180 Best Coin Collecting Terms Explained

180 best coin collecting terms explained - holding irish coins in hand - Ireland Coins

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180 Best Coin Collecting Terms Explained


Coin Collecting can be complicated at times, and when starting out or even if you collected coins for a while you too may need some coin collecting terms explained. Lets face it there’s a lot of coin jargon! Well say no more, on this page we have put together a comprehensive coin collecting terms explained glossary which should clear up any questions you might have.

If we missed something put it in the comments and we will update the page!

Coin Collecting Terms: A

Abrasion: marks or tiny scratches on a coin’s surface where another coin or object slipped over or bumped over the coin. To indicate light abrasive wear, the terms “scuffing,” “light rubbing,” or “hairlines” are also sometimes used.

Accumulation: a diverse grouping of coins that typically reflects hoarding rather than gathering seriously.

Actual gold weight or AGW: pure gold quantity in a coin.

AD: Acid date abbreviation.

Adjustment marks: marks induced to decrease their weight to the norm by filing a planchet before striking. In minting early U.S. coinage, this was an occasional practice.

AG: ANA standard of grading significance Almost Good.

AG3 AG: ANA grading standard equivalent to Almost Good Level 3.

Alloy: A mixture of two metals or more.

Altered: Deliberately changing a coin or note, usually with the intent of increasing its face value or numismatic value.

ANA: The acronym for the “American Numismatic Association

ANACS: The acronym for American Numismatic Association Certification Service

Ancients: General term for coins of the world struck circa 600 B.C. to circa 450 A.D.

Annealing: The heating of a die or planchet to soften the metal before preparation of the die or striking of the coin.

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.

Artificial Toning: Coloration added to a coin by treatment with chemicals or other “doctoring.”

Assay: The process used in determining a coin’s alloy purity.

AU: almost uncirculated.


Coin Collecting Terms: B

Bag Mark/s: A mark on the coin, usually in the form of a nick. These are acquired by a coin when it makes contact with others in a mint bag.

Bag Toning: Some bags that coins may be stored in contain chemicals. These chemicals can result in a discolouration, usually red, blue or yellow but other colours may also be seen.

Bas Relief: Design elements on the coin are raised within depressions in the field.

Basal: A cointhat can be identified only by the type and date.

Basining: Is the term used for polishing a die to give it a mirrored surface or to merely remove marks.

Beading: Circular bead decorations on the a coin.

Billon: An alloy of silver and another metal, mostly copper, a billon alloy would usually contain less than 50% silver.

Blank: A blank piece of metal that a coin design can be stamped.

Blended: When a coin feature or design element fades into another, usually due to wear. For example the date that wears down until it is even with the background.

BN: Short for brown.

Brilliant: A coin with a high, lustrous finish.

Brilliant Uncirculated: A mint-condition or very high quality coin that has never been distributed for public use.

Broadstrike/Broadstruck:  When a coin is struck without a firmly seated collar this may occur. This is when design elements appear to be spreading outwards, but still show all design details.

Brown Spotting:  As the name suggests, this is when rust coloured or brown spots appear on the coin.

Buckled Die: A coin die that has warped.

Bulged Die: A coin die that has developed an indentation.

Bullion: Precious metal in the form of bars, plates or ingots, Is sometimes used to reference the precious metal content of a coin.

Burnished Blank: The Treatment of a coin blank or die to give it a sandy or polished look. This is done with chemicals or by polishing.

Burnishing: Polishing the surface of a coin to make it shiny. Burnishing of a coin is considered detrimental to the coin and should be mentioned the description.

Burnt: Any coin with features diminished by too much dipping in cleaning or polish solutions.

Business Strike: A coin that is struck for circulation.


Coin Collecting Terms: C

Cameo: Usually a proof coin.

Capped Die: A coin with a deep cap caused when stuck in a printing press several times.

Carbon Spot: Black or brown spots found mostly on gold and copper coins.

Cast Blanks: When a blank is made using molds instead of punching out the metal strips.

