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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Used primarily in PATTERN coinage and early cents, it is used to estimate the surviving POPULATION of a coin. Specifically:
R-8 Estimated 1-3 known (Unique or Nearly Unique)
R-7 Estimated 4-12 known (Extremely Rare)
R-6 Estimated 13-30 known (Very Rare)
R-5 Estimated 31-75 known (Rare)
R-4 Estimated 76-200 known (Very Scarce)
R-3 Estimated 201-500 known (Scarce)
R-2 Estimated 501-1,250 known (Uncommon)
R-1 Over 1,251 known (Common)
A relative term indicating that a coin within a series is very difficult to find. Also, a coin with only a few examples known. A rare Lincoln cent may have thousands known while a relatively common pattern may only have a few dozen known.
The number of specimens extant of any particular numismatic item. This can be the total number of extant specimens or the number of examples in a particular grade and higher. (This is referred to as condition rarity.)
Refers to a non-CERTIFIED coin.
Spanish monetary unit = 1/8 Peso = 1 BIT = 121/2 cents.
Term used for a copper coin that still retains 95 percent or more of its original mint bloom or color (RD).
Term for copper coin that has from 5 to 95 percent of its original mint color remaining (RB).
Term for the grooved notches on the edge of some coins. These were first imparted by the Mint’s edge machine, later in the minting process by the use of close collars - these sometimes called the third die or collar die. The primary purpose of a "reeded edge" was to show any signs of SHAVING or other tampering with the size and weight of a coin.
Refers to the popular reference book, A Guidebook To United States Coins, which lists all known U.S. coins along with photos, descriptions, original MINTAGES and general pricing information. Published by Whitman.
A mark or marks caused when the reeded edge of one coin hits the surface of another coin. The contact may leave just one mark or a series of staccato-like marks.
The height of the devices of a particular coin design, expressed in relation to the fields. See Also: HIGH RELIEF.
If a date was punched into the die and then punched in again in a different position it is considered to be a repunched date. A dramatic example of the repunched date is the 1894/94 Indian cent, where the two dates are clear, bold and well separated. Most repunched dates are more subtle, such as the 1887/6 Morgan dollar. Such coins as the 1909/8 $20 gold piece or the 1942/1 Mercury dime are not repunched dates, but Doubled Dies, where the changes were made to the working die from a differently-dated working hub.
Any coin struck after the original striking date or the date appearing on the coin.
A coin which has been toned through any artificial means.
The back of a coin (tails).
The raised area around the edges of the obverse and reverse of a coin.
Rim File, Gouge or Nick
Various terms used to describe damage to the outer edge of a coin.
Slang term referring to a numismatic purchase that is bought substantially below the price for which it can be resold.
A set number of coins “rolled up” in a coin wrapper. In old times, a roll meant the coins were rolled up in a paper wrapper, today they are likely to be slid into a plastic coin tube. Groups of nineteenth century coins are sometimes referred to as rolls when they exist in sufficient quantities even when they might not have come in rolls during their years of issue nor or are they currently in a roll! (Cents are 50 to a roll, nickels 40 to a roll, dimes 50 to a roll, quarters 40 to a roll, half dollars 20 to a roll, and dollars 20 to a roll. Gold coins are sometimes seen in rolls but the number of coins varies. Rolls of five dollar and twenty dollar coins have been rolled 20, 40, and 50 to a roll – other variations are certainly possible. Gold dollars, quarter eagles, three-dollar coins, and eagles have also be seen in rolls of varying quantities.)
Common name for the 1907 Indian Head eagle struck as a regular issue with a mintage reported by some as 20,000, but according to official Mint correspondence the figure was 31,550. However, some have considered it a pattern because all but 42 coins were reportedly melted.
Flattening metal IGNOTS to produce a long strip of proper thickness from which PLANCHETS will be cut during the minting process.
Term to describe the mostly parallel incuse lines seen on some coins after striking. These were originally thought to be lines resulting from debris “scoring” the metal strips before the blanks were cut. However, new research has pointed to the final step of strip preparation, the draw bar. To reduce the strips to proper thickness, the final step was to pass them through the draw bar. It certainly seems logical that debris in the draw bar may cause these lines, if so, then draw-bar marks or lines would be a more appropriate term.
An experimental Proof surface used mainly on U.S. gold coins of 1909 and 1910. This is a hybrid surface with more reflectivity than Matte surfaces but less than brilliant Proofs. The surface is slightly scaly, similar to that of Satin Proofs.
Acronym for Repunched Mintmark.
A small amount of WEAR on the HIGH POINTS that removes it from the UNCIRCULATED category. See also: WEAR, DEVICES
DIES which have been damaged (pitted) through corrosion. The "rusted" areas of a die create raised bumps on the coin during the STRIKING process thus giving the coin a flat or dull appearance.
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