Coin Terms and Definitions




A
Alloy

A combination of two or more metals.

Altered Date

A false or altered date on a coin to make it appear to be rarer or a more valuable issue.

B
Bag Mark

A surface mark or small nick on a coin through contact with others in a mint bag.

Billon

A low grade alloy of silver mixed with another metal such as copper.

Blank

A formed piece of metal on which a coin will be stamped.

Bronze

An alloy of copper, zinc, and tin.

Bullion

Uncoined gold or silver in the form of bars, ingots, or plate.

C
Cast Coins

Coins that are made by pouring molten metal into a mold instead of struck coins using dies. Many counterfeits or fakes are made this way.

Cent

One one-hundredth of the standard monetary unit. Also known as centavo, centimo, centesimo, and centime.

Certified Coin

A coin that has been graded, authenticated, and encapsulated in a plastic holder or container by an independent grading service. Always check to make sure that the grading service is real and legit before sending your coins to the grading service.

Cherrypicker

A collector who finds scarce and unusual coins by searching through collections, dealer stocks, and/or auctions.

Circulation Strike

An Uncirculated coin intended for eventual use in commerce, as opposed to a Proof coin.

Clad Coinage

Issues of the United States dimes, quarters, halves, and some dollars made since 1965 that have a center core of pure copper and a layer of copper-nickel or silver on both sides of the coin.

Collar

The outer ring, or die chamber, that holds a blank in place while the coin is being struck by both obverse and reverse dies.

Contact Marks

Minor abrasions on an Uncirculated coin made by contact with other coins in a bag or roll.

Counter-mark

An stamp or mark impressed on a coin to verify its use by another government or to indicate revaluation.

Crack-Out

A coin that has been removed from a grading service holder or container.

Crown

Any dollar size coin often struck in silver from the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries.

Cud

An area of raised metal at the edge of a coin where the die broke off leaving a void in the design.

D
Designer

The artist who creates a coin’s design. An engraver is the person who cuts a design into a coinage die.

Die

A piece of metal engraved with a design and used for stamping coins.

Die Crack

A raised line on a coin caused by a broken die.

Die Defect

An imperfection on a coin caused by a damaged die.

Die Variety

Any minor alteration in the basic design of a coin.

Dipping

Refers to chemical cleaning of a coin to remove oxidation or foreign matter.

Double Eagle

The United States twenty-dollar gold coin.

Doubled Die

A die that has been given two misaligned impressions from a hub or a coin made from such a die.

Doubloon

Popular name for a Spanish gold coin.

E
Eagle

A United States ten-dollar gold coin.

Edge

Periphery of a coin, often with reeding, lettering, or other decorations.

Electrotype

A reproduction of a coin made by the electronic deposition process.

Electrum

A naturally occurring mixture of gold and silver.

Encapsulated Coins

Coins that have been authenticated, graded, and sealed in plastic by a professional grading service.

Engraver

The person who engraves or sculpts a model for use in translating to a coin die.

Error

A miss-made coin not intended for circulation.

Exergue

A portion of a coin beneath the main design, often separated from it by a line and usually bearing the date.

F
Field

The background portion of a coin’s surface not used for a design or inscription.

Filler

A coin in worn condition but rare enough to be included in a collection.

Fineness

The purity of gold, silver, or other precious metals, expressed in terms of one thousand parts such as a coin of 90% pure silver is expressed as .900 fine.

Flan

A blank piece of metal in the size and shape of a coin. This may also be called a planchet.

G
Gem

A coin of very high quality.

H
Half Eagle

The United States five-dollar gold coin minted from 1795 to 1929.

Hub

A positive image punch to impress the coin’s design into a die.

I
Incuse

The design of a coin that has been impressed below the coin’s surface.

Inscription

The legend or lettering of a coin.

Intrinsic Value

Melt value of the metal in a numismatic item.

Investment Grade

A coin in a grade of MS-65 or better.


J
Junk Silver

Common date silver coins worth only bullion value.

 
K
Key Date Coin

Scarcer or most valuable coins in a series or collection.

L
Laureate

Head crowned with a laurel wreath.

Legal Tender

Money that is officially issued for redemption by an authorized government or agency.

Legend

A principal inscription on a coin.

Lettered Edge

The edge of a coin bearing an inscription or lettering.

Luster

The brilliant surface quality of an Uncirculated coin.

M
Milled Edge

The raised rim around the outer surface of a coin.

Mint Error

A defective coin produced by a mint.

Mint Muster

Shiny brilliance on the surface of an Uncirculated or Mint State coin.

Mintmark

A small letter or other mark on a coin indicating the mint at which it was struck.

Mint Set

A set of Uncirculated coins sold by a mint.

Motto

An inspirational word or phrase used on a coin.

Mule

A coin struck from two different dies not intended to be together.

N
No definitions.
O
Obverse

The front or face side of a coin.

Overdate

A date made by superimposing one or more numerals on a previously dated die.

Overgraded

A coin in poorer condition than stated.

Overstrike

An impression made with new dies on a previously struck coin.

P
Patina

The green or brown surface film found on old copper and bronze coins.

Pattern

An experimental coin, generally of a new design, denomination, or metal.

Pedigree

A record of previous owners of rare coins.

Planchet

A blank piece of metal on which a coin design or die is struck.

Proof

Coins struck for collectors by a mint using specially made dies or planchets.

Proof Set

A set of proof coins of any given year made and packaged by a mint for collectors.

Q
Quarter Eagle

The United States $2.50 gold coin.

 
R
Raw

A coin that has not been encapsulated by an independent grading service.

Reeded Edge

The edge of a coin with grooved lines that run vertically around its perimeter.

Relief

Any part of a coin’s design that is raised above the coin’s field.

Re-strike

A coin struck from genuine dies at a later date than the original issue.

Reverse

The back side of a coin.

Rim

The raised portion of a coin that protects the design from wear.

Round

A round one ounce silver medal or bullion piece.

S
Series

A set of one coin of each year of a specific design and denomination issued from each mint.

Slab

A hard plastic case containing a coin that has been graded by a professional grading service.

Spot Price

The daily market value of precious metals in bullion form.

T
Token

A privately issued piece typically used with an exchange value for goods.

Trade Dollar

Silver dollar issued for trade with a foreign country.

Truncation

The sharp cut off bottom edge of a bust or portrait.

Type

A series of coins defined by a shared distinguishing design, composition, or other elements.

Type Set

A collection consisting of one representative coin of each type of a series or period.

Uncirculated

A circulation strike coin that has never been used in commerce and has kept its original luster.

U
Unique

An item of which only one specimen is known to exist.

V
Variety

A coin’s design that sets it apart from the normal issue of that type.

 
W
Wheaties

Lincoln cents with wheat ears on the reverse, issued from 1909 to 1958.

X
No Definitions.
Y
Year Set

A set of coins for any given year, consisting of one of each denomination.

 
Z
No Definitions.