsman Donato Bramante, this press had a fixed anvil (or lower) die, with the hammer (or upper) die being attached to a rod with screw-like threads. When weighted arms attached to the rod were rotated, the screw mechanism quickly moved the rod with the die downward, striking the planchet placed into the lower die. The struck coin then was ejected and the process was repeated.


Small Date


An official symbol or mark or could also mean protect by making it tamper-proof.

Sea Salvage Coin

A coin retrieved from the ocean, usually from a shipwreck.


Liberty Seated

Seated Coinage

A term commonly used for Liberty Seated coinage

Second Toning

Any toning, natural or artificial, that results after a coin is dipped or cleaned. This second toning is seldom as attractive as original toning, although some coins “take” second toning better than others.


The profit generated from the printing or coining of currency. This word also has many other related meanings, most often associated with taxes
created through inflation.


Term to denote coins that are neither scarce nor common. An example would be Uncirculated 1903 Morgan dollars.


A term indicating a coin that has a significant bullion value and some numismatic value. The most recognized examples are Liberty Head and Saint-Gaudens double eagles.


A term used to describe a coin that has some mirror-like surface mixed with satin or frosty lustre. Reflectivity is obscured on such a specimen, unlike the reflectivity on prooflike and deep mirror prooflike coins.


A particular design or motif used over a period of time. This can be used for a single denomination, or in some cases, used for several denominations. The Liberty Seated series encompasses five denominations, the Barber series three, etc.


A term indicating a collection of coins in a series, a collection of types, or a collection from a particular Mint.

Set Registry

Listing of registered PCGS graded sets of coins. These include Morgan dollar sets, Proof Barber quarter sets, Mercury dime sets, etc.


The process whereby someone fraudulently removed minor amounts of shaves & slivers of precious metal from the edge of a coin - reducing its weight but making impassable and then profit from the absconded metal.

Sheldon Scale

The 70-point scale created by the late Dr William H. Sheldon and adopted by the numismatic industry for coin GRADING purposes:

1 Poor
2 Fair
3 About Good
4-6 Good
7-10 Very Good
11-19 Fine
20-39 Very Fine
40-49 Fine
50-59 About Uncirculated
60-70 Mint State


The emblem used on certain issues that have horizontal and vertical lines in a shield shape.

Shield Nickel

A common name for the Shield five-cent coin struck from 1866 until 1883.

Shiny Spots

Areas on Matte, Roman, and Satin Proofs where the surface has been disturbed. On brilliant Proofs, dull spots appear where there are disturbances; on textured-surface coins such as Matte, Roman, and Satin Proofs, these disturbances create “shiny” spots.

Shotgun Rolls


This term has two definitions. The first refers to rolls of coins that contain double the normal amount of coins in a roll. For instance, a shotgun roll of silver dollars contains 40 coins. The name derives from the length of the rolls being similar to the length of a shotgun shell. These double rolls were common and popular during the great roll boom of the 1960s. The second definition of shotgun roll refers to a paper-wrapped roll that is machine-crimped like the end of a shotgun shell.


Common term for a bourse or coin show.

Sight Seen

A term to indicate that the buyer of a particular numismatic item in a particular grade wants to view the coin before he buys it. He may have a customer who wants an untoned coin – or a toned coin, or some other specific requirement.

Sight Unseen

A term to indicate that the buyer of a particular numismatic item in a particular grade will pay a certain price without examining the item.


Term to indicate coins struck in silver (generally 90% silver and 10% copper but there are a few exceptions).

Silver Commem

Short for silver commemorative coins.

Silver Commemoratives

Any coins that are stuck to commemorate a special event or person. Every country mint their own silver commemoratives.

Silver Dollar


A coin of the one-dollar denomination that is struck in a composition of 90% silver (or so) and 10% copper. The silver USA dollar was minted from 1794. Modern dollar coins are sometimes called silver dollars, even though the pieces struck for circulation contain no silver.

