Numismatic Dictionary

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There are currently 678 names in this directory
Areas of a coin that were scratched by another coin or object that wears the metal of a coin.

Abyssinian Gold
A type of brass made of 90-percent copper and 10-percent zinc that has a gold-like color.

A disorganized grouping of coins or other numismatics. See also hoard.

A neutral solvent that can be used to clean a coin.

acid date
A term used to describe Indian Head "Buffalo" nickels that had its date restored using a chemical acid. The acid used to restore the dates leaves a distinct mark on the coin that can be seen without magnification.

adjustment marks
Scratches or file marks on a silver of coin made by the Mint to reduce the weight of the coin so that the amount of metal does not exceed its value. This usually can be seen on pre-1807 coins.

Chemical symbol for silver. See also silver.

album friction
Friction marks on the high points of a coin from rubbing while being stored in an album.

album slide marks
Parallel lines scratched into a coin caused by the plastic cover of an album sliding over a coin.

The orientation of the dies so their axis are at the desired position. See also coin alignment and medal alignment.

A combination of two or more metals.

A coin that has a date, mintmark, or other feature that has been altered, added, or removed in an attempt to make the coins appear more valuable than it is.

altered surfaces
Cleaning, tooling, or other changes to the surface of a coin to make it look better but reduces its value.

A low-density silvery non-precious metal that is the third most common metal in the Earth’s crust. Many countries have used aluminum as a low-cost alternative to other metals for their low denomination coins. Its chemical symbol is Al.

American Eagle
Bullion coin program produced by the United States Mint

American Numismatic Association
The ANA is the world’s largest organization of coin collectors and dealers chartered by an Act of Congress in 1912.

Term used to describe a coin that was struck prior to the 6th century.

The process of heating the blanks and letting them cool slowly to soften them for striking.

anvil die
The reverse die that is the lower, stationary die during the striking process. See also striking die.

archival safe
Archival safe materials are those made without acidic materials or materials that do not turn acidic over time.

arrows and rays
Design elements of 1853 quarters and half dollars. The rays were removed in 1854 because it made the coins difficult to strike.

arrows at date
Design term describing the addition of arrows to the left and right of the date. They were added and removed to indicate changes in a coin’s weight during the 19th century.

artificial toning
Term describing the coloring of a coin by using a chemical on its surface.The lowest price of a particular coin issue and grade offered for sale. See also bid.

The testing of a metal for its contents and quality

In numismatics, the attribution is the identification of the owner, previous owner, or the initial discoverer of the item.

Chemical symbol for gold. See also gold.

A public sale of coins and currency where the items are sold to the highest bidder.

The act of determining whether an item is a genuine product of the issuing authority by a recognized expert.

A system of weights based on a pound of 16 ounces. It is the primary system used in the United States. See also Troy weight.

bag mark
Scratches, marks, or other impairments caused by coins hitting each other usually during transportation or storage after being placed in bags by the U.S. Mint. Larger coins are more susceptible to bag marks.

bag toning
Coloring from the oxidation of a coin’s metal caused by a reaction with the cloth bag the coin was stored in.

A type of paper currency issued by a legal bank, whether by a government’s central bank or private bank with the permission of a government, that is payable to the bearer. It is intended to circulate in trade as legal tender in trade.

Barber coinage
Name used to describe the coinage designed by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber.

Barr Notes
Named for Joseph W. Barr, the 59th Secretary of the Treasury, who served for one month at the end of Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.

bas relief
A sculpture technique where the design is carved or engraved below what is perceived as the surface of the material. See also incuse.

basal state
A coin whose condition is such low quality that it can barely identified as to the date and mintmark (if any) based on visible features.

base metal
A metal with low intrinsic value that is usually worth less than the coin. Examples of base metals used for coins are copper, nickel, tin, steel, and aluminum.

The process of polishing a die to remove imperfections as the die is worn during the striking process.

beaded border
Small round devices around the edge of a coin often seen on early U.S. coins.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

The highest price of a particular coin issue and grade offered for sale. See also ask.

Coin made from two distinct metals. Bimetallic coins include the Canadian $2 (Twonie), 1 and 2 euro coins.

Numismatically, a bit is one-eighth of a dollar. It comes from the days when the Spanish Milled Dollar, or 8 reals coin, was cut into bits for fractional currency. See also milled dollar or real.

A flat disk of metal destined to be made into a coin. See also planchet.

blanking die
A die used to cut coining blanks from pieces of prepared metal. See also planchet.

blanking press
The press that uses blanking dies to punch blanks from prepared metal See also planchet.

Blue Sheet
Nickname for the publication Certified Coin Dealers Newsletter, a pricing guide.

Nickname for the book Handbook of United States Coins by R. S. Yeoman and Kenneth Bressett. The Bluebook is a popular wholesale price reference guide that is published annually. See also Red Book.

body bag
Term used to describe a coin that is returned by a grading service that was not encased and without a grade because or a problem with the coin.

A term used to describe a stock market trading floor, especially in France, but used by the numismatic community to describe the trading floor at a coin show.

bourse floor
The physical area where coin shows takes place.

branch mint
A subsidiary mint facility other than the main mint facility that also strikes coinage. The U.S. Mint has branch mints in Denver, San Francisco, and West Point.

An alloy of copper and zinc.

Breen Book
Term used for the book Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins by Walter Breen.

Bright and shiny coin with its original finish. A copper coin is one that has maintained it full original luster described. See also red.

brilliant proof
A proof coin with mirrored surfaces and no toning.

brilliant uncirculated
A term for a coin that has its original surface appearance and has not been circulated.

Bullion Coin program produced by the Royal Mint in Great Britain.

broad strike
A coin that is struck in a way that expands beyond the boundaries of the collar. A broadstrike can give the coin n flat or elongated look.

A type of striking error when the coin is not ejected properly from the press and causes the mirror image of the exposed design to be struck on the next coin.

Broken Banknotes
Synonym for Obsolete Banknotes.

An alloy of copper and tin.

Term applied to a copper coin that no longer has the red color of copper.

A term used to describe the color of a copper or copper-plated coin that has less than 5-percent of its original color because of natural oxidation.

Coins, ingots, or other items are bought and sold for their intrinsic metal value. Only precious metals are included as bullion.

bullion coin
A legal tender coin that trades for the value of its metal or with only a slight premium.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Bureau under the Department of the Treasury that is the official security printer of the United States government. Their primary responsibility is to print U.S. Federal Reserve Notes. See also Currency Bureau.

A process in which the surface of a coin is polished to better its appearance.

burnishing lines
Lines on the surface of a coin as a result from burnishing. This is typically seen on open-collar Proofs and almost never observed on close-collar Proofs.

business strike
A term used to describe a coin that is being struck for circulation.

The head, neck, and upper shoulders an image generally found on the obverse (front) of a coin.

buyer's premium
A Buyer's Premium is a service fee charged by an auction company on a success bid of an auction item based on the terms and conditions of the auction.

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 reverse proof.

Canadian silver
Slang term for the silver coins of Canada.

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.

See also 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 professional 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. 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
See also 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 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.

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

The numerals on a coin representing the year in which it was struck.

date set
A collection of numismatic items from a specific year or date.

Double-die obverse when the elements on the front of the coin appear to be doubled. See also double die or error.

Double-die reverse when the elements on the back of the coin appear to be doubled. See also double die or error.

A person whose occupation is buying, selling, and trading numismatic items.

