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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A layer of metal on a coin which has split away from the other layers.
Coins and currency issued by the government as official money that can be used to pay legal debts and obligations.
The inscription on a coin such as "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA".
A coin 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. This is opposed to PLAIN EDGE or REEDED EDGE.
Short for "Liberty" (i.e. $10 & $20 Gold Liberties, or 19th century Seated Liberty coinage).
The 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.)
See HAIRLINES, rub
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.
A coin 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 minimum-standard MS/PR-65. See Also: PQ, High end.
A magnifying glass.
The brilliance or reflective shine of a coin. Luster is considered to be one of the four most important factors in the GRADE of a coin. Luster makes up about 30% of the overall grade. Alternate spelling: Lustre
The bullion coin program from the Royal Canadian Mint. Each year, the Canadian Government authorizes the minting of Gold, Silver & Platinum coins bearing the portrait of Queen Elizabeth on the obverse and a Mapleleaf on the reverse in various denominations and fractional sizes. These are the purest bullion coins produced by any country or mint.
The main die produced from the master hub. Many working hubs are prepared from this single die.
The original hub created by the portrait lathe. Master dies are created from this hub.
An 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.
A coin-like piece of metal made in honor of a person or event. Not authorized as LEGAL TENDER nor intended to circulate. Not made to a recognized weight or FINENESS.
A high-pressure coining press acquired by the U.S. Mint, circa 1854-1858, to strike medals, patterns, restrikes, and some regular-issue Proofs.
Slang term for the intrinsic value of a particular numismatic item. (What’s the melt value of that ten Lib?)
Short for Mercury-Head dimes minted in the United States between 1916 and 1945. See also: FB / FULL-BAND
A combination of heat and compression from the DIES, metal and presses that creates a melded appearance to a coin.
Micro D & S
Very small, even undersized mint marks. On larger denominations, such as the 1921-D and 1921-S Morgan Dollars, these errors occurred when a mint mark punch for a smaller denomination was used, i.e. a dime. The 1945 Micro-S Dime was created when a small S punch was used in error.
Struck on PLANCHETS cut from rolled strips. Often wrongly used to denote the REEDED EDGE of a coin
A mark 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. See Also: Reeding mark
Refers to the lowest monetary value that will be accepted at an auction as a BID on a coin.
The 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.
A coin that is abnormal due to something which happened at the origin Mint during the minting process.
Designate where a coin was produced and is usually indicated by a small letter on the obverse or reverse of a coin. Coins minted in Philadelphia prior to 19 --- do not carry a mintmark except WAR NICKELS. U.S. mint-marks are as follows:
C = Charlotte, NC (1838-1861)
D = Dahlonega (1838-1861)
CC = Carson City (1870-1893)
D = Denver (1906-Pres)
O = New Orleans (1838-1909)
P = Philadelphia (1793-Pres)
S = San Francisco (1854-Pres)
W = West Point (1984-Pres)
Mint-Sealed / Mint Sewn
Describes a bag of coins sealed at an official Mint.
A set of coins issued the same year that has been especially assembled and issued directly from a Mint. These are Uncirculated coins (BU) - as opposed to PROOFS
Term to describe a coin which shows no trace of wear. This corresponds 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) As opposed to PROOFS. See also: BU, Uncirculated, SHELDON SCALE.
Term applied to the error coins that have striking irregularities.
Monster slang 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.
US silver dollars issued between 1878-1921 named after their designer, GEORGE T. MORGAN.
Morgan, George T. (1845-1925)
Worked as an assistant engraver at the US Mint under Charles Barber until he succeeded him as Chief Engraver in 1917. Numerous PATTERN coins and medals were created be Morgan during his 48 year tenure at the Philadelphia Mint but is best known for the silver dollars issued between 1878-1921 which still bears his name. See also: MORGAN DOLLARS
The inscription on nearly all US coins issued after 1865, "In God We Trust". Can also be the inscription "E Pluribus Unum".
This is a rare Mint error where the obverse die is of one coin and the reverse die is of another coin.
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