Numismatic Dictionary

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There are currently 84 names in this directory beginning with the letter S.
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.

Silly Head
A nickname for a variety of 1839 Large Cents where there is an addition of a lock of hair on the forehead and also the raising of the hair line. See also Booby Head.

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.


So-Called Dollar
A medal the size of a silver dollar that commemorates a person, place, event, or conveys a political or satirical message.

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.

squeeze doubling
A synonym for hub doubling.

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 the 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.

store card
A token issued by a business as advertisements. Some were made to be used in exchange for goods and services from the issuing business. Some were circulated in trade from other merchants.

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.

struck through errors
These are errors that are seen on coins that were the result of debris or other foreign matter that entered the striking chamber of the coining press. The most common struck trough errors is when grease that is used to preserve the dies during the striking process is applied too heavily and prevents the dies from making a strong impression on the planchet.

struck-on error
A type of error that occurs when a coin is struck on a different planchet than it was supposed to appear. See also off metal.

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.

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