The process of converting a currency and coinage system from a non-decimal denomination to a decimal (base 10) system.

deep cameo
Term applied to proof coins that have deeply frosted devices that contrast with the mirrored fields.

deep mirror prooflike
Businesses strike coin that has mirror-like fields.

A form of planchet flaw caused by imperfections in the metal whereby a thin strip of the metal separates itself from the coin.

Demand Notes
The first paper currency printed by the United States government as loans to the government during the Civil War to be paid on demand following a maturity date.

Coins or currency that the issuing government declares that they are no longer legal tender. See also legal tender.

A small Roman silver coin first minted about 268 B.C.E. during the Second Punic War.

The value assigned by a government to a coin.

A small tooth-like projection that usually appears around the rim of a coin. Denticles do not appear on United States coins.

Synonym for denticles.

That state capital of Colorado that houses a branch of the United States Mint. It was established in 1863 as an assay office but was converted to a branch mint striking its first coins in 1906. Coins struck in Denver have a "D" mintmark.

Department of the Treasury
United States cabinet department that manages the U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

A substance used to capture moisture from the air.

The artist responsible for creating a particular design used on a numismatic item. See also engraver.

The design element of a coin.

device punch
A steel rod with a raised device on the end used to punch the element into a working die. This technique was used before hubbed dies.

A cylindrical piece of metal containing an incuse image of a coin design that imparts a raised image when stamped into a planchet on a coining press.

die alignment
Term to indicate the relative position of the obverse and reverse dies.

die break
A raised area of a coin that was struck into a coin that is the result of a broken die.

die cracks
Raised lines that appear on a coin as a result of that coin having been struck by a cracked die.

die line
Raised lines, which appear on a coin as a result of polish lines on the die. See also polished die.

die rust
Pitting or roughness appearing on a coin as a result of that coin having been struck by a rusted die.

die state
The status of a die relative to wear, breaks, and condition

die striations
Raised lines on coins that were struck with polished dies.

die trial
Coins created by dies that were used to test the design during various stages of productions.

die variety
Term describing the pairing of an obverse die and reverse die that can be identified by distinctive differences unique to each die that were present when the dies were produced.

die wear
The loss of detail on a coin due to wear on the die used to strike it.

A United States coin worth 10-cents or one-tenth of a dollar

An Islamic gold coin first issued in the latter half of the seventh century. In modern times, the main currency unit in nine mostly-Islamic countries.

The Spanish word for money. It was derived from the Arabic word dinar.

Term describing for a small to medium-sized mark on a coin

A coin which has been cleaned in a soap or chemical solution that results in the dulling of the coin’s natural luster or unnatural appearance.

The original spelling of dime

Abbreviation for Deep Mirror Proof Like.

A term used to describe a coin that has been altered to enhance its appearance.

The unit currency of the United States as authorized by the Mint Act of 1792.

double die
See also doubled die.

Double Eagle
The official name for the U.S. gold $20 coin struck for circulation from 1849 through 1932.

A condition that results when a coin is not ejected from a die and is struck a second time.

doubled die
A die that has been struck more than one time by a hub in misaligned positions, resulting in doubling of design elements. See also error.

Nickname for a Spanish gold coin. The term meaning "double" was used to describe the 16 Escudos gold coin (or two Spanish Milled Dollars in modern terms).

Draped Bust
The design of Lady Liberty with her dress draped across her bust. This is attributed to Mint engraver Robert Scot, who presumably copied the design after a portrait by Gilbert Stuart.

A gold or silver coin used as a trade coin in Europe from the later medieval centuries until the mid-20th century.

Term for a coin or medal that lacks luster by natural or artificial conditions.

An official name for the U.S. gold $10 coin struck for circulation from 1795 through 1933.

The outside area of the coin that is not the obverse or reverse. It is called the third side of a coin.

edge device
Letters or other designs on the edge of a coin.

edge letters
Lettering pressed into the edge of the coin as part of the coin’s design.

Educational Notes
Sometimes called the Educational Series, they were currency notes issued in 1896 in an attempt to educate the public.

elongated coin
Coins that have been pressed into a special die that look stretched used for advertisement or commemoration

encapsulated coin
A coin that has been stored and sealed in a plastic holder usually by a third-party grading service. See also third-party grading service.

encased coin
Coins that are encased in a collar, usually made from aluminum, where the collar is used for advertisement or commemoration.

encased postage stamps
Invented by John Gault during the U.S. Civil War, it was a quarter-sized slug that was designed to hold a postage stamp to be used in lieu of money because of the shortage of coins and currency.

The artist responsible for cutting or carving the design of a coin. See also designer.

Engraver's Mark
A signature, ornaments, symbols or other marks on a coin, medal, or die placed by the engraver to show that the item was hand engraved.

enhanced uncirculated
A type of specimen strike by the U.S. Mint that requires special treating of the dies in order to add highlights and other textured elements to the coin being struck.

envelope toning
Colorization caused by storing coins in small manila coin envelops.

environmental damage
Term describing the corrosion seen on a coin that has been exposed to the elements.

eroded die
See also worn die.

A term that describes numismatic item that has a variation caused a mistake in the striking or printing process.

Originally, a Spanish gold coin worth one-eighth of a doubloon. Later the currency formerly of Portugal and Chile. Currently, it is the currency of Cape Verde.

Design or pattern that may not have used for an issued coin. See also pattern or trial.

The official currency for 19 of the 28 member states of the Eurozone. Several other nations and territories have adopted the euro as its unit currency making it the second most widely circulated currency behind the United States dollar.

The area below the main design that is separated by a line that often bears the date.

The study and collection of tokens, medals, or other coin-like objects that are not considered legal tender.

Extremely High Relief
A term used to describe a coin whose details were raised higher than other issues. This term has been used for the 1907 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle and the specially issued 2009 Saint-Gaudens commemorative issue.

eye appeal
The aesthetic effect a coin has on its viewer.

F # or F Number
A catalog number for United States currency. See also Friedberg Number.

face value
The legal-tender value assigned to a given coin by the governing authority.

A counterfeit or altered coin

fantasy coins
coins that look like real coins but represent something else. An example of a fantasy coin is one that was made to look like the 1964-D Peace Dollar that is rumored not to exist.

fantasy piece
A term applied to coins struck at the whim of Mint officials

Once the lowest denomination of British coinage, it was worth one-quarter of a penny. Term referring the design consists of a bundle of rods banded (wrapped) around an ax with a protruding blade on a Mercury Dime.

A bound bundle of rids with a projecting ax blade that appears on the back of the Winged Liberty "Mercury" Dimes struck from 1916 through 1945.

See also Full Bell Lines.

Federal Reserve
A system of 12 banks and a governing board that acts as the central bank for the United States. The chair of each Federal Reserve branch makes up the Federal Reserve Board. The chairperson of the Federal Reserve Board oversees the operation of the Board and the 12 member banks.

Federal Reserve Bank Notes
Currency that was an obligation of the Federal Reserve Branch for which it was issued. Also called National Currency.

Federal Reserve Board
Governing board of the 12 Federal Reserve banks. See also Federal Reserve.

Federal Reserve Notes
First issued in 1914 by the newly formed Federal Reserve, these are promissory notes backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

Feuchtwanger Metal
A metal alloy proposed to the Treasury by a New York City dentist, Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger, consisting of .53 copper, .29 zinc and .18 nickel for use in minor coinage. See also nickel silver.

See also Full Head

fiat money
Money whose value is derived by regulation or law and not on its metal value.