Silver Nickel

Jargon for the Wartime nickel.

Silver Plug


On certain early American coins, a silver plug was inserted into a hole in the centre of the coin. This silver was then flattened out when it was struck. The plug added weight and value to the coin to align it with correct specifications.


  • 1792 Silver-Center Cent

  • Specimen 1794 Silver Dollar

  • varieties of 1795 Silver Dollars.



A term used for the Kennedy half dollar(1965 to 1970). Silver-Clad was made of 40% silver and 60% copper. The coins have two outer layers containing primarily silver (80%) are bonded to a core made primarily of copper (79%).

Skirt Lines


The lines are demonstrated on the Walking Liberty half dollars of the folds on Miss Liberty’s flowing gown.


Small Letters


Numismatic jargon for the holder in which a coin kept or encapsulated by a grading service. Slabbed refer to the coin being encapsulated.


The process of sending a coin to a third-party grading service and receiving it back after it has been authenticated, graded, and encapsulated in a sealed holder.


Refers to a coin which appears undervalued when compared to its peers.



A term used to describe an AU coin that looks, or can be sold as, Uncirculated. Occasionally used as a reference to another grade; a slider EF coin, for example, would be a VF/EF coin that is nearly EF.


Slang for the octagonal and round fifty-dollar gold coins struck during the California gold rush.

Example: The 1915 Pan-Pac fifty-dollar commemorative issues.

Small Cent

Those cents of reduced size, replacing the large cent.

Small Date

A term referring to the size of the digits of the date on a coin. This term is used when other sizes(Large or medium) dates exist for that particular coin or series.

Small Eagle

The plain eagle on a perch first used on the 1794 half dime and half USA dollar.

Small Letters


A term referring to the size of the lettering of the date on a coin in comparison with other size letters of the particular coin or series.

Small Motto


A common short name such as the inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST” or the word “SOLI DEO GLORIA” on the USA and South African R1.

Small Size

A term referring to the particular diameter of a coin in a series.


Special Mint Set


Specimen Strike

Spark-Erosion Die

The die is made by an electrolytic deposition method. The surfaces of such a die are normally rough and have to be extensively polished to remove the “pimples.”

Spark-Erosion Strike

The coins are made from spark-erosion dies. These are characterized by the telltale “pimples” noted mainly on the areas in relief.


Specially Select

Specially Select

Used to describe coins in the crown series. These coins are handpicked by the Mint and then put into Special Mint sets. SS coins often present “brush marks” in the fields.

Special Mint Set

A set of specially select coins that are carefully minted and packed in sets.


A term used to indicate special coins struck at the Mint. PCGS designates these coins SP.

Specimen Strike

Prototype/example of proposed coins for discussion, testing and approval.

Split Grade

Until the mid-1980's it was common practice to assign a separate grade to both the obverse and reverse of a coin. For example, if the front of a coin graded 65 but the reverse only graded 63 then it would be assigned a grade of 65/63.

Splotchy Toning

Colour that is uneven, both in shade and composition



Any discoloured area on a coin. This can be a small dot of copper staining
on a gold coin or a large, dark “tar” spot on a copper coin.

Tagged Ear

Refers to the South African, 1966 “Tagged Ear” of the Springbok on the one Rand (R1) coin. At least 8 coins exist.

St. Gaudens

Short for Augustus Saint-Gaudens or jargon for the Standing Liberty double eagle or Saint.

Standing Liberty

Motif with Miss Liberty in an upright front-facing position.

Standing Liberty quarter

The common name of the Hermon MacNeil designed quarter dollar(1917 to 1930)

Staple Scratch


A scratch on a coin resulting from scratching the coin on a staple when it is removed from the two-by-two cardboard type holder. Always remove staples completely to prevent this from happening.


A term for the five-pointed and six-pointed devices used on many U.S. coins.

Steam-Powered Press

Any coining press is driven by a steam-powered engine.

