Numismatic Dictionary

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There are currently 94 names in this directory beginning with the letter C.
cabinet friction
Friction marks that appear on coins that were stored in wooden cabinets used by early collectors.

For a proof or proof-like coin, it is the contrast between the mirror-like fields and the frosty-like appearance of the devices. See also deep cameo and proof.

Canadian silver
Slang term for the silver coins of Canada.

cancelled die
A die that has been defaced in some way to prevent it from being used to strike coins.

capped die
An error in which a coin gets stuck on a die and remains stuck for successive strikes. Eventually, the coin forms a "cap" on the die and imparts its image on coins it strikes. When the cap falls off, it usually resembles a small bowl.

Plastic holders can be used for display or contain individual coins to make up a custom collection

carbon spot
A dark discoloration on the surface of a coin that could be caused by an imperfection the coin’s metal or improper storage of the coin.

Carson City
The state capital of Nevada that housed a branch of the United States Mint. The Carson City Mint was established in 1863 but was not operational until 1870 to support the assay and minting of silver from the Comstock Lode. It was operated through 1883 when silver coinage minting was reduced. Production was resumed in 1885 to be ended permanently in 1893. Coins struck in Carson City have a "CC" mintmark.

The effect caused by the natural luster silver coins when tilted back and forth, beams of light seem to shine from the center of the coin. It is also a slang term for a silver dollar.

cartwheel effect
A term used to describe how the light reflects off the surface of a genuine coin that has not been altered.

cast counterfeit
A replica or counterfeit coin created by making a mold of a genuine coin then cast using that mold. Most cast counterfeits can be detected by looking for a seam around the edge.

The abbreviation for the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

A count of the known specimens of a particular numismatic item. Third party grading services maintain a census of the coins they grade.

The one hundred fractions of a United States dollar is called a cent. It is also a coin that is valued at one-hundredth of a dollar struck by the U.S. Mint.

A copper coin of Mexico, Central America, and many countries in South America representing one-hundredth of a peso.

Plural of centesimo.

The Italian word for one-hundredth used in some countries to represent a coin that is one-hundredth of a lira.

The French word for one-hundredth used in many French-speaking countries to represent a coin that is one-hundredth of a franc.

An alternate spelling for centesimo.

certified coin
A numismatic item that has been professionally reviewed by a third-party grading service and encapsulated.

Chain Cent
The first official coin struck by the U.S. Mint is called a Chain Cent because the reverse design used a chain that was supposed to represent unity. The public saw the chains as representing bondage and thought it was not appropriate for the new nation’s coinage.

challenge coin
Coins issued by military entities and given as an informal recognition of service. Since their popularity has grown, other government agencies have begun to issue challenge coins. Challenge coins are medals by numismatic definition.

A city in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina that housed a branch of the United States Mint. The Charlotte Mint was established in 1835 and opened in 1838 to assay and minting gold coins from the Charlotte Gold Rush. The mint was closed in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War. Coins struck in Charlotte have a "C" mintmark.

cherry picker
A collector who searches for scarce or otherwise valuable coins by searching old collections, hoards, and old stock from dealers. Modern cherry pickers look for coins with errors or slight changes in design caused by differences in the dies used to strike coins.

chop mark
A type of counter stamping used by Chinese merchants to indicate they believe the coin is true to its value.

A term applied to a coin that has wear from being used in commerce.

A term applied to coins that have been used in commerce.

circulation strike
A coin struck for commerce. See also business strike or regular strike.

Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee
A committee of appointed citizens with backgrounds in numismatics, history, and sculpture that reviews proposed designs of United States coins and medals. It was formed to replace the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee to provide a more formal advisory role to the design of U.S. coinage. Their recommendations are forwarded to the Secretary of the Treasury for the final decision as to what is struck by the U.S. Mint.

Civil War Tokens
Tokens issued during the Civil War that were usable in place of scarce coins. Most Civil War Tokens were struck on copper planchets but some later tokens were struck on brass, silver, and other white metals. Many of the tokens were designed to look similar to United States coins and most included political messages.

A term used to describe modern coins that have layers of copper-nickel surrounding a layer of copper in the middle. These are sometimes referred to as "sandwich coins."

clash marks
The images of the dies seen on coins struck from clashed dies. See clashed dies.

clashed dies
Extraneous design detail often appears on a die as a result of two dies coming together without a planchet between them during the minting process.

Classic Commemorative
Term used to describe a commemorative coin made prior to congress canceling all commemorative coin programs in 1954. See also commemorative.

Classic Era
Term referring to coins minted from 1792 through 1964 when silver and gold coins of the United States were issued for circulation. Gold coins were only minted until 1933. See also Modern Era.

Classic Head
An image of Lady Liberty that depicts her in the style of a Roman or Greek athlete wearing a ribbon around her hair.

A coin is described as cleaned or dipped if it was rinsed in a cleaning solution regardless of how mild. Cleaned coins usually have a dull or flat luster.

Term used for a coin struck from a clipped planchet.

clipped planchet
Term used to describe a planchet that may have been cut incorrectly from the metal sheet. The clipped area may be curved if cut into the area where another planchet was cut out or straight if cut beyond the edge of the metal strip.

clogged die
Describes a die that has debris or grease in its recessed areas that results in the devices being weakly struck.

closed collar
A device that surrounds the lower die that holds the coin in place. Collars can be reeded, smooth, or have other designs that will be impressed into the edge of the coin.

