Acid date

A coin, usually a Buffalo Nickel, which had an unreadable worn off date until acid was applied to make the date readable. A dark patch will be visible in the area.


Alloy

A mixture of two or more elements to form a compound. For example, gold is typically mixed with copper and/or silver to increase hardness or make a product more affordable. Some alloys have names such as bronze (copper and tin).


Ancients

Generally referring to coins produced 500 A.D. or before.


Assay

The process of determining (usually melting) the purity of one of more metals in an alloy.


Bag Marks

Surface marks or nicks on a coin from contact with other coins in a mint bag. Also called “contact marks.” These generally don’t devalue a coin as much as circulation scratches.


Bullion

Precious metals (gold, silver, platinum family) in the form of bars, ingots, and rounds. Also used to refer to items such as “90% silver coins” valued for metal.


Business vs. Proof Strike

A coin struck for general circulation (spending) vs. a specially produced and polished collector coin.


Cartwheel

The pattern of light reflected by flow lines of mint state coins, resembling spokes of a wheel when the coin is tilted and rotated. Term also refers to U.S. Silver Dollars in general.


Certified Coins

A coin authenticated and graded by a professional service such as NGC, PCGS, ANACS, or ICG. These coins are sealed in tamper-evident “slabs” after certified.


Circulated

Denotes money that is no longer in mint state due to handling and exchange.


Clad

Composed of more than one material / layer such as modern copper-nickel U.S. dimes, quarters, and halves.


Clipped

A coin with metal missing from the mintage process, usually a curved void.


Commemorative

A coin with a design honoring or as a reminder of a specific person, place or event. Commemorative coins are usually produced in limited quantities for a short period of time. Most U.S. made commemoratives use the specifications for the older 90% silver half dollars.


Common Date Coin

A coin from any particular series that is not rare due to low mintage, errors, or other attributes that significantly increase value.


Cull

A coin that extremely worn and/or damaged. Normally no grade assigned.


Die

Metal piece engraved with the design used for stamping a coin. Various attributes such as defects and cracks can affect the value of the coin.


Doubled Die

Usually referring to the coin struck by a die that has misaligned words, dates or other features.


Eagle (USA)

United States $10 gold coins minted from 1795 – 1933. Also come in fractions Quarter Eagle $2 ½, Half Eagle $5, as well as Double Eagles $20. Also modern bullion coins (gold, silver, & platinum) minted from 1986 to present.


Error

Any unintentional deviation in a coin resulting from the minting process.


Exonumia

Tokens, medals and other non-monetary coin-like objects.


Face Value

The value that is written on coins, currency and bullion. A collectable coin or note is usually worth many times its face value.


Flow Lines

Microscopic lines in the surface of a coin resulting from the outward flow of metal during striking at the mint.


Fractional Currency

Paper money with a face value of less than one dollar. Typically produced in the 1800’s when metals were scarce due to war.


Greysheet

The weekly Coin Dealer Newsletter produced by the ANA to serve as a market update to popular coin books.


Hairlines

Light scratches in the surface of a coin.


Ingot

Mass (usually bar) of pure metal marked with purity and weight and possible other images and text. Sometimes to commemorate holidays, companies, etc.


Key Date

The scarcest of the coins in a series such as the 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent or the 1916-D Mercury Dime. Low mintage and therefore expensive coins.


Large Cent

U.S. Cents produced from 1793 to 1857, composed primarily of copper and larger in diameter that the current U.S. quarter.


Luster

The brilliance of a coin, resulting from the reflection of light off die flow lines.


Medal

A coin-like object struck to honor persons or events via its design.


Melt Value

The worth of precious metals in a coin determined my multiplying the amount of metal it contains by the spot price of the metal.


Mint Set

A specially packaged group of uncirculated coins, one of each denomination and from one or more mint sites of a country.


Mint State

In the same condition as when delivered from the mint; uncirculated, toning ok.


Mintage

The quantity of a denomination of coins produced at a mint during a year.


Mintmark

A letter or symbol designating the mint which produced the coin bearing it. The absence of a mintmark on a U.S. coin typically implies the default mint – Philadelphia. Mintmarks may be on various locations on the obverse or reverse.


Numismatics

The collection and study of coins, tokens, medals, paper money and other objects exchanged for goods in services in the U.S. or any civilization.


Numismatist

A person who collects and/or studies numismatic items.


Obverse

The front or “heads” side of a coin, often bearing a portrait and date.


Patina

A thin layer of naturally oxidized metal on the surface of a coin acquired with age.


Planchet

A piece of metal prepared for coinage with raised rims but un-struck.


Platinum Family Metals

Metals from the Platinum family considered precious for their use in numismatics, jewelry, and general industry; namely Platinum, Palladium, and Rhodium.


Prestige Set

A special U.S. Proof Set containing one or more proof commemorative coins.


Proof Set

A specially packaged group of coins containing a proof version of each denomination. Silver Proof Sets also exist that have silver versions of dimes+


Rarity Scale

A system for designating the relative number of specimens known to exist. Sheldon’s Scale ranks items R1 to R8 with the higher number more rare. The Universal Rarity Scale (Q. David Bowers) is the opposite, however, where the lower number is more rare (used for Civil War Tokens).


Red Book

A Guide Book of U.S. Coins, a retail price guide for U.S. coin published annually, originally written by R.S. Yeoman. A Blue Book of U.S. Coins exists which more accurately lists prices that dealers will pay.


Reverse

The back or “tails” side of the coin.


Spot Price

The market price of precious metals, often expressed in a lower or “bid” and a higher or “ask” price. The difference between the prices is called the “spread”.


Spot Price

Quoted market value of one troy ounce of a precious metal in bullion form.


Spread

The price difference between the bid and ask price of a precious metal. Large dealers use these prices at the wholesale level to determine what they are willing to buy or sell a product for.


Strike

The process of a die hitting a blank and producing a coin. Also refers to the characteristics of the strike details such as “weak” or “high relief.”


Token

A coin-like object that is redeemed for a particular product or service. Some of the most desirable tokens are Civil War Tokens (CWT) produced during the coin shortages of the Civil War. CWTs are ranked on a rarity scale of R1 to R8.


Type Set

One of each coin of a particular design, series, or period (such as a Year Set).


Uncirculated

Never circulated and without any wear.


Variety

Any coin struck from a die pair that differs from others with the same date and mintmark. May be doubling or different style letter or numerals for instance.


Wear

Metal lost during handling and contact with other coins or objects.


Whizzing

Polishing of a coin (usually mechanical) to restore shine.

Glossary

Glossary

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