- Coin metal that is made from two or more different
metals, blended together in the molten state.
Other than United States Large Cents and Half
Cents, which are pure copper, all U.S. coins have
been alloyed. Copper, at a 1-to-9 ratio, is the
usual alloy for gold and silver. There are several
reasons for not using metals in their pure state.
Gold for instance is too soft and subject to wear
if not alloyed with a tougher substance. Sometimes
alloying is done for economic reasons or to improve
the appearance of a coin. The practice of coins
being alloyed goes back to ancient times.
Date - An altered coin is a coin that
has been tampered with in some way after leaving
the Mint, generally for the purpose of increasing
its value to collectors. Typical altering can
be the removal of a mintmark or installation of
a spurious one. Altered is sometimes used in reference
to cleaned coins.
- American Numismatic Association. An educational,
nonprofit organization, that is the largest and
most active numismatic body in the world. It invites
and welcomes to membership all persons who have
a sincere interest in numismatics, whether they
collect coins, paper money, tokens or medals,
whether advanced collectors or those only generally
interested in the subject.
American Coins & Tokens - The term
Anglo American is applied to issues, mostly private,
that were struck in Britain in the 17th and 18th
centuries for use in the American colonies. Some
of these coins and tokens were intended primarily
or exclusively for British circulation but found
their way to this country.
- The process of heating up coin planchets, just
prior to striking in order to make them soft and
thus receive a better impression of the design.
This process today is now accomplished by advanced
machinery. In ancient times the mint would anneal
the planchets by holding them in a pair tongs
over a charcoal fire.
- American Numismatic Society.
- The process of assigning a coin to a certain
country, era, or ruler; or even to a particular
year of issue. Most coins can be attributed without
difficulty, either on sight or with the help of
one of the standard reference guides. When a coin
is described as being "attributed to" a given
country, ruler, etc., this is an expression of
opinion rather than an established fact. The opinion
may be from an old reference book, which has never
been sustained; on the other hand, neither has
it been successfully refuted.
Circulated - A grade used to describe
a coin based on its age. For example: A 1900 Barber
quarter in "Average Circulated" most likely will
grade About Good, whereas a 1955 Washington quarter
in "Average Circulated" most likely will be in
Fine or Very Fine condition.
- Can be scratches or minor abrasions caused by
coins knocking against each other in bags. When
coins are transported in bags, it is natural for
uncirculated specimens to exhibit such injuries;
scarcer date coins that have escaped bag marks
are invariably sold at a big premium.
- A token that was struck in this country shortly
after the War of Independence, it is so called
because it carries a series of bars on the reverse
side. On the obverse of the coin is the lettering
"U.S.A." in script, without any further design
Dime, Quarter, Half Dollar - Coins of
these denominations were designed by Charles Barber,
who was the chief engraver at the Mint in the
late 19th century.
- Any metal other than silver, gold of platinum.
- Metal made from an alloy of zinc and
copper. This metal was in Britain in the 18th
century for tokens and sometimes for medals.
- (1) A page in an auction catalogue, that is
usually perforated at the inner edge for easy
removal, on which the customer can record his
bids. This sheet is then mailed in or given to
the auctioneer. (2) Weekly, monthly, and quarterly
wholesale sheets used by coin dealers are sometimes
referred to as bid sheets.
- Referring to the inscription on a coin that
is in two languages.
- A very low grade silver, which contains more
than 50% copper alloy. Billion has been used for
coinage since very early times, usually for debased
- The old Mexican 8 reales silver coins, which
circulated extensively in America in the 1700's
and 1800's, was sometimes divided into sections.
A "bit" was one eight of the coin, "two bits"
was one fourth. This is how our quarter dollar
came to be known as Two Bits.
Book - An annually revised guide to values
for U.S. coins, published in a softcover format.
- This is another term for planchet or flan: the
circular piece of metal, of the size and weight
of the finished coin, prior to its striking. Blanks
are now stamped out by machine whereas in early
times they were customarily cut with special shears
from a cob of metal.
Head - A variety of the Large Cent for
the year 1839, in which the portrait of Liberty
is amateurishly engraved and has a very clownish
- The term used for a gathering of coin dealers
at a show or convention, generally at tables or
booths, where selections from their stock are
offered for examination and purchase.
Mint - Any federal coining facility except
the Philadelphia Mint.
- A very thin medieval European coin with the
design impressed on one side showing through to
the other side.
- A coin of a larger than normal diameter. This
is actually not an oversize planchet but a striking
error. The coin is struck without the protective
collar and thereby is spread, by impact, beyond
its normal dimensions.
- A misstruck coin, generally one showing the
normal design on one side and a mirror image design
on the other side.
Bank Note - Privately issued paper money
of the nineteenth century. Most firms or individuals
issuing such currency went "broke," therefore
the term broken bank note.
