Glossary of Industry Terms

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About Good (also known as AG): One of the lowest grades in most grading standard books.

About Uncirculated: A coin or paper money note that is very close to being uncirculated.

Abrasion: Marks or small scratches on the surface of a coin where another coin or object has slid across or bumped the coin.

Accumulation: A group of coins, sometimes not of any certain type or date. Also can be a “hoard”.

Alloy: A mixture of two or more metals melted into one compound.

Altered Date: A coin with the date manipulated or altered after the coin was produced.

American Eagle: Silver, gold, and platinum gold coins released by the US government starting in October 1986. The front side depict Liberty walking and the reverse side bears an American Eagle and nest design.

American Numismatic Association: The most popular non-profit educational coin collectors organization in America. Encourages the study of numismatics; collecting of money.

Annealing: The process of heating coin blanks to soften the metal prior to striking coins out of them.


Bar: Usually an “ingot” shaped as a rectangle. Can be gold, silver, or any precious metal.

Bid: The price a dealer (or dealers) are offering to pay for a coin.

Bit: Used to indicate one eighth of a dollar.

Blank: A blank piece of metal on which a coin design can be stamped. Also called a planchlet.

Brilliant Uncirculated: A descriptive term used to indicate an uncirculated coin that still retains a lot of the brilliant luster. BU is used to abbreviate brilliant uncirculated.

Buffing: A polishing of a coin sometimes with an abrasive that leaves a finish that attempts to counterfeit mint luster.

Bullion: Term used when referring to items made of precious metal. Particularly silver, gold, and platinum.

Bust: Portrait on a coin, usually the head or head and shoulders.


Cameo: A coin that has a mirror-like background to the surface of the coin and a design that is frosted looking.

Certified: A coin determined to be genuine by a coin grading or authentication service.

Circulation: Coins used in commerce to purchase items by the populace are in circulation.

Clad coin: Coins that have a center layer and outer layer made of different metals. Starting in 1965 all circulating US dimes, quarters, and halves have been clad.

Coin: Object usually made of flat metal, small and round. Issued by a government as money.

Collar: When a coin is struck the collar on the printing press surrounds the rim of the coin preventing the metal from flowing outside of the collar.

Commemorative: A special coin or medal issued to honor an outstanding person, place, or event.

Condition: The physical state of a coin. Usually indicating the amount of wear.

Contact Mark: A mark or marks on a coin that happened from coming in contact with another coin or object.

Coppers: Nick name for older copper coins, particularly the large cents, and half cents.

Copy: Refers to a reproduction of a coin or paper note.

Corrosion: Chemical reaction on the surface of a coin.

Counterfeit: A coin or piece of currency that is fake or reproduced in order to make people think it is genuine.

Cud: When a coin is struck by a broken die the place where the die is broken or missing will often show up as extra metal on the surface of a coin.

Currency: Any kind of coins or paper money that is used as a medium of exchange.


D Mint Mark: Mintmark used to designate that the coin was struck at the US mint in “Denver Colorado”.

Denomination: Different values of money.

Die: An engraved metal stamp used for stamping out the design of a coin.

Double Die: A coin that shows numbers or letters doubled.

Double Eagle: Used to describe a twenty dollar gold piece, the likes of those made between 1850 and 1932.


Eagle: Nick name for the old gold $10 coins made up until 1932.

Edge Lettering: Letters or designs made on the side edge of a coin. Modern day coins have a plain or reeded edge.

Engraver: An artist who creates a coin’s design as a model or sculpture. In earlier days the engraver would actually cut out the design onto the die.

Edge: The side of the coin.

Error: A coin that has some type of production defect on it.


Face value: The exchange value for which a coin is made to be spent or exchanged.

Fair: A very heavily worn coin. Date may only be partially visible. One of the lowest grades of a coin.

Filler: A coin used to “fill in” the place in a collection until a better grade coin can be found or purchased to take its place.

Field: The background surface of a coin not used for the design or inscription.

Fine: Fine is a medium-grade coin. A Fine coin will have some detail present in the recessed areas.


Gem BU: GEM quality Brilliant Uncirculated coin. Indicates that this uncirculated coin shows mint brilliance.

Grade: A rating or clarification that indicates how much wear a circulated coin has.

Gram: Metric weight often used to weigh precious metals.