Cast Counterfeit: The duplication of a coin using molds of both sides of a genuine coin.

Chasing: A metal heating method used by forgers to add a mint mark to a coin.

Clash Marks:  Outlines or traces of designs from the other side of the coin resulting from die clash.

Cleaned Coin: Abrasive marks on the coin the clearly show it has been cleaned. A cleaned coin will always have a lower value than a coin that wasn’t cleaned.

Clipping: Shaving from the edge of gold and silver coins.

Clogged Die: A die that contains a contaminant, usually grease, in its recessed areas. Coins struck by clogged dies will usually have missing or diminished features.

Collar: A device used in a coining press to prevent the outward flow of metal during striking and to put the design on the edge of the coin if there is one.

Commemorative: A coin with a design commemorating an event, place, or person.

Contact Marks: Surface scratches and marks as a result from movement of coins in the same bag or bin.

Contemporary Counterfeit: A fake coin created from base metals, made at the same time as the genuine coin. These are often collectible too due to their age.

Cud: A raised peice of metal on the coin caused when a piece of a die was being broken off when the coin was made.


Coin Collecting Terms: D

Damage: Physical change to the coin, such as a scratch, nick, ding, cleaning, hole or pitting.

DDO: Aconynm for Doubled Die Obverse, an obverse die that has doubled images in one or more places

DDR: Aconynm for Doubled Die Reverse, a reverse die that has doubled images in one or more places

Delamination: When some metal is missing or peeling from the surface due to incomplete bonding or impurities in the planchet.

Denomination: The face value of a coin.

Denticles: Tooth-like raised features just inside the rim of some coins may also be called as dentils.

Die: Usually a cylindrical piece of steel bearing at one end the design of one side of a coin.

Die Clash: When the upper and lower dies come together in a coin press without a planchet between them. Some design details may be partly impressed on the opposite die.

Die Crack: A narrow fissure on the surface of a die, a narrow raised line will be visible on the coin when this occurs.

Die Erosion: Detail on the die begins to wear over time and features may become less clear.

Die Striations: Lines on a coin made by being struck by a recently polished die.

Dipping: Cleaning a coin by immersion in a liquid capable of removing dirt or impurities from the surface of the coin.

Drift Mark: An streak of discoloration on a coin caused by impurities in the die used in striking.

Dull: Any coin that has lost its luster.


Coin Collecting Terms: E

Edge: The area that borders a coin’s surface. Edges are usually reeded, lettered, or plain.

Edge Lettering: Lettering or sometimes symbols used on a coin’s edges.

EF: Acronym for extremely fine, grading standard for coins that are well above standard condition.

Engraver: The person who cuts the design into the die.

Environmental Damage: Damage to the coin that was caused by being exposed to the elements.

Error Coin: A mistake made on the coin during manufacture.

Exergue: The lower part of the coin, usually divided from the field by a line and often containing the date, mintmark, or engraver’s mark.

Eye Appeal: The term used in referring to a coin’s overall attractiveness or appearance, can be veery subjective.

Coin Collecting Terms: F

Face Value: The worth of a coin at the time of issue.

Field: The flat background of a coin.

Fine: ANA grading standard.

Fine Gold: A gold coin with a purity level of 99.9%.

Fine Silver: A silver coin with a purity level of 99.9%.

Flan: Term for a planchet used in Britain.

Flow Lines: Microscopic lines on the surface of a coin from the outward flow of metal during striking.

FR: ANA grading standard meaning Fair.

FR1PR: ANA grading standard meaning Fair – level 1 to poor condition.

FR2FR: ANA grading standard meaning Fair – level 2 to fair condition.


Coin Collecting Terms: G

G: ANA grading standard meaning “Good”.

G04G: ANA grading standard meaning Good – Level 4 to Good.

G06G+: ANA grading standard meaning Good – Level 6 to Good Plus.

Gem: A coin in near perfect condition may also be reffered to as Mint, or Near Mint.

Gem Bu: Uncirculated coins in near perfect condition.

