About Good

Definition:

The grade AG-3. The grade for a coin that is just below good. On an About Good coin, only the main features of it are present. Date, mintmark, peripheral lettering, or other features sometimes are partially worn away.

 

 

About Uncirculated

Definition:

Alternate term for Almost Uncirculated.

 

 

Abrasions

Definition:

Areas of a coin where another coin or a foreign object has displaced metal in an abraded fashion.

 

 

Album friction

Definition:

A less severe instance of album slide marks. Album friction shows as slight rubbing on the high points.

 

 

Album slide marks

Definition:

Lines (often parallel) imparted to the surface of a coin by the plastic “slide” of an album, mostly found on proof coins.

 

 

Alloy

A mixture of two or more metals.

How it relates to the Silver Washignton Qaurter: The washington quarter is made from a 90% silver and 10% copper alloy mix.

Almost Uncirculated

Definition:

The grades AU50, 53, 55, and 58. These coins often look Uncirculated at first glance, but closer inspection will reveal slight friction or rub.

 

 

Alteration

Definition:

A coin that has a date, mintmark, or other feature that has been altered, added, or removed, usually to simulate a rarer issue.

 

 

Altered surfaces

Definition:

Cleaning or other impairment that renders a coin less desirable to collectors.

 

 

ANA

Definition:

American Numismatic Association, the world’s largest organization of coin collectors and dealers. It is a non-profit organization, chartered by an Act of Congress in 1912. Membership is highly recommended. If you are not a member, you should be! Write to them at: 818 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80901.

 

 

ANACS

Definition:

American Numismatic Association Certification Service originated by offering authentication, and later provided grading services. The grading service and acronym were sold by the ANA and now operate under this name as a third-party grading service.

 

 

ANACS certificate

Definition:

A uniquely numbered opinion of authenticity and/or grade from the ANA Certification Service.

 

 

Annealing

Definition:

The heating (and cooling) of a die or planchet to soften the metal before preparation of the die or striking of the coin.

 

 

Anvil die

Definition:

The lower, stationary die. The reverse is usually the anvil die, although on some issues with striking problems, the obverse was employed as the lower die. Because of the physics of minting, the fixed lower-die impression is slightly better struck than the upper-die impression.

Also see: Hammer die

 

 

Arrows

Definition:

Design element usually found in the left (viewer’s right) claw of the eagle seen on many US coins.

 

 

Artificial toning

Definition:

Color added to the surface of a coin by heat and/or chemicals.

 

 

Ask

Definition:

The lowest current asking price of a particular coin issue and grade offered for sale. Also see: Bid

 

 

Attributes

Definition:

The elements that make up a coin’s grade. The primary attributes include marks (hairlines for Proofs), luster, strike, and eye appeal.

 

 

AU

Definition:

Acronym for About (Almost) Uncirculated.

 

 

Authentication

Definition:

The process of determining genuineness.

 

 

Bag

Definition:

A generic term for the cloth sacks used to transport and store coins. These came into use in the mid-nineteenth century and replaced wooden kegs. Also refers to the quantity of coins of a particular denomination found in a bag (such as 5000 cents or 1000 silver dollars).

 

 

Bag marks

Definition:

Abrasions which occur on coins that were shipped in mint bags. Most often this term applies to silver dollars, although virtually any coin can have bag marks. Bag marks in no way mean that a coin is not mint state. In fact, even a coin graded Mint State-67 or higher could have some bag marks.

 

 

Bag toning

Definition:

Coloring acquired from the bag while a coin was stored. Cloth coin bags contained sulfur and other metal-reactive chemicals. When stored in bags for extended periods, coins in close proximity to the cloth often acquire beautiful red, yellow, blue and other vibrant colors. Sometimes the weave of the cloth is visible in the toning. Some coins have crescent-shaped toning because another coin was covering part of the surface, thus preventing toning. Bag toning is seen most often on Morgan silver dollars.

 

 

Basining

Definition:

The process of polishing a die to create a mirrored surface or to remove clash marks or other damage from a die.

 

 

Bid

Definition:

The highest price offered to buy a particular coin issue and grade either on a trading network, pricing newsletter, or other medium.

Also see: Ask

 

 

Blank

Definition:

A flat disk of unstruck metal destined to be made into a coin.

Also see: Planchet

 

 

Body bag

Definition:

Slang term for a coin returned from a grading service in a plastic sleeve within a flip. The coin referred to is deemed a “no-grade” and is not graded or encapsulated. Coins are no-grades for a number of reasons, including questionable authenticity, polishing, cleaning, and/or repair.

