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 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.)
Term for toning which is usually seen on silver dollars stored in bags. The “colors of the rainbow” are represented, stating 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.
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.
Numismatic Jargon for a coin or other numismatic item that has not been encapsulated by a grading service or not Certified coin.
Term for the lines that represent sun rays on coins.
Red and Brown or Red-Brown
Numismatic Jargon for genuine coin.
This term is used interchangeably with "repunched date." PCGS prefers the term "repunched date" as it is more accurate. See "repunched date" for a full definition.
Term used for a copper coin that still retains 95 percent or more of its original mint bloom or color. PCGS allows only slight mellowing of color for this designation (RD).
A copper coin that has from 5 to 95 percent of its original mint color remaining (RB).
First issued in 1947, this yearly price guide has been the “bible” of printed numismatic retail price guides.
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.
The Fluting or graining on the edge of the coin.
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.
Term for the coins struck for commerce. These may be both Regular and Proof strikes of a regular issue. In addition, there can be die trials of regular issues.
Term to denote coins struck with normal coining methods on ordinarily prepared planchets. Synonymous with business strike.
The height of the devices of a particular coin design, expressed in relation to the fields.
A copy, or reproduction, of a particular coin. Replicas are uniface, cast copies and the words replica are normally on them.
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 color, 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 raised area around the edges of the obverse and reverse of a coin.
Jargon for rim nick.
Term for a mark or indentation on the rim of a coin or other metallic numismatic item.
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.
Minor displacement of metal, mainly on the high points, seen on coins stored in rolls.
Term 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
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.
Term to describe the mostly parallel incuse lines seen on some coins after striking. These were originally thought to be lines resulting from debris “scoring” the metal strips before the blanks were cut. However, new research has pointed to the final step of strip preparation, the draw bar. To reduce the strips to proper thickness, the final step was to pass them through the draw bar. It certainly seems logical that debris in the draw bar may cause these lines, if so, then draw-bar marks or lines would be a more appropriate term.
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.
Term for slight wear, often referring just to the high points or the fields.