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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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Adjustment Marks
File marks made by the mint on a silver or gold planchet to correct its weight. Such marks often survive the coining process. This is common on 18th century coins.


Album Friction
Similar to album slide marks, though the friction may be only slight rubbing on the high points. See Also: Slide Marks, Album Slide Lines.


Album Slide Lines
Lines, usually parallel, imparted to the surface of a coin by the plastic “slide” of an album. See Also: Slide Marks.

A mixture of two or more metals, e.g. the Sacagawea Dollar is comprised of an alloy of .770 copper, .120 zinc, .070 manganese, and .040 nickel.

Altered Surfaces
A designation given by PCGS and NGC to coins which cannot be certified due to the coin’s surfaces being altered from their original state. Such alterations include CLEANING, lacquering, PUTTYING, TOOLING and ARTIFICIAL TONING. See also BODY BAG.

American Eagle

Bullion coins released by the U.S. Mint beginning in October 1986. Five coins are available: a 1-ounce, .999 fine silver coin with $1 face value; a 1-ounce, .9167 fine gold coin with $50 face value; a half-ounce, .9167 fine gold coin with $25 face value; a quarter-ounce, .9167 fine gold coin with $10 face value; and a tenth-ounce, .9167 fine gold coin with $5 face value. Coins are sold at prices based on current metal prices plus a markup.

Anvil Die
The lower die, usually the reverse – although on some issues with striking problems, the obverse was employed as the lower die. Because of the physics of minting, the fixed lower-die impression is slightly better struck than the upper-die impression. See Also: Hammer Die.

ANA / American Numismatic Association
The main hobby organization and host of the industry's largest coin show each year. Individual membership cost is approximately $35 / year. Lot's of benefits to membership. For more information, contact them at www.money.org or call 1-800-367-9723.

The softening of DIES or PLANCHETS through a heat treatment process which enables the metal to flow more freely into the cavities of the DIE or HUB when struck. If the temperature and length of exposure to the heat are not correct in the annealing process, the design could be improperly struck up.

Usually refers to the wholesale asking price of a certain coin as published in The Coin Dealer Newsletter or other price directory.

To analyze and determine the fineness, weight and consistency of a metallic alloy in coins or bullion.

Assay Office
An establishment or department of government that assures the content and quality of a coins ALLOY.

Assay Piece
A coin selected to be ASSAYED, or produced for an ASSAYER.

AT / Artificial Toning
Coloring applied to the surface of a coin, either by chemicals and/or heat, for the purpose of hiding hairlines and other flaws or to resemble the natural oxidation process that can increase a coin's desirability. See also TONING.

AU / About Uncirculated
The grades AU50, 53, 55, and 58. A coin that on first glance appears Uncirculated but upon closer inspection has slight friction or rub.


The elements that make up a coin’s grade. The main ones are marks (hairlines for Proofs), luster, strike, and eye appeal.


The identification of a numismatic item by characteristics such as issuing authority, date or period, Mint, denomination, metal in which struck, and by a standard reference.

Genuine, as made. Original US Mint coin.


The process of determining that a coin is genuine. This is the first step in the grading process by PCGS and NGC.

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