 

 

Bourse

Definition:

The Paris stock exchange. This term has come to be synonymous with coin show.

 

 

Bourse floor

Definition:

The physical area where a coin show takes place.

 

 

Branch mint

Definition:

One of the various subsidiary government facilities that struck, or still strikes, coins.

 

 

Breast feathers

Definition:

The central feathers of eagle designs, particularly Morgan dollars. Fully struck coins typically command a premium and the breast feathers are usually the highest point of the reverse.

 

 

Brilliant

Definition:

Untoned. With no tarnish or oxidation, and with original cartwheel (frosty) or prooflike lustre. Copper coins are considered brilliant if they have full original red.

 

 

Brilliant Proof

Definition:

A particular type of proof coin that has a full mirror surface in the fields.

 

 

Brilliant Uncirculated

Definition:

A generic term for any coin that has not been in circulation.

 

 

BU

Definition:

Acronym for Brilliant Uncirculated.

 

 

BU rolls

Definition:

Wrapped coins (usually in paper) in specific quantities for each denomination. Cents are quantity 50, nickels quantity 40, dimes quantity 50, quarters quantity 40, half-dollars and dollars 20, etc.

 

 

Buckled die

Definition:

A warped or distorted die. Can be caused by excess clashing. Often produces coins which are slightly bent.

 

 

Bulged die

Definition:

A die with a small indentation, formed from clashing. Results in “bulged” coins.

 

 

Bullet toning

Definition:

See target toning.

 

 

Bullion

Definition:

Ingots, coins, or other issues that trade for their intrinsic metal value. Only precious metals (silver, gold, platinum, and palladium) are included as bullion. Copper could also technically be considered as bullion.

 

 

Bullion coin

Definition:

A legal tender coin that trades at a slight premium to its value as plain metal.

 

 

Burn mark

Definition:

See counting machine mark.

 

 

Burnishing

Definition:

A process in which the surfaces of a coin or a planchet are shined through rubbing or polishing. This term has both a positive and a negative context: In a positive sense, Proof planchets are burnished before they are struck. The procedure was done originally by rubbing wet sand across the surfaces to impart a mirror-like finish. In a negative sense, the surfaces on repaired or altered coins may be burnished by mechanical or chemical methods. For example, a high-speed drill with a wire brush attachment is used to achieve this effect.

 

 

Burnishing lines

Definition:

Lines resulting from burnishing. Typically seen on open-collar Proofs and almost never observed on close-collar Proofs.

 

 

Business strike

Definition:

A coin which was struck for use in general circulation, as opposed to a proof coin produced strictly for collector purposes.

Also see: Regular strike, Commercial strike

 

 

Bust

Definition:

The head and shoulders of the emblematic Liberty seen on many US issues.

Also see: Capped Bust, Draped Bust

 

 

Buyer’s Premium

Definition:

A “Buyer’s Premium” is charged in addition to the successful bid according to the rate defined in our terms and conditions.

 

 

Cabinet friction

Definition:

Slight friction seen on coins (usually the obverse) that were stored in wooden cabinets used by early collectors. To compound the problem, a soft cloth was often used to wipe dust away, causing light hairlines.

 

 

CAM

Definition:

Abbreviation for Cameo.

 

 

Cameo

Definition:

A proof, or prooflike coin with exceptional contrast between the fields and the devices. On a cameo coin, the fields are mirrorlike, while the devices give a frosty appearance.

 

 

Capped die

Definition:

An error in which a coin gets jammed in the coining press and remains for successive strikes. Eventually a “cap” is formed on either the upper or lower die. These are sometimes spectacular, with the cap often many times taller than a normal coin.

 

 

Carbon spot

Definition:

A dark discoloration on the surface of a coin. It is possible that this discoloration is caused by a planchet imperfection prior to striking, or it may be caused by improper storage of the coin. Regardless of the cause, carbon spots are often difficult, if not impossible, to remove without leaving pits in the coin’s surface. If they are large enough, they may significantly lower the grade and value of a coin.

 

 

Cartwheel

Definition:

An effect caused by the natural lustre on most mint state, and on some proof coins. When the coin is tilted back and forth, beams of light seem to circle the central devices of the coin. Also a slang term for Silver Dollar.

 

 

Census

Definition:

A compilation of the known specimens of a particular numismatic item.

 

 

Chasing

Definition:

A method used by forgers to create a mintmark on a coin. Chasing involves heating the surfaces and moving the metal to form a mintmark.

