grade AG-3. The grade of a coin that falls short of
Good. Only the main features of the coin are present in
this grade. Peripheral lettering, date, stars, etc.
sometimes are partially worn away.
grades AU50, 53, 55, and 58. A coin that on first glance
appears Uncirculated but upon closer inspection has
slight friction or rub.
of a coin where a foreign object or another coin has
displaced metal in an abraded fashion. Similar to a bag
mark but usually on the high points or open fields and
not as deep or acute as the former.
miscellaneous grouping of coins, often as a monetary
hoard. Opposite of a coin collection. A second use is as
a grouping of a particular date, type, or series.
(Example: an accumulation–of Bust Halves.)
Pre-striking file marks seen mainly on gold and silver
coins prior to 1840. These removed excess metal from
overweight planchets. After 1840 these are seldom seen
as the filing was on the rim and was usually obliterated
by the striking process.
for "About Good" (the grade) and "3" (the corresponding
numerical designation). Most of the lettering on the
coin is readable, but there is moderately heavy wear
into the rims. This grade is frequently found on Barber
coins where the obverse is fully Good (or better) but
the reverse is heavily worn.
AGW (Actual Gold Weight)
refers to the amount of pure gold in a coin, medal or
bar. Any alloys are part of the gross weight of a gold
coin, but not part of the AGW.
to album slide marks, though the friction may be only
slight rubbing on the high points.
usually parallel, imparted to the surface of a coin by
the plastic “slide” of an album.
combination of two or more metals.
Alternate of About Uncirculated.
that has a date, mint mark, or other feature that has
been changed, added, or removed, usually to simulate a
1986, the U.S. Mint began selling silver bullion coins
in the denomination of $1. The next year, they added a
series of gold coins to the series, eventually expanding
to 1/10, ¼, ½, and 1 ounce gold versions. Each coin
features a family of eagles on the reverse, hence the
American Numismatic Association
non-profit numismatic organization founded in 1888 for
the advancement of numismatics.
for “American Numismatic Association.”
(American Numismatic Association Certification Service)
Originally, only authentication was offered, grading was
added later. The grading service and acronym were sold
by the ANA and now operate under this name as a third
party grading service.
uniquely numbered opinion of authenticity and/or grade
from the ANA Certification Service. The ANA now only
authenticates, having sold the name and grading service.
term for coins of the world struck circa 600 B.C. to
circa 450 A.D.
heating of a die or planchet to soften the metal before
preparation of the die or striking of the coin.
for "American Numismatic Society."
lower die, usually the reverse – 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
element usually found in the left (viewer’s right) claw
of the eagle seen on many United States coins. After
1807, there usually were three arrows while prior to
that time the bundle consisted of numerous ones.
referring to the quarters and half dollars of 1853. The
rays were removed in 1854 because of striking
difficulties presented by the busy design.
referring to the arrows to the left and right of the
date, added to the dies to indicate a weight increase or
Coloring added to the surface of a coin by chemicals
and/or heat. Many different methods have been employed
over the years.
selling quotation of a coin either on a trading network,
pricing newsletter, or other medium.
analyze and determine the purity of a metallic alloy.
elements that make up a coin’s grade. The main ones are
marks (hairlines for Proofs), luster, strike, and eye
for "About Uncirculated" (the grade) and "50" (the
numerical designation of that grade). Also called
"Almost Uncirculated-50." This is the lowest of the four
AU grades, with the others being AU53, AU55, and AU58.
Between 50% and 100% of the surfaces will exhibit luster
disturbances, and perhaps the only luster still in
evidence will be in the protected areas. The high points
of the coin will have wear that is easily visible to the
for "About Uncirculated" (the grade) and "53" (the
numerical designation of that grade). Also called
"Almost Uncirculated-53." There is obvious wear on the
high points with light friction covering 50-75% of the
fields. There are noticeable luster breaks, with most of
the luster still intact in the protected areas.
for "About Uncirculated" (the grade) and "55" (the
numerical designation of that grade). Also called
"Almost Uncirculated-55." There is slight wear on the
high points with minor friction in the fields. Luster
can range from almost nonexistent to virtually full, but
it will be missing from the high points. The grade of
"Choice AU" equates to AU55.
for "About Uncirculated" (the grade) and "58" (the
numerical designation of that grade). Also called
"Almost Uncirculated-58." There is the slightest wear on
the high points, even though it may be necessary to tilt
the coin towards the light source to see the friction.
In many cases the reverse of an AU58 coin will be fully
Mint State. Less than 10% of the surface area will show
luster breaks. The grade of "Borderline Unc" equates to
offering of coins for sale where the buyer must bid
against other potential buyers, as opposed to ordering
from a catalog, price list, or advertisement at a set
process of determining the genuineness of a coin or
other numismatic item.
generic term for the cloth sacks in which coin are
stored and transported. These came into use in the
mid-nineteenth century and replaced wooden kegs for this
generic term applied to a mark on a coin from another
coin; it may, or may not, have been incurred in a bag.
Coloring acquired from the bag in which a coin was
stored. The cloth bags in which coins were transported
contained sulfur and other reactive chemicals. When
stored in such bags for extended periods, the coins near
and in contact with the cloth often acquired beautiful
red, blue, yellow and other vibrant colors. Sometimes
the pattern of the cloth is visible in the toning; other
times, coins have crescent-shaped toning because another
coin was covering part of the surface, preventing
toning. Bag toning is seen mainly on Morgan silver
dollars, though occasionally on other series.
of coins that were wrapped at a Federal Reserve Bank
from original Mint bags. Such rolls are often desirable
to collectors because they have not been searched or
"picked" by collectors or dealers. Sometimes abbreviated
as OBW, for "original bank wrapped."
name for the Charles Barber designed Liberty Head dimes,
quarters, and half dollars struck from 1892 until 1916
(1915 for the half dollar).
condition of a coin that is identifiable only as to date
mint mark (if present), and type; one-year-type coins
may not have a date visible.
value base from which Dr. William H. Sheldon's 70-point
grade/price system started; this lowest-grade price was
one dollar for the 1794 large cent upon which he based
for a Pan-Pac commemorative gold dollar coin. The figure
wears a cap similar to a baseball cap.
process of polishing a die to impart a mirrored surface
or to remove clash marks or other injuries from the die.
round devices around the edge of a coin, often seen on
early U.S. coins. These were replaced by dentils.
sometimes applied to California fractional gold coins as
encompassed in the Breen-Gillio reference work titled
California Pioneer Fraction Gold, including additional
buying quotation of a coin either on a trading network,
pricing newsletter, or other medium.
the dealer issuing a quotation on one of the electronic
trading systems or a participant in an auction.
number assigned by auction houses to the various
participants in their auction. In the past, codes or nom
de plumes were also commonplace at sales.
flat disk of metal before it is struck by the dies and
made into a coin.
applied to an element of a coin (design, date,
lettering, etc.) that is worn into another element or
the surrounding field.
blue-cover, wholesale pricing book for United States
coins issued on a yearly basis.
for the Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter.
designation BM refers to "Branch Mint," meaning any US
Mint other than Philadelphia. You will usually find this
designation used to describe Branch Mint Proof coins,
such as the 1879-O BM Proof Morgan dollar, 1893-CC BM
Proof Morgan dollar, etc.
term for a coin returned from a grading service in a
plastic sleeve within a flip. The coin referred to is a
no-grade example and was not graded or encapsulated.
Coins are no-grades for a number of reasons, such as
questionable authenticity, cleaning, polishing, damage,
repair, and so on.
synonymous with coin show
physical area where a coin show takes place
name for a young coin dealer who bursts upon the
numismatic scene and quickly becomes a top flight
of hair on half cents and large cents from 1840 onward
consisting of hair pull back into a tight bun with a
braided hair cord.
the various subsidiary government facilities that
struck, or still strikes, coins.
central feathers seen on numerous eagle designs. Fully
struck coins usually command a premium and the breast
feathers are usually the highest point of the reverse.
(They are the most deeply recessed area of the die, so
metal sometimes does not completely fill the breast
feather area, usually because of insufficient striking
pressure. Incorrectly spaced or lapped dies will also
cause “striking” weakness.)
for the late Walter Breen. Often heard in context of
Breen letter, Breen said, Breen wrote, and so on. A
controversial personal life has dimmed the impact Breen
had on numismatics.
for Walter Breen’s magnum opus, Complete Encyclopedia of
U.S. and Colonial Coins, published in 1988.
document, usually one page, written or typed by Walter
Breen giving his opinion on a particular numismatic
item. Before certification, this was the usual method
employed by collectors and dealers desiring to sell an
esoteric item such as a branch-mint Proof, early Proof,
and so on.
Numbering system base on the book on California fraction
gold coins by Walter Breen and Ron Gillio titled
California Pioneer Fraction Gold.
with full luster, unimpeded by toning, or impeded only
by extremely light toning.
generic term applied to any coin that has not been in
circulation. It often is applied to coins with little
"brilliance" left, which properly should be described as
brockage is a Mint error, an early capped die impression
where a sharp incused image has been left on the next
coin fed into the coining chamber. Most brockages are
partial; full brockages are rare and the most desirable
form of the error.
alloy of copper, tin and zinc, with copper the principal
term applied to a copper coin that no longer has the red
color of copper. There are many "shades" of brown color
– mahogany, chocolate, etc. (abbreviated as BN when used
as part of a grade).
for Brilliant Uncirculated.
coins (usually in paper) in specific quantities for each
denomination. Fifty for cents, forty for nickels, fifty
for dimes, forty for quarters, and so on.
that has "warped" in some way, possibly from excess
clashing, and that produces coins which are slightly
"bent." This may be more apparent on one side and
occasionally apparent only on one side.
for the Indian Head nickel struck from 1913 to 1938. The
animal depicted is an American Bison.
that has clashed so many times that a small indentation
is formed in it. Coins struck from this die have a
for coins, ingots, private issue, and so on that trade
below, at, or slightly above their intrinsic metal
value. Only the precious metals (gold, silver, platinum,
and palladium) are included as bullion. Copper cents
could also technically be classed as bullion.
tender coin that trades at a slight premium to it’s melt
word has two distinct meanings in the world of
numismatics, so you have to consider the context in
order to discern the correct meaning. The word
"burnished" can refer to specially prepared planchets
(usually 18th century) that were used for specimen coins
or other special coins of the era. These planchets were
burnished at the Mint prior to the striking of the coin.
As a second meaning, "burnished" can refer to any
coin that was abrasively cleaned after it left the Mint,
and the word is often used as a synonym for "whizzed"
(the worst kind of cleaning, where the metal is actually
process by which the surfaces of a planchet or a coin
are made to shine through rubbing or polishing. This
term is used in two contexts – one positive, one
negative. In a positive sense, Proof planchets are
burnished before they are struck – a procedure done
originally by rubbing wet sand across the surfaces to
impart a mirror like finish. In a negative sense, the
surfaces on repaired and altered coins sometimes are
burnished by various methods. In some instances, a
high-speed drill with some type of wire brush attachment
is used to achieve this effect.
resulting from burnishing, seen mainly on open-collar
Proofs and almost never found on close-collar Proofs.
These lines are incuse in the fields and go under
lettering and devices.
for a coin that has been over-dipped to the point were
the surfaces are dull and lackluster.
regular issue coin, struck on regular planchets by dies
given normal preparation. These are the coins struck for
commerce that the Mint places into circulation.
head and shoulders of the emblematic Liberty seen on
many United States issues.
for silver dollars struck from 1795-1803. (Those dated
1804 were first struck in 1834 for inclusion in Proof
sets. Those Proofs dated 1801, 1802, and 1803 were also
struck at dates later than indicated.)
Mintmark used to signify coins struck at the Charlotte,
North Carolina branch Mint.
applied to the gold coins struck at the Charlotte, North
Carolina branch Mint. This Mint only struck gold coins
from its opening in late 1837 until its seizure by the
Confederacy. (Those coins struck in late 1837 were dated
disturbance seen on coins (usually on the obverse) that
were stored in wooden cabinets used by early collectors
to house their specimens. Often a soft cloth was used to
wipe away dust, causing light hairlines or friction.
for Cameo. Also, PCGS grading suffix used for 1950 and
later Proofs that meet cameo standards.
term applied to coins, usually Proofs and prooflike
coins, that have frosted devices and lettering that
contrast with the fields. When this is deep the coins
are said to be “black and white” cameos. Occasionally
frosty coins have “cameo” devices though they obviously
do not contrast as dramatically with the fields as the
cameo devices of Proofs do. Specifically applied by PCGS
to those 1950 and later Proofs that meet cameo standards
for the coins and other numismatic items of the Canada.
for the silver coins of Canada. (Mainly struck in 80%
Alternate form of Capped Bust
describing any of the various incarnations of the head
of Miss Liberty represented on early U.S. coins by a
bust with a floppy cap. This design is credited to John
term applied to an error in which a coin gets jammed in
the coining press and remains for successive strikes,
eventually forming a “cap” either on the upper or lower
die. These are sometimes spectacular with the “cap”
often many times taller than a normal coin.
seen mainly on copper and gold coins, though also
occasionally found on U.S. nickel coins (which are 75
percent copper) and silver coins (which are 10 percent
copper). Carbon spots are brown to black spots of
oxidation that range from minor to severe – some so
large and far advanced that the coin is not graded
because of environmental damage.
