Keeping up with the terms and jargon can be sometimes frightening. We hope that the following Coin Collecting Glossary on the most frequently used terms, acronyms and definitions will be beneficial to you. If we missed a word or phrase, please contact us and let us know. We would like to grow and expand this list with your help.
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.
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 the reduction in weight.
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.
Alternate form of Heraldic Eagle.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
The head of Miss Liberty, with a cap on a pole by her head, used on certain U.S. half cents and large cents.
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.
Short for Liberty Head or “V” nickel struck from 1883 until 1912.
The motif designed by Christian Gobrecht first used on the Gobrecht dollars of 1836-1839 featuring Miss Liberty seated on a rock.
The band of light seen on photographs of coins, especially Proofs.
Jargon for a Lincoln Head cent.
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.
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.
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. Luster is the result of light reflecting on the flow lines, whether visible or not.
Alternate form of luster.
A term used to describe coins that still have original mint bloom.