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.
Mintmark used by the Philadelphia mint, Pennsylvania.
Term applied to the coins struck at the main Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Short for Panama-Pacific Exhibition.
Jargon for either of the 1915-dated Panama-Pacific fifty-dollar commemorative coins, the octagonal or the round.
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 aluminum 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
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 at www.pcgs.com/popreport.
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.
Light, medium, or dark coloring around the edge of a coin.
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania., This mint currently uses the letter “P” mintmark. Coins prior to 1980 don’t have a mintmark.
Coin bought at a bargain price.
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 a double thickness to signify double value.
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.
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.
Any of the various abnormalities found on coin blanks. These include drift marks, laminations, clips, and so forth.
An irregular hole in a coin blank, sometimes the result of a lamination that has broken away.
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 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
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) and "1" (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.
A die that has been basined to remove clash marks or other die injury.In a positive sense, Proof dies were basined to impart mirrorlike surfaces, resulting in coins with 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 readable date and mint mark (if present), but little more, barely identifiable as to type.
PCGS Population Report.
A coin that is on top of the Population Report and scores the maximum number of points on the PCGS Set Registry.
A description indicating a rough or granular surface.
Gold, Silver & Platinum. As opposed to base metal.
Refers to the South African, 1967 “Pregnant Springbok” one Rand (R1) coin.These coins are scarce.
A term applied to coins that are the best examples within a particular grade.
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.
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 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 begun in 1955. The membership is restricted by financial and longevity requirements.
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 operates at slower speeds. These coins get a lot more attention and extra care. Proofs generally shows 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).
A coin set containing Proof issues from particular year. A few sets contain anomalies such as the 1804 dollar and eagle in 1834 presentation Proof sets.
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.
A coin struck only in Proof, with no business-strike counterpart.
Used to describe gold ZAR coins issued from 1959. Any coins that meets meets this prooflike standards are graded by PCGS as PL – Prooflike. The difference between Proof and Prooflike is debatable.
Term 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.
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.)
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.
Any of the various soft coin flips that contain PVC