Carson City Mint
in Nevada, this mint produced gold and silver coins from
1870-1893. It was closed from 1885-1889 due to a lack of
funding. In 1893 the mint was permanently closed due to
internal corruption. In 1895 it was found that several
employees and prominent community officials were
stealing bullion from the mint and this dashed all hopes
of the mint ever reopening. Coins minted in Carson City
are among the most popular branch-mint issues. This mint
uses the “CC” mintmark.
pleasing effect seen on some coins when they are rotated
in a good light source. The luster rotates around like
the spokes of a wagon wheel. A term applied mainly to
frosty Mint State coins, especially silver dollars, to
describe their luster. Also, a slang term for a silver
Planchets made by a mold method, rather than being cut
from strips of metal.
replication of a genuine coin usually created by making
molds of the obverse and reverse, then casting base
metal in the molds. A seam is usually visible on the
edge unless it has been ground away.
device invented by French engineer Jean Castaing, which
added the edge lettering and devices to early U.S. coins
before they were struck. This machine was used until
close collar dies were introduced which applied the edge
device in the striking process.
printed listing of coins for sale either by auction or
private treaty. As a verb, to write the description of
the numismatic items offered.
Mintmark used to signify coins struck at the Carson
City, Nevada branch Mint.
applied to coins struck at the Carson City, Nevada
for Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter
for Certified Coin Exchange
for Coin Dealer Newsletter
compilation of the known specimens of a particular
denomination valued at one-hundredth of a dollar, struck
continuously by the U.S. Mint since 1793 except for
1815. (Actually, some cents dated 1816 were struck in
December of 1815.)
Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter
official name for the Bluesheet that lists
bid/ask/market prices for third-party certified coins.
Certified Coin Exchange
bid/ask coin trading and quotation system owned by the
American Teleprocessing Company. Certified Assets
Exchange, a Collectors Universe company.
abbreviation for "Choice."
popular name for the Flowing Hair Chain cent of 1793,
the first coins struck in the newly occupied Mint
1921 Morgan dollar Proofs supposedly struck for coin
dealer Henry Chapman. These have cameo devices and
deeply mirrored surfaces like most Morgan dollar Proofs.
(George Morgan did bill Henry Chapman for 10 Proof
Morgan dollars in 1921. Possibly, more coins from these
dies were struck for others as there apparently more
known than ten.)
in North Carolina, the branch Mint at Charlotte operated
from 1838-1861 and was closed due to the Civil War. The
Charlotte mint struck only gold coins (mostly from
local, native ore), all of which bear the “C” mintmark.
method used by forgers to create a mint mark on a coin.
It involves heating the surfaces and moving the metal to
form the mint mark.
5,500 2000-P Sacagawea Dollars placed along with a
2000-P Lincoln Cent in boxes of Cheerios cereal to
promote the new Dollar coin. Some design details on the
"Cheerios" Dollars are different from later strikes,
causing some experts to propose the "Cheerios" Dollar as
a pattern coin.
adjectival description applied to coin's grade, e.g.,
choice Uncirculated, choice Very Fine, etc. Used to
describe an especially attractive example of a
for Choice Uncirculated.
Uncirculated coin grading MS-63 or MS-64.
applied to a coin that has wear, ranging from slight
rubbing to heavy wear.
applied to coins that have been spent in commerce and
have received wear.
alternate term for Business Strike or Regular Strike. A
coin meant for commerce.
used to describe any of the modern “sandwich” coins that
have layers of copper and nickel. (A pure copper core
surrounded by a copper-nickel alloy.) Also used for the
40-percent silver half dollars.
applied to a one-thousand dollar bag of 40-percent
silver half dollars although it also could apply to any
bag of “sandwich” coins.
images of the dies seen on coins struck from clashed
dies. The obverse will have images from the reverse and
that have been damaged by striking each other without a
planchet between them. Typically, this imparts part of
the obverse image to the reverse die and vice versa.
term describing the period from 1792 until 1964 when
silver and gold coins of the United States were issued.
(Gold coins, of course, were not minted after 1933.)
depiction of Miss Liberty that recalls the “classic”
look of a Roman or Greek athlete wearing a ribbon around
the hair. The motif was first used on the John Reich
designed large cent struck from 1808 until 1814. The
next year, the half cent was changed to this design.
This head was also copied by William Kneass for the
quarter eagle and half eagle designs first struck in
applied to a coin whose original surface has been
removed. The effects may be slight or severe, depending
on the method used.
for a coin struck from a clipped planchet.
for an irregularly cut planchet. A clip can be straight
or curved, depending upon where it was cut from the
strip of metal.
that has grease or some other contaminant lodged in the
recessed areas. Coins struck from such a die have
diminished detail, sometimes completely missing.
edge device, sometimes called a collar die, that
surrounds the lower die. Actually open and close collars
are both closed collars - as opposed to segmented
collars. The close collar imparts reeding or a smooth,
Alternate form of close collar
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.
systematic grouping of coins assembled for fun or
individual who accumulates coins in a systematic manner
Coin Dealer Newsletter
periodical, commonly called the Greysheet, listing bid
and ask prices for many United States coins.
applied to the area resulting when coins rub together in
rolls or bags and small amounts of metal are displaced.
bourse composed of coin dealers displaying their wares
for sale and trade.
Internet site established in 1994 for the trading of
Coin Universe 3000
index of 3000 prices of the most important United States
rare coins in the most collectible grades.
Coin Universe Daily Price Guide
guide available on the internet listing approximate
selling prices for PCGS graded coins of nearly every
United States issue in multiple grades. These prices are
compiled from electronic networks, auctions, price
lists, coin shows, and so on.
Coin Universe Hall of Fame
listing of famous numismatists, past and present,
available on the internet through the Coin Universe
numismatic periodical established in 1960.
issuance of metallic money of a particular country.
piece that either positions a planchet beneath the dies
and/or restrains the expanding metal of a coin during
striking. Collars are considered the “third” die and,
today, are used to impart the edge markings to a coin.
Collars can be merely a hole in a flat piece of metal or
a set of segments that pull away from the coin after it
for “coin collection.”
individual who amasses a systematic group of coins or
other numismatic items.
issued to honor some person, place, or event and, in
many instances, to raise funds for activities related to
the theme. Sometimes called NCLT (non-circulating legal
that is usually one level higher than the market grade;
refers to a coin that is "pushed" a grade, such as an EF/AU
coin (corresponding to 45+) sold as AU-50.
synonym for regular strike or business strike.
numismatic issue that is readily available. Since this
is a relative term, no firm number can be used as a
cut-off point between common and scarce.
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. (i.e. A 1799 eagle is a common
date within its series just as an 1881-S silver dollar
is a common date within the Morgan series. Obviously,
the 1799 eagle is rare compared to the 1881-S dollar.)
for all possible coins within a series, all types, or
all coins from a particular branch Mint. Examples would
include a complete set of a series (The three-dollar
series can have but one complete set, that being the
Harry Bass Foundation set that includes the unique
1870-S. Yes, it is possible that the cornerstone coin
could appear someday and change the unique status; a
complete gold type set would include examples of all
types from 1795 until 1933; a complete set of Charlotte
Mint gold dollars must include the 1849-C Open Wreath
example of which there are but four currently verified.)
state of preservation of a particular numismatic issue.
listing of the finest known examples of a particular
issue. There is no fixed number of coins in a Condition
Census with 5, 6, 10, and other totals used by different
to indicate a common coin that is rare when found in
high grades. Also, the rarity level at a particular
grade and higher.
process of determining the condition of a coin by using
on a coin that are incurred through contact with another
coin or a foreign object. These are generally small,
compared to other types of marks such as gouges.
usually base metal, struck from crudely engraved dies
and made to pass for face value at the time of its
creation. Sometimes such counterfeits are collected
along with the genuine coins, especially in the case of
American Colonial issues.
dated “dollars” struck in pewter (scarce), brass (rare),
copper (extremely rare) and silver (extremely rare).
Although likely struck sometime later than 1776, these
saw extensive circulation. The design was inspired by
certain Benjamin Franklin sketches. Some of these were
possibly struck as pattern “cents” instead of “dollars.”
or stain commonly seen on gold coinage, indicating an
area of copper concentration that has oxidized. Copper
spots or stains range from tiny dots to large blotches.
alloy (88% copper, 12% nickel) used for small cents from
1856 until mid-1864.
cents issued from 1859 until 1864 in the copper-nickel
alloy. These were called white cents by the citizens of
the era because of their pale color compared to the red
cents of the past.
for half cents, large cents, and pre-Federal copper
reproduction, fraudulent or otherwise, of a coin.
made at a later date, usually showing slight differences
from the originals. Examples include the reverse of 1804
Class II and III silver dollars and 1831 half cents with
the Type of 1840-57 reverse. Also used to denote
counterfeit dies copied directly from a genuine coin.
Alternate name for Braided Hair design by Christian
Gobrecht (also called Liberty Head design).
that results when reactive chemicals act upon metal.
When toning ceases to be a "protective" coating and
instead begins to damage a coin, corrosion is the cause.
Usually confined to copper, nickel and silver regular
issues, although patterns in aluminum, white metal, tin,
etc., also are subject to this harmful process.
price paid for a numismatic item.
Literally, a coin that is not genuine. There are cast
and struck counterfeits and the term is also applied to
issues with added mint marks, altered dates, etc.
or impression placed on a coin after it has left the
Mint of origin. Counterstamps were frequently used as
advertising gimmicks on Large Cents and other coins. The
counterstamp leaves a permanent impression on the metal
and may hurt the value of the coin. It may also help the
value, as in the case of an Ephriam Brasher counterstamp.
counting machine mark
patch of lines caused by the rubber wheel of a counting
machine where the wheel was set with insufficient
spacing for the selected coin. Many coins have been
subjected to counting machines – among these are Mercury
dimes, Buffalo nickels, Walking Liberty half dollars,
Morgan and Peace dollars, and Saint-Gaudens double
that is used to describe a coin that graded the same at
two different grading services. Also written as two
words: cross over. "I was sure that the coin wouldn't
cross over, so I didn't buy it." or "That coin's
definitely a crossover."
for Coin Universe 3000
of a coin struck by a die that has a complete break
across part of its surface. A cud may be either a
retained cud, where the faulty piece of the die is still
in place, or a full cud, where the piece of the die has
fallen away. Retained cuds usually have dentil detail if
on the edge, while full cuds do not.
that is basically non-collectible due to its extremely
bad condition. A coin that will not even qualify for a
grade of Poor-1, usually because of extensive
environmental damage or other post-striking damage.
alloy of copper and nickel. Now usually used in
reference to the modern “sandwich” issues. The
copper-nickel cents, three-cent nickel issues, and
nickel issues are also cupro-nickel.
Mintmark used on gold coins of the Dahlonega, Georgia,
Mint from 1838 to 1861 and on coins of all denominations
struck at the Denver, Colorado, Mint from 1906 to the
used for the gold coinage struck at the branch Mint in
Dahlonega, Georgia, from 1838 to 1861, and for the
coinage struck at the branch Mint in Denver, Colorado,
from 1906 to the present.
the discovery of gold in the southern United States a
new mint was constructed in Dahlonega, Georgia. The
first coinage exited its doors in 1838 and it continued
minting until it was closed due to the civil war in
1861. The 1861-D gold dollars were struck after the Mint
was seized, the mintage figure for this rare issue is
not listed in Mint records and has been estimated at
1,000 to 1,500 examples. The Dahlonega Mint struck only
gold coins and used the “D” mintmark.
numerals on a coin representing the year in which it was
struck. Restrikes are made in years subsequent to the
one that appears on them. Also, slang for a more
valuable issue within a series.
for Deep Cameo.
for Deep Cameo.
acronym for Doubled Die Obverse.
whose occupation is buying, selling, and trading
term applied to coins, usually Proofs and prooflike
coins, that have deeply frosted devices and lettering
that contrast with the fields - often called “black and
white” cameos. Specifically applied to those 1950 and
later Proofs that meet deep cameo standards (DCAM).
deep mirror prooflike
coin that has deeply reflective mirror-like fields, the
term especially applicable for Morgan dollars. Those
Morgan dollars that meet PCGS standards are designated
deep mirror prooflike (DMPL).
value assigned by a government to a specific coin.
tooth-like devices around the rim seen on many coins.
Originally these are somewhat irregular, later much more
uniform - the result of better preparatory and striking
Denver Mint was established in 1906. It had formerly
been an Assay Office since 1863. Today, this Mint
manufactures coins of all denominations for general
circulation, medals, coin dies, stores gold and silver
bullion, manufactures uncirculated coin sets and
commemorative coins. This mint uses the “D” mintmark.
particular motif on a coin or other numismatic item. The
Seated Liberty, Barber, Morgan, etc. are examples of
specific motif placed upon coinage which may be used for
several denominations and subtypes, e.g., the Liberty
Seated design type used for silver coins from half dimes
through dollars and various subtypes therein.
individual responsible for a particular motif used for a
specific design element. Often refers to the principal
design element, such as the head of Miss Liberty.
rod with a raised device on the end used to punch the
element into a working die. This technique was used
before hubbed dies became the norm.
rod that is engraved, punched, or hubbed with devices,
lettering, the date, and other emblems.
indicate the relative position of the obverse and
reverse dies. When the dies are out of alignment,
several things can happen: If the dies are out of
parallel, weakness may be noted in a quadrant of the
coin's obverse and the corresponding part of the
reverse; and if the dies are spaced improperly, the
resultant coins may have overall weakness; if the dies
are spaced too close together, the resultant coin may be
well struck but the dies wear more quickly.
of a coin that is the result of a broken die. This may
be triangular or other geometric shape. Dies are made of
steel and they crack from use and then, if not removed
from service, eventually break. When the die totally
breaks apart, the resultant break will result in a full,
or retained, cud depending whether the broken piece
falls from the die or not.
raised, irregular line on a coin, ranging from very fine
to very large, some quite irregular. These result when a
hairline break occurs in a die.
are the raised lines on the coins that result from the
polish lines on the die, which are incuse, resulting in
the raised lines on the coins.
that has accumulated on a die that was not stored
properly. Often such rust was polished away, so that
only the deeply recessed parts of the die still
exhibited it. A few examples are known of coins that
were struck with extremely rusted dies – the 1876-CC
dime, for one.
are two definitions for this term. One, many
numismatists use it as a synonym for "die state." Two,
some numismatists use the term "die stage" to refer to
the specific status of a certain die state. For
instance, in die state XYZ this coin exhibits a large
cud at six o'clock, but in this particular die stage the
cud isn't fully formed.
readily identified point in the life of a coinage die.