Steel Cent

Any coins minted in steel, these coins are sometimes plated to improve their appearance with zinc.


Slang for coins made from steel.


A term applied to the experimental four-dollar gold coins struck by the U.S. Mint between 1879-1880. The coins had a large star on the reverse.

Sterling Silver


Sterling silver is a composition of 925 parts pure silver with 75 parts of copper. This is usually defined as .925 fine silver. Sterling silver is used to make jewelry and some household items, most notably silverware (knives, forks, etc.).

Stock Edge

A counterfeit edge collar used for various-dated fakes.

Store Cards


Merchant tokens, usually composed of copper, which helped alleviate the small change shortage during the nineteenth century. These were widely accepted in their immediate areas as a form of currency or value.

Stress Lines

Alternate form of “flow lines.”


A term for the incuse polish lines on the die which result in raised lines on coins. These are usually fine, parallel lines though on some coins they are swirling, still others with criss-cross lines. Planchet striations are burnishing lines not struck away by the minting process and are incuse on the coins.

Strike – n

Term to indicate the completeness, or incompleteness, of a coin’s intended detail.


The flat metal rolled to correct thickness, from which planchets are punched from.


Describe a coin that is produced from dies and the coining press.

Struck Copy

A replica of a particular coin made from dies not necessarily meant to mislead.

Struck Counterfeit

Refers to a fake coin produced from untruthful dies.

Struck Thru

An error caused by a foreign object that got between the dies and the planchet when a coin was struck.

Successful Bidder

The buyer of a particular lot from an auction that succeeds in winning the bid. Bidding is done via the internet or in-person and the bidder has to agree to certain conditions.

Surface Preservation

Refers to the surface condition of the coin.


The entire obverse and reverse of a coin, or the field areas.



This procedure involved putting coins of value (like gold coins) into a bag and shaking it vigorously to knock off small pieces of metal. These bits of precious metal were then gathered, melted and sold for an income. The used coins(with nicks) used in this process was then returned to circulation at face value.


Tab toning


Describe the toning often seen on commemorative coins which were sold in cardboard holders with a round tab. Coins toned in these holders have a circle in the center – and referred to having tab toning.

Target Toning

Any coins with circles of colour, similar to an archery target, with deeper colours on the periphery, often fading to white or cream colour at the center.

Technical Grading

The type of grading which only relies on certain technical merits of a coin such as a strike and marks. As opposed to aesthetic merits such as lustre, toning and overall eye-appeal. For example, a coin may be technically awesome but receive a more modest certified grade because the toning is just too dark and unattractive.

Teddy’s Coin

Refers to the first design submitted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens at the personal request of then-President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.


A coin merchant uses leads and sells coins over the telephone. Leads are created when a buyer shows an interest in a coin, by filling in an online request to get more information on coin investment or information on a particular coin that is on display.


Jargon for an eagle or ten-dollar gold coin

Ten Indian

A common name for an Indian Head eagle

Ten Lib

A common name for a Liberty Head eagle

Tensor light

A small, direct light source used by many graders or numismatists to help investigate, examine and grade coins.


The Germanic spelling of the Europe silver-dollar size coins. Our word “Dollar” is derived from Thaler.

The Numismatist

Monthly publication of the American Numismatic Association(ANA).


A common name for the Indian Head three-dollar Gold coin.

Three Cent Nickel

The 75% copper and 25% nickel three-cent coins (1865-1889) with Liberty Head motif on.

Three Cent Silver

The USA three-cent coin with a star motif struck in silver alloy.



A term used to describe a coin that has been adjusted in an explicit way to cover up any marks, hairlines, or other instabilities. The natural oils in the skin were used to when rubbing with your thumb gently over the disturbances. The skin oils helped to disguise small problems.

Tissue toning


Colour, often vibrant, acquired by coins stored in the original Mint paper. Some of this paper contained sulphur and this created some toning on the coins over long periods of storage.