The flat area of a coin’s surface that does not contain a part of the design or inscriptions.

file marks
Evidence on a coin that a file was used to adjust the weight of a coin to a standard.

filled die
A type of error that appears on a coin when a foreign substance, such as grease, fills the elements of a die used to strike coins.

A low-grade coin used to fill a space in a collection. Fillers are usually used in place of rare and other higher priced coins.

The purity of a precious metal measured as a ratio to the number of parts per 1,000 units by its weight. For example, the American Silver Eagle has a fineness ratio of .999 meaning that the coin contains 999 parts per 1,000 total parts of silver by weight. Non-precious metals are usually not specified.

finest known
The coin that is known to be the best preserved of its type. See also grade.

first strike
A coin struck early in the life of a die. First strikes are almost always fully or well struck.

Nickname for the United States three-cent silver coin struck from 1851 through 1873. The nickname was also used for the Canadian silver five-cent coin struck from 1870 through 1921.

flat edge
Term referring to coins where the area on the surface by the edge are flat. See also wire edge.

flat luster
A subdued type of gray or dull luster often seen on coins struck from worn dies.

A clear, flexible plastic holder with two pockets used to display and store coins or medals.

flip rub
Slight discoloration on the highest points of a coin caused by contact with a flip.

In a time before decimalization, a British coin worth two shillings.

flow lines
Visible lines on a coin that was the result from the metal flowing outward from the center of a planchet as it is struck. See also cartwheel.

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

Fractional Currency
Currency that was issued 1862-1876 to deal with the shortage of coinage. Its issue coincides with the beginning of the Civil War. All fractional currency notes were printed with face values of less than one dollar. There were five issues of Fractional Currency with the first issue known Postage Currency. These are the first currency notes issued by the United States federal government. See also Postage Currency.

Wearing on the high points of a coin’s design caused by rubbing.

Friedberg Number
A system for cataloging United States currency created by Robert Friedberg for his book Paper Money of the United States. The system continues to be used today.

frosted devices
A textured surface of a coin caused by the intentional treating of the dies used in its striking. Frosted surfaces appear to have a matte finish.

See also Full Steps.

Full Bands
A term that describes Mercury (Liberty Head) Dimes that have fully defined bands on the fasces. Abbreviated as FB.

Full Bell Lines
Term used describe Franklin Half Dollars when the lower sets of bell lines on the reverse are complete Abbreviated as FBL.

Full Head
Term used to describe the Standing Liberty Quarter when the helmet on Lady Liberty’s head shows full details. Abbreviated as FH.

Full Steps
Term applied to a Jefferson Nickel when 5½ or 6 steps of Monticello on the reverse are present. Abbreviated as FS.

full strike
A numismatic item that displays the full detail intended by the designer.

An epoxy coated plaster relief model of a coin, token or medal that is used in a reducing lathe to make a die or hub.

Used to describe higher grade uncirculated or proof coins that suggest it has a high aesthetic appearance.

German Silver
A synonym for a href="?name-directory-search-value=Feuchtwanger%20Metal">Feuchtwanger Metal.

Gobrecht Dollar
Silver dollars dated 1836,1838, and 1839 named for their designer, Christian Gobrecht, Chief Engraver from 1840-1844.

A yellow-colored metallic precious metal. Its chemical symbol is Au for the Latin arum.

Gold Certificates
Currency issued by the federal government backed by gold on deposit with the United States Treasury.

gold dollar
Small, one dollar gold coins struck from 1849 through 1889.

golden dollar
Promotional term used by the U.S. Mint to describe the small dollar coins produced since 2000 that has a gold-colored appearance but are made from a magnesium alloy.

An alloy of silver, gold and copper patented by Dr. William Wheeler Hubbell. Goloid consists of 1 part gold (about 3.6-percent), 24 parts silver (about 87.3-percent) and 2.5 parts copper (about 9.1%). Coins were not minted using goloid because they were indistinguishable from other silver coins and susceptible to undetectable counterfeiting.

A term used to describe the condition of a coin

A person that professionally evaluates the condition of coins.

The act of assessing the state of preservation and condition of a coin or medal.

Green Sheet
Nickname for the publication The Currency Dealers Newsletter, a pricing guide for currency dealers.

Slang term for legal tender United States currency printed in green on the back of the note.

Grey Sheet
Nickname for the publication Coin Dealers Newsletter, a pricing guide for coin dealers.

gripped edge
A series of indentation or grip marks around the edge of a coin. Some may be in the form of several parallel lines together that resemble reeds.

A British 20-shilling gold coin made from gold imported from Africa.

A German and Dutch term for "gold coin."

Thin, shallow scratches on the surface of a coin usually caused by improper cleaning or mishandling.

Half Cent
A United States copper coin struck from 1793 through 1857 whose face value was one-half of one cent. See also bit.

half dime
A silver coin with a five-cents face value minted in the United States from 1794-1873.

half disme
A silver coin with a five-cents face value minted in the United States in 1792.

Half Eagle
Official name for a United States gold $5 coin.

A British coin struck pre-decimalization worth one-half of a penny.

hammer die
The upper die that is non-stationary, usually the obverse of the coin or medal being struck.

hammered coins
Coins that were manufactured by hammering the dies to impress the image into the coin blanks. This practice ended following the invention of the coin mill.

French for high relief.

Heraldic Eagle
An eagle used as part of a coat of arms. For U.S. coins, the Heraldic Eagle owes its heraldry to Liberty. Heraldic Eagle is used on the Great Seal of the United States.

high relief
The designing of a die so as to create a deep, concave field upon the surface of a coin, for maximum contrast with the devices or raised parts of the coin.

A large or significant disorganized group of coins held for either numismatic or monetary reasons.

An individual who amasses a large quantity of numismatic items.

Hobby Protection Act
United States law (Pub. L. 93-167, 87 Stat. 686,15 U.S.C. 2101 et seq.) that requires a copy or replica of any numismatic item sold in the U.S. to be marked with the word COPY in capital letters and in English. See also copy.

Hobo Nickel
An Indian Head (Buffalo) nickel that has been engraved with the portrait of a hobo or other character often by a hobo. There are modern Hobo Nickels made by very talented artists that are also collectible.

holder toning
Any toning acquired by a coin as a result of storage in a holder.

A coin that has a hole punched or drilled through it, often so that it may be used for jewelry.

An image that appears to be three-dimensional when examined under light. Holograms are used as a security device on currency and credit cards. Some mints print hologram designs on non-circulating legal tender coins.

Horse Blankets
Nickname for large currency notes.

A piece of die steel showing the coinage devices in relief, or raised, as they are on a coin. The hub is pressed into the blank die, resulting in an incused, mirror image on the die. The die is then pressed into a planchet, or coin blank, on a coining press, to produce a coin. See also error.

hub doubling
Refers to the doubling of the elements on a coin that was caused by the hub being pressed more than once into a die in different angles. See also error.

Inaugural Medal
Medals issued on the occasion of the inaugurations of presidents. In the United States, it has been the practice that the inaugural committee arrange for the striking of inauguration medals.

incomplete strike
A coin that is missing design detail because of a problem during the striking process.

incuse design
Designs or lettering that are impressed into a coin instead of being raised. The Indian Head Quarter Eagles and Half Eagles gold coins are the only issued by the United States Mint to be struck with incuse designs.

A cast bar of precious metal typically oblong in shape. The weight, finess and the guarantor of the information are usually stamped into the ingot. Ingots are not legal tender items but worth their value in the metal which they are made.

The wording on a coin. See also legend.