Often dies clash and are polished, crack, break, etc.,
resulting in different stages of the die. These are
called die states. Some coins have barely
distinguishable die states, while others go through
multiple distinctive ones.
lines on coins that were struck with polished dies. As
more coins are struck with such dies, the striations
become fainter until most disappear.
striking of a particular die in a different metal.
that can be linked to a given set of dies because of
characteristics possessed by those dies and mparted to
the coin at the time it was struck. In the early years
of U.S. coinage history, when dies were made by hand
engraving or punching, each die was slightly different.
The coins from these unique dies are die varieties and
are collected in every denomination. By the 1840's, when
dies were made by hubbing and therefore were more
uniform, die varieties resulted mainly from variances in
the size, shape, and positioning of the date and
Deterioration in a die caused by excessive use. This may
evidence itself on coins produced with that die in a few
indistinct letters or numerals or, in extreme cases, a
loss of detail throughout the entire coin. Some coins,
especially certain nickel issues, have a fuzzy,
indistinct appearance even on Uncirculated examples.
denomination, one tenth of a dollar, issued since 1796
by the United States.
term for a small to medium size mark.
applied to a coin that has been placed in a commercial
"dip" solution, a mild acid wash that removes the toning
from most coins. Some dip solutions employ other
chemicals, such as bases, to accomplish a similar
result. The first few layers of metal are removed with
every dip, so coins repeatedly dipped will lose luster,
hence the term "overdipped".
the commercial "dips" available on the market, usually
original spelling of dime, the s silent and thought to
have been pronounced to rhyme with steam. (This
variation was used in Mint documents until the 1830s and
was officially changed by the Coinage Act of 1837.)
for deep mirror prooflike.
Cross (you will still be charged the grading fees)
used for a numismatic item that has been enhanced by
chemical or other means. Usually, this is used in 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 world-wide acceptance of the Thaler and
the Spanish Milled dollar or piece-of-eight.
Literally two eagles, or twenty dollars. A twenty-dollar
U.S. gold coin issued from 1850 through 1932. One gold
double eagle dated 1849 is known and is part of the
National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian
Institution. Nearly half a million examples dated 1933
were struck by the U.S. Mint, but virtually all were
melted when private gold ownership was outlawed that
year. (Currently federal officials claim it is illegal
to own any 1933-dated specimens that survive.)
Double Edge Lettering-Inverted
normally a coin sent through the edge lettering device a
second time with one set of lettering upside down. It
also includes doubling of any design element due to
slippage of the edge lettering device, such as a P
mintmark over the 9 of the date.
Double Edge Lettering-Overlap
normally a coin sent through the edge lettering device a
second time with the lettering in the same direction. It
also includes doubling of any design element due to
slippage of the edge lettering device, such as a P
mintmark over the 9 of the date.
that has been struck more than once by a hub in
misaligned positions, resulting in doubling of design
elements. Before the introduction of hubbing, the
individual elements of a coin's design were either
engraved or punched into the die, so any doubling was
limited to a specific element. With hubbed dies,
multiple impressions are needed from the hub to make a
single die with adequate detail. When shifting occurs in
the alignment between the hub and the die, the die ends
up with some of its features doubled – then imparts this
doubling to every coin it strikes. The coins struck from
such dies are called doubled-die errors – the most
famous being the 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln cent. PCGS
uses doubled die as the designation.
for the rare 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent variety.
condition that results when a coin is not ejected from
the dies and is struck a second time. Such a coin is
said to be double-struck. Triple-struck coins and other
multiple strikings also are known. Proofs are usually
double-struck on purpose in order to sharpen their
details; this is sometimes visible under magnification.
For Daily Price Guide, specifically the Coin Universe
Daily Price Guide
design attributed to Mint engraver Robert Scot that
features Miss Liberty with a drape across her bust. Scot
presumably copied the design after a portrait by Gilbert
area on a coin, often rather long, that has a
discolored, streaky look. This is the result of
impurities or foreign matter in the dies. One theory is
that burnt wood was rolled into the strips from which
the planchets were cut, resulting in these black
for a numismatic item that is lack luster. This may be
the result of cleaning, oxidation, or other
for Early American Coppers
coin with a face value of ten dollars. Along with the
dollar, this was the basis of the U.S. currency system
from 1792 until 1971. No U.S. gold coins were struck for
circulation after 1933, and all gold coins issued prior
to that time were recalled from circulation.
of certain coins that is important to the strike. (i.e.
The hole in the ear of the Standing Liberty quarter is a
necessary component of a Full Head designation.)
Early American Coppers (Club)
or society to advance the study of pre-1857 United
States copper coinage including Colonials. Many members
specialize collecting large cents by Sheldon numbers.
the first coins struck from a pair of dies. Such coins
are generally fully struck, with no die flaws, and they
are usually Prooflike and/or exhibit cameo contrast.
for environmental damage.
third side of a coin. It may be plain, reeded, or
ornamented – with lettering or other elements raised or
of letters or emblems on the edge of a coin. Examples
would be the stars and lettering on the edge of Indian
Head eagles and Saint-Gaudens double eagles.
for "Extremely Fine' (the grade) and "40" (the numerical
designation of the grade). Also called XF-40. About 90%
of the original detail is still evident and the devices
are sharp and clear.
for "Extremely Fine" (the grade) and "45" (the numerical
designation of the grade). Also called XF-45. About 95%
of the original detail is still evident and the devices
are sharp and clear.
duplicate coin created by the electrolytic method, in
which metal is deposited into a mold made from the
original. The obverse and reverse metal shells are then
filled with metal and fused together – after which the
edges sometimes are filed to obscure the seam.
numismatic condition purposes, the various components of
grading. In other numismatic contexts, this term refers
to the various devices and emblems seen on coins.
for Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. who was the only collector
to assemble a complete collection of United States
coins. Thus, the Eliasberg pedigree on a particular coin
is held in the highest numismatic esteem.
order in which die states are struck. Also, the die use
sequence for a particular issue.
person responsible for the design and/or punches used
for a particular numismatic item.
applied to toning that results from storage mainly in 2
x 2 manila envelopes; most paper envelopes contain
Corrosion-effect seen on a coin that has been exposed to
the elements. This may be minor, such as toning that is
nearly black, to major - a coin found in the ground or
water which has severely pitted surfaces. PCGS does not
grade coins with environmental damage.
for “worn die.”
numismatic item that unintentionally varies from the
norm. Ordinarily, overdates are not errors since they
were done intentionally while other die-cutting
“mistakes” are considered errors. Double dies, planchet
clips, off-metal strikings, etc. also are errors.
for trial, pattern, and experimental strikings. The
anglicized version is essay and literally means a test
feature at the lower part of a coin, usually set off by
a horizontal bar that displays the date or denomination.
specialist in a particular numismatic area. (i.e. A
copper expert, a gold expert, a paper money expert, a
D-Mint expert, etc.)
Alternate form of Extremely Fine.
grades EF40 and 45. This grade has nearly full detail
with only the high points worn, the fields rubbed often
with luster still clinging in protected areas.
Extremely High Relief
1907 double eagle issue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens that
had such medallic depth that multiple blows from a
powerful press were required to fully bring up the
detail. Because of this difficulty, the Mint engraver
lowered the design resulting in the High Relief, which
again was lowered to create the familiar Standing
Liberty double eagle, or Saint, as to which they are
element of a coin's grade that "grabs" the viewer. The
overall look of a coin.
for "Fine" (the grade) and "12" (the numerical
designation of the grade). The design detail is
partially in evidence. The coin is still heavily worn.
If there is any eye appeal in this grade it comes from
the smooth surfaces associated with this grade, as any
distracting marks have usually been worn off through
for "Fine" (the grade) and "15" (the numerical
designation of the grade). Most of the letters in
LIBERTY are visible, about 35-50% of the wing feathers
are visible, or whatever applies to the coin in
question. In other words, the coin is still in highly
stated value on a coin, at which it can be spent or
exchanged. The face value is usually different from a
coin’s numismatic or precious metal value.
adjective corresponding to the grade FR-2. In this
grade, there is heavy wear with the lettering, devices,
and date partially visible.
for a counterfeit or altered coin.
applied to coins struck at the whim of Mint officials.
Examples include the 1868 large cent Type of 1857 and
the various 1865 Motto and 1866 No Motto coins.
designate the Roman symbol of authority used as a motif
on the reverse of Mercury (Winged Liberty Head) dimes.
It consists of a bundle of rods wrapped around an ax
with a protruding blade. The designation "full bands"
refers to fasces on which there is complete separation
in the central bands across the rods.
for the Small Size Capped Bust quarter and half eagles.
(Mainly heard as “fat head fives.)
for Full Bands.
for Full Bell Lines.
for Full Head.
and paper money that do not have metal value or are not
backed up by metal value.
portion of a coin where there is no design – generally
the flat part (although on some issues, the field is
grader who, before computers were used for this task,
compared his own grade with those of other graders and
determined the final grade. The verifier replaced the
finalizer after PCGS began inputting the grades by
adjective corresponding to the grades F-12 and 15. In
these grades, most of a coin's detail is worn away. Some
detail is present in the recessed areas, but it is not
best-known condition example of a particular numismatic
for the opportunity to get the first opportunity to buy
items from a particular numismatic deal or from a
First Strike (TM)
Beginning in 2004, PCGS began designating coins
delivered by the U.S. Mint in the 30 day period
following the release date of a new product as "First
Strike". For instance, new American Silver Eagles
typically are released by the Mint on January 1st, thus
any coins delivered between January 1 and January 31
qualify for the First Strike (TM) designation.
for a five-dollar gold coin or half eagle.
for the Indian Head half eagles struck from 1908 to
for the Liberty Head half eagles struck from 1839 until
fixed price list
dealer listing of items for sale at set prices.
referring to the particular specimens of High Reliefs
that do not have a wire edge.
subdued type of luster seen on coins struck from worn
dies. Often these coins have a gray or otherwise dull
color that makes the fields seem even more lackluster.
has two meanings. First, it is the term for the plastic
sleeve in which coins are stored. Also, it can mean to
quickly sell a recently purchased coin, usually for a
short profit. (The plastic flips used to submit coins to
PCGS are not recommended for long term storage unless
they do not contain PVC. Care should be used with the
PVC-free flips as they are very brittle and can damage
the delicate coin surfaces).
Discoloration, often only slight, on the highest points
of a coin resulting from contact with a flip. On
occasion, highly desirable coins sold in auctions have
acquired minor rub from being repeatedly examined by
eager bidders. The shifting of the coin, although it may
be slight, can cause this rub.
a new purchase for a short profit.
lines, sometimes visible, resulting from the metal
flowing outward from the center of a planchet as it is
struck. The “cartwheel” luster is the result of light
reflecting from these radial lines.
design attributed to Mint engraver Robert Scot that
features Miss Liberty with long, flowing hair.
for Flying Eagle Cent.
Flying Eagle Cent
small cent, struck in 88% copper and 12% nickel, that
replaced the large cent. This featured James Longacre’s
reduction of the Gobrecht eagle used on the reverse of
the silver dollars of 1836-1839.
area of a coin to which a viewer's eye is drawn. An
example is the cheek of a Morgan dollar.
numismatic item not from the United States
four-dollar gold piece
experimental issue, also known as a stella, struck in
1879-1880 as a pattern. Often collected along with
regular-issue gold coins, this was meant to be an
international coin approximating the Swiss and French
twenty-franc coins, the Italian twenty lira, etc.
for Fixed Price List.
for "Fair" (the grade) and "2" (the numerical
designation that means Fair). A coin that is worn out.
There will be some detail intact, the date will be
discernible (if not fully readable) and there is almost
always heavy wear into the rims and fields.
for Franklin half dollar.
Franklin half dollar
John Sinnock designed half dollar struck from 1948 until
1963. This featured Ben Franklin on the obverse and the
Liberty Bell on the reverse.
wear on a coin's high points or in the fields.
crystallized-metal effect seen in the recessed areas of
a die, thus the raised parts of a coin struck with that
die. This is imparted to dies by various techniques,
such as sandblasting them or pickling them in acid, then
polishing the fields, leaving the recessed areas with
elements on coins struck with treated dies that have
frost in their recessed areas. Such coins have
crystalline surfaces that resemble frost on a lawn.
crystalline appearance of coins struck with dies that
have frost in their recessed areas. Such coins show
vibrant luster on their devices and/or surfaces; the
amount of crystallization may vary. Also, this term is
applied to coins whose entire surface his this look.
for Full Steps.