- An alloy of copper, zinc, and tin with a composition
of (generally) 95 % copper, 4% zin, 1% zinc. Bronze
has been used for coinage since since ancient
times. The exact formula has varied in different
places and eras.
- A variety of Franklin half dollars, that were
struck in 1955, which have a die defect resulting
in the portrait of Benjamin Franklin appearing
to have protruding teeth like Bugs Bunny.
- Uncoined gold or silver in the form of bars,
ingots or plate.
Strike - A coin given only one blow from
the dies, intended for normal circulation or commercial
use; same as a production coin, opposite of proof.
- Device including head, neck, and some part of
shoulder or chest.
Friction - Sometimes called "cabinet
wear" or "cabinet rub" is wear to the higher portions
of a coin's design, caused by being kept in an
unlined wooden cabinet drawer over a long period
of time. Wooden cabinets for coin storage were
extensively used by collectors from about 1600
to the late 1800's.
- Devices in relief or embossed. Cartwheel - large
coin, generally of silver dollar size or larger.
- A two-penny coin issued in England in 1797 by
George lll, and bearing his likeness. The coin
was made of copper and weighed two ounces, it
was extremely thick had raised rims on both sides
like a wagon wheel, and well deserved the "cartwheel"
designation it received.
- A copper coin of China with a square hole for
- Coins which are made not in the usual manner
of striking with dies, but by pouring molten metal
into a mold.
- One one-hundredth of the standard monetary unit.
Also called Centesimo in Italy, Centime in France
and Switzerland, Centavo in Mexico and some Central
and South American countries, and Centimo in Spain
and Venezuela, etc.
- To recognize and buy a rarer variety which had
been offered as common.
- Merchant's test mark (usually Chinese) punched
into a coin to verify its weight.
- Released to the general public. Showing signs
of wear from being passed from hand to hand.
War Token - Unofficial pieces made to
approximate size of current U.S. cents and pressed
into circulation during the Civil War because
of a scarcity of small change.
- Issues of United States dimes, quarters, halves,
and dollars made since 1965. Each coin has a center
core, and a layer of copper-nickel or silver on
both sides of the coin.
Marks - Impressions of part of a device
or legend of one die onto the field of the die
facing it in the press. Caused by the dies striking
each other at normal coining force without a planchet
- Crude irregular silver coins of Spain, Central
and South America.
- The mint official in charge of stamping planchets
- Generic term for coins made in or for America
before the federal Mint began regular operations.
- A coin issued to mark a special event or to
honor an outstanding person.
- Generic late 18th century term for copper coins.
- Unauthorized imitation of a coin.
- Or sometimes called counterstamp is a stamp
or mark impressed on a coin to verify its use
by another government, or to indicate revaluation.
- A dollar-size silver coin, specifically one
of Great Britain.
- Lump on a coin struck from a die which a piece
has broken off.
- A coin in defective condition. Used not only
of coins in circulation but those withheld from
release by the Mint, because of manufacturing
flaws. These are sent back for remelting.
- A single example of each coin minted in a coin
- The standard Roman silver coin.
- The artist who creates a coin's design. The
engraver is the person who cuts a design into
a coinage die.
- Principal design element.
- A piece of metal engraved with a design for
use in stamping coins.
- A fine raised line on a coin caused by a broken
- An imperfection on a coin caused by a damaged
- Any minor alteration in the basic design of
- One tenth of a dollar. An early spelling of
the word "dime."
Eagle - A United States $20.00 gold coin.
Struck - Said of any coin which has received
two impressions from the working dies in accidentally
Die - A die that received one of its
several blows from a hub or device punch in accidentally
- A Spanish-American gold coin originally valued
- The standard Greek monetary unit. A small silver
coin approximately equal to the Roman denarius.
- A popular gold coin used by several European
countries. Originally an Italian coin of the twelfth
- A United States $10.00 gold coin.
- A counterfeit coin made by the electroplating
- A natural mixture of gold and silver.
- That portion of a coin beneath the main design
generally separated by an exergual line.
- That portion of a coin's surface not used for
a design or inscription.
Head - A head on coins showing the hair
tied with a band, generally on the forehead.
- The purity of gold or silver, always expressed
in terms of one thousand parts.
- A blank piece of metal in the size and shape
of a coin. Also called planchet.
Currency - Paper money in denominations
less than one dollar issues for regular circulation
by the United States during and after the Civil
War. Specific issues dates range from 1862 to
- Applied to an Uncirculated or Proof coin, denotes
"flawless" and suggest "high aesthetic quality."
- A United States $5.00 gold coin.
Tokens - Pieces either of a political
or advertising nature, privately made and used
as money during most of Andrew Jackson's presidency
(1834-1841). These were the approximate size of
the then current U.S. large cent.