 

 

Choice

Definition:

An adjective which the A.N.A. applies to coins of MS-65 or Proof-65 grade. Many dealers apply the term to the MS/Proof-63 coins, and call MS/Proof-65 coins “Gem”.

 

 

Choice Unc

Definition:

Abbreviation for Choice Uncirculated.

 

 

Choice Uncirculated

Definition:

An Uncirculated coin in grade MS-63 or MS-64.

 

 

Circulated

Definition:

A term applied to a coin that has wear, ranging from slight rubbing to heavy wear.

 

 

Circulation

Definition:

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

 

 

Circulation strike

Definition:

A coin meant for commerce. An alternate term for Business Strike or Regular Strike.

 

 

Clad

Definition:

A term used to describe any of the modern “sandwich” coins that have layers of both copper and nickel.

 

 

Clash marks

Definition:

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

 

 

Clashed dies

Definition:

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. Coins struck from such dies are said to be struck from clashed dies, or to have die clashes or clash marks.

 

 

Cleaned

Definition:

When a coin has been cleaned with baking soda or other mild abrasives, it may have a slightly washed out appearance. If the lustre or color of a coin appears even the slightest bit unnatural as a result of past cleaning, the coin is usually described as “cleaned” when catalogued for sale.

 

 

Clip

Definition:

Slang term for a coin struck from a clipped planchet.

 

 

Clipped

Definition:

Term for an irregularly cut planchet. A clip can be straight or curved, depending upon where it was cut.

 

 

Clogged die

Definition:

A die that has a contaminant lodged in the recessed areas. Coins struck from a clogged die will have diminished or even missing detail.

 

 

Close collar

Definition:

An edge device sometimes called a collar die that surrounds the lower die. The close collar imparts reeding (see Reeded edge) or a smooth, plain edge.

 

 

Closed collar

Definition:

Alternate term for close collar

 

 

Coin

Definition:

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 collection

Definition:

A grouping of coins assembled for fun or profit.

 

 

Coin collector

Definition:

An individual who accumulates coins in a methodical manner.

 

 

Coin friction

Definition:

Term applied to the area resulting when coins rub together in rolls or bags and small amounts of metal are displaced.

Also, see Roll friction.

 

 

Coin show

Definition:

An exchange composed of coin dealers displaying their items for sale and trade.

 

 

Coinage

Definition:

The issuance of metallic money of a particular country.

 

 

Commem

Definition:

Synonym for “commemorative.”

 

 

Commemorative

Definition:

Coins issued to honor some person (D. Boone), place (Mount Rushmore), or event (Special Olympics) and, in many instances, to raise funds for activities related to the theme. Sometimes called NCLT (non-circulating legal tender) commemoratives.

 

 

Commercial strike

Definition:

A synonym for regular strike or business strike.

 

 

Common

Definition:

A numismatic issue that is readily available. Since this is a relative term, no firm number can be used as an exact cut-off point between common and scarce.

 

 

Common date

Definition:

A particular issue within a series that is readily available. No exact number can be used to determine which coins are common dates as this is relative to the mintage of the series.

 

 

Complete set

Definition:

A term for all possible coins within a series, all types (see Type), or all coins from a particular branch Mint. For example, a complete gold type set would include examples of all types from 1795 until 1933.

 

 

Condition

Definition:

The state of preservation of a particular numismatic item.

 

 

Condition Census

Definition:

A listing of the finest known examples of a particular issue. There is no fixed number of coins in a Condition Census.

 

 

Condition rarity

Definition:

A term to indicate a common coin that is rare when found in high grades.

 

 

Consensus grading

Definition:

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

 

 

Conserved

Definition:

Numismatic conservation involves examination, scientific analysis, and a reliance upon an extensive base of numismatic knowledge to determine the nature of a coin’s state of preservation and the extent of any damage. Conservation also encompasses appropriate procedures to protect the coin’s original appearance and to guard against future deterioration to whatever extent possible.

Professional conservation should not be confused with “Coin Doctoring”, in which an attempt is made to improve the appearance and grade of a coin through deceptive means such as artificial toning and where unaccepted or unorthodox methods are employed. Also not qualifying as conservation is restoration where mechanical repairs are made such as filling holes, smoothing out scratches, and re-engraving of detail.

 

 

Contact marks

Definition:

Marks on a coin that are caused by contact with another coin or a foreign object. These are generally small, compared to other types of marks such as gouges.

Also, see Bag mark.

 

 

Contemporary counterfeit

Definition:

A coin, usually base metal, struck from crude dies and made to pass for legal tender at the time of creation. Sometimes such counterfeits are collected along with the genuine coins, particularly in the case of American Colonial issues.