1787-dated one-cent coins are considered by some to be
the first regular issue United States coin. Authorized
by the Continental Congress, this would seem to be a
logical conclusion. However, the Mint Act was not passed
by Congress until 1792, so the case for the half dismes
of 1792 as the first regular issue is also valid. (Adam
Eckfeldt, Chief Coiner from 1814 to 1839 worked for the
fledgling Mint in 1792 and was present for the striking
of the 1792 half dismes. He is quoted in the 1840s that
he considered the half dismes patterns and that George
Washington gave them out as presents. He was a very old
man by then, so perhaps his memory was failing him, but
debate continues as to which coin deserves the
distinction as the first regular issue. If the half
disme and the Fugio cent are not the first coins, then
that title would go to the Chain cent, which was the
first coin struck in the newly occupied Mint building.
Although the building was likely occupied in late 1792,
as records indicate, it appears that all the machinery
was not fully operational as Chain cents were not struck
until March, 1793.)
applied to Mercury (Winged Liberty Head) dimes when the
central band is fully separated (FB). There can be no
disturbance of the separation. Also applicable to
Roosevelt dimes that display full separation in both the
upper and lower pair of crossbands on the torch.
Full Bell Lines
applied to Franklin half dollars when the lower sets of
bell lines are complete (FBL). Very slight disturbance
of several lines is acceptable.
applied to Standing Liberty quarters when the helmet of
the head has full detail (FH). Both Type 1 and 2 coins
are so designated but the criteria is different for
applied to a Jefferson five-cent example when at least 5
steps of Monticello are present.
numismatic item that displays the full detail intended
by the designer. Weak striking pressure, worn dies or
improper planchets can sometimes prevent all the details
from appearing, even on uncirculated specimens.
first coin show each year. This annual convention is
sponsored by the Florida United Numismatists and is held
in early January.
for "Good" (the grade) and "4" (the numerical
designation of the grade). The major details of the coin
will be worn flat. Minor wear into the rims is
allowable, but the peripheral lettering will be nearly
for "Good" (the grade) and "6" (the numerical
designation of the grade). A higher grade (i.e., less
worn) than a G-4 coin. The rims will be complete and the
peripheral lettering will be full.
large metal relief used in the portrait lathe from which
a positive reduction in steel, called a hub, is made.
for the Garrett family. The two main collectors, Thomas
H. Garrett and John W. Garrett, formed this extensive
collection from the late 1800s through the early 1900s.
Later, it was given to Johns Hopkins University and was
sold in five auction sales. This provenance on a
numismatic item is as coveted as an Eliasberg pedigree.
Adjectival description applied to Mint State and
Proof-65 coins. It also is used for higher grades and as
a generic term for a superb coin.
for Gem Brilliant Uncirculated.
for Gem Uncirculated.
adjectival equivalent of Mint State 65 or 66.
for “Gobrecht dollar.”
silver dollars dated 1836, 1838, and 1839 struck in
those years and restruck later (some 1836-dated coins
were struck in 1837). These are named for their
designer, Christian Gobrecht, Chief Engraver from 1840
to 1844 but defacto engraver when William Kneass
suffered his stroke in 1835.
Obviously, the precious metal. Also, slang for any
United States gold issues.
for gold commemorative.
the eleven commemorate coins struck in gold from 1903
until 1925. Also, any of the modern United States
commemorative gold issues, sometimes called modern gold
small coins of one dollar denomination struck from 1849
adjective corresponding to the grades G-4 and G-6. Coins
in these grades usually have little detail but outlined
major devices. On some coins, the rims may be worn to
the tops of some letters.
refers to the Grade Point Average of a PCGS Set Registry
set. If a set is unweighted the GPA is figured by adding
up the grades of each coin and dividing the sum by the
number of coins in the set. If a set is weighted (and
someday all of the sets will be weighted) then the
rarity of the coins is also factored into the equation.
numerical or adjectival condition of a coin.
individual who evaluates the condition of coins.
process of numerically quantifying the condition of a
coin. Before the adoption of the Sheldon numerical
system, coins were given descriptive grades such as
Good, Very Good, Fine, and so forth.
for Coin Dealer Newsletter.
area of a coin that represents hair and may be an
important grading aspect. (i.e. The hair above the ear
on a Morgan dollar is critical to the strike.)
cleaning lines found mainly in the fields of Proof
coins, although they sometimes are found across an
entire Proof coin as well as on business strikes.
for half dollar.
lowest-value coin denomination ever issued by the United
States, representing one-two hundredth of a dollar. Half
cents were struck from 1793 until the series was
discontinued in 1857.
original spelling of half dime. The first United States
regular issue was the 1792 half disme supposedly struck
in John Harper’s basement with the newly acquired Mint
denomination first struck in 1794 that is still struck
Literally, half the value of an Eagle. The Eagle was
defined by the Mint Act of 1792 as equal to ten silver
times rolls were issued with one half the number of
coins in a roll that we consider to be normal today. For
instance, Liberty nickels (1883-1912) were often issued
with 20 coins in the roll (face value one dollar).
powerful light source that enables a viewer to examine
coins closely. This type of light reveals even the
upper die, usually the obverse – although on some issues
with striking problems, the reverse was employed as the
cloudy film, original or added, seen on both
business-strike coins and Proofs. This film can range
from a light, nearly clear covering with little effect
on the grade to a heavy, opaque layer that might prevent
the coin from being graded.
called the large eagle, this emblem of Liberty resembles
the eagles of heraldry, thus its acquired name.
applied to any coin at the upper end of a particular
Saint-Gaudens inspired effort of Charles Barber to
reduce the Extremely High Relief down to a coin with
acceptable striking qualities. After 11,250 coins, this
effort was abandoned. However, these were released and
quickly became one of the most popular coins of all
of coins held for either numismatic or monetary reasons.
A numismatic hoard example would be the hoard of Little
Orphan Annie dimes (1844). A monetary hoard example
would be the 100,000 plus coins in the Economite,
Pennsylvania hoard of the nineteen century. That hoard
consisted mainly of half dollars.
that exists, or existed, in a quantity held by an
individual, organization, etc. Examples include Stone
Mountain half dollars still held by the Daughters of the
Confederacy, the superb group of 1857 quarters that
surfaced in the 1970s, and so on.
individual who amasses a quantity of a numismatic item(s).
Indian Head (Buffalo) nickel which has been engraved
with a portrait of a hobo or other character, often by a
hobo. These are popular with some collectors and some
are so distinctive that they have been attributed to
toning acquired by a coin as a result of storage in a
holder. Mainly refers to toning seen on coins stored in
Wayte Raymond-type cardboard holders which contained
sulfur and other reactive chemicals. Sometimes vibrant,
spectacular reds, greens, blues, yellows, and other
colors are seen on coins stored in these holders.
term for the steel device from which a die is produced.
The hub is produced with the aid of a portrait lathe or
reducing machine and bears a "positive" image of the
coin's design – that is, it shows the design as it will
appear on the coin itself. The image on the die is
"negative" – a mirror image of the design.
coin that grades less than PR-60; a circulated Proof.
light from a lamp, as opposed to indirect light such as
that from a fluorescent bulb.
that is missing design detail because of a problem
during the striking process. The incompleteness may be
due to insufficient striking pressure or improperly
intaglio design used on Indian Head quarter eagles and
half eagles. These coins were struck from dies which had
fields recessed, so that the devices – the areas usually
raised – were recessed on the coins themselves. This was
an experiment to try to deter counterfeiting and improve
name for an Indian Head cent.
Indian Head cent
James Longacre design cents struck from 1859 until 1909.
From 1859 until mid-1864, these were composed of
copper-nickel alloy, while those struck mid-1864 to 1909
were struck in bronze.
Indian Head eagle
Saint-Gaudens designed ten-dollar gold coin struck from
1907 until 1933.
for an Indian Head cent.
value of the metal(s) contained in a numismatic item.
The United States issues contained their intrinsic value
in metal until 1933 for gold coins and 1964 for silver
coins. Today’s “sandwich” coins are termed fiat
individual who buys numismatic items strictly for
profit, not caring to complete a set or particular
"glow" displayed by a coin, often gleaming through light
Felix Schlag designed five-cent coin first struck from
1938 to date.
The major, or most important, coin in a particular
series. The "key" coin is usually the lowest-mintage
coin and/or the most expensive coin in a particular set.
The 1916-D dime, for instance, is usually considered the
key coin of the Mercury dime series. It is the lowest
mintage coin of the set and the most expensive (in most
grades). The 1919-D dime is the "condition rarity key"
of the Mercury dime series, as it is the most expensive
coin in top condition.
Most sets have more than one key coin. In Lincoln cents,
for instance, the 1909-S V.D.B., the 1914-D, the 1922
Plain and 1955/55 Doubled Die are all considered to be
key coins in most grades. In MS65RD the 1926-S is the
rarest of the regular issues, so it is considered the
"condition rarity key."
At times any scarce or rare coin is referred to a "key"
coin. The terms "key to the set" or "key to the series"
are also used as synonyms for "key coin."
term for outstanding. (i.e. That 1880-S silver dollar
has killer luster.)
number one coin. The 1804 dollar was referred to as the
"King of Coins" in an 1885 auction catalogue. Since
then, the word "King" has come to mean the most
important coin of a particular series.
for wire edge.
piece of metal that has nearly become detached from the
surface of a coin. If this breaks off, an irregular hole
or planchet flaw is left.
copper U.S. coin, one-hundredth of a dollar, issued from
1793 until 1857, when it was replaced by a much smaller
cent made from a copper-nickel alloy. The value of
copper in a large cent had risen to more than one cent,
requiring the reduction in weight.
referring to the size of the digits of the date on a
coin. (Use of this term implies that a medium or small
date exists for that coin or series.)
Alternate form of Heraldic Eagle.
referring to the size of the lettering of the date on a
coin. (Use of this term implies that medium or small
letters exist for that coin or series.)
Common short name for the particular variety of two-cent
coin of 1864 with large letters in the motto. The
inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST” was first used on the
two-cent coinage of 1864. Congress mandated this
inscription for all coinage and it has been used on
nearly every coin since that time.
referring to the particular diameter of a coin in a
series. (Use of this term implies that there is a small
size or diameter with the same motif. Examples are the
Large and Small size Capped Bust quarters.)
for large date.
and currency issued by the government as official money
that can be used to pay legal debts and obligations.
phrase that appears on a coin – for instance, UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA.
edge that displays an inscription or other design
elements, rather than being reeded or plain. The
lettering can be either incuse (recessed below the
surface) or raised. Incuse lettering is applied before a
coin is struck; the Mint did this with a device called
the Castaing machine. Raised lettering is found on coins
struck with segmented collars; the lettering is raised
during the minting process, and when the coin is ejected
from the dies, the collar "falls" apart, preventing the
lettering from being sheared away.
alphabet characters used in creating legends, mottoes,
and other inscriptions on a coin, whether on the
obverse, reverse, or edge.
for Liberty Head. (i.e. a twenty Lib, a Ten Lib, etc.)
symbolic figure used in many U.S. coin designs.
head of Miss Liberty, with a cap on a pole by her head,
used on certain U.S. half cents and large cents.
design used on most U.S. gold coins from 1838 until
1908. This design was first employed by Christian
Gobrecht, with later modifications by Robert Ball Hughes
and James Longacre. Morgan dollars and Barber coinage
sometimes are referred to as Liberty Head coins.
for Liberty Head or “V” nickel struck from 1883 until
1912. (The coins dated 1913 were clandestinely struck
and are not regular issues.)
motif designed by Christian Gobrecht first used on the
Gobrecht dollars of 1836-1839 featuring Miss Liberty
seated on a rock. This design was used on nearly all
regular issue silver coinage from 1837 until 1891.
(1838-1891 for quarters, 1839-1891 for half dollars, and
1840-1873 for dollars.)
band of light seen on photographs of coins, especially
Proofs. This band also is seen when a coin is examined
under a light.
for a Lincoln Head cent.
Victor D. Brenner designed cent first struck in 1909 and
continuing until today although the reverse was changed
in 1959 to the Memorial Reverse. These were struck in
bronze until 1982, except for 1943 when they were issued
in steel with a zinc coating and 1945-1945 when melted
shell casings were employed to produce planchets.
Currently, the Lincoln cent is struck on planchets
composed of a zinc core and a 5% copper coating.
for Lincoln Head cent.
that is on the cusp between two different grades. A 4/5
liner is a coin that is either a high-end MS/PR-64 or a
repeating depression on a coin, usually thin and curly,
caused by a thread that adhered to a die during the
coin's production. Lint marks are found primarily on
Proofs. After dies are polished, they are wiped with a
cloth, and these sometimes leave tiny threads.
for large letters.
for the Long Beach Coin and Stamp Exhibition held in
Long Beach, California. This show is held three times a
year, usually in February, June, and October. These are
among the most popular commercial exhibitions each year.
unique number assigned by the auction house to an item(s)
to be sold in a particular sale. (i.e. The 1858 Seated
dollar was lot 455 of the FUN 1999 sale.)
magnifying glass used to examine coins. Loupes are found
in varying strengths or "powers".
numismatics, the amount and strength of light reflected
from a coin’s surface or its original mint bloom. Luster
is the result of light reflecting on the flow lines,
whether visible or not.
Alternate form of luster.
used to describe coins that still have original mint
mail bid sale
auction sale where bidding is limited to bids by mail.
(Today, that also may include by phone, fax, or email.)
that is easily recognized as having a major difference
from other coins of the same design, type, date, and
numerical grade that matches the grade at which a
particular coin generally is traded in the marketplace.
The grading standard used by PCGS.
