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 coin that is easily recognized as having a major difference from other coins of the same design, type, date, and mint.
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.
The main die produced from the master hub. Many working hubs are prepared from this single die.
The original hub created by the portrait lathe. Master dies are created from this hub.
An experimental Proof striking, produced by the U.S. Mint mainly from 1907 to 1916, which has sandblasted or acid-pickled surfaces.
A coin-like piece of metal made in honor of a person or event. Not authorized as legal tender nor intended to circulate. Not made to a recognized weight or fineness.
A high-pressure coining press acquired by the U.S. Mint, circa 1854-1858, to strike medals, patterns, restrikes, and some regular-issue Proofs.
The design of the obverse is of the same vertical axis as that of the reverse design.
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 of Exchange
Money in any form when in actual use as a medium of exchange.
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.
Jargon term for the intrinsic value of a particular numismatic item.
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 center 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.
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.
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.
The Original luster that is still noticeable on a coin.
The dull, frosty, or satiny shine found on uncirculated coins.
Variation of mintmark
Special force or security team that protects all Mint buildings.
A set of Uncirculated coins from a particular year comprising coins. Each coin of the particular series are normally included in this set or available as single MS coins.
Mint Set Toning
This term refers to the colors 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.
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.
Term applied to the error coins that have striking irregularities.
A Proof coin that has been circulated, cleaned, or otherwise reduced to a level of preservation below PR-60.
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.
Jargon for an incredible coin, usually one that grades MS/PR-67 or higher. A secondary use is as an adjective, such as monster luster or monster color.
Jargon for an incredible coin, usually one that grades MS/PR-67 or higher.
Short for “Morgan dollar.”
Uneven toning, usually characterized by splotchy areas of drab colors.
An inscription or phrase on a coin. Example is the word "EENDRAG MAAK MAG" or "UNITY IS STRENGTH" on some South African coins. The Motto has a special meaning and can be emotional or inspiring.
This is for "Mint State" (the grade) and "60" (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 luster 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) and "61" (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 luster, or less negative eye appeal.
"Mint State" (the grade) and "62" (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 grader. 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 luster can range from average to excellent.
"Mint State" (the grade) and "64" (the numerical designation of that grade). This grade is also called "Borderline Gem" at 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 luster breaks will be minimal.
"Mint State" (the grade) and "65" (the numerical designation of that grade). This grade is also called "Gem" or "Gem Mint State" or "Gem 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) and "66" (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 luster is usually far above average, and any toning can not impede the luster in any significant way.
"Mint State" (the grade) and "67" (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 luster is outstanding.
"Mint State" (the grade) and "68" (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 luster will glow.
"Mint State" (the grade) and "69" (the numerical designation of that grade). Virtually perfect in all departments, including wondrous surfaces, a 99% full strike (or better), full unbroken booming luster 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) and "70" (the numerical designation of that grade). A perfect coin! Even with 5X magnification there are no marks, hairlines or luster breaks in evidence. The luster 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.
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 in such a bad state, that it can no longer be graded.