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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G / Good
A grading term used to describe well worn coins with main features clear and bold although rather flat. On the SHELDON scale this corresponds to a numerical grade of 4 to 6.
Short 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.
Used in a generic sense to describe a high-quality coin. In a more specific definition, "gem" refers to a coin GRADING 65 or 66 on the SHELDON SCALE.
The 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.
Any of 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 commems.
The numerical or adjectival condition of a coin. See also: SHELDON SCALE, NGC, PCGS
A unit of measurement equal to six hundred and forty-eight ten-thousandths (.0648) of a GRAM. Used in determining FINENESS of a coin.
A metric unit of mass. A unit equal to three hundred and twenty-two ten thousandths (.0322) of a TROY ounce.
Aberrations on a coin's surface, caused by oil or grease dropped onto a DIE during the minting process.
Any Federal Demand note of 1861 ($5, $10 & $20) with an "on demand" inscription - but missing the treasury seal. So called, as these were the first Treasury notes to use green ink on the back designs. Also refers to any LEGAL TENDER note of 1862or 1863.
Refers to the Coin Dealer Newsletter, the weekly price publication for the rare coin industry. For subscription or other information, please contact them at (310) 515-7369 or at http://www.greysheet.com/.
Thin scratches on a coin, usually in the fields or across the devices which are caused by rough or careless cleaning, wiping or drying of a coin.
In the Mint Act of 1792, this was the official name given to the federal coin of ten-cents or 1/20 dollar - later to be known as a half dime.
Refers to $5 Gold pieces.
Maker's identification mark, comparable to a signature found on pewter, silver and gold utensils and jewelry. Occasionally found as counter-marks on coins, the most famous being Ephram Brasher's roman "E.B" in oval. See Also: Counterstamp
The upper DIE which descends to STRIKE the PLANCHET in the coining chamber.
Refers (metaphorically) to the auctioneer's gavel when he pounds the podium to conclude the bidding on a certain item. The Hammer Price does not include the typical buyer's commission or seller's fee. See also: JUICE
Hard Times Tokens
Tokens issued during the years 1832 to 1844 to fill the need for small denomination coins, created because of hoarding during economic collapse. Between 10 and 20 million Hard Times Tokens were struck with various political and commercial designs.
A term applied to any coin at the upper end of a particular grade. See Also: PQ
The area of deepest relief on a coin. That point which extends furthest out and is most prone to WEAR.
The designing of a DIE so as to create a deep, concave field upon the surface of a coin for maximum contrast with the DEVICES. It requires the use of increased pressure in STRIKING or sometime multiple strikes to attain the desired effect. Most notable coins struck in High-Relief are the 1907 SAINT and 1921 PEACE dollar.
Refers to the TICKS and other distracting marks caused by contact with other coins in a mint bag, etc. See also; CHATTER and BAG MARKS.
A group 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.
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. See Also: Tab Toning
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Working hubs are produced from the master DIES. The working hubs are then used to make many working dies. Hubs are never used for the actual minting or striking coins as they have a raised image.
The process of producing DIES from a hub. Dies have an INCUSE (depressed) image, while HUBS have a positive (raised) image. These are all part of the minting process.
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