Imperfections acquired after striking. These range from
tiny to large hits and may be caused by other coins or
main die produced from the master hub. Many working hubs
are prepared from this single die.
original hub created by the portrait lathe. Master dies
are created from this hub.
experimental Proof striking, produced by the U.S. Mint
mainly from 1907 to 1916, which has sandblasted or
acid-pickled surfaces. These textured surfaces
represented a radical departure from brilliant Proofs,
having even less reflectivity than business strikes.
for medium date.
high-pressure coining press acquired by the U.S. Mint,
circa 1854-1858, to strike medals, patterns, restrikes,
and some regular-issue Proofs.
referring to the size of the digits of the date on a
coin. (Use of this term implies that a large or small
date exists for that coin or series.)
referring to the size of the lettering of the date on a
coin. (Use of this term implies that large or small
letters exist for that coin or series.)
term for the intrinsic value of a particular numismatic
item. (What’s the melt value of that ten Lib?)
name for the Winged Liberty Head dime issued from 1916
until 1945. The A.A. Weinman motif was quickly compared
to the Roman god Mercury and the name stuck with the
metal stress lines
lines, sometimes visible, that result when the metal
flows outward from the center of the planchet during the
that results when the reeded edge of one coin hits the
surface of another coin. Such contact may produce just
one mark or a group of staccato-like marks.
that has a minor difference from other coins of the same
design, type, date, and mint. This minor difference is
barely discernible to the unaided eye. The difference
between a major variety and a minor variety is a matter
Original luster that is still visible on a coin.
Variation of mintmark
of Uncirculated coins from a particular year comprising
coins from each Mint. (Usually, this term refers to
government issued Mint Sets, although for many years, it
has been loosely used for any set of Uncirculated coins
from a particular year. Also, the government Mint Sets
issued from 1947 until 1958 were double sets.)
term refers to the colors and patterns coins have
acquired from years of storage in the cardboard holders
in which Mint Sets were issued from 1947-1958. Since
1959, Mint Sets have been issued in plastic sleeves,
thus they do not tone as spectacularly.
term corresponding to the numerical grades MS-60 through
MS-70, used to denote a business strike coin that never
has been in circulation. A Mint State coin can range
from one that is covered with marks (MS-60) to a
flawless example (MS-70).
number of coins of a particular date struck at a given
mint during a particular year. (This may not equal the
“official” mintage for that calendar year, especially
for pre-1840 coinage. The Mint reported coins struck in
the calendar year, regardless of the date(s) on the
issue. For instance, the 1804-dated dollar was included
in Proof Sets struck in 1834 because the “official”
mintage figures for 1804 included silver dollars
although it is now known that these were dated 1803 or
possibly even earlier.)
tiny letter(s) stamped into the dies to denote the mint
at which a particular coin was struck.
applied to the error coins that have striking
coin that has been circulated, cleaned, or otherwise
reduced to a level of preservation below PR-60.
applied to the various incarnations of the emblematic
Liberty represented on United States coinage.
Missing Edge Lettering
coin which does not display any of the intended design
on the edge of the coin.
for medium letters.
for an incredible coin, usually one that grades MS/PR-67
or higher. A secondary use is as an adjective, such as
monster luster or monster color.
for an incredible coin, usually one that grades MS/PR-67
for “Morgan dollar.”
common term used for the Liberty Head silver dollar
struck from 1878 until 1904 and again in 1921. George
Morgan was the assistant engraver but his design was
selected over William Barber’s for the dollar. Morgan
was passed over for the Chief Engraver’s job when
William Barber died in 1879. Charles Barber, William’s
son, received the job and Morgan remained an assistant
until Charles died in 1918. Morgan was then elevated to
position of Chief Engraver, which he held until his
death in January, 1925.
toning, usually characterized by splotchy areas of drab
inscription or phrase on a coin.
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "60" (the numerical
designation of that grade). This is the lowest of the
eleven Mint State grades that range from MS60 through
MS70. An MS60 coin will usually exhibit the maximum
number of marks and/or hairlines. The luster may range
from poor to full, but is usually on the "poor" side.
Eye appeal is usually minimal.
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "61" (the numerical
designation of that grade). This grade meets the minimum
requirements of Mint State plus includes some virtues
not found on MS60 coins. For instance, there may be
slightly fewer marks than on an MS60 coin, or better
luster, or less negative eye appeal.
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "62" (the numerical
designation of that grade). This grade is nearly in the
"choice" or MS63 category, but there is usually one
thing that keeps it from a higher grader. Expect to find
excessive marks or an extremely poor strike or dark and
unattractive toning. Some MS62 coins will have clean
surfaces and reasonably good eye appeal but exhibit many
hairlines on the fields and devices.
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "63" (the numerical
designation of that grade). The equivalent of "choice"
or "Choice BU" from the days before numerical grading
was prevalent. This grade is usually found with clean
fields and distracting marks or hairlines on the devices
OR clean devices with distracting marks or hairlines in
the fields. The strike and luster can range from
mediocre to excellent.
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "64" (the numerical
designation of that grade). This grade is also called
"Borderline Gem" at times, as well as "Very Choice BU."
There will be no more than a couple of significant marks
or, possibly, a number of light abrasions. The overall
visual impact of the coin will be positive. The strike
will range from average to full and the luster breaks
will be minimal.
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "65" (the numerical
designation of that grade). This grade is also called
"Gem" or "Gem Mint State" or "Gem BU." There may be
scattered marks, hairlines or other defects, but they
will be minor. Any spots on copper coins will also be
minor. The coin must be well struck with positive
(average or better) eye appeal. This is a NICE coin!
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "66" (the numerical
designation of that grade). This is not only a
Gem-quality coin, but the eye appeal ranges from "above
average" to "superb." The luster is usually far above
average, and any toning can not impede the luster in any
significant way. This is an extra-nice coin.
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "67" (the numerical
designation of that grade). A superb-quality coin! Any
abrasions are extremely light and do not detract from
the coin’s beauty in any way. The strike is extremely
sharp (or full) and the luster is outstanding. This is a
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "68" (the numerical
designation of that grade). A nearly perfect coin, with
only minuscule imperfections visible to the naked eye.
The strike will be exceptionally sharp and the luster
will glow. This is an incredible coin.
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "69" (the numerical
designation of that grade). Virtually perfect in all
departments, including wondrous surfaces, a 99% full
strike (or better), full unbroken booming luster and
show-stopping eye appeal. You may have to study this
coin with a 5X glass to find the reason why it didn’t
for "Mint State" (the grade) and "70" (the numerical
designation of that grade). A perfect coin! Even with 5X
magnification there are no marks, hairlines or luster
breaks in evidence. The luster is vibrant, the strike is
razor-sharp, and the eye appeal is the ultimate. Note:
Minor die polish and light die breaks are not considered
to be defects on circulation strike coins.
a rare Mint error where the obverse die is of one coin
and the reverse die is of another coin. The most famous
of the Mule errors is a Sacagawea dollar/Washington
quarter Mule, where a Washington quarter obverse is
paired with a Sacagawea reverse.
used to describe a coin that has been damaged to the
point where it no longer can be graded.
for a coin that never has been in circulation.
branch Mint established in 1838 in New Orleans,
Louisiana. It struck coins for the United States until
its seizure in 1861 by the Confederacy. (Some 1861-O
half dollars were struck after the seizure.) It reopened
in 1879 and struck coins until 1909 (actually closed in
1910). Now this facility is a museum.
New Orleans Mint
Orleans opened its doors in 1838 and minted gold and
silver coins until 1861, when the Confederates took over
operations for a short time. Minting resumed in 1879
minting and continued until 1909. The New Orleans
facility served as an assay office from 1909-1942 when
it was permanently closed. This mint uses the “O”
for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
term for a five-cent piece struck in cupro-nickel alloy
(actually 75% copper, 25% nickel).
No “CENTS” nickel
Liberty Head or “V” nickels struck in 1883 without a
denomination. This was very confusing to the public and
led to the “racketeer” nickel scandal.
applied to coins without arrows by their dates during
years when other coins had arrows by the date. (Example:
the 1853 No Arrows half dime and 1853 Arrows half dime.)
struck without the motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST.” This motto
was mandated by an act of Congress and appeared on
nearly every United States coin since the 1860s. (Teddy
Roosevelt felt this was sacrilegious and had it removed
from the newly redesigned 1907 eagles and double eagles.
Citizen protests soon were overwhelming and it was
restored in 1908.) This also refers to coins struck
before the motto was added in the 1860s.
applying to the Christian Gobrecht designed Liberty
Seated coins without stars.
applied to a coin returned from a third-party grading
service that was not encapsulated because of varying
reasons. (This could be for cleaning, damage,
questionable authenticity, etc.)
Specifically, the Sheldon 1-70 scale employed by PCGS
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
Third-party grading service based in Parsipany, New
numismatic periodical established in 1952.
science of money; coins, paper money, tokens, inscribed
bars, and all related items are included.
studies or collects money or substitutes thereof.
Mintmark used to signify coins struck at the New
Orleans, Louisiana branch Mint.
used for the coinage of the branch Mint in New Orleans,
front, or heads side, of a coin. Usually the date side.
for octagonal (Pan-Pac octagonal commemorative
struck on a blank that was not properly centered over
the anvil, or lower, die. Coins that are 5 percent, or
less, off center are graded by PCGS as a regular coin.
Those struck off center more than 5 percent are graded
as error coins. There will be an “E” before the coin
number to designate an error specimen and the amount
struck off center will be listed, rounded to the nearest
name notwithstanding, a closed collar that surrounded
the anvil (or lower) die used in striking early U.S.
coins on planchets whose edges already had been lettered
or reeded. An open collar was a restraining, or
positioning, collar that made it easier to position a
planchet atop the lower die, and also sometimes kept the
planchet from expanding too far.
dimple-textured fields seen on many Proof gold coins;
their surfaces resemble those of an orange, hence the
descriptive term. Some Mint State gold dollars and
three-dollar gold coins exhibit this effect to some
used to describe a coin that never has been dipped or
cleaned, or a coin struck from original dies in the year
whose date it bears.
in fixed quantities wrapped in paper and stored at the
time of their issuance. The quantities vary by
denomination, but typically include 50 one-cent pieces,
40 nickels, 50 dimes, 40 quarters, 20 half dollars and
20 silver dollars. U.S. coins were first shipped to
banks in kegs, later in cloth bags, and still later in
rolls. Silver and gold coins stored in such rolls often
have peripheral toning and untoned centers. Obviously,
coins stored in rolls suffered fewer marks than those in
kegs or bags.
of coins that have been together since the day they were
removed from their storage bags. Also, rolls of Mint
State coins that have never been searched or "picked
for the color acquired naturally by a coin that never
has never been cleaned or dipped. Original toning ranges
from the palest yellow to extremely dark blues, grays,
browns, and finally black.
struck with a die on which one mintmark is engraved over
a different mintmark. In rare instances, branch mints
returned dies that already had mintmarks punched into
them; on occasion, these were then sent to different
branch mints and the new mint punched its mintmark over
the old one. Examples include the 1938-D/S Buffalo
nickel and the 1900-O/CC Morgan dollar.
that has become dull from too many baths in a dipping
struck from a die with a date that has one year punched
over a different year. Save a few exceptions, the die
overdated is an unused die from a previous year.
Sometimes an effort was made to polish away evidence of
the previous date. PCGS requires the overdate to be
visible to be recognized.
Mintmark used by the main mint located in Philadelphia,
applied to the coins struck at the main Mint in
for Panama-Pacific Exhibition.
for either of the 1915-dated Panama-Pacific fifty-dollar
commemorative coins, the octagonal or the round.
exhibition held in San Francisco, California to
celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal.
used among collectors for notes of the entire field of
currency, no matter what medium on which they may be
Partial Edge Lettering
least one complete letter or star missing. Note: This
variety will not be recognized if part of the edge
design was caused by damage.
striking of a coin produced to demonstrate a proposed
design, size, or composition (whether adopted or not).
Patterns often are made in metals other than the one
proposed; examples of this include aluminum and copper
patterns of the silver Trade dollar. Off-metal strikes
such as this also are referred to as die trials of a
for “Professional Coin Grading Service”.
PCGS Population Report
Quarterly publication by PCGS listing the number of
coins graded and their grade. Totals are for coins
graded by PCGS since its inception in 1986. Also
published weekly on the PCGS website at
name for the silver dollar struck from 1921 to 1935.
Designed by Anthony Francisci to commemorate the peace
following World War I, the first year featured another
coin designated High Relief. In 1922, the relief was
lowered resulting in the Regular Relief type that
continued until 1935.
listing of a coin’s current owner plus all known
American numismatics, slang for a one-cent coin.
medium, or dark coloring around the edge of a coin.
“mother” Mint, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
First established in 1792, the Philadelphia Mint has
occupied four different locations. Currently, it is
located in Independence Square, within sight of the
Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The Philadelphia
mint engraves all U.S. coins and medals, manufactures
coin and medal dies, manufactures coins of all
denominations for general circulation, manufactures
commemorative coins, and produces medals. This mint
currently uses the “P” mintmark but coins produced prior
to 1980 have no mintmark.
for a coin bought at a bargain price.
describe the dealer who sells a pick off.
that means "double thick," it usually refers to French
coins that were made in a double thickness to signify
double value. Sometimes spelled Piefort.
privately-issued gold coins struck prior to 1861. These
include coins struck in Georgia and North Carolina
although no “pioneers” were responsible for the gold
mined in those states. Generally associated with the
private issues from California and the other post-1848
finds in Nevada, Oregon, and Colorado.
smooth edge seen mainly on a small-denomination coinage.
blank disk of metal before it is struck by a coining
press which transforms it into a coin. Type I planchets
are flat. Type II planchets have upset rims from the
milling machine, these to facilitate easier striking in
the various abnormalities found on coin blanks. These
include drift marks, laminations, clips, and so forth.
irregular hole in a coin blank, sometimes the result of
a lamination that has broken away.
incuse lines found on some Proof coins, though rarely on
business strikes, usually the result of polishing blanks
to impart mirrorlike surfaces prior to striking.
used to describe a coin to which a thin layer of metal
has been applied-for example, gold-plated copper
strikings of certain U.S. pattern coins.
