Like all collectibles, the rare coin market has its own terms and slang. The following is a brief definition and explanation
of the most frequently used coin collecting terms.
NOTE:This is a work in progress and we would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Send your thoughts
to [email protected].
Mintmark used on gold coins of the Dahlonega, Georgia, Mint from 1838 to 1861 and on coins of all denominations struck at the Denver, Colorado, Mint from 1906 to the present.
Term used for the gold coinage struck at the branch Mint in Dahlonega, Georgia, from 1838 to 1861, and for the coinage struck at the branch Mint in Denver, Colorado, from 1906 to the present.
After the discovery of gold in the southern United States a new mint was constructed in Dahlonega, Georgia. The first coinage exited its doors in 1838 and it continued minting until it was closed due to the civil war in 1861. The 1861-D gold dollars were struck after the Mint was seized, the mintage figure for this rare issue is not listed in Mint records and has been estimated at 1,000 to 1,500 examples. The Dahlonega Mint struck only gold coins and used the “D” mintmark.
The numerals on a coin representing the year in which it was struck. Restrikes are made in years subsequent to the one that appears on them. Also, slang for a more valuable issue within a series.
Short for Deep Cameo.
An acronym for Doubled Die Obverse.
Someone whose occupation is buying, selling, and trading numismatic material.
The term applied to coins, usually Proofs and prooflike coins, that have deeply frosted devices and lettering that contrast with the fields - often called “black and white” cameos. Specifically applied to those 1950 and later Proofs that meet deep cameo standards (DCAM).
deep mirror prooflike
Any coin that has deeply reflective mirror-like fields, the term especially applicable for Morgan dollars. Those Morgan dollars that meet PCGS standards are designated deep mirror prooflike (DMPL).
The value assigned by a government to a specific coin.
The tooth-like devices around the rim seen on many coins. Originally these are somewhat irregular, later much more uniform - the result of better preparatory and striking machinery.
Short for denticles.
The Denver Mint was established in 1906. It had formerly been an Assay Office since 1863. Today, this Mint manufactures coins of all denominations for general circulation, medals, coin dies, stores gold and silver bullion, manufactures uncirculated coin sets and commemorative coins. This mint uses the “D” mintmark.
A particular motif on a coin or other numismatic item. The Seated Liberty, Barber, Morgan, etc. are examples of designs.
A specific motif placed upon coinage which may be used for several denominations and subtypes, e.g., the Liberty Seated design type used for silver coins from half dimes through dollars and various subtypes therein.
The individual responsible for a particular motif used for a numismatic series.
Any specific design element. Often refers to the principal design element, such as the head of Miss Liberty.
A steel rod with a raised device on the end used to punch the element into a working die. This technique was used before hubbed dies became the norm.
A steel rod that is engraved, punched, or hubbed with devices, lettering, the date, and other emblems.
Term to indicate the relative position of the obverse and reverse dies. When the dies are out of alignment, several things can happen: If the dies are out of parallel, weakness may be noted in a quadrant of the coin's obverse and the corresponding part of the reverse; and if the dies are spaced improperly, the resultant coins may have overall weakness; if the dies are spaced too close together, the resultant coin may be well struck but the dies wear more quickly.
An area of a coin that is the result of a broken die. This may be triangular or other geometric shape. Dies are made of steel and they crack from use and then, if not removed from service, eventually break. When the die totally breaks apart, the resultant break will result in a full, or retained, cud depending whether the broken piece falls from the die or not.
A raised, irregular line on a coin, ranging from very fine to very large, some quite irregular. These result when a hairline break occurs in a die.
These are the raised lines on the coins that result from the polish lines on the die, which are incuse, resulting in the raised lines on the coins.
Rust that has accumulated on a die that was not stored properly. Often such rust was polished away, so that only the deeply recessed parts of the die still exhibited it. A few examples are known of coins that were struck with extremely rusted dies – the 1876-CC dime, for one.
There are two definitions for this term. One, many numismatists use it as a synonym for "die state." Two, some numismatists use the term "die stage" to refer to the specific status of a certain die state. For instance, in die state XYZ this coin exhibits a large cud at six o'clock, but in this particular die stage the cud isn't fully formed.