- A specialized die used not for striking coins
but for imparting designs to working dies.
- The design of a coin which has been impressed
below the coin's surface. When the design is raised
above the coins surface it is said to be in relief.
- The legend or lettering on a coin.
- A small medal, counter, or token.
- Head crowned with laurel wreath.
- The principal inscription on a coin.
Edge - The narrow edge of a coin bearing
an inscription, found on some foreign and older
United States coins.
Money - Small English silver coins specially
struck for distribution by the reigning monarch
on Holy Thursday.
- Very small or microscopic.
Edge - A raised rim around the outer
surface of a coin. Not to be confused with the
reeded or serrated narrow edge of the coin.
- A mis-struck or defective coin produced by a
- The "frost" on the surface of an Uncirculated
or "Mint State" coin.
- Group of Uncirculated coins of one
date, as sold by the mint in the year of issue.
- Same as Uncirculated. A coin free of any trace
- The process of striking coins. Quantity coined.
- A symbol, usually a small letter, used to indicate
at which mint a coin was struck.
of Mint Marks
(P or No Mint Mark ) Philadelphia,
1793 to date---circulating coinage, most pre-1968
proof strikes, Silver American Eagles, Uncirculated
and Proof Modern Commemoratives.
(D) Denver, 1906 to date---circulating
coinage, Modern Commemoratives.
(S) San Francisco, 1854---proof
strikes and Modern Commemoratives..
(W) West Point, 1984 to date---Bullion
issues and Modern Commemoratives..
Past U.S. Mints include:
(C) Charlotte, North Carolina,
1838 to 1861---gold coins.
(CC) Carson City, Nevada 1870
(D) Dahlonega, Georgia, 1838 to
(O) New Orleans, Louisiana, 1838
- An authorized mint master or coiner.
- An inspirational word or phrase used on a coin.
- A coin struck from dies not originally intended
to be used together.
- Emergency money, including coins and paper.
Usually, that issued by Germany during the World
War I inflationary period.
- The front or face side of a coin, generally
the side with the date and the principal design.
- Said of a coin only partly resting within the
coining chamber at striking.
- A date made by superimposing one more numbers
on a previously dated die.
- Variety in which a Mintmark is overpunched in
the die with a different one.
- An impression made with new dies on a previously
- A green or brown surface film found on ancient
copper and bronze coins caused by oxidation over
a long period of time.
- An experimental or trial coin, generally of
a newer design, denomination or metal.
of Eight - Spanish-American silver dollar-size
coin used extensively in trade throughout the
world during the seventeenth and eighteen centuries.
The forerunner of the American silver dollar.
- The blank piece of metal on which a coin design
- An exceptional production coin, struck from
brilliantly polished dies on a blank which may
or may not also have been polished before striking.
- Coins struck for collectors using specially
Set - Group of proof coins of one date,
as sold by the mint in the year of issue.
Eagle - A United States two and a half
dollar gold coin.
- Said of a coin of which only a limited number
exist in collectors' hands.
Edge - The edge of a coin with grooved
lines that run vertically around its perimeter.
The edge found on all modern United States silver
- Any part of a coin's design that is raised above
the coin's surface is said to be in relief. The
opposite of relief is incuse.
- A coin struck from a genuine die at a date later
than the original issue.
- The side of a coin carrying the design of lesser
importance. Opposite of the obverse side.
- In short supply, but with more survivors accessible
than of a coin labeled rare.
- The raised portion of a coin which protects
the design from wear.
- Paper money other than regular government currency.
Pieces - Emergency coins struck during
battle, also called obsidional coins or money
- One coin of each year issued from each mint
of a specific design and denomination, e.g. Morgan
dollars from 1878-1921.
- Slang term for early United States paper money
and fractional currency.
- Current slang for a coin objectively Extremely
Fine or About Uncirculated but salable as Mint
State, particularly after cleaning and possibly
Mint Sets - Substitute for proof sets,
- A privately issued piece with an exchange value,
but not an official government coin.
Dollar - Silver dollar issued especially
for trade with a foreign country. In the United
States, trade dollars were first issued in 1873
to stimulate trade with the Orient. Other countries
have also issued trade dollars.
- The sharply cut off bottom edge of a bust.
- A coin's basic distinguishing design.
- A Mint State coin free of any trace of wear.
- An item of which one specimen only is known
- Any coin recognizably different in
dies from another of the same design, type, date
Silver - Coinage metal for 5¢ pieces,
October 1942 to December 1945, consisting of 35%
silver, 56% copper, 9% manganese.
- Giving a coin a false surface fraudulently simulating
mint bloom, generally by wire brush or the like.
- A coin of each demonination issued in a year.
Example: Cent, Nickel, Dime, Quarter and Half
Dollar all 1990.