Precious metal sometimes used for coinage. The only
United States issues struck in platinum are the pattern
half dollars of 1814 and the modern platinum Eagles.
used to describe a coin that has had a hole filled,
often so expertly that it can only be discerned only
for Professional Numismatists Guild.
third-party certification was started by PCGS in 1986,
these certificates were the best available protection
for the coin buyer. Each PNG dealer could issue a
certificate, one copy given to the buyer and one copy
sent to the PNG main office. This provided not only a
guarantee of authenticity, but also provided a space for
a description that could be useful in cases of stolen
for "Poor" (the grade) and "1" (the numerical
designation that means Poor). A coin of this grade is
basically uncollectible due to its terrible condition,
but coins of great rarity (such as an 1802 half dime)
are still of considerable value and in demand in this
grade. In order to "reach" this grade a coin must be
identifiable as to date and type and not be horribly
damaged (such as holes).
that has been basined to remove clash marks or other die
injury. In a positive sense, Proof dies were basined to
impart mirrorlike surfaces, resulting in coins with
chemical used in coin flips to make them pliable.
grade PO-1. A coin with readable date and mint mark (if
present), but little more, barely identifiable as to
type. (One-year type coins do not require a readable
date to qualify for this grade.)
for “PCGS Population Report.”
that is on top of the Population Report and scores the
maximum number of points on the PCGS Set Registry.
description indicating a rough or granular surface,
typically seen on pre-1816 copper coins.
for premium quality.
applied to coins that are the best examples within a
often a Proof or an exceptionally sharp business strike,
specially struck and given to a dignitary or other
the various coining machines. Examples include the screw
press and the steam-powered knuckle-action press.
asking quotation for a particular numismatic item.
“What’s the price?” is a common phrase on the bourse
periodical, whether electronic or paper, listing
approximate prices for numismatic items, whether
wholesale or retail.
applied to coins in original, unimpaired condition.
These coins typically are graded MS/PR-67 and higher.
Professional Coin Grading Service
Established in 1985, this was the first third-party
grading service to grade, encapsulate, and guarantee the
authenticity for numismatic material. Based in Newport
Professional Numismatists Guild
dealer organization begun in 1955. The membership is
restricted by financial and longevity requirements.
usually struck from a specially prepared coin die on a
specially prepared planchet. Proofs are usually given
more than one blow from the dies and are usually struck
with presses operating at slower speeds and higher
striking pressure. Because of this extra care, Proofs
usually exhibit much sharper detail than regular, or
business, strikes. PCGS recognizes Proofs (PR) as those
struck in 1817 and later. Those coins struck prior to
1817 are recognized as Specimen strikes (SP).
set containing Proof issues from particular year. A few
sets contain anomalies such as the 1804 dollar and eagle
in 1834 presentation Proof sets.
Specially prepared dies, often sandblasted or
acid-picked, that are used to strike Proof coins. Often,
the fields are highly polished to a mirrorlike finish,
while the recessed areas are left “rough”; on coins
struck with such dies, the devices are frosted and
contrast with highly reflective fields. Matte, Roman,
and Satin Proof dies are not polished to a mirror-like
struck only in Proof, with no business-strike
designate a coin that has mirror-like surfaces, the term
especially applicable to Morgan dollars. Those Morgan
dollars that meet PCGS prooflike standards are
synonymous with pedigree.
rod with a device, lettering, date, star, or some other
symbol on the end which was sunk into a working die by
hammering on the opposite end of the rod.
applied to a roll of coins that is not original, usually
the best condition coins have been removed and replaced
with lesser quality coins. (It is not unusual to find
slightly circulated coins in such rolls.)
for polyvinyl chloride.
usually green, left on a coin after storage in flips
that contain PVC. During the early stage, this film may
be clear and sticky.
the various soft coin flips that contain PVC.
for a coin of the quarter dollar denomination.
terminology for a two-and-one-half dollar gold coin.
This denomination, two and one half dollars or one
fourth of an eagle, was first struck in 1796, struck
sporadically thereafter, and discontinued in 1929.
describe the color on a coin that may not be original.
After a coin is dipped or cleaned, any subsequent
toning, whether acquired naturally or induced
artificially, will look different than original toning.
PCGS will not grade coins with questionable color.
gold-plated 1883 No “CENTS” Liberty Head five-cent coin
(“V” nickel). The story goes that a deaf-mute
gold-plated these unfamiliar coins and would buy
something for a nickel or less. 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.)
for toning which is usually seen on silver dollars
stored in bags. The “colors of the rainbow” are
represented, stating with pale yellow, to green, to red,
to blue, and sometimes fading to black.
relative term indicating that a coin within a series is
very difficult to find. Also, a coin with only a few
examples known. A rare Lincoln cent may have thousands
known while a relatively common pattern may only have a
few dozen known.
number of specimens extant of any particular numismatic
item. This can be the total number of extant specimens
or the number of examples in a particular grade and
higher. (This is referred to as condition rarity.)
referring to a numerical-rating system such as the
Universal Rarity Scale.
Numismatic slang for a coin or other numismatic item
that has not been encapsulated by a grading service.
for the lines that represent sun rays on coins. First
used on Continental dollars and Fugio cents, they were
also used on some 1853-dated quarters and half dollars
as well as 1866 and some 1867 five-cent coins.
for red and brown or Red-Brown.
Numismatic slang for genuine coin.
term is used interchangeably with "repunched date." PCGS
prefers the term "repunched date" as it is more
accurate. See "repunched date" for a full definition.
used for a copper coin that still retains 95 percent or
more of its original mint bloom or color. PCGS allows
only slight mellowing of color for this designation
copper coin that has from 5 to 95 percent of its
original mint color remaining (RB).
issued in 1947, this yearly price guide has been the
“bible” of printed numismatic retail price guides.
for the grooved notches on the edge of some coins. These
were first imparted by the Mint’s edge machine, later in
the minting process by the use of close collars - these
sometimes called the third die or collar die.
or marks caused when the reeded edge of one coin hits
the surface of another coin. The contact may leave just
one mark or a series of staccato-like marks.
for the coins struck for commerce. These may be both
Regular and Proof strikes of a regular issue. In
addition, there can be die trials of regular issues.
denote coins struck with normal coining methods on
ordinarily prepared planchets. Synonymous with business
height of the devices of a particular coin design,
expressed in relation to the fields.
or reproduction, of a particular coin.
date was punched into the die and then punched in again
in a different position it is considered to be a
repunched date. A dramatic example of the repunched date
is the 1894/94 Indian cent, where the two dates are
clear, bold and well separated. Most repunched dates are
more subtle, such as the 1887/6 Morgan dollar. Such
coins as the 1909/8 $20 gold piece or the 1942/1 Mercury
dime are not repunched dates, but Doubled Dies, where
the changes were made to the working die from a
differently-dated working hub.
struck later than indicated by its date, often with
different dies. Occasionally, a different reverse design
is used, as in the case of restrike 1831 half cents made
with the reverse type used from 1840-1857.
used to describe a coin that has been dipped or cleaned
and then has reacquired color, whether naturally or
back, or tails side, of a coin. Usually opposite the
machine used by mints that screens out planchets of the
wrong size and shape prior to striking.
raised area around the edges of the obverse and reverse
of a coin. Pronounced rims resulted from the
introduction of the close collar, first used in 1828 for
Capped Bust dimes. (The Mint had experimented with
close-collar strikings as early as 1820.)
for rim nick.
for a mark or indentation on the rim of a coin or other
metallic numismatic item.
used to determine whether a coin was struck or is an
electrotype or cast copy. The coin in question is
balanced on a finger and gently tapped with a metal
object- a pen, another coin, and so on. Struck coins
have a high-pitched ring or tone, while electrotypes and
cast copies have little or none. This test is not
infallible; some struck coins do not ring because of
planchet defects such as cracks or gas occlusions; also,
some cast copies have been filled with glass (or other
substances) and do ring.
numismatic purchase that is bought substantially below
the price for which it can be resold.
number of coins “rolled up” in a coin wrapper. In old
times, a roll meant the coins were rolled up in a paper
wrapper, today they are likely to be slid into a plastic
coin tube. Groups of nineteenth century coins are
sometimes referred to as rolls when they exist in
sufficient quantities even when they might not have come
in rolls during their years of issue nor or are they
currently in a roll! (Cents are 50 to a roll, nickels 40
to a roll, dimes 50 to a roll, quarters 40 to a roll,
half dollars 20 to a roll, and dollars 20 to a roll.
Gold coins are sometimes seen in rolls but the number of
coins vary. Rolls of five dollar and twenty dollar coins
have been rolled 20, 40, and 50 to a roll – other
variations are certainly possible. Gold dollars, quarter
eagles, three-dollar coins, and eagles have also be seen
in rolls of varying quantities.)
displacement of metal, mainly on the high points, seen
on coins stored in rolls.
synonymous with rim (the raised edge around a coin).
This has become part of the vernacular because of the
Rolled Edge Indian Head eagle.
Rolled Edge Ten
name for the Indian Head eagle struck as a regular issue
with a mintage reported by some as 20,000, but according
to official Mint correspondence the figure was 31,550.
However, some have considered it a pattern because all
but 42 coins were reportedly melted. It is occasionally
seen circulated but the average coin is Mint State 63 or
describe the mostly parallel incuse lines seen on some
coins after striking. These were originally thought to
be lines resulting from debris “scoring” the metal
strips before the blanks were cut. However, new research
has pointed to the final step of strip preparation, the
draw bar. To reduce the strips to proper thickness, the
final step was to pass them through the draw bar. It
certainly seems logical that debris in the draw bar may
cause these lines, if so, then draw-bar marks or lines
would be a more appropriate term.
experimental Proof surface used mainly on U.S. gold
coins of 1909 and 1910. This is a hybrid surface with
more reflectivity than Matte surfaces but less than
brilliant Proofs. The surface is slightly scaly, similar
to that of Satin Proofs.
for a Pan-Pac commemorative fifty-dollar coin.
for slight wear, often referring just to the high points
or the fields.
Mintmark used by the San Francisco, California branch
for 1909-S VDB Lincoln Head cent.
applied to the coins struck at the San Francisco,
California branch Mint.
for Sacagawea Dollar.
Sacagawea dollar is a one dollar value circulating coin
that was introduced in the year 2000. It is also called
the "golden dollar" in the non-numismatic community
because of its color. The coin honors Sacagawea, a
Shoshone Indian woman who was a guide and interpreter
for the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804. Glenna
Goodacre designed the obverse of the coin and Thomas D.
Rogers created the reverse. Sacagawea dollars are struck
for circulation at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints,
while Proofs are struck in San Francisco.
for the Saint-Gaudens inspired double eagle struck from
1907 until 1933. (The 1933 issue is currently considered
illegal to own as the government insists that none of
this date were legally released.) This low relief copy
of the Extremely High Relief and High Relief designs was
the work of Chief Engraver Charles Barber.
name of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the preeminent sculptor
of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. At
the request of President Teddy Roosevelt, he redesigned
the eagle and double eagle in 1907 although he died
mid-production. Also, slang for the Liberty Head double
eagle or Saint.
deceptive term. Generally, a term to describe coins with
a finely pitted surface, however, recent discoveries of
coins that have been exposed to saltwater for over a
hundred years has made this term inaccurate, if not
obsolete. The sand, not the saltwater, likely does the
pitting on gold and silver coins in the ocean. A better
term for these coins would be sandblasted Uncs or
San Francisco Mint
United States branch Mint located in San Francisco,
California that struck coins from 1854 until 1955. After
closing as a Mint, it served as an assay office until it
reopened as a coinage facility in 1965. This facility
manufactures annual proof coin sets, manufactures silver
proof coin sets and manufactures commemorative coins.
This mint uses the “S” mintmark.
of the experimental Proof surfaces used on U.S. gold
coins after 1907. The dies were treated in some manner
to create the silky surfaces imparted to the coins.
silky luster seen on many business strike coins,
especially copper and nickel issues. Almost no
“cartwheel” effect is seen on coins with this type of
detracting line that is more severe than a hairline. The
size of a coin determines the point at which a line
ceases to be viewed as a hairline and instead is
regarded a scratch; the larger the coin, the greater the
tolerance. A heavy scratch may result in a coin not
being graded by PCGS.
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. When weighted arms attached to the rod were
rotated, the screw mechanism quickly moved the rod with
the die downward, striking the planchet placed into the
lower die. The struck coin then was ejected and the
process was repeated.
for small date.
sea salvage coin
retrieved from the ocean, usually from a ship wreck. The
conception that these coin will have pitted surface has
been exploded by the recent Brother Jonathon and Central
America recoveries. These coins do not have pitted
surfaces! The action of the shifting tides evidently
causes sand to “blast” the surface of some coins, while
others protected from this action retain nearly intact
for Liberty Seated.
commonly used for Liberty Seated coinage.
toning, natural or artificial, that results after a coin
is dipped or cleaned. This second toning is seldom as
attractive as original toning, although some coins
“take” second toning better than others.
profit generated from the printing or coining of
currency. This word also has many other related
meanings, most often associated with taxes created
denote coins that are neither scarce nor common. An
example would be Uncirculated 1903 Morgan dollars.
indicating a coin that has a significant bullion value
and some numismatic value. The most recognized examples
are Liberty Head and Saint-Gaudens double eagles.
used to describe a coin that has some mirror-like
surface mixed with satin or frosty luster. Reflectivity
is obscured on such a specimen, unlike the reflectivity
on prooflike and deep mirror prooflike coins.
particular design or motif used over a period of time.