A method of printing where ink is applied to engraved plates and then pressed into the paper. Printing in this manner gives the paper a texture from the raised ink. Intaglio printing is used on banknotes printed on paper.

intrinsic value
The value of the metal contained in a numismatic item.

Refers to the multi-colored, rainbow-like toning on a coin’s surface, especially of a silver coin.

Janvier Reduction Lathe
A special reducing lathe is used to carve the hub during the die making process.

A token or coin-like medals produced in Europe from the 13th through the 17th centuries. They were produced as counters for use in calculation on a lined board similar to an abacus but found use as a substitute currency.

Judd patterns
A system to catalog U.S. pattern, experimental, and trial coins invented by Dr. J. Hewitt Judd in 1959.

junk box
Usually found at coin shows, these are boxes of coins that are of low grade or common coins that are of lesser value that dealers offer for sale at discount prices.

The measure of gold purity of an item. Pure gold is designated as 24-karats.

key date
A key date coin is one that is more difficult to obtain than others in the series. A key date may include all coins from a single year or just one date and mintmark combination.

KM# or KM Number
Krause-Mishler catalog number for the coin type. See also Krause-Mishler.

Chet Krause, founder of Krause Publishing, and Cliff Mishler, then Editor-in-Chief at Krause Publishing, invented a catalog numbering systems for the Standard Catalog of World Coins references. These catalog numbers are widely used to identify coins by type.

Bullion coin program produced by South Africa

Lamination is a type of error in the planchet that occurs when a thin layer of the metal splits or peals away from the surface of the coin. See also planchet flaw.

Large Cent
A United States copper coins struck from 1793 to 1857 whose face value was one-cent. During its existence, large cents ranged in size from 23.5 mm in diameter to 29 mm. The size was reduced to 19 mm beginning in 1857.

large date
A term describing the variety of a coin in which the date is physically larger than on other varieties of the same year.

large dollar
A term used to describe U.S. dollar coins that were 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) in diameter. The last large dollar produced by the U.S. Mint was the 1978 Eisenhower dollar.

Large Eagle
An eagle used as part of a coat of arms. See also Heraldic Eagle.

large letters
A term describing the variety of a coin which the letters are physically larger than on other varieties of the same year.

Large Motto
Common short name for the particular variety of two-cent coin of 1864 with large letters in the motto, IN GOD WE TRUST.

large notes
Descriptive term for United States currency issued before 1929. These notes were 7 1/2 inches long and 3 1/8 inches wide.

large size
A term referring to the particular diameter of a coin in a series.

laser enhanced
A process by which a laser light is used to apply selective treatment to coin dies to create a frosted effect.

leaf print
An anti-counterfeiting mechanism for currency in which a leaf is used to create a unique design. The leaf print process was invented by Benjamin Franklin.

legal tender
Coins and currency issued by a government or other official authority that can be legally used in commerce or to pay public debt.

The coin’s principal lettering, generally shown along its outer perimeter.

A coin with a slightly raised surface that has been printed with a design.

letter punch
A steel punch used to impress a letter in a die. Letter punches were used by branch mints to add mintmarks dies sent from Philadelphia.

lettered edge
An incused or raised inscription on the edge of a coin. See also edge letter.

Bullion coin program produced by the Mexican Mint.

A symbolic figure required to be used on U.S. coin designs.

lint mark
A small, thin, irregular depression on a coin’s surface caused by a piece of lint adhering to the die or planchet during the minting process.

A word derived from the Latin for pound, it was the primary currency of Italy dating back to the founding of Venice. The term was adopted by other countries like Malta, San Marino, Vatican City, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. Currently, it is the primary currency of Turkey.

A slang term for a Canadian one dollar coin struck since 1987. The term came about because the reverse of the coin features a common loon in the design.

A magnifying glass used to examine coins.

Love Token
A coin engraved by someone as a gift. Usually, these were made by men to give to their wife or girl friend. Love tokens were most popular during 1880-1890.

luster or lustre
The brightness of a coin that results from the way in which it reflects light.

A term used to describe a coin that still has its original mint bloom.

Lyon Dollar
The generic term for any Dutch crown.

major variety
A coin that is widely recognized as having a major difference from other coins of the same date, design, type, and mint.

A non-precious dark stainless metal that is not found on its own but with other metals. It has been used in alloys to strike coins, such as U.S. $1 coins, since 2000. Sometimes written using its chemical symbol of Mn.

A city in the Philippines once home to the only branch of the U.S. Mint outside the continental United States. The original mint was operated by the U.S. Mint from 1920-1946 with interruptions from World War II while the Philippines was a United States territory. The Manila Mint struck coins only used in the Philippines. Some coins struck in Manila have an "M" mintmark. Philippines coins that bear an "S" mintmark were struck in San Francisco.

Maple Leaf
Bullion coin program produced by the Royal Canadian Mint

Maria Theresa Thaler
The name given to any silver coin that was used in world trade, primarily in the eastern Mediterranean, since 1741. The trade coin's size and weight were standardized in 1951. It was named after Empress Maria Theresa, ruler of the territories of central Europe from 1745 until her death in 1780. Maria Theresa thaler coins struck after 1780 were dated 1780 in her memory.

market grade
The grade at which most reputable dealers and auction houses would offer an uncertified coin.

Imperfections acquired after a coin is struck.

master die
The original die from which working dies are cast.

master hub
The original hub created by the portrait lathe. Master dies are created from this hub.

Matte Proof
A proof coin produced by the U.S. Mint mainly from 1907 to 1916 which has sandblasted or acid-pickled surfaces.

Maundy money
Maundy money, or the Queen’s Maundy money, is a symbolic handout to poor elderly recipients who served the sovereign of England. Modern Maundy money are non-circulating legal tender silver coins that are given with a small amount of circulating money instead of gifts of clothing and food. The ceremony derives from an instruction of Jesus at the Last Supper that his followers should love one another. Traditions, such as washing of the feet (mandatum) and other gifts, have evolved to a symbolic handout of money.

A coin-like object produced to commemorate an event or person. A medal is not legal tender and has no face value struck on it.

medal alignment
Medals are generally struck with the coinage dies facing the same direction during striking. This is the opposite of coin alignment. See also medal orientation.

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

medal press
A high-pressure coining press acquired by the U.S. Mint in the 1850s to strike medals and other special issues.

A coin-like object produced to commemorate an event or person. Synonym for medal.

Term for the intrinsic metal value of a coin.

melt value
The value of the metals contained in a coin or medal.

metal flow
The movement of metal between the dies as a coin is struck. See also flow lines

Metal stress lines
Radial lines, sometimes visible, caused by metal flowing outward from the center of the planchet during the minting process. See also flow lines or cartwheel.

Very small printing used during the currency making process to help prevent counterfeiting.

Collecting of military-related items such as awards, medals, and payment scrip.

Military Payment Certificates
A form of currency that was used to pay military personnel in foreign countries or be used in on-base or military-controlled stores.

milled dollar
A silver coin struck in and for commerce in the Spanish colonies of the Western Hemisphere. See also reales.

milling mark
A mark resulting from the reeded edge of one coin hitting the surface of another.

minor variety
A coin that has a minor difference from other coins of the same design, type, date, and mint.

A facility where coins are manufactured.

mint error
A coin that that is flawed as a result of a mistake that occurred during its production at the United States Mint. See also error.

Mint Set
A set produced by the U.S. Mint of business strike coins for the year.

Mint Set toning
Term referring to toning acquired by coins after years of storage in the original holders as packaged by the mint.

Mint State
Similar to uncirculated, it is a term that refers to a coin that shows no sign of circulation or wear.