Cob Money
Early Mexican and South American coins that were struck using a hammer.

Metal formed into a disk of standardized weight and stamped with a standard design to enable it to circulate as money authorized by a government body.

coin alignment
A term to describe the alignment of the obverse (front) and reverse (back) of a coin where the top of the designs are aligned opposite of each other. See also medal alignment.

coin blank
Another term for planchet.

coin collection
A grouping of coins assembled for fun and/or profit.

coin collector
An individual who accumulates coins in a methodical manner. See also numismatist.

coin doctoring
Altering a coin to make it look better in order to sell it for more than that it is worth. Coin doctoring should not be confused with conservation. See also conservation.

coin friction
Term applied to the area where coins rub together in rolls or bags causing wear on the coin.

coin orientation
When a coin is struck and the orientation of the obverse and reverse dies are in opposite directions, it is said that they are in coin orientation. Coins struck like this can be flipped over top-to-bottom and the design will appear "face up." See also medal orientation.

coin show
An event where numismatic items are bought, sold, traded, and often exhibited. See also bourse.

The suitability of the metal and design to be struck properly using on the coining presses.

The action of producing coins from metal or coins, in general.

coinage silver
An alloy consisting of 90-percent silver and 10-percent copper.

The mint official in charge of the manufacture of coins.

The manufacturing of coins made by stamping planchets under pressure between dies.

Part of the press that holds the coin in place while it is struck.

color-shifting ink
Special ink whose colors appear to change when looking at the printing at different angles.

Slang for commemorative. See also commemorative.

Specially issued coin struck to honor a special event or person. Commemorative coins are usually sold directly to collectors at a premium above face value by the issuing authority, such as the U.S. Mint, with the premium used to fund special projects.

commercial grade
A synonym for market grade.

commercial strike

Commission of Fine Arts
Legally mandated commission whose primary responsibility is to review construction-related activities within the District of Columbia for historic and aesthetic value. They also review coin and medal designs.

common date
A coin within a series that is readily available. These are usually coins produced in higher volumes.

Conder Tokens
18th Century Provincial Tokens, are named after James Conder who was an early collector and cataloged these interesting coins.

The state of preservation of a particular numismatic item.

condition census
When introduced by Dr. William H. Sheldon, it was meant to denote the finest specimen and average condition of the five finest known coins. Today, it is used to denote that census of a coin within a particular grade.

condition rarity
A term to describe a common coin that is rare when found in high grades.

Combined Organization of Numismatic Error Collectors of America

Confederate Currency
Currency issued by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

consensus grading
The process of evaluating the condition of a coin by using multiple graders.

The process of preserving, protecting, or restoring a numismatic item that does not involve altering its surface. A process that alters the surface of a coin to improve its appearance is called Coin Doctoring. Conservation should not be confused with Coin Doctoring. See also coin doctoring.

contact marks
Marks on a coin that is caused by contact with another coin or a foreign object.

contemporary counterfeit
A coin, usually base metal, made to pass for legal tender at the time of creation.

Continental Dollars
Large dollar-sized coins, mostly struck in base metals that are dated 1776 but likely struck sometime later.

A non-precious reddish-brown soft metal that has been traditionally used to strike lower denomination coins. Sometimes written using its chemical symbol of Cu for its Latin name cuprum.

copper spot
A spot or stain seen on gold coinage, indicating an area of copper that has oxidized.

The alloy copper and nickel used for small cents from 1856 through mid-1864.

Term used for copper coins struck before in the pre-Federal period (prior to 1792), half cents, and large cents.

Any reproduction of a numismatic item. See also Hobby Protection Act.

Coronet Head
Alternate name for Braided Hair design by Christian Gobrecht. See also Liberty Head.

Damage that occurs on the surface of some coins generally due to improper storage.

A copy of a numismatic item made fraudulently either for entry into circulation or for sale to collectors. See also Hobby Protection Act.

An impression made on the coin by a third-party after it has left its mint. See also chop mark.

counting machine mark
A set of lines scratched into a coin caused by the rubber wheel of a counting machine.

credit card
A plastic card issued by a bank or business that allows the holder to purchase goods or services with a promise that the consumer would pay at a later date.

Crime of 73
Nickname for the Coinage Act of 1873. The act ended the right of silver bullion holders to have the U.S. Mint assay and strike silver coins as well as ended bimetallism by putting the United States on the gold standard. The results were economic deflation and contention from gold interests and others that saw bimetallism as a way to expand the economy. (This is only a brief summary and is recommended that you seek other references for more information)

Refers to a British coin 38 millimeters in diameter that was originally struck as a commemorative of the monarch. Prior to decimalization, it had a value of five shillings and were struck as circulating coins even though few circulated. After decimalization, crowns were given the value of 25 pence. In 1990, it was changed to have a value of £5. Modern crown coins are struck for commemorative purposes and not intended for circulation. Many do not have a denomination except for the word "CROWN."

Chemical symbol for copper. See also copper.

The area of a coin struck by a die that has a broken area across part of its surface.

A coin with significant wearing that it almost appears smooth or a coin that has been damaged in circulation.

Any alloy of copper and nickel. See also copper-nickel.

An alloy of copper and nickel. See also copper-nickel.

A system of money used by a particular country. Mostly it is used to described paper money.

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