Godzilla: A term that is used to describe a coin of exceptional quality and appearance.

Goloid: An alloy of copper, gold and silver.

Coin Grading: Asses the overall condition of a coin or the process of evaluation leading to assignment of a grade.

Grading Standards: A group of abbreviations or acronynms indicating the coin condition standards devised by the American Numismatic Association.

Granular: A coin that is visibly or under magnification porous.


Coin Collecting Terms: H

Hairlines: Light or very slight scratches on the surface of a coin.

Hammer Die: The top die used in production, this is placed on top of the coin blank and struck.

Hammered Coins: Coins minted by hammering the dies together.


Coin Collecting Terms: I

Impaired Proof: A proof coin with signs wear or damage as a result of circulation or other handling.

Intrinsic: The net metallic value of the coin.

Inverted Date: An error where the date was punched into the coin die upside down or backwards.


Coin Collecting Terms: J

Jugate: When portraits overlap on a coin.

Junk Silver: Silver coins that were circulated. This doesnt neccessarily mean the coins are damaged, more that they are not high quality collector coins.


Coin Collecting Terms: K

Key Coin: The most important coin in a series, it is also usually the most expensive as well as the lowest denomination in a set.

Key Date: One of the most rare or the rareist coin in a series and the most expensive.

Krause: The standard reference for coin collectors, the publishing company Krause Publications issues World Coins Catalogs.

Coin Collecting Terms: L

Laureate: A coin that bears a crown of laurel leaves on a figure.

Legend: The lettering on a coin other than the denomination or country of issue.

Lint Mark: A thread like depressionon a coin, may be visible in several places.

Loupe: A magnifying glass used by numismatists and jewelers.

Luster: The brilliance or shinyness of a coin.


Coin Collecting Terms: M

Machine Doubling: When a detail on the coin is doubled due to loose dies in minting.

Matte Proof: A proof coin with a granular surface.

Melt Value: The value of precious metal in a coin, usually silver or gold.

Milled Coin: A coin produced when pressure is applied indirectly rather than directly, the edge will usually be rolled.

Milled Edge: A raised rim around the outer surface of a coin.

Mint: A facility for manufacturing coins, for example the Currency Center Dublin, see some of the coins made there here.

Mintage: The quantity of a specific type of coin produced at a mint during a year.

Mint Bloom: The surface or appearence of a newly minted coin.

Mintmark: A small letter or symbol indicating the mint that produced it.

Mint Set: A specially packaged group of uncirculated coins of the same nation containing at least one coin for most or all of the denominations issued during the year of the set.

Mint State: An uncirculated coin that is in the same condition as when it left the mint.

MS: Aconynm for mint state.


Coin Collecting Terms: N

Natural Toning: The natural colouration on a coin over a prolonged period.

Numismatics: The collection and study of coins, tokens, medals, paper money and other objects exchanged for goods and services or manufactured by similar methods.

Numismatist: A person who collects and/or studies numismatic items. Numismatic Society of Ireland is the offical organisation of Numismatists in Ireland.


Coin Collecting Terms: O

Obsolete: A coin or series of coins that is no longer produced.

Obverse: The side of a coin that bears the principal device. The “heads” side.

OBW: Original bank-wrapped.

Oddity: When something out of the ordinary happens to a coin it can be called an oddity. This can be an error that was made at the mint or something that happened to a coin after it was minted.

Overdate: A coin struck from a die with at least one number in the date repunched over a different digit.

Overdipped: A coin that has been dulled by soaking in a dipping solution.


Coin Collecting Terms: P

Patina: A brown or green surface film found on ancient copper or bronze coins caused by oxidation over a long period of time.

Pattern: A coin struck as a test for a new design, usually without a date.

Peripheral Toning: Even coloration that appears around a coin’s edge.

PF: Acronymn for proof.

PR: Acronymn for proof.

Pitted: When a coin has a rough surface due to corrosion, resulting in a loss of metal.

Plain Edge: An edge without any design features.