This can used for a single denomination, or in some
cases, used for several denominations. The Liberty
Seated series encompasses five denominations, the Barber
series three, etc.
indicating a collection of coins in a series, a
collection of types, or a collection from a particular
Mint. Examples include a complete series set (Lincoln
cents from 1909 to date); a type set of gold coins (8 or
12 piece sets are the most common); a set of branch mint
quarter eagles (Dahlonega quarter eagles from 1838 to
of registered PCGS graded sets of coins. These include
Morgan dollar sets, Proof Barber quarter sets, Mercury
dime sets, etc.
Specifically, Dr. William Sheldon who wrote the seminal
work on 1793 to 1814 large cents.
large cent book, first published in 1949 as Early
American Cents with only Dr. Sheldon listed, updated in
1958 with Walter Breen and Dorothy Paschal also listed
as authors with the new name, Penny Whimsy.
reference number for 1793 to 1814 large cents per the
Sheldon books, Early American Cents and Penny Whimsy.
When certain Sheldon numbers are mentioned among large
cent aficionados, an immediate hush is observed until
all the facts of that particular specimen are
rarity scale introduced in 1949 in Early American Cents.
emblem used on certain issues that has horizontal and
vertical lines in a shield shape. These are first found
in the center of the heraldic eagle and on each
succeeding eagle until the end of the Barber quarter
series in 1916. They shield as a single motif first
appeared on the two-cent coins of 1864, later also used
on the nickels of 1866. Starting in 1860, Indian Head
cents used the shield motif at the top of the wreath on
name for the Shield five-cent coin struck from 1866
until 1883. The 1866 and some 1867 coins have rays
between the stars on the reverse and are referred to as
Rays type (or With Rays type). Those 1867 through 1883
coins without the rays are called No Rays type.
on Matte, Roman, and Satin Proofs where the surface has
been disturbed. On brilliant Proofs, dull spots appear
where there are disturbances; on textured-surface coins
such as Matte, Roman, and Satin Proofs, these
disturbances create “shiny” spots.
term has two definitions. The first refers to rolls of
coins that contain double the normal amount of coins in
a roll. For instance, a shotgun roll of silver dollars
contains 40 coins. The name derives from the length of
the rolls being similar to the length of a shotgun
shell. These double rolls were common and popular during
the great roll boom of the 1960s. The second definition
of "shotgun roll" refers to a paper-wrapped roll that is
machine-crimped like the end of a shotgun shell.
term for a bourse or coin show. Example: the ANA show
to indicate that the buyer of a particular numismatic
item in a particular grade wants to view the coin before
he buys it. He may have a customer who wants an untoned
coin – or a toned coin, or some other specific
to indicate that the buyer of a particular numismatic
item in a particular grade will pay a certain price
without examining the item.
indicate coins struck in silver (generally 90% silver
and 10% copper but there are a few exceptions).
for silver commemorative coins.
Originally, those commemorative coins struck from 1892
until 1954, although not in every year. These are all
struck in 90% silver and 10% copper alloy. Of course,
those post-1982 silver commemorative issues also could
technically be so called.
of the one dollar denomination that is struck in a
composition of 90% silver (or so) and 10% copper. The
silver dollar was introduced in 1794 and was issued for
circulation in intermittent years through 1935. The most
frequently seen silver dollars are the Morgan design
(1878-1921) and the Peace design (1921-35). These coins
remained in circulation until the 1960s, mostly in the
western US. Modern dollar coins are sometimes called
"silver dollars" as well, even though the pieces struck
for circulation contain no silver.
for Wartime nickel.
certain early American coins, a silver plug was inserted
into a hole in the center of the coin, which was then
flattened out when the coin was struck. The purpose of
the plug was to add weight or value to the coin to bring
it into proper specifications. Examples include the 1792
Silver-Center Cent, a Specimen 1794 Silver Dollar, and
several varieties of 1795 Silver Dollars.
indicate a Kennedy half dollar struck from 1965 to 1970,
whose overall content is 40 percent silver and 60
percent copper. These are commonly referred to as
silver-clad halves because two outer layers containing
primarily silver (80%) are bonded to a core made
primarily of copper (79%).
lines representing the folds on Miss Liberty’s flowing
gown on Walking Liberty half dollars. The early issues
(1916-1918 and some coins through the entire series) are
particularly weak in this feature. Well struck coins
with full skirt lines often bring substantial premiums
over those that are weakly struck.
for small letters.
Numismatic slang for the holder in which a coin is
encapsulated by a grading service. The coin contained
therein is said to be slabbed.
process of sending a coin to a third-party grading
service to have it authenticated, graded, and
encapsulated in a sonically sealed holder.
used to describe an AU coin that looks, or can be sold
as, Uncirculated. Occasionally used as a reference to
another grade; a slider EF coin, for example, would be a
VF/EF coin that is nearly EF.
for the octagonal and round fifty-dollar gold coins
struck during the California gold rush. Allegedly, their
name came from the fact that criminals used the
two-and-one-half ounce coins wrapped in a handkerchief
and slugged their victims on the head with this
“weapon.” This could be a myth, as their massive size
also could be construed to be a “slug” of gold. The 1915
Pan-Pac fifty-dollar commemorative issues are also
referred to a slugs.
cents of reduced size, replacing the large cent in 1857.
The 1856 small cents technically are patterns, but have
been so widely collected with the regular issues that
their acceptance is universal.
referring to the size of the digits of the date on a
coin. (Use of this term implies that a large or medium
date exists for that coin or series.)
plain eagle on a perch first used on the 1794 half dime
and half dollar, although the 1795 half eagle is the
first coin to use the term to denote a type coin.
referring to the size of the lettering of the date on a
coin. (Use of this term implies that large or medium
letters exist for that coin or series.)
short name for the particular variety of two-cent coin
of 1864 with small letters in the motto. The inscription
“IN GOD WE TRUST” was first used as a motto on the
two-cent coinage of 1864.
referring to the particular diameter of a coin in a
series. (Use of this term implies that there is a large
size or diameter with the same motif. Examples are the
Large and Small size Capped Bust quarters.)
for Special Mint Set
for Specimen Strike.
made by an electrolytic deposition method. The surfaces
of such a die are very rough, so they usually are
extensively polished to remove the “pimples.” The
recessed areas of the die, and the relief areas of any
coin struck with the die, still have rustlike surfaces
with tiny micro pimples.
made from spark-erosion dies. These are characterized by
the telltale “pimples” noted mainly on the areas in
Special Mint 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 as part of the U.S. Mint’s
efforts to stop coin hoarding. The quality of many of
the 1965 coins was not much better than that of business
strikes-but by 1967, some Special Mint Set (SMS) coins
resembled Proofs. In fact, the government admitted as
much when it revealed how the 1967 issues were struck.
In 1968, Proof coinage resume. There have been similar
issues since; the 1994 and 1997 Matte-finish Jefferson
nickels, for example, are frosted SMS-type coins. There
also are a few known 1964 SMS coins, these likely struck
as tests in late 1964 for the new 1965 SMS strikings.
used to indicate special coins struck at the Mint from
1792-1816 that display many characteristics of the later
Proof coinage. Prior to 1817, the minting equipment and
technology was limited, so these coins do not have the
“watery” surfaces of later Proofs nor the evenness of
strike of the close collar Proofs. PCGS designates these
that is uneven, both in shade and composition.
discolored area on a coin. This can be a small dot of
copper staining on a gold coin or a large, dark “tar”
spot on a copper coin. The spot(s) can have a small or
large effect on the grade of a coin depending on the
severity, size, placement, number, and so on.
for Augustus Saint-Gaudens or slang for the Standing
Liberty double eagle or Saint.
official composition of U.S. silver coinage, set by the
Mint Act of 1792 at approximately 89 percent silver and
11 percent copper, later changed to 90 percent silver
and 10 percent copper-the composition seen in most U.S.
with Miss Liberty in a upright front-facing position.
The design was used in 1907 on the Saint-Gaudens double
eagles and later on the Hermon A. MacNeil quarter first
struck in 1917.
Standing Liberty quarter
name of the Hermon MacNeil designed quarter dollar
struck from 1917 until 1930.
on a coin resulting from its improper removal from a
holder, usually one of the two-by-two inch cardboard
type. Staples should be completely removed from any
holder before the coin is removed!
for the five-pointed and six-pointed devices used on
many U.S. coins. On the earliest U.S. coins, thirteen
stars were depicted, representing the thirteen original
colonies/states. As new states were admitted into the
Union, more stars were added; up to sixteen appeared on
some coins. Adding stars for each state was impractical,
however, so the number was reduced to the original
thirteen. Exception include the forty-six stars, later
forty-eight stars, around the periphery of Saint-Gaudens
double eagles, reflecting the number of states in the
Union at the time those coins were issued. Also, as a
single motif, the star was used on the obverse of the
three-cent silver issue from 1851 until 1873.
the 1999 and later Washington quarters struck with
unique reverse designs for each state, issued in the
order of admittance to the United States. (The order for
the original 13 colonies was determined by the date
which each state ratified the Constitution.)
coining press driven by a steam-powered engine. This
type of press, more powerful than its predecessors, was
installed in the United States Mint in 1836, replacing
the hand and horse-powered screw presses except for most
Proof strikings and die hubbing.
name for the 1943 cents (and certain 1944 cents struck
on left-over steel blanks) struck in steel and plated
for 1943 steel cents.
applied to the experimental four-dollar gold coins
struck by the U.S. Mint in 1879-1880. So named for the
large star on the coins’ reverse.
Sterling silver is a composition of 925 parts pure
silver with 75 parts of copper. This is usually defined
as .925 fine silver. Sterling silver is used to make
jewelry and some household items, most notably
silverware (knives, forks, etc.).
counterfeit edge collar used for various-dated fakes.
These have the same repeating characteristics.
Merchant tokens, usually composed of copper, which
helped alleviate the small change shortage during the
nineteenth century. These were widely accepted in their
Alternate form of “flow lines.”
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 criss-cross lines. Planchet striations are
burnishing lines not struck away by the minting process
and are incuse on the coins.
strike – n.
indicate the completeness, or incompleteness, of a
coin’s intended detail. v. The act of minting a coin.
flat metal, rolled to proper thickness, from which
planchets are cut.
used to describe a coin produced from dies and a coining
replica of a particular coin made from dies not
necessarily meant to deceive.
coin produced from false dies.
error caused by a foreign object that got between the
dies and the planchet when a coin was struck. A common
Struck Thru error is a piece of wire that leaves an
indentation that is usually mistaken for a scratch.
buyer of a particular lot from an auction, whether it is
a mail-bid, internet, or a “normal” in-person auction.
condition of the surface of a coin. On weakly struck
coins, this is a better indicator grade than is the
entire obverse and reverse of a coin, although often
used to mean just the field areas.
procedure in which coins are placed in a bag and shaken
vigorously to knock off small pieces of metal. Later
these bits of metal are gathered and sold, producing a
profit as the coins are returned to circulation at face
value. Mainly employed with gold coins, leaving their
surfaces peppered with tiny nicks.
describe the toning often seen on commemorative coins
which were sold in cardboard holders with a round tab.
Coins toned in these holders have a circle in the center
and are said to have tab toning.
used for coins with circles of color, similar to an
archery target, with deeper colors on the periphery
often fading to white or cream color at the center.
for J-1776, the unique gold striking of the 1907 Indian
Head double eagle. This was the first design submitted
by Augustus Saint-Gaudens at the personal request of
then President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. He had
requested that the famous sculptor revamp the “mundane”
United States coinage along classical Greek and Roman
merchant who sells coins over the telephone. These firms
often employ numerous salespersons who usually work from
of coins in which the bids are placed via telephone.
This may be accomplished by punching the buttons on a
touch-tone phone to indicate the auction, lot number,
and bid or by verbal confirmation with an employee of
the auction firm.
for an eagle or ten-dollar gold coin.
name for an Indian Head eagle.
name for a Liberty Head eagle.
small, direct light source used by many numismatists to
examine and grade coins.
coins and bars privately struck during the various gold
rushes. These include coins not struck in territories.
(Georgia and North Carolina were states when Templeton
Reid and the Bechtlers struck their coins, but the term
is applied to these issues. California also was a state
when most issuers struck their coins.)
Germanic spelling of the silver-dollar size coins from
Europe. Our word dollar derives from this word.
periodical of the American Numismatic Association.
name for the Indian Head three-dollar gold coin.
Three Cent Nickel
copper and 25% nickel three-cent coins with Liberty Head
motif struck from 1865 to 1889. The design by James
Longacre was copied from the Liberty Head motif by
Three Cent Silver
three-cent coin with a star motif struck in silver
alloy. (The first type of the series was the first
United States regular issue struck in debased silver –
75% silver and 25% copper. The other two types were
struck in the normal 90% silver and 10% copper alloy.)
used to describe a coin that has been doctored in a
specific way to cover marks, hairlines, or other
disturbances. Often associated with silver dollars, it
actually is used on many issues, mainly business
strikes. The thumb is rubbed lightly over the
disturbances, and the oils in the skin help to disguise
often vibrant, acquired by coins stored in original Mint
paper. Originally, this was fairly heavy paper; later,
very delicate tissue. Sometime during the nineteenth
century, the Mint began wrapping Proof coins, and
occasionally business strikes, in this paper. The paper
contained sulfur; as a result, the coins stored in it
for long periods of time acquired blues, reds, yellows,
and other attractive colors.
substitute for a coin. These have been issued in the
past and are still currently issued in huge quantities.