The number of coins of a particular date struck at a given mint during a specific year.

A letter or other marking on a coin’s surface to identify the mint at which the coin was struck.

Term applied to coins with striking irregularities. See also error.

misaligned dies
A striking error caused by one or both dies not set properly in the coining machine or worked loose during striking.

mishandled proof
A proof coin that somehow escaped into circulation or was otherwise significantly abused.

Modern Commemorative
Term used to describe a commemorative coin produced since commemorative programs were restarted in 1982. See also commemorative.

Modern Era
Term used to describe coins produced since 1965. At this time, all circulating coins were made using base medals except for the Kennedy half-dollar from 1965-1969 when the amount of silver was reduced to 40-percent.

An accepted common medium of exchange and measure of value.

montmorillonite clay
An aluminum-rich clay that is used as a desiccant. See also desiccant.

mottled toning
Uneven toning, usually characterized by splotchy areas of drab colors. See also toning.

A word, sentence or phrase inscribed on a coin to express a guiding national principle. For example, E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) that is inscribed on all U.S. circulating coins.

A mule is a type of mint error that occurs when a coin is struck with two dies that were not intended to be used together. See also error.

A type of mint error when the coin was struck more than once. A multiple-struck coin can show the design as it is struck in multiple places.

A severely damaged coin.

A neutral plastic used to make archival safe storage supplies.

National Bank Notes
Currency issued only by federally chartered banks that bought bonds to insure the notes’ value.

National Currency
See Federal Reserve Bank Notes.

National Currency Bureau
Agency formed to handle currency for the government following passage of the National Bank Act of 1863. Name was later changed to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Non Circulating Legal Tender refers to a legal tender coin that has a face value but is not intended for circulation. See also commemorative.

net price
A term used for a firm, non-negotiable price the seller is willing to sell an item.

New Orleans
Louisiana’s largest city and main entry port on the Mississippi River, New Orleans was the home of a branch of the United States Mint. It was established in 1838 and operated until 1861 when the Confederate Army captured it during the Civil War. ADM David Farragutin recaptured it in 1862. Following the passage of the Bland-Allison Act in 1878 that required the federal government to buy large quantities of silver, it was recommissioned as a mint in 1879 and operated until 1909. Coins struck in New Orleans have an "O" mintmark.

A non-precious silvery-white metal that has been a used for coin production since the mid-19th century. United States coins have been alloyed with copper for strength and to keep the costs down. Sometimes written using its chemical symbol of Ni.

nickel silver
Sometimes referred to as "German silver," nickel silver is an alloy of 60- percent copper, 20-percent nickel, and 20-percent zinc. It is named because of its silvery appearance even though it does not contain any silver. Nickel silver had been used to strike European coins prior to the adaptation of the Euro.

No Arrows
Term applied to coins without arrows by their dates during years when other coins had arrows by the date. (i.e. 1853 Arrows and No Arrows half dimes.)

No Cents Nickel
Liberty Head nickels struck in 1883 without a denomination. The lack of a denomination was very confusing to the public and led to the "racketeer" nickel scandal.

No Motto
Coins struck without the motto, IN GOD WE TRUST.

No Stars
Term referring to the Gobrecht-designed Liberty Seated coins without stars.

Non-Circulating Legal Tender
Refers to a legal tender coin that has a face value but is not intended for circulation. See also commemorative.

The study and collection of banknotes or legally authorized paper money.

numerical grading
A system used to describe the condition of a coin based on the Sheldon Scale where 1 is the worst condition and 70 is a coin in perfect condition. See also Sheldon Scale.

The study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects.

One who studies or collects money.

Obsolete Banknotes
Banknotes issued by banks under permission of the Department of the Treasury that were supposed to be backed by the assets of the issuing bank. The National Bank Act of 1863 made these banknotes obsolete.

The front or heads side of a coin.

off center
A coin struck on a blank that was not properly centered over the anvil, or lower, die.

off metal
A type of error that occurs when a coin is struck on a planchet that it is not normally struck, such as striking of a quarter on a planchet that was supposed to be for a nickel.

open collar
A device used to position a planchet over the lower die. It was employed specifically for striking early U.S. coins whose edges had already been stamped with reeding or lettering.

The aligment of the dies so their axis are at the desired position. See also alignment.

Referring to any aspect of a coin that retains its original state. Original toning means natural, not retoned or cleaned. Original luster means undisturbed luster that has not been enhanced through artificial methods.

original surface
Term used to describe a coin that has never been altered. It is the original surface of the coin as it was when it was released from the mint.

original toning
Referring to the toning a coin that has never been cleaned or dipped.

over dates
Synonym for repunched dates.

The practice of assigning a coin’s grade a value above what it truly deserves. An inexperienced grader or a deliberate act to deceive buyers can be reasons coins may be over-graded. See also grade.

Synonym for repunched mintmarks.

A coin struck from a die with a date that has one year punched over a different year.

A type of minting error when a coin, token or medal is struck on a previously struck coin, token or medal.

The formation of oxides or tarnish on the surface of a coin, token or medal from exposure to the environment. See also toning.

P# or P Number
A catalog number for foreign currency. See also Pick Number.

A silvery precious metal that has the lowest melting point of the Platinum Group Metals. Its chemical symbol is Pd.

paper money
Currency that is made from a type of paper, usually a cotton- based linen.

Partial Collar Strike
A type of striking error where a planchet does not enter completely into coining position and is struck partly within the collar and partly outside. See also a href="?name-directory-search-value=collar">collar.

Synonym for toning.

A test striking of a coin produced to trial a proposed design, composition, or size.

Chemical symbol for palladium. See also palladium.

The listing of an item’s current owner plus all known previous owners.

The plural form of penny primarily used in Great Britain.

The official name of the coin that is one hundredth of a British pound. It is also a synonym for the U.S. one-cent coin.

peripheral toning
Coloring around the edge of a coin.

pet crime
President Theodore Roosevelt, who was unhappy with the look of United State coinage, turned to Augustus Saint- Gaudens to help redesign the coins in circulation. During a discussion with Saint-Gaudens, Roosevelt was quoted as saying, "You know, Saint-Gaudens, this is my pet crime."

A grayish soft metal made of 85-95 percent tin. For coin making, the balance of the alloy is usually copper but lead has been used in some poorer countries. When used as a coinage metal, the planchets are small to prevent bending. Pewter is not used in the United States.

Primary unit of German coins and currency that existed from the 9th century until modern Germany adopted the Euro.

A city in Pennsylvania that is home to the main branch of the United States Mint. Although the U.S. Mint headquarters is located in Washington, DC, the Philadelphia Mint is the bureau’s operational headquarters. The first mint was established in 1792 and has been in four different buildings over its history. The current, fourth mint building has been in operation since 1969. Coins struck in Philadelphia either have no mintmark or a "P" mintmark.

Pick Number
A cataloging system for currency created by German notaphilist Albert Pick for his book The Standard Catalog of World Currency. Today, the catalog is maintained by Krause Publications.

Piece of Eight
A colloquial name used to 8 reales or Spanish Milled Dollar coin from the Spanish colonies in the western hemisphere. The name was derived from the way it was cut into eights to represent fractions of the coin. See also bit or real.

In French is written as “piefort,” is a coin struck on a planchet that is thicker than circulating coins.

Pioneer gold
Privately issued gold coins struck by a variety of minters anywhere in America where gold was discovered.

plain edge
A smooth, flat edge seen mainly on a small-denomination coinage.

