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].
A thin piece of metal that has nearly become detached from the surface of a coin. If this breaks off, an irregular hole or planchet flaw is left.
A large copper U.S. coin, one-hundredth of a dollar, issued from 1793 until 1857, when it was replaced by a much smaller cent made from a copper-nickel alloy. The value of copper in a large cent had risen to more than one cent, requiring the reduction in weight.
Term referring to the size of the digits of the date on a coin. (Use of this term implies that a medium or small date exists for that coin or series.)
Alternate form of Heraldic Eagle.
Term referring to the size of the lettering of the date on a coin. (Use of this term implies that medium or small letters exist for that coin or series.)
– Common short name for the particular variety of two-cent coin of 1864 with large letters in the motto. The inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST” was first used on the two-cent coinage of 1864. Congress mandated this inscription for all coinage and it has been used on nearly every coin since that time.
A term referring to the particular diameter of a coin in a series. (Use of this term implies that there is a small size or diameter with the same motif. Examples are the Large and Small size Capped Bust quarters.)
Short for large date.
Coins and currency issued by the government as official money that can be used to pay legal debts and obligations.
A phrase that appears on a coin – for instance, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
A coin edge that displays an inscription or other design elements, rather than being reeded or plain. The lettering can be either incuse (recessed below the surface) or raised. Incuse lettering is applied before a coin is struck; the Mint did this with a device called the Castaing machine. Raised lettering is found on coins struck with segmented collars; the lettering is raised during the minting process, and when the coin is ejected from the dies, the collar "falls" apart, preventing the lettering from being sheared away.
The alphabet characters used in creating legends, mottoes, and other inscriptions on a coin, whether on the obverse, reverse, or edge.
Slang for Liberty Head. (i.e. a twenty Lib, a Ten Lib, etc.)
The symbolic figure used in many U.S. coin designs.
The head of Miss Liberty, with a cap on a pole by her head, used on certain U.S. half cents and large cents.
The design used on most U.S. gold coins from 1838 until 1908. This design was first employed by Christian Gobrecht, with later modifications by Robert Ball Hughes and James Longacre. Morgan dollars and Barber coinage sometimes are referred to as Liberty Head coins.
Short for Liberty Head or “V” nickel struck from 1883 until 1912. (The coins dated 1913 were clandestinely struck and are not regular issues.)
The motif designed by Christian Gobrecht first used on the Gobrecht dollars of 1836-1839 featuring Miss Liberty seated on a rock. This design was used on nearly all regular issue silver coinage from 1837 until 1891. (1838-1891 for quarters, 1839-1891 for half dollars, and 1840-1873 for dollars.)
The band of light seen on photographs of coins, especially Proofs. This band also is seen when a coin is examined under a light.
Slang for a Lincoln Head cent.
The Victor D. Brenner designed cent first struck in 1909 and continuing until today although the reverse was changed in 1959 to the Memorial Reverse. These were struck in bronze until 1982, except for 1943 when they were issued in steel with a zinc coating and 1945-1945 when melted shell casings were employed to produce planchets. Currently, the Lincoln cent is struck on planchets composed of a zinc core and a 5% copper coating.
Slang for Lincoln Head cent.
A coin that is on the cusp between two different grades. A 4/5 liner is a coin that is either a high-end MS/PR-64 or a minimum-standard MS/PR-65.
A repeating depression on a coin, usually thin and curly, caused by a thread that adhered to a die during the coin's production. Lint marks are found primarily on Proofs. After dies are polished, they are wiped with a cloth, and these sometimes leave tiny threads.
Short for large letters.
Short for the Long Beach Coin and Stamp Exhibition held in Long Beach, California. This show is held three times a year, usually in February, June, and October. These are among the most popular commercial exhibitions each year.
The unique number assigned by the auction house to an item(s) to be sold in a particular sale. (i.e. The 1858 Seated dollar was lot 455 of the FUN 1999 sale.)
A magnifying glass used to examine coins. Loupes are found in varying strengths or "powers".
In numismatics, the amount and strength of light reflected from a coin’s surface or its original mint bloom. Luster is the result of light reflecting on the flow lines, whether visible or not.
Alternate form of luster.
A term used to describe coins that still have original mint bloom.