 

 

Copper-nickel

Definition:

The alloy (copper 88%, nickel 12%) used for small cents from 1856 through mid-1864.

 

 

Copy

Definition:

Any reproduction, fraudulent or otherwise, of a coin.

 

 

Copy dies

Definition:

Dies made at a later date, usually showing slight differences from the originals. Also used to denote counterfeit dies copied directly from a genuine coin.

 

 

Corrosion

Definition:

Damage which occurs on the surface of some coins, generally due to improper storage. Corrosion is caused when a chemical reaction, such as rust, actually eats into the metal.

 

 

Cost

Definition:

The price paid for a numismatic item.

 

 

Counterfeit

Definition:

Literally, a coin that is not genuine. The term is applied to cast and struck counterfeits as well as issues with altered dates or added mintmarks.

 

 

Counting machine mark

Definition:

A dense patch of lines caused by the rubber wheel of a counting machine. Caused when the wheel spacing was insufficient for the selected coin.

 

 

Cud

Definition:

An area of a coin struck by a die that has a complete break across part of its surface. A cud may be either retained, where the faulty piece of the die is still in place, or full, where the piece of the die has fallen away.

 

 

Cupro-nickel

Definition:

Any alloy of copper and nickel.

 

 

D

Definition:

Mintmark used to identify coins struck at the Dahlonega, Georgia branch Mint from 1838 through 1861 or the Denver, Colorado Mint from 1906 forward.

 

 

Dahlonega

Definition:

The branch Mint located in Dahlonega, Georgia that struck gold coins from 1838 until 1861 when it was seized by the Confederacy.

 

 

Date

Definition:

The numerals on a coin representing the year in which it was struck. Restrikes (see Restrike) are made in years subsequent to the one that appears on them.

 

 

DCAM

Definition:

Abbreviation for Deep Cameo.

 

 

Dealer

Definition:

Someone who’s occupation is buying, selling, and trading numismatic material.

 

 

Deep Cameo

Definition:

Term applied to coins, usually Proofs and prooflike coins that have deeply frosted devices and lettering that contrast with the mirror fields.

 

 

Deep mirror prooflike

Definition:

Any coin that has deeply reflective mirror-like fields. While a general term, it is especially applicable for Morgan dollars.

 

 

Denomination

Definition:

The value assigned by a government to a specific coin.

 

 

Denticles

Definition:

The tooth-like projections which make up the inner rim on some coins. They were discontinued on most U.S. coins in the early twentieth century.

 

 

Dentils

Definition:

Alternative term for denticles.

 

 

Design

Definition:

The motif of a coin or other numismatic item. Barber coins and Washington quarters are examples of designs.

 

 

Design type

Definition:

A specific motif placed upon coinage, which may be used for several denominations and subtypes.

 

 

Designer

Definition:

The individual responsible for creating a particular motif used on a numismatic series.

 

 

Device

Definition:

Any specific design element. Often refers to the principal design element.

 

 

Device punch

Definition:

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 were used as a standard.

 

 

Die

Definition:

A steel rod that is engraved, punched, or hubbed with the date, lettering, devices, and other emblems used to strike a coin.

 

 

Die alignment

Definition:

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

 

 

Die break

Definition:

An area of a coin that is the result of a broken die.

 

 

Die cracks

Definition:

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

 

 

Die line

Definition:

Raised lines, which appear on a coin as a result of polish lines on the die.

Also see: Die striations, Polished die

 

 

Die rust

Definition:

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

 

 

Die state

Definition:

A readily identified point in the life of a coinage die. Dies go through a lifecycle – clashing, being polished, cracking, breaking, etc. These are called die states. Some die varieties have gone through barely distinguishable die states, while others display multiple distinctive ones.

 

 

Die striations

Definition:

Raised lines on coins that were struck with polished dies.

 

 

Die trial

Definition:

The test striking of a particular die in a different metal.

 

 

Die variety

Definition:

A coin which has already been attributed by date, denomination, mintmark, and major variety (such as Morgan Dollar, 1879-S, Reverse of ’78) can often still be identified by die variety. Research has been done in many series assigning numbers to the various combinations of dies known to have struck coins of each of the various years and mintmarks.

 

 

Die wear

Definition:

The loss of detail on a coin due to wear on the die used to strike it (rather than wear on the coin itself).

 

 

Dime

Definition:

The denomination, one tenth of a dollar, issued since 1796 by the United States.