A substitute for a coin, normally for use on general equipment such as vending machines, gaming, casinos, etc. These have been issued in the past and are still currently issued in huge quantities.


Refers to the colour seen on coins. These can be hues, shades and pattern variations. Toning results from how, where and how long under certain conditions coins are stored. Almost any coin will start toning and this can add value to it.


A term used in reference to the engraving of a coin, usually outside the Mint, in an effort to artificially enhance a coin's appearance and value

Tooling Mark

Usually a small and fine line, that can be found on any coin. On genuine coins, such lines result when Mint workmen touch up dies to remove fragments of an overdate or other unwanted areas. On counterfeits, they often appear in areas where the die was inconsistent.


Synonym to “Pop-Top”. Refers to a coin of the finest grade or at the TOP of the POPulation report.

Trade dollar

A U.S. silver coin (1873 to 1885) was slightly heavier than the regular silver dollar. These dollars were intended to facilitate trade in the Far East-hence its name. Trade dollars were made with this a bit higher silver content than the standard silver dollars in an effort to gain acceptance for them in being used for commerce.

Transfer Die

The die is created by sacrificing a coin for a model.


Short for a transitional issue.

Transitional issue

A coin struck after a series ends, and when a new series starts. One side could still have the same design, as well as the new design on it and then phased out over time.

Treasure coin

Known to have come from a buried/hidden source such as a shipwreck.


A term used for a three-cent piece.

Turban Head

Synonymous with Draped Bust.


Common term for Double Eagle or the Twenty Dollar gold coin.

Twenty Lib

A common name for Liberty Head Double eagle or the Twenty-dollar gold coin.

Two and a Half

A common name for a Quarter (¼) eagle or two-and-one-half dollar gold coin.


A variation in design, size, or metallic content of a specific coin design.

Type Coin

A representative coin, usually a common date, from a particular issue of a specific design, size, or metallic content.

Type One

A term for any coin from the first Type within a Series.

Type One Buffalo(Bison)

1913, Indian Head five-cent coin with the reverse buffalo (Bison) on a raised mound.


Ultra-High Relief

An alternate name for the Extremely High Relief.

Ultra Rarity

A term used for a coin or other numismatic item that is represented by only a few examples.




Coins that come directly from the Mint, to the banks and into a collection. This coins or numismatic item that has never been in circulation and doesn’t show any handling or wear. Mint Packs produced by the Mint are also classified as UNC and specially packed before they are sold.


The individual that bids in an auction and are then outbid.


Refers to a coin with a design on only one side, the other side blank.

Universal Rarity Scale


A collectables rarity information scale developed in 1998 by 21 major collectables experts in order to both define rarity within their individual markets and allow collectors and dealers from different collectables markets to more easily communicate with one another. The Universal Rarity Scale is a 10 point scale. The least rare collectable items are those where more than 10,000 examples are estimated to exist. These items are designated “UR1” and are described as “readily available.” The rarest items are those where only one example is known to exist. These rarities are designated “UR10” and are described as “unique.”


Refers to a coin being resubmitted to one of the third-party CERTIFICATION SERVICES and being returned in a higher grade. As the certified grade of a coin plays such a large role in determining its value, a one-point upgrade on the SHELDON scale could mean a significant increase in value.

Upsetting Mill

A machine that raises the outer rim on a planchet prior to striking. Upsetting ensures that the rims are properly formed during striking.


Universal Rarity Scale


Describe a coin that has light to heavy wear due to circulation and handling.




A coin of the same date and basic design, but with slight differences. PCGS recognizes all major varieties while there are thousands of minor varieties, most of which have significance only to specialists of the particular series.


Short for 1909 VDB Lincoln Head cent. The controversy was due to having a non-Mint engraver’s (VDB) initials on a coin. The initials of Victor D. Brenner’s initials were removed.


The grader at PCGS looks at already graded coins and due quality assurance of grading. The grader will tag a coin under dispute and have it re-graded.