Planchet: A disc of metal or other material on which the dies of a coin are struck.

PQ: Acronymn  for Premium quality.

PR: ANA grading standard meaning Poor.

Proof: A coin specially manufactured to have extra sharp detail, mirrorlike fields, and sometimes frosted or “cameo” devices, produced for sale to collectors at a premium or for presentation or exhibition.

Prooflike: Having mirrorlike fields, similar to a coin struck as a proof.

Proof Set: A specially packaged group of coins containing at least one of, most or all of the denominations of proof coins struck by a nation in a particular year.

Coin Collecting Terms: Q

Questionable Toning: A coin with coloring that can’t be determined to be original.


Coin Collecting Terms: R

Radiate: Refers to a figure on a coin that has a spiked or pointed crown that radiates upward or outward.

Rarity: An infrequentIy encountered or available coin.

Rarity Scale: A system for designating the rarity of a coin.

Reeded Edge: An edge with raised parallel lines.

Relief: Design features rising above the field.

Repunched Mintmark (RPM): A mintmark punched more than once in different locations or orientations.

Reverse: The side of the coin opposite to that on which the principal device is impressed. The “Tails” side of the coin.

Rim: The outer edge of the coin.


Coin Collecting Terms: S

Series: Coins of the same major design and denomination, including every combination of date and mintmark minted.

Sheldon Scale: A grading system ranging from 1 to 70, created by Dr. William H. Sheldon to denote proportional values of large cents minted from 1793 to 1814 and subsequently adapted as a general grading scale.

Silver Clad: A clad coin with one layer of silver.

Split Grade: When a coin is given different grades for it’s obverse and reverse side.

Striations: Incuse marks caused by rolling bars while creating planchets.

Strike: The process of impressing the design from a die into a planchet to make a coin.


Coin Collecting Terms: T

Tab Toning: A commemorative coin stored in round-tabbed cardboard holders which resulted in toned coins with a round center.

Target Toning: When a coin has rings of coloring that fade toward the center, creating the effect of an archery target.

Toning: Color acquired from a chemical change on the surface of a coin.

Truncation: When a portrait on a coin is sharply cut off at the bottom.


Coin Collecting Terms: U

Ultra Rarity: Any coin where only a few exist.

UNC: Shorthard term for uncirculated.

Uncirculated: Never circulated and has no wear.

Universal Rarity Scale: A scale that measures degree of rarity. A Ten-point, ascending scale, the higher the number the rarer the coin. The scale goes from UR1-readily available to UR10-unique. If a coin is designated as UR10 it literally means it is unique and no others exist.

Upsetting Mill / Upsetting Machine: A machine used in coin production to raise the rim on both sides of a blank.

URS: Acronymn for Universal Rarity Scale.


Coin Collecting Terms: V

Variety: A coin struck from a die pair that differs from others with the same date and mintmark.

VF: ANA standard meaning Very Fine.

VG: ANA standard meaning Very Good.

VG08VG: ANA standard, very good level 8 to very good.

VG10VG+: ANA standard, very good level 10 to very good plus.


Coin Collecting Terms: W

Wear: Metal lost during handling and contact with other objects.

Whizzing: A process of mechanical polishing to include a shiny surface.

Wire Edge: A coin with a sharp, thin rim. Created when metal flows between a die and the collar during striking.


Coin Collecting Terms: X

XF: ANA standard meaning extremely fine.

Coin Collecting Terms: Y

Year Set: A privately packaged coin set consisting of a specimen of each coin from each Mint issued for circulation in a particular year.

Coin Collecting Terms: Z

I’ve yet to come accross any coin collecting terms beginning with Z! if you know any leave a comment.

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The purpose of this website is to educate and entertain, All values shown are a guideline only and should not be used for any means of financial investment or speculation, as with all things values may fluctuate depending on demand and scarcity, we strongly advise that all information on this website is used as it was intended – for entertainment purposes. The information relating to coins is sourced from many places such as NGC, PCGS and The Irish Central Bank.