Older ones generally were issued by stores and may not
have been accepted at other establishments. The same is
true today for most tokens, such as the gaming tokens
issued by casinos, these being valid only at that
particular establishment (or other casinos affiliated
with the same owners).
term for the color seen on many coins. There are
infinite shades, hues, and pattern variations seen, the
result of how, where, and how long a coin is stored.
Every coin begins to tone as it leaves the die, as all
United States coins contain reactive metals in varying
usually small and fine, found on both genuine and
counterfeit coins. On genuine coins, such lines result
when Mint workmen touch up dies to remove remnants of an
overdate or other unwanted area. On counterfeits, they
often appear in areas where the die was flawed and the
counterfeiter has attempted to “fix” the problem.
term means the same as "Pop-top." It refers to a coin
that is at the TOP of the POPulation Report (in other
words, the finest graded).
silver coin, issued from 1873 until 1885, slightly
heavier than the regular silver dollar and specifically
intended to facilitate trade in the Far East-hence its
name. Trade dollars were made with this marginally
higher silver content than standard silver dollars in an
effort to gain acceptance for them in commerce
throughout the world.
created by sacrificing a coin for a model.
for transitional issue.
struck after a series ends, such as the 1866 No Motto
issues. A coin struck before a series starts, such as
the 1865 Motto issues. A coin struck with either the
obverse or the reverse of a discontinued series, an
example being the 1860 half dime With Stars. A coin
struck with the obverse or reverse of a yet-to-be-issued
series, an example being the 1859 Stars half dime with
the Legend-type reverse.
known to have come a shipwreck or from a buried or
trial strike or striking
used for a three-cent piece.
method of weighing gold and silver and the coins made
from those metals. There are 480 grains (or 20
pennyweights) in a troy ounce. There are twelve troy
ounces in a troy pound.
Synonymous With Draped Bust.
term for double eagle or twenty-dollar gold coin.
name for Liberty Head double eagle or twenty-dollar gold
Two and a Half
name for a quarter eagle or two-and-one-half dollar gold
commonly used for the Shield two-cent coin struck from
1864 until 1873. This James Longacre designed coin was
the first to feature a shield as a stand-alone motif.
variation in design, size, or metallic content of a
specific coin design. Examples include the Small and
Heraldic Eagle types of Draped Bust coinage, Large-Size
and Small-Size Capped Bust quarters, and the 1943
Lincoln cent struck in zinc-coated steel.
representative coin, usually a common date, from a
particular issue of a specific design, size, or metallic
for any coin from the first Type within a Series.
Type One Buffalo
1913-dated Indian Head five-cent coin with the reverse
buffalo (bison) on a raised mound.
Type One gold dollar
Liberty Head design gold dollar struck from 1849 until
mid-1854 in Philadelphia and for the full year in
Dahlonega and San Francisco.
Type One nickel
Jefferson Head five-cent coin struck from 1938 until
mid-1942 and from 1946 until the present day.
Type One quarter
Standing Liberty quarter struck from 1916 to mid-1917.
This design features a bare-breasted Miss Liberty, a
simple head detail, and no stars under the reverse
Type One twenty
Liberty Head double eagles struck from 1850 until
mid-1866. These coins did not have a motto on the
reverse and had “TWENTY D.” for the denomination.
for any coin from the third Type within a Series.
Type Three gold dollar
Small Indian Head design struck from 1856 until the
series ended in 1889. San Francisco did not receive the
Type Three dies in time to strike the new design in
1856, those coins from that Mint being the Type Two
Type Three twenty
Liberty Head double eagles struck from 1877 until the
series ended in 1907. These coins have the motto “IN GOD
WE TRUST” on the reverse and had “TWENTY DOLLARS” for
for any coin from the second Type within a Series.
Type Two Buffalo
Indian Head nickel with the reverse buffalo (bison) on
level ground. These were struck from mid-1913 until the
series ended in 1938.
Type Two gold dollar
Large Indian Head design gold dollar struck from
mid-1854 until 1855 in Philadelphia, Charlotte,
Dahlonega, and New Orleans while San Francisco did not
receive the new dies before the end of 1856 and struck
Type Two coins during that year.
Type Two nickel
Jefferson Head five-cent coin struck from mid-1942 until
1945. These are designated by a large mintmark above
Monticello on the reverse and are composed of silver,
manganese, and copper. These are the first U.S. coins to
have a “P” mintmark to indicate their being struck at
the Philadelphia Mint.
Type Two quarter
Standing Liberty quarter struck from mid-1917 until the
end of the series in 1930. This design features a
covered-breast Miss Liberty, a more intricate head
design, and three stars under the reverse eagle.
Type Two twenty
Liberty Head double eagles struck from mid-1866 until
1876. These coins have the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” on
the reverse and had “TWENTY DOL.” for the denomination.
Ultra High Relief
Alternate name for the Extremely High Relief.
used for a coin or other numismatic item that is
represented by only a few examples.
indicate a coin or numismatic item that has never been
in circulation, a coin without wear. See “Brilliant
Uncirculated,” “Mint State,” and “new.”
individual or entity that executed the bid preceding the
winning bid. Close, but no cigar.
Universal Rarity Scale
collectibles rarity information scale developed in 1998
by 21 major collectibles experts in order to both define
rarity within their individual markets and allow
collectors and dealers from different collectibles
markets to more easily communicate with one another. The
Universal Rarity Scale is a 10 point scale. The least
rare collectible items are those where more than 10,000
examples are estimated to exist. These items are
designated “UR1” and are described as “readily
available.” The rarest items are those where only one
example is known to exist. These rarities are designated
“UR10” and are described as “unique.”
machine that raises the outer rim on a planchet prior to
striking. Upsetting ensures that the rims are properly
formed during striking.
for Universal Rarity Scale.
describe a coin that has light to heavy wear or
name for the Liberty Head five-cent coins struck from
1883 through 1912. (The 1913 was struck clandestinely
and is not listed in Mint reports.)
number assigned to each die combination of Morgan and
Peace dollar known to the authors of The Complete
Catalog and Encyclopedia of United States Morgan and
Peace Silver Dollars. Called VAM because of the authors
Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis.
Morgan and Peace dollar variety book authors. First
published in 1971, it was updated and reprinted in 1998.
of the same date and basic design as another but with
slight differences. PCGS recognizes all major varieties
while there are thousands of minor varieties, most of
which have significance only to specialists of the
particular series. After hubbed dies, introduced in the
1840s, varieties are mainly variations in date and
mintmark size and placement.
for 1909 VDB Lincoln Head cent. Controversy arose over
having a non-Mint engraver’s initials on a coin, so
Victor D. Brenner’s initials were removed. This was
likely a jealous complaint from the Chief Engraver
Charles Barber as the tiny B on the Barber series had
generated no outcry. This is a similar situation to the
complaint lodged, again probably by the Chief Engraver
of the time William Kneass, against the name-below-base
Gobrecht dollars. This overt signing was moved to a less
obvious position on the base of the rock of the Gobrecht
dollar while, in 1918, the VDB was returned to the
Lincoln Head cent albeit in a less conspicuous place on
the slanted area at the bottom of Lincoln’s shoulder.
grader at PCGS who looks at graded coins and decides
whether the indicated grade is correct. He may tag a
coin to be looked at again by the graders.
term corresponding to the grades VF-20, 25, 30, and 35.
This has the broadest range of any circulated grade,
with nearly full detail on some VF-35 coins and less
than half on some VF-20 specimens.
term corresponding to the grades VG-8 and VG-10. In
these grades, between Good and Fine, a coin has slightly
more detail than in Good, usually with full rims except
on certain series such as Buffalo nickels.
vest pocket dealer
part-time coin merchant. The term originated with those
individuals who roamed the bourse floor ready to whip
out of their vests a small plastic coin binder
containing coins in two-by-two cardboard holders. Today,
not one-in-a-thousand individuals wears a vest, but the
for "Very Fine" (the grade) and "20" (the numerical
designation of the grade). Wing feathers show most of
their detail, lettering is readable but sometimes
indistinct and some minor detail is sometimes separate
but usually blended.
for "Very Fine" (the grade) and "25" (the numerical
designation of the grade). In this grade about 60% of
the original detail is evident, with the major devices
being clear and distinct.
for "Very Fine" (the grade) and "30" (the numerical
designation of the grade). The devices are sharp with
only a small amount of blending. Up to 75% of the
original detail is evident.
for "Very Fine" (the grade) and "35" (the numerical
designation of the grade). This grade used to be called
VF/EF (or VF/XF) before numerical grading was accepted
throughout the hobby. Devices are sharp and clear and up
to 80% of the detail is in evidence.
for "Very Good" (the grade) and "10" (the numerical
designation of the grade). A higher grade (less worn)
than the VG-8 coin. Design detail is still heavily worn
but the major devices and lettering are clear.
for "Very Good" (the grade) and "8" (the numerical
designation of the grade). A slight amount of design
detail is still showing on the coin, such as a couple of
letters in the word LIBERTY.
Mintmark used by the West Point, New York branch mint.
applied to the coins struck at the West Point, New York
for a Walking Liberty half dollar.
name for a Walking Liberty half dollar.
Walking Liberty half dollar
half dollars struck from 1916 until 1947. The Walking
Liberty design by A.A. Weinman undoubtedly was inspired
by the popular Saint-Gaudens/Charles Barber Liberty
Standing double eagle then current.
for Wartime nickel.
five-cent coins struck during World War II comprised of
35% silver, 9% manganese, and 56% copper. Tradition has
been that nickel was needed for the war effort, hence
the metallic change. However, recent research has shown
that the boost to morale by having an intrinsic-value
small denomination coin may have played an important
part in the issuance of the Wartime nickel.
for Washington quarter dollar.
Washington quarter dollar
John Flanagan designed quarter dollar first struck in
1932 as a circulating commemorative coin. (This was to
celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of George
Washington’s birth.) It became a continuing series in
1934 and has been struck every year to 1998, albeit with
a different reverse in 1976. In 1999, the obverse was
redesigned and the State quarter series began to be
struck. Each of the 50 State quarters will have a
different reverse design with 5 new issues per year for
seen on the surfaces of most close-collar Proof coins.
Highly polished planchets and dies give the surfaces an
almost “wavy” look-hence the term.
Weak Edge Lettering
Indicates the edge lettering is weaker than normal and
has a portion of a letter/star or inscription missing.
The missing part could be the serif of an "S" or "T" or
part of a star. Note: This variety will not be
recognized if part of the edge design was caused by
damage. This variety will also not be recognized if the
overall strength of the edge lettering is strong and the
missing element is caused by a die chip.
used to describe a coin that does not show intended
detail because of improper striking pressure or
improperly aligned dies.
individual who is obsessed with a particular series or
group of series. Examples are copper weenies, bust half
West Point Mint
West Point Mint was originally opened in 1937 as a
bullion depository and was officially designated by
Congress as a Mint on March 31, 1988. This mint
manufactures American Eagle uncirculated and proof
coins, manufactures all sizes of the proof and
uncirculated silver, gold and platinum American Eagle
coins, manufactures commemorative coins that Congress
mandates, and stores platinum, gold and silver bullion.
This mint uses the “W” mintmark.
Synonymous with “counting machine mark.”
describe the process of mechanically moving the metal of
a lightly circulated coin to simulate luster. Usually
accomplished by using a wire brush attachment on a
thin, knife-like projection seen on some rims created
when metal flows between the collar and the dies. Also,
slang for the Wire Edge Indian Head eagle of 1907.
Wire Edge eagle
1907 Indian Head eagle for which only 500 coins were
struck. Technically, a pattern, this design featured a
fine wire rim and surfaces unlike any other United
States issue. The fields and the devices of the die were
heavily polished leaving myriad die striations that
transferred to the struck coins. With a combination of
satiny and striated surfaces, these rare coins have a
look of their own. Often, unknowledgeable numismatists
will look at one of these specimens and declare it
hairlined or harshly cleaned.
Wire Edge Ten
name for the 1907-dated Wire Edge Indian Head eagle.
Alternate form of wire edge.
Alternate form of arrows at date.
arrows and rays
Alternate form of arrows and rays.
Alternate form of motto.
Alternate for of rays.
for a coin whose condition is particularly superb.
prepared from a working hub and used to strike coins.
created from a master die and used to create the many
working dies required for coinage.
applied to coins from countries other than the United
that has lost detail from extended use. Dies were often
used until they wore out or were excessively cracked or
broke apart. Coins struck from worn dies often appear to
be weakly struck but no amount of striking pressure will
produce detail that does not exist.
name for the second large cent type of 1793. Complaints
about the Chain cent led to the redesign resulting in
the Flowing Hair with wreath reverse type.
1921 Morgan dollars specially struck for numismatist and
Mint friend Farran Zerbe. These Proofs are not of the
same quality as the other Proof Morgan dollars. The
devices on these specimens usually are not frosted while
the fields lack the depth of mirror normally associated
with Proofs. In fact, the fields are characterized by
heavy die polish, the planchets likely not burnished
Philadelphia and San Francisco examples are known.)