A flat disk of metal destined to be made into a coin. See also blank.

planchet defect
Any defect of a coin that was caused by the planchet being imperfect prior to the coin being struck. See also planchet flaw

planchet flaw
An irregular hole in a coin blank sometimes the result of a lamination that has broken away. See also lamination.

planchet striations
Fine, incuse lines found on some Proof coins potentially caused by polishing of the blanks prior to striking.

A coin with a thin layer of a metal that has been applied to its surface. Precious metals are used to plate items.

A dense, malleable, and non-conductive silvery precious metal. Its chemical symbol is Pt.

Term used to describe a coin that has had a hole filled.

polished die
A die that has been polished to make the surfaces smooth. Proof dies are polished to impart mirror-like surfaces. Used dies are polished to remove clash marks or other imperfections.

polymer banknotes
The term used to describe the plastic-like paper developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia to print banknotes.

polyvinyl chloride
A chemical used to soften the plastic. It is used in some coin holders and albums. PVC can damage the surfaces of coins.

A numismatic item with a rough or granular surface resulting from oxidation. Commonly used to describe old copper coins.

Postage Currency
Small, rectangular paper that looked like postage stamps but larger without gum on the reverse to be used in commerce issued 1862-1863. See also Fractional Currency.

Pound, or pound sterling, is the unit currency of the Great Britain. The pound was introduced by King Henry II to represent one troy pound of silver. Since a pound was made up of 240 pennyweights, the penny was introduced to represent one pennyweight of silver.

Coins struck using a later date than when issued. Some countries issue pre-strike commemorative coins marking an event such as hosting the Olympic games.

presentation striking
A coin struck for a special occasion.

A machine that strikes coins or medals.

Prestige Proof Sets
Sets containing silver proof coins for the year that included the commemorative coin for that year. Prestige Proof Sets were produced in the 1990s. See also proof.

Term describing coins in original, unimpaired condition. See also Mint State.

Private Issue
A numismatic item not issued by a government.

privy mark
A small device struck into the coin used to identify the dies used, the mint or assayer responsible for the coin’s purity, or for a special commemoration.

The process of striking a special version of a coin with higher quality dies and specially polished planchets.

proof dies
Dies that are prepared and used exclusively to produce proof coins.

proof set
A coin set containing proof struck coins from a particular year. See also proof.

proof-only issue
A coin struck only as a proof with no business-strike counterpart.

Businesses strike coin that has mirror-like surfaces. See also business strike.

Synonym for pedigree.

Chemical symbol for platinum. See also platinum.

A steel rod with a device, a date, lettering, and other symbols on the end that was hammered into a working die.

Polyvinyl chloride.

PVC damage
A film left on a coin after storage in flips that contain PVC. See also polyvinyl chloride.

PVC flip
Another name for a coin flip that contains PVC. See also polyvinyl chloride.

The quarter is a U.S. coin denomination worth 25 cents, or one fourth of a dollar.

Quarter Eagle
A gold once struck in the United States with a face value of $2.50.

A slang term that was used in Great Britain for a Guinea or a Sovereign. It is modern slang for one pound.

R# or R Number
Rarity number. See also Universal Rarity Scale.

Racketeer nickel
A gold-plated 1883 No "CENTS" Liberty Head five-cent coin ("V" nickel). Legend has it that a deaf-mute gold-plated these unfamiliar coins and would use them as legal tender. 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.

rainbow toning
Toning which is usually seen on silver dollars stored in bags. A full spectrum of colors is represented; beginning with yellow, then green, to red, to blue, and sometimes even black.

A relative term indicating that a coin within a series is very difficult to find.

Term used to describe a numismatic item determined by the number of surviving specimens.

rarity scale
A term referring to a numerical-rating system such as the Universal Rarity Scale.

Refers to any coin that is not encapsulated by a grading service.

Term for the lines that represent sun rays on a coin’s design.

Also spelled "reale" with the plural spelled "reales," is Spanish for "royal" meant to represent the silver unit coin of the Spanish colonies in the western hemisphere.

A term used to describe the color of a copper or copper-plated coin that maintains at least 95-percent of its original color.

Red Book
Nickname for the book A Guide Book of United States Coins by R. S. Yeoman and Kenneth Bressett. The Red Book is a popular retail price reference guide that is published annually. See also Blue Book.

red brown
A term used to describe the color of a copper or copper-plated coin that maintains between 5-percent and 95-percent of its original color because of natural oxidation.

reeded edge
Grooved notches found on the edge of some coins.

The serrated (tooth-like) ornamentation applied to a coin’s edge during striking.

reeding marks
Marks caused when the reeded edge of one coin hits the surface of another coin.

regular issue
A term that distinguishes coins created for commerce. These may be business or proof strikes of coins.

regular strike
Synonym for business strike.

The height of the devices of a particular coin design.

A copy or reproduction.

Numismatically, it is a later printing of currency using the same printing plates as the original. Reprints are made for presentation or collection and altered in some way to distinguish it from the original printing.

repunched dates
When branch mints needed to use dies from a previous year, the new year would be punched over the old year leaving remnants of the old date on the coin. These are very collectible errors.

repunched mintmarks
A coin struck with a die on which the mintmark was punched into the die over a different mintmark.

A coin struck later than indicated by its date often with different dies.

A coin that has been dipped or cleaned and then has regained color either naturally or artificially.

The back or "tails" side of a coin.

reverse proof
A type of proof coin where the elements are specially polished to create a mirror-like appearance and the fields are treated to provide a matte finish. See also proof.

The raised area around the edges of the surfaces of a coin.

rim ding
Synonym for a rim nick.

rim nick
A mark or indentation on the rim of a coin.

ring test
A test that may determine whether a coin was struck or is an electrotype or cast copy. The coin is balanced on a finger and gently tapped with a metal object.

A set number of coins stored in a coin wrapper. Rolls were originally paper wrappers, and today are typically plastic.

roll friction
Term used to describe wearing of coins on the high areas of the relief on coins that were stored in rolls.

rolled edge
A term describing a rounded rim on a coin.

roller marks
Parallel incuse lines found on a coin after it is struck. It is believed that roller marks are caused when the strips of metal are pulled through draw bars.

rose gold
An alloy of at least 75-percent gold with the balance of copper made to give the metal a rose or pinkish hue.

rotated dies
A type of mint error caused by the dies not being aligned when striking the coin, token or medal.

Occurs when a coin is slid across a hardened surface, causing the removal of original mint luster, while leaving evidence of friction.

Nickname for the Sacagawea dollar coin. See also Sacagawea.

Name of the Shoshone woman who helped Lewis and Clark on their westward expedition. Her portrait has appeared on the U.S. small $1 coin since 2000.

Slang term for the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle $20 gold coin. See also Saint-Gaudens.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens was a famous sculptor who designed the $10 Indian Head gold Eagle and $20 gold Double Eagle coins as part of Theodore Roosevelt’s "pet crime." Both coins were struck 1907-1933.

salvage coin
A coin retrieved from a shipwreck.

San Francisco
A city in California that is the home of a branch of the United States Mint. The San Francisco Mint was established in 1854 as an assay office during the California gold rush. The first building, known as the "Granite Lady," was one of the few buildings to survive the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. A new building was opened in 1937. Coining was suspended in 1955 and its status returned to an assay office. Although it began striking circulating coins in 1968, its status was changed to a mint in 1988.Coins struck in San Francisco have an "S" mintmark.

satin finish
A special matte finish usually on business strike coins. The U.S. Mint experimented with satin finish Proofs on the gold coins of 1909 and 1910 and with Mint Sets in the 2000s.

satin luster
Fine, silky finish seen mostly on copper and nickel business strike coins. Almost no "cartwheel" effect is seen on coins with satin luster.