A readily identified point in the life of a coinage die. Often dies clash and are polished, crack, break, etc., resulting in different stages of the die. These are called die states. Some coins have barely distinguishable die states, while others go through multiple distinctive ones.
Raised lines on coins that were struck with polished dies. As more coins are struck with such dies, the striations become fainter until most disappear.
A test striking of a particular die in a different metal.
A coin that can be linked to a given set of dies because of characteristics possessed by those dies and mparted to the coin at the time it was struck. In the early years of U.S. coinage history, when dies were made by hand engraving or punching, each die was slightly different. The coins from these unique dies are die varieties and are collected in every denomination. By the 1840's, when dies were made by hubbing and therefore were more uniform, die varieties resulted mainly from variances in the size, shape, and positioning of the date and mintmark.
Deterioration in a die caused by excessive use. This may evidence itself on coins produced with that die in a few indistinct letters or numerals or, in extreme cases, a loss of detail throughout the entire coin. Some coins, especially certain nickel issues, have a fuzzy, indistinct appearance even on Uncirculated examples.
The denomination, one tenth of a dollar, issued since 1796 by the United States.
Slang term for a small to medium size mark.
A term applied to a coin that has been placed in a commercial "dip" solution, a mild acid wash that removes the toning from most coins. Some dip solutions employ other chemicals, such as bases, to accomplish a similar result. The first few layers of metal are removed with every dip, so coins repeatedly dipped will lose luster, hence the term "overdipped".
Any of the commercial "dips" available on the market, usually acid-based.
The original spelling of dime, the s silent and thought to have been pronounced to rhyme with steam. (This variation was used in Mint documents until the 1830s and was officially changed by the Coinage Act of 1837.)
Short for deep mirror prooflike.
Did Not Cross (you will still be charged the grading fees)
Term used for a numismatic item that has been enhanced by chemical or other means. Usually, this is used in a derogatory way.
The denomination, consisting of one hundred cents, authorized by the Mint Act of 1792. This is the anglicized spelling of the European Thaler and was used because of the world-wide acceptance of the Thaler and the Spanish Milled dollar or piece-of-eight.
Literally two eagles, or twenty dollars. A twenty-dollar U.S. gold coin issued from 1850 through 1932. One gold double eagle dated 1849 is known and is part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Nearly half a million examples dated 1933 were struck by the U.S. Mint, but virtually all were melted when private gold ownership was outlawed that year. (Currently federal officials claim it is illegal to own any 1933-dated specimens that survive.)
Double Edge Lettering-Inverted
Is normally a coin sent through the edge lettering device a second time with one set of lettering upside down. It also includes doubling of any design element due to slippage of the edge lettering device, such as a P mintmark over the 9 of the date.
Double Edge Lettering-Overlap
Is normally a coin sent through the edge lettering device a second time with the lettering in the same direction. It also includes doubling of any design element due to slippage of the edge lettering device, such as a P mintmark over the 9 of the date.
A die that has been struck more than once by a hub in misaligned positions, resulting in doubling of design elements. Before the introduction of hubbing, the individual elements of a coin's design were either engraved or punched into the die, so any doubling was limited to a specific element. With hubbed dies, multiple impressions are needed from the hub to make a single die with adequate detail. When shifting occurs in the alignment between the hub and the die, the die ends up with some of its features doubled – then imparts this doubling to every coin it strikes. The coins struck from such dies are called doubled-die errors – the most famous being the 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln cent. PCGS uses doubled die as the designation.
Slang for the rare 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent variety.
A condition that results when a coin is not ejected from the dies and is struck a second time. Such a coin is said to be double-struck. Triple-struck coins and other multiple strikings also are known. Proofs are usually double-struck on purpose in order to sharpen their details; this is sometimes visible under magnification.
Short For Daily Price Guide, specifically the Coin Universe Daily Price Guide
The design attributed to Mint engraver Robert Scot that features Miss Liberty with a drape across her bust. Scot presumably copied the design after a portrait by Gilbert Stuart.
– An area on a coin, often rather long, that has a discolored, streaky look. This is the result of impurities or foreign matter in the dies. One theory is that burnt wood was rolled into the strips from which the planchets were cut, resulting in these black streaks.
Term for a numismatic item that is lack luster. This may be the result of cleaning, oxidation, or other environmental conditions.