The rare coin market, like any specialized field, has its own terms and slang. This glossary is a comprehensive list of terms and slang that you may encounter in your collecting pursuits. This list was compiled using several reference works and the experience of our numismatists. Click on one of the letters below to go to a specific letter.
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Short for early American coppers.
A)$10 Gold pieces - usually pre-1907 issues. See also: DOUBLE EAGLES. B) Nickname for the gold, silver and platinum BULLION program of the United States Mint.
The third side of a coin. It may be plain, reeded, or ornamented – with lettering or other elements raised or incuse.
A group 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.
EF / Extremely Fine
Also sometimes referred to as XF. A grade given to coins which show light traces of wear throughout but features are still sharp and well-defined. Traces of luster may also show. On the SHELDON SCALE, a grade of EF translates to a numerical grade between 40-45.
Short 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.
Refers to the grading service's practice of placing a certified coin in a sealed plastic holder. Once encapsulated, the coin is protected and bears the certified grade, guarantees, etc. before being returned to the submitter.
Engraving / Engraver
The person responsible for the design and/or punches used for a particular numismatic item.
An alteration of the coin caused by exposure to a corrosive chemical, gas or substance which has pitted, abraded or altered the coins surface, but, unlike in CLEANING, unintentionally. Most environmentally damaged coins will not be ENCAPSULATED by the major grading services.
Refers to a coin which was minted not as it was intended due to some aberration during the minting process. The error may be the result of a PLANCHET, DIE or STRIKING abnormality.
The element of a coin's grade that "grabs" the viewer. The overall look of a coin.
The last five issues in the $20 Saint Gaudens series (1929, 1930-S, 1931, 1931-D & 1932) which are all extremely scarce and valuable.
Exchange value defined by some inscription on a coin (mark of value). For example, the "face value" of a Walking Liberty Half is fifty-cents. Could also refer to the nominal value based on a weight standard.
Coin passing as a 1/4 penny (1/48 shilling). Farthings stopped circulating in the American colonies after the Revolution.
Early-mid 1800's private coiner, Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger, introduced and tried to convince Congress to adopt an ALLOY he concocted called "German silver" which was essentially a white alloy of copper, nickel, zinc, tin and antimony to replace or nation's silver coinage. Tokens of his coins are very collectible.
Coins and paper money that do not have metal value or are not backed up by metal value.
Old numismatic term for a MINT-ERROR. Specifically, it is an acronym for Freaks, Imperfections, Defects & Oddities.
The area of a coin in between the devices and/or lettering. The flat, open areas.
A grading term indicating moderate to considerable wear. Otherwise bold with overall pleasing appearance. On the SHELDON SCALE, it corresponds to a numerical grade between 10-15.
The amount of PRECIOUS METAL in an ALLOY. For example, the Morgan silver dollar is 900 Fine = 90% silver.
The highest graded example of a particular numismatic item. Also know as Top Pop.
Usually Refers to a coin's luster and eye-appeal (i.e. "that blazing-white silver dollar sure has a lot of flash"). See also: BLAZER, LUSTER
The design attributed to Mint engraver Robert Scot that features Miss Liberty with long, flowing hair.
Refers to the clear, soft plastic holder that most RAW coins are stored in.
The area of a coin to which a viewer's eye is drawn. This is generally the center of a coin’s design. An example is the cheek of a Morgan dollar
Fraudulent imitation. Not a genuine US Mint coin.
1) Spanish small silver coins reckoned in halves, quarters, eighths and sixteenths of a dollar which were LEGAL TENDER in the United States until 1857.
2) Federal coins of denominations between 3c and 50c.
3) Refers to the tiny California private gold coins minted in the 1870's.
Any circulating paper of denomination below $1. Prior to 1864, this was most often banknotes or SCRIP. Often refers to Federal notes of denomination between 3c and 50c issues between 1862-1876.
Refers to an item or items which haven’t been on the market for a very long time (if ever). Fresh coins tend to be worth more because they haven't been picked over yet.
A white texture produced on the surface of a coin during the minting process. It is usually most prevalent on the earliest coins off the working DIES. See also; LUSTER
These 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.)
FB / FSB / Full Bands
Refers to fully separated and distinct cross bands on the reverse devices of a Mercury dime. A MERC issue with the designation of "FB" (full bands) is worth substantially more than one without.
FBL / Full Bell Lines
Refers to the lower horizontal lines on the Liberty Bell of the Franklin half-dollars. Usually worth a premium if complete.
FH / Full Head
A grading designation given to Standing Liberty Quarters as an indication of strength of STRIKE. If Miss Liberty's full hairline, earhole and the leaves on her laurel-like headband are visible, the coin is declared a Full Head, and worth a substantial premium over specimens of average strike.
FS / Full Steps
Refers to the steps of Monticello on the reverse of the Jefferson nickel (1938-Present). Six steps should be visible if the coin is fully struck. "Full Step" examples were very popular and commanded a premium in 1970's and 1980's but not much attention (or premium) has been paid to this designation in more recent years.
A 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.
Florida United Numismatists. Each January, this organization sponsors one of the industry's largest coin Shows in Orlando, Florida
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