Very Fine(VF)

The term corresponding to the grades VF-20, 25, 30, and 35. This has the broadest range of any circulated grade, with nearly full detail on some VF-35 coins and less than half on some VF-20 specimens.

Very Good

The term corresponding to the grades VG-8 and VG-10. In these grades, between Good and Fine, a coin has slightly more detail than in Good, usually with full rims.



Very Fine(the grade) and20(the numerical designation of the grade). Most of the detail is clear, lettering is readable but sometimes unclear and some minor detail is sometimes separate, but usually blended.



This is for Very Fine(the grade) and 25(the numerical designation of the grade). In this grade, about 60% of the original detail is evident, with the major devices being clear and distinct.



This is for Very Fine(the grade) and 30(the numerical designation of the grade). The devices are sharp with only a small amount of blending. Up to 75% of the original detail is evident.



This is for Very Fine(the grade) and 35(the numerical designation of the grade). This grade used to be called VF/EF (or VF/XF) before numerical grading was accepted throughout the hobby. Devices are sharp and clear and up to 80% of the detail is in evidence.



This is for Very Good(the grade) and10(the numerical designation of the grade). A higher grade (less worn) than the VG-8 coin. Design detail is still heavily worn but the major devices and lettering are clear.



This is for Very Good(the grade) and8(the numerical designation of the grade). A slight amount of design detail is still showing on the coin, such as a couple of letters in the lettering.



Mintmark used by the West Point, New York branch mint.


A term applied to the coins struck at the West Point, New York branch mint.


Jargon for a Walking Liberty half dollar.

Walking Liberty

A common name for a Walking Liberty half dollar.

Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Half dollars struck(1916 to 1947)

Want List/Wish List

A term used in reference to a list of coins that a particular collector, investor or dealer wishes to acquire.

War Nickel

Short for Wartime nickel

Wartime Nickel

Refers to the five-cent coins struck during World War II comprised of 35% silver, 9% manganese, and 56% copper.

Washington Quarter Dollar

The John Flanagan designed quarter dollar first struck in 1932 as a circulating commemorative coin. This coin was minted to celebrate the two-hundredth
anniversary of George Washington’s birth.

Watery Look

A look was seen on the surfaces of most close-collar Proof coins. Highly polished planchets and dies give the faces an almost “wavy” look.

Weak Edge Lettering

Indicates the edge lettering is weaker than normal and has a portion of a letter/star or inscription missing.

Weak Strike

A term used to describe a coin that does not show anticipated, detail due to improper striking pressure or improperly aligned dies. These coins are not of a high standard.


An individual who is obsessed with a particular series or group of series. Examples are Silver(Protea) R1 weenies, ZAR weenies, etc.

West Point Mint


The West Point Mint was originally opened in 1937 as a bullion depository and was officially designated by Congress as a Mint on March 31, 1988. This mint uses the “W” mintmark.

Wheel Mark

Synonymous with “counting machine mark.” A small circular scratch on the surface of a coin caused by a coin counting machine. Wheel marks are considered damaged, and coins so marked cannot be encapsulated.


Term to describe the process of mechanically moving the metal of a lightly circulated coin to mimic lustre.

Wonder Coin

Jargon for a coin whose condition is particularly superb also referred to as the Perfect Coin

Working Die

A die actually used to strike the coins. This die is prepared from a working hub and used to strike coins.

Working Hub

A hub created from a master die and used to create the many working dies required for coinage.

World Coins

A term applied to coins from other, foreign countries.

Worn Die


After extended use, the die starts losing detail and needs to be replaced. Coins struck from worn dies will often appear weak and of a low standard.







Year Set

A collection of all coins issued by a country for any one year. This does not necessarily include every mint mark.



Zuid-Afrika or South Africa

ZAR or Z.A.R

Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek, coins minted from 1892 to 1902


South African Rand. This is the local currency of South Africa.

If we missed a word or phrase, please let us know. We would like to grow and expand this list with your help.