 

 

Ding

Definition:

Slang for a small- to medium-sized mark on a coin.

Also see: Rim ding

 

 

Dipped

Definition:

A coin which has been cleaned in a soap solution, the most popular of which is called Jewel Luster, is said to have been dipped. The term “dipped” is not necessary in, say, a catalog description of a coin, unless the dipping has caused noticeable dulling of lustre, or an otherwise unnatural appearance (typically on copper coins). The practice of dipping coins is not advisable, except by bonafide experts, and then only on rare occasions.

 

 

Dipping solution

Definition:

Any of the commercial cleaners or “dips”on the market, usually acid-based.

 

 

Disme

Definition:

The original spelling of dime. It is thought to have been have been pronounced to rhyme with ream (the s being silent). This spelling was used in Mint documents until the 1830s and was officially changed by the Coinage Act of 1837.

 

 

DMPL

Definition:

Abbreviation for Deep Mirror Prooflike. An exceptionally deep mirror-like prooflike coin with little, if any, cartwheel lustre. Also see: DPL

 

 

Doctored

Definition:

Typically considered a derogatory term. A doctored coin has been enhanced by chemical or other means.

 

 

Dollar

Definition:

A denomination consisting of one hundred cents authorized by the Mint Act of 1792. This is the anglicized spelling of the European Thaler and was used because of the worldwide acceptance of the Thaler and the Spanish Milled dollar (or piece-of-eight).

 

 

Double-struck

Definition:

A condition that results when a coin is not ejected from a die and is struck a second time (hence double-struck). Triple-struck coins and other multiple strikings also are known. Proofs are usually intentionally double-struck in order to sharpen their details; this is sometimes visible under magnification.

 

 

Double(d) die

Definition:

A die that has been struck more than one time by a hub in misaligned positions, resulting in doubling of design elements. If shifting occurs in the alignment between a hub and a die, the die will have some of its features doubled. This doubling is then imparted to every coin it strikes. The coins struck from such dies are called doubled-die errors. The 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln cent is one such error.

 

 

Drift mark

Definition:

An area on a coin, often rather long, that appears streaky or discolored. This is the result of impurities or foreign matter in the dies.

 

 

Dull

Definition:

Term for a numismatic item that lacks luster. Dulling may be the result of natural or artificial conditions.

 

 

ED

Definition:

Acronym for environmental damage.

 

 

Edge

Definition:

The third side of a coin. It may be reeded, ornamented, or plain.

 

 

Edge device

Definition:

Letters or emblems on the edge of a coin. Examples would be the stars and lettering on the edge of Saint-Gaudens double eagles.

 

 

EF

Definition:

Acronym for Extremely Fine

 

 

Electrotype

Definition:

A duplicate coin created by the electrolytic method, where metal is deposited into a mold made from the original. The obverse and reverse metal shells are then filled with metal and fused together. The edges are then sometimes filed smooth to obscure the seam.

 

 

Elements

Definition:

The various devices and emblems seen on coins.

 

 

Emission sequence

Definition:

The order in which die states are struck. Also, the die use sequence for a particular issue.

 

 

Engraver

Definition:

The person responsible for the design and/or punches used to craft a coin.

 

 

Envelope toning

Definition:

Coloration that results from storage in small manila “coin envelopes”. Most paper envelopes contain reactive chemicals.

 

 

Environmental damage

Definition:

Corrosion-effect seen on a coin that has been exposed to the elements. The damage may range from minor dulling to severe pitting.

 

 

Eroded die

Definition:

Synonym for a worn die.

 

 

Error

Definition:

A numismatic item that unintentionally varies from the norm. Overdates and overmintmarks are not considered errors since they were done intentionally. Other die-cutting “mistakes” are considered errors. Double dies, planchet clips, and off-metal strikings are also considered errors.

 

 

Essai

Definition:

Term for trial or pattern strikings. The anglicized version is essay and literally means a test or trial.

 

 

Extra Fine

Definition:

Alternate term for Extremely Fine.

 

 

Extremely Fine

Definition:

Term for the grades EF40 and EF45.

 

 

Eye appeal

Definition:

The aesthetic effect a coin has on its viewer. Although quite subjective, like any form of art, that which constitutes eye appeal is generally agreed upon by most experienced numismatists.

 

 

Did You Know?

model56tripodThe Commission of Fine Arts twice declared Laura Gardin Fraser's Model 56 design (pictured above) as the winner of the design contest for the Washington quarter, only to be overruled by Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon who decreed that John Flanagan's design would be adopted. Read more here.