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 San Francisco, California branch mint.
Short for 1909-S VDB Lincoln Head cent.
Term applied to the coins struck at the San Francisco, California branch Mint.
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 color. The coin honors 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 were 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.
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’s 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.
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.
Fine, silky luster seen on many business strike coins, especially copper and nickel issues. Almost no “cartwheel” effect is seen on coins with this type of luster.
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.
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.
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 ship wreck.
Term commonly used for Liberty Seated coinage
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
Term to denote coins that are neither scarce nor common. An example would be Uncirculated 1903 Morgan dollars.
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 luster. 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 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.
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 it "passable" and then profit from the absconded metal.
70-point scale created by the late Dr. William H. Sheldon and adopted by the numismatic industry for coin GRADING purposes:
The emblem used on certain issues that has horizontal and vertical lines in a shield shape.
Common name for the Shield five-cent coin struck from 1866 until 1883.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Short for silver commemorative coins.
Any coins that are stuck to commemorate a special event or person. Every country mint their own Silver commemoratives.
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.
Jargon for the Wartime nickel.
On certain early American coins, a silver plug was inserted into a hole in the center 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.
Term used for the Kennedy half dollar(1965 to 1970). Silver-Clad was made of 40 percent silver and 60 percent copper. The coins has two outer layers containing primarily silver (80%) are bonded to a core made primarily of copper (79%).
The lines are demonstrated on the Walking Liberty half dollars of the folds on Miss Liberty’s flowing gown.
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 it's 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.
Those cents of reduced size, replacing the large cent.
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.
The plain eagle on a perch first used on the 1794 half dime and half USA dollar.
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.
Common short name such at the inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST” or the word “SOLI DEO GLORIA” on the USA and South African R1.
A term referring to the particular diameter of a coin in a series.
Special Mint Set
The die is made by electrolytic deposition method. The surfaces of such a die are normally rough and have to be extensively polished to remove the “pimples.”
The coins is made from spark-erosion dies. These are characterized by the telltale “pimples” noted mainly on the areas in relief.
Used to describe coins in the crown series. These coins are hand picked by the Mint and then put into Special Mint sets. SS coins often presents “brush marks” in the fields.
Special Mint Set
A set of specially select coins that are carefully minted and packed in sets.
Term used to indicate special coins struck at the Mint. PCGS designates these coins SP.
Prototype/example of proposed coins for discussion, testing and approval.
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.
Color that is uneven, both in shade and composition
Any discoloured area on a coin. This can be a small dot of copper staining
Refers to the South African, 1966 “Tagged Ear” of the Springbok on the one Rand (R1) coin. At least 8 coins exist.
Short for Augustus Saint-Gaudens or jargon for the Standing Liberty double eagle or Saint.
Motif with Miss Liberty in an upright front-facing position.
Standing Liberty quarter
Common name of the Hermon MacNeil designed quarter dollar(1917 to 1930)
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.
Any coining press driven by a steam-powered engine.
Any coins minted in steel, these coins are sometime 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 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.).
A counterfeit edge collar used for various-dated fakes.
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.
Alternate form of “flow lines.”
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.
A replica of a particular coin made from dies not necessarily meant to mislead.
Refers to a fake coin produced from untruthful dies.
An error caused by a foreign object that got between the dies and the planchet when a coin was struck.
The buyer of a particular lot from an auction that succeed in winning the bid. Bidding are done via internet or in-person and the bidder have to agree to certain conditions.
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.