Scarce coins are very rare coins that are extremely difficult to obtain because their population is so small. See also rare.

A mark on a coin that is more severe than a hairline.

screw press
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.

A certificate representing money issued to be used in exchange for goods and services. Scrip is usually backed by money used in exchange. In some cases, scrip is an interest-bearing item that promises the redeemer a specified return on the investment.

The study and collection of stock and bond certificates

security thread
A plastic-like ribbon embedded into currency paper during its manufacturer to prevent counterfeiting.

The profits resulting from the difference between the cost to make a coin and its face value.

A coin that is considered neither common, nor scarce. See also semi-key date.

semi-key date
A coin that is scarcer than the average specimen but easier to find than a key date coin. See also key date.

Refers to a coin that has a significant bullion value and some numismatic value.

A coin that has almost enough mirror-like reflectiveness to be called "prooflike."

serial number
A sequence number printed on currency to indicate order of production. Serial numbers have also been used on medals.

The complete group of coins of the same denomination and design representing all issuing mints.

A collection of coins in a series.

Sheldon scale
The grading scale developed by Dr. William Sheldon that ranks coins on a scale of 1 to 70, with 70 representing perfection for the purpose of grading Large Cents. The system was later adopted for all coins.

A design used on certain issues that has horizontal and vertical lines in a shield shape.

Shield Nickel
Five-cent coin minted from 1866 to 1883, was the first non-copper coin that did not contain precious metals.

Prior to decimalization in Great Britain, a shilling was one- twentieth of a pound. There were twelve pennies in one shilling.

A slang term used for paper money with a low face value. Citizens of both the United States and Canada used this term for their respective fractional currency issued during the 19th century.

short snorter
A piece of paper money signed by service members or people traveling together to record their times together. It was a tradition started by the Alaskan Bush flyers in the 1920s, it was adopted by World War II flight crews to convey good luck.

Shotgun Cents
Lincoln Cents struck from 1942-1945 were made using the copper reclaimed from shotgun shells gathered from the military training camps during World War II.

shotgun roll
A roll of coins that were mechanically produced whose ends are open and the edges of the roll are rounded giving it the appearance of a shotgun shell.

silica gel
A hard, granular substance used as a desiccant.

A shiny grayish-white precious metal. Sometimes written using its chemical symbol of Ag for its Latin name argentum.

Silver Certificates
Currency issued by the federal government backed by silver on deposit with the United States Treasury.

silver dollar
Silver coin that served as a cornerstone of U.S. currency from 1792 through 1935.

silver nickel
Synonym for Wartime nickel.

A clad coin whose outer layers are made from .80 silver and .20 copper surrounding a center core made from .209 silver and .791 copper. This gave the effective makeup of 40- percent silver and 60-percent copper. The only coins struck using this type of composition were Kennedy half dollars struck from 1965 until 1970.

A British coin that is worth one-half of a shilling.

skirt lines
Lines representing the folds on Miss Liberty’s flowing gown as it appears on the Walking Liberty half-dollars.

Slang for a holder holding a coin that has been encapsulated by a coin grading service.

The process of encapsulating a coin in a sonically sealed holder by a third-party grading service.

A coin with very slight traces of wear that it almost passes for an uncirculated specimen.

Term for the octagonal and round fifty-dollar gold coins struck during the California gold rush.

small cent
A one-cent coin struck by the United States Mint whose size was set to 19 mm starting in 1857.

small dollar
Small dollars are coins that have been minted since 1979 that are 26.5mm in diameter. The first small dollar was the Susan B. Anthony dollar. The current dollar is made of a manganese-brass alloy and is gold in color but does not contain any precious metals.

small notes
Descriptive term for United States currency issued starting in 1929. These notes are 6⅛ inches long and 2⅝ inches wide.


Souvenir Sets
Special sets of business strike coins packaged by the Philadelphia and Denver mints to be sold at their gift shops.

A gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of 20 shillings or one pound sterling. Modern sovereigns are used as a bullion coin.

Special Mint Set
A set of special coins-neither business strikes nor Proofs-first struck in limited quantities in 1965 and officially released in 1966-1967 to replace Proof sets, which were discontinued.

Refers to hard money, such as coins made from precious metals, as opposed to currency.

specific gravity
A test for the density of a coin.

A coin or banknote prepared with special care as an example of a given issue.

specimen finish
An uncirculated coin specially struck for the collector market that shows a proof-like surface. See also prooflike.

specimen strike
See also specimen.

split grade
A coin whose obverse grade is different from its reverse grade.

splotchy toning
Color that is uneven in both shade and composition.

A discolored area on a coin.

spot price
Refers to the current commodity price for precious metals.

A five-pointed or six-pointed design element used on many U.S. coins.

star notes
A currency note whose serial number begins or ends with a star. The star is used to denote that the note is a replacement note for one found to be defective or damaged during the printing process.

Steel cent
The 1943 Lincoln Cents struck of zinc-coated steel as an emergency replacement for the usual bronze.

Synonym for 1943 steel cents.

Name given to an experimental four-dollar goloid coins struck by the U.S. Mint in 1879-1880. The Stella was struck using a planchet whose alloy was 6.00g Au, 0.30g Ag, and 0.70g Cu while the United States was considering joining the Latin Monetary Union (LMU), the forerunner to the Eurozone. Congress rejected the proposal to join the LMU and the Stella program ended.

sterling silver
An alloy of silver that contains 92.5-percent silver and the balance a non-precious metal, usually copper.

stickered coins
A coin with a sticker on one site used as advertising. Although a sticker can be applied to any coin, during the 1920s and 1930s the dominant stickered coins were dollars and quarters because of their size.

stock edge
A counterfeit edge collar used for creating fake coins.

stress line
Synonym for 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 crisscross lines.

The degree to which metal flows into the recesses of the dies when a coin is struck. The strike of a coin is usually referred to as weak, soft, bold, or full.

strike doubling
An error that appears as doubled elements when a coin is struck more than once. See also error.

striking die
The obverse die that is the upper, moving die during the striking process. See also anvil die.

The flattened sheet of metal from which blank planchets are punched.

Term describing a coin produced from dies and a coining press.

struck copy
A replica of a particular coin made from dies, possibly but not necessarily meant to deceive.

struck counterfeit
A fake coin that is struck using dies in a press made with the intention to deceive.

surface preservation
The term used to describe the quality level of the surfaces of a coin.

The entire obverse and reverse faces of a coin.

Suzy B
Sometimes spelled "Susie B" or "Suzie B," it is the nickname given to the small dollar bearing the portrait of suffragette Susan B. Anthony.

target toning
Term used for coins with rings of coloring that fade toward the center, creating the effect of an archery target.

technical grading
The type of grading that relies on certain technical metrics of a coin such as strike, luster and surface preservation.

terminal die state
The final state of a die before it retired or breaks. Coins are studied to find evidence of being struck with terminal dies.

Territorial Gold
Gold coins and bars privately struck during the various gold rushes.

A term used to describe silver European coins usually the size of a U.S. silver (large) dollar. The word is pronounced as “tailor.” In some German dialects, it is pronounced daler which is where the term dollar is derived.

The Numismatist
The name of the official publication of the American Numismatic Association.

third-party grading service
An independent company that authenticates, grades, attributes and encapsulates coins

three-cent nickel

three-cent piece
A coin minted by the U.S. Mint whose face value is 3-cents. A silver coin was produced 1851 -1872 and nicknamed a trime. Aversion of the coin was produced in nickel from 1865-1889 and was nicknamed a three-cent nickel.