Hairlines: Very light lines or scratches on the surface of a coin.

Head: The obverse or front of most coins.


Incuse: The part of a coin’s design that is pressed into the surface.

Inscription: The words stamped (written) on a coin.

Intrinsic Value: The value of the precious metal that a coin is made of.


Junk Silver: Silver coins of circulated quality.


Key Date: A scarce date that is often hard to find to complete a collection.


Legal Tender: Coins, paper money, or other currency issued by a government and used as money.

Legend: The main lettering on a coin.


Matte Proof: Matte proof coins are special proofs that have a grainy “sandblasted” look on the surface.

Medal: An object made of metal that resembles a coin.

Mercury Dime: Nick name for the US 10 cent pieces made between 1916 and 1945.

Milled Edge: Coin production process that produces the edge of the coin.

Mint: Place where coins are produced (manufactured).

Mint Luster: A frosty, satiny, unique shine found on uncirculated coins.

Mint Mark: A small letter on a coin that identifies the U.S. Mint where the coin was produced.

Mint Set: A complete set of coins produced by a particular mint (contains one of each denomination).

Mint State: A coin that is in the pristine condition that it was in when it left the mint. A mint state coin will show no signs of circulation.

Mintage: The number of coins produced.

Mylar: A clear trademark polyester material used to store coins.


Nickel: Nick name for the US five cent piece.

Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (NGC): NGC is an independent third-party coin grading and certification service.

Numismatist: A coin collector. Someone who is a serious coin hobbyist or one who studies an area of coin collecting.

Numistmatics: The hobby of coin collecting.


Oddity: When something unusual happens to a coin it is sometimes called an oddity.

Obsolete: A coin design or series that is no longer being produced.

Obverse: The front side of a coin. Usually the obverse side of a coin has the main design, date and sometimes mintmark.

Off Center: Describes the way a coin was struck by the printing dies. If the coin was not placed properly and the dies strike it off center then parts of the design will be missing from the coin.

Over strike: A coin that instead of being struck on a blank planchlet, was accidentally struck on a previously struck coin.


Planchlet: A blank round piece of metal from which the coin is struck.

Precious metal: Metals of value. Typically gold, silver, platinum.

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS): PCGS is an independent, third-party coin grading and authentication service.

Proof: A coin produced from polished dies.

Proof set: A group of the different denominations of the proof coins made for one year.



Raw: Means the coin has not been slabbed or certified.

Reeded Edge: The edge of a coin that has small reed like lines on it.

Relief: The part of the design that is raised from the surface of the coin.

Restrike: A coin minted from original dies, however at a later date than originally intended.

Reverse: The back side of the coin.

Reverse Cameo: A coin where the background is frosted looking and the design has a polished mirror like look to it.

Rim: The raised edge of a coin created by the upsetting mill.

Roll: A group of coins in the same denomination in a paper wrapper package by banks, dealers, or the US Mint.

Rounds: Coin-shaped silver pieces.


Series: Collection of coins of one denomination that contains all the dates and mint marks of that design.

Silver Clad: Term referring to US Half Dollars made from 1965 to 1970.

Slab: Term used to identify a hard plastic encapsulation method that some coin grading services use to package/protect a coin.

Slider: A term meaning the coin simulates a higher grade than it really is.

Strike: A process of stamping a design into a coin planchet (blank).


Token: Something that looks like a coin, but is not legal tender issued by an official government.

Troy Ounce: A unit of measure for weight that dates back to the Middle Ages. Originally used in Troyes, France, the troy ounce was used when dealing with precious metals. One troy ounce is equal to 31.1034768 grams.

Type: Coins containing the same or a similar characteristic.

Type Set: Collection of coins of one denomination.


Uncirculated: A new condition coin that does not have any sign of wear.


Varieties: Minor differences in the design of a coin.


Walking Liberty: A half dollar with the Walking Liberty design. Made between 1916 and 1947.

War Nickel: Sometimes called “wartime” nickels. These Jefferson US five cent coins were made during part of World War II.

Whitman: Whitman Publishing company. Produces many collector’s books, albums, and collecting supplies.

Whizzed: A whizzed coin has been buffed or polished to give it the appearance of the luster found on a mint coin.



Year set: Coin collection consisting of one of each kind (size and style) of coin issued by a country for a given year.