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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Refers to a compromising method of grading a coin. For example, if a particular silver dollar's OBVERSE grades MS65 but it's REVERSE only warrants a grade of MS63, then the dealer / grader might label the coin MS64. It may also refer to a coin which might otherwise grade MS65 but has been CLEANED so it is "net-graded" MS62.
A term for a coin that has never been in circulation. See also: Mint state, Uncirculated
Slang for new purchases. Dealers or collectors are always looking for fresh coins for sale at a coin show.
The New 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” mintmark.
New Orleans Mint
NGC / Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
One of the major third-party certification services. Located in Florida. For more information, contact them at (973) 515-4000 or at www.ngccoin.com.
Popular term for a five-cent piece struck in cupro-nickel alloy (actually 75% copper, 25% nickel).
Term 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.)
Coins 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.
Term applying to the Christian Gobrecht designed Liberty Seated coins without stars.
Term 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.)
The science or money; coins, tokens, medals, paper money and similar objects.
A person who is knowledgeable in the history and collecting of rare coins, tokens, medals, paper money and similar objects. A dealer in rare coins would be considered a professional numismatist.
The front of a coin (heads). As opposed to a coin's Reverse.
A coin struck on a blank that was not properly centered over the anvil, or lower, die. See also: Error coins
Its 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.
The 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 degree.
A term 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.
Original Roll / Bag
A roll or bag or UNCIRCULATED coins stored years ago, ideally in a MINT-SEWN sack. On silver coinage, most bags contained $1,000 face value. If the roll or bag is truly original, then the coins should display the same "look" - luster, strike, die variety and degree of bagmarks.
A coin 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.
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