A pre-decimalisation British coin that is worth one-quarter of a shilling.

Term for a coin that has been doctored in a specific way to hide marks, hairlines, or other disturbances.

tissue toning
The toning is caused by sulfur in the paper reacting with coins stored in original Mint paper.

A privately issued numismatic item, generally in metal, with a represented value in trade or offer of service. Tokens are also produced for advertising purposes.

A type of brass whose alloy consists of 85-percent brass and 15-percent zinc giving it a yellowish color. In 1942 and 1943 Canadian 5 cent coins were struck using planchets made of tombac.

A term used to describe a coin that has some coloring that it did not have when it was issued by the Mint.

A slow, natural and normal process by which a coin oxidizes over a number of years from contact with the environment. Coins that have been naturally toned are not considered errors.

tooling mark
A line, usually small and fine resulting from a reworking of the die to remove unwanted elements.

The nickname for the Canadian two-dollar coin as a wordplay on two loonies. See also Loonie.

Abbreviation for third-party grading service.

Trade Dollar
A silver dollar made using 420 grains of silver struck for the purpose of trade with the Orient. It was first struck in 1873 and discontinued in 1878. Proof versions were issued as late as 1885 when the coin was demonetized. Trade dollars regained legal tender status when the Coinage Act of 1965 was passed.

transfer die
A die created by sacrificing a coin for a model.

transitional issue
A coin struck after a series ends or before a series begins. It can also refer to a coin struck with either the obverse or the reverse of a discontinued or upcoming series.

treasure coin
A coin known to have come from a shipwreck, buried, or another hidden source.

Treasury Notes
Currency issued in 1890-1891 used to buy silver bullion and redeemable in gold coin.

Trial of the Pyx
The annual test of gold and silver coins to ensure they are have been properly minted. The pyx is an official container that holds samples from each coinage run. The Royal Mint holds an annual Trial of the Pyx. In the United States, the Assay Commission was dissolved in 1980, ending the annual practice.

trial strike
A coin that has been struck in an attempt to adjust the pressure of the dies. See also die trial. Synonym for a silver three-cent piece.

The nickname for the silver Three Cents coins struck from 1851 through 1873.

Troy weight
A unit of mass customarily used for precious metals and gemstones. One troy ounce is equal to 480 grains (or 31.1034768 grams, or 1.0971 avoirdupois ounces). There are 12 troy ounces in a troy pound that contains 5760 grains (an avoirdupois pound contains 7000 grains).

type coin
A representative coin, usually a common date, from a particular issue of a specific design, size, or metal.

type set
A collection by type rather than by series. See also date set.

ultra high relief
Alternate name for the extremely high relief.

General term that refers to a coin that shows no signs of circulation or wear.

uncut sheet
A sheet of currency notes that were not cut by the printer. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing sells uncut sheets as souvenirs.

The practice of assigning a coins grade a value below what it truly deserves. An inexperienced grader or a deliberate act to deceive sellers can cause coins to be under-graded coins. See also grade.

United State Mint
The bureau under the Department of the Treasury that is responsible for striking the United States coins and medals. The U.S. Mint is the largest mint by production (number of coins) and value of coinage produced.

United States Notes
First currency authorized by the Legal Tender Act of 1862 and the first notes printed by the National Currency Bureau backed by a bank’s assets.

United States Secret Service
The agency under the Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for protecting United States currency from counterfeiting. A branch of the U.S. Secret Service provides protection to the president, vice president, their families, and other national officials.

Universal Rarity Scale
A 10-point scale that measures degree of rarity where the higher number corresponds to increased rarity.

The process of narrowing the diameter of the coin slightly in order to create a rim around the edge.

upsetting mill
The machine used to upset a coin.

Synonym for the Liberty Head five-cent coins struck from 1883-1912.

VAM number
Unique number assigned to each die combination of Morgan and Peace dollars. See also Van Allen-Mallis.

Van Allen-Mallis
Unique number assigned to each die variety combination of Morgan and Peace dollars known to the authors of The Complete Catalog and Encyclopedia of United States Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars. Numbers assigned are called VAM numbers, an abbreviation of the authors Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis.

A coin of the same date and basic design as another but with slight differences such as variations in date, mintmark size and placement.

Initials of Victor David Brenner the designer of the Lincoln Cent. Used to describe the 1909 cents where Brenner’s initials appear at the bottom of the reverse before they were removed. Brenner’s initial were added back to the 1918 cent at the truncation of the bust under Lincoln’s shoulder.

A person who collects transportation tokens

A green or bluish-green substance stuck to a coin as a result from the metal reacting to a non-archival element like polyvinyl chloride. Coins with verdigris are usually considered damaged.

vest pocket dealer
A small volume dealer who doesn’t set up at shows nor has a coin shop.

War nickel
Synonym for Wartime nickel.

Wartime nickel
Five-cent coins struck during World War II with the composition 56-percent copper, 35-percent silver, and 9-percent manganese.

A design embedded into currency paper during its manufacture to prevent counterfeiting

watery look
Term for the wavy finish seen on the surfaces of most close-collar Proof coins.

weak strike
Refers to a coin that does not show its intended detail because of low striking pressure or improperly aligned dies.

Signs of friction on a coin’s surface caused by normal handling and circulation.

The left over metal after the blanks are punched out of a sheet.

West Point
West Point is a city in Orange County, New York that is the home of the United States Military Academy. The silver bullion depository was opened in 1937 on the Academy campus. Coin production began in 1974 to supplement the production at the Philadelphia Mint. It was granted mint status in 1988. Non-circulating coins struck at West Point have the "W" mintmark. No mintmarks were struck into circulating coins and none are struck into precious metal coins produced for the bullion market.

wheel mark
This is a small circular scratch on the surface of a coin caused by a coin counting machine. See also counting machine mark.

An artificial process whereby the surface of a coin is buffed to give it the appearance of having natural cartwheel luster.

wire edge
Any coin with a thin, sharp rim that is caused when metal flows between a die and a collar during striking. Also, slang for the Wire Edge Indian Head eagle of 1907.

wire rim
Synonym for wire edge.

wooden nickel
Wooden "coins" were first used in 1931 as a substitute for coins during the Great Depression. They were first used in Tenino, Washington. Today, wooden nickels are used for souvenir and advertising.

working die
A die created from a working hub that is used to strike coins.

working hub
A hub created from a master die that is used to create the working dies.

world coins
Coins from countries other than the United States.

worn die
A die that has been used for so long that the details have begun to wear down, resulting in a coin with less than adequate details.

Y# and Y Number
Yeoman Number catalog number of Asian coins. See Yeoman Number.

year set
A type of collection where one coin of each denomination is selected for a year regardless of mintmark of varieties.

Standard currency unit of Japan.

Yeoman Number
A cataloging system for coins created by R.S. (Richard S.) Yeoman. Although the Krause-Mishler catalog numbers has made this cataloging system obsolete, it is common to see many Asian coins referred to by their Y#. See also Krause-Mishler.

Standard currency unit of the People's Republic of China.

Zerbe Proof
Morgan Dollars specially struck for Faran Zerbe in 1921.

An inexpensive silvery metal that is used as part of an alloy to make planchets. The 1943 Steel Cent was made from zinc-coated steel. Lincoln cents made since 1982 are copper-coated zinc coins. Its chemical symbol is Zn.

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