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 by the main mint located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Term applied to the coins struck at the main Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Short for Panama-Pacific Exhibition.
Slang for either of the 1915-dated Panama-Pacific fifty-dollar commemorative coins, the octagonal or the round.
A 1915 exhibition held in San Francisco, California to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal.
Term used among collectors for notes of the entire field of currency, no matter what medium on which they may be printed.
Partial Edge Lettering
Have at least one complete letter or star missing.
Note: This variety will not be recognized if part of the edge design was caused by damage.
Synonym for toning.
A test striking of a coin produced to demonstrate a proposed design, size, or composition (whether adopted or not). Patterns often are made in metals other than the one proposed; examples of this include aluminum and copper patterns of the silver Trade dollar. Off-metal strikes such as this also are referred to as die trials of a pattern.
Short for “Professional Coin Grading Service”.
PCGS Population Report
Quarterly publication by PCGS listing the number of coins graded and
their grade. Totals are for coins graded by PCGS since its inception in
1986. Also published weekly on the PCGS website at www.pcgs.com/popreport.
Common name for the silver dollar struck from 1921 to 1935. Designed by Anthony Francisci to commemorate the peace following World War I, the first year featured another coin designated High Relief. In 1922, the relief was lowered resulting in the Regular Relief type that continued until 1935.
A listing of a coin’s current owner plus all known previous owners.
In American numismatics, slang for a one-cent coin.
Light, medium, or dark coloring around the edge of a coin.
The “mother” Mint, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. First established in 1792, the Philadelphia Mint has occupied four different locations. Currently, it is located in Independence Square, within sight of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The Philadelphia mint engraves all U.S. coins and medals, manufactures coin and medal dies, manufactures coins of all denominations for general circulation, manufactures commemorative coins, and produces medals. This mint currently uses the “P” mintmark but coins produced prior to 1980 have no mintmark.
Slang for a coin bought at a bargain price.
Term to describe the dealer who sells a pick off.
A term that means "double thick," it usually refers to French coins that were made in a double thickness to signify double value. Sometimes spelled Piefort.
Those privately-issued gold coins struck prior to 1861. These include coins struck in Georgia and North Carolina although no “pioneers” were responsible for the gold mined in those states. Generally associated with the private issues from California and the other post-1848 finds in Nevada, Oregon, and Colorado.
Short for prooflike.
A flat, smooth edge seen mainly on a small-denomination coinage.
The blank disk of metal before it is struck by a coining press which transforms it into a coin. Type I planchets are flat. Type II planchets have upset rims from the milling machine, these to facilitate easier striking in close collars.
Any of the various abnormalities found on coin blanks. These include drift marks, laminations, clips, and so forth.
An irregular hole in a coin blank, sometimes the result of a lamination that has broken away.
Fine, incuse lines found on some Proof coins, though rarely on business strikes, usually the result of polishing blanks to impart mirrorlike surfaces prior to striking.
A term used to describe a coin to which a thin layer of metal has been applied-for example, gold-plated copper strikings of certain U.S. pattern coins.
Precious metal sometimes used for coinage. The only United States issues struck in platinum are the pattern half dollars of 1814 and the modern platinum Eagles.
A term used to describe a coin that has had a hole filled, often so expertly that it can only be discerned only under magnification.
Short for Professional Numismatists Guild. PNG's web site can be viewed at: www.PNGdealers.com
Before third-party certification was started by PCGS in 1986, these certificates were the best available protection for the coin buyer. Each PNG dealer could issue a certificate, one copy given to the buyer and one copy sent to the PNG main office. This provided not only a guarantee of authenticity, but also provided a space for a description that could be useful in cases of stolen collections.
This is for "Poor" (the grade) and "1" (the numerical designation that means Poor). A coin of this grade is basically uncollectible due to its terrible condition, but coins of great rarity (such as an 1802 half dime) are still of considerable value and in demand in this grade. In order to "reach" this grade a coin must be identifiable as to date and type and not be horribly damaged (such as holes).
A die that has been basined to remove clash marks or other die injury. In a positive sense, Proof dies were basined to impart mirrorlike surfaces, resulting in coins with reflective field.
A chemical used in coin flips to make them pliable.
The grade PO-1. A coin with readable date and mint mark (if present), but little more, barely identifiable as to type. (One-year type coins do not require a readable date to qualify for this grade.)
Short for “PCGS Population Report.”
A coin that is on top of the Population Report and scores the maximum number of points on the PCGS Set Registry.
A description indicating a rough or granular surface, typically seen on pre-1816 copper coins.
Short for premium quality.
Short for Proof.
A term applied to coins that are the best examples within a particular grade.
A coin, often a Proof or an exceptionally sharp business strike, specially struck and given to a dignitary or other person.
Any of the various coining machines. Examples include the screw press and the steam-powered knuckle-action press.
The asking quotation for a particular numismatic item. “What’s the price?” is a common phrase on the bourse floor.
A periodical, whether electronic or paper, listing approximate prices for numismatic items, whether wholesale or retail.
A term applied to coins in original, unimpaired condition. These coins typically are graded MS/PR-67 and higher.
Professional Coin Grading Service
Established in 1985, this was the first third-party grading service to grade, encapsulate, and guarantee the authenticity for numismatic material. Based in Newport Beach, California.
Professional Numismatists Guild
A dealer organization begun in 1955. The membership is restricted by financial and longevity requirements.
A coin usually struck from a specially prepared coin die on a specially prepared planchet. Proofs are usually given more than one blow from the dies and are usually struck with presses operating at slower speeds and higher striking pressure. Because of this extra care, Proofs usually exhibit much sharper detail than regular, or business, strikes. PCGS recognizes Proofs (PR) as those struck in 1817 and later. Those coins struck prior to 1817 are recognized as Specimen strikes (SP).
A coin set containing Proof issues from particular year. A few sets contain anomalies such as the 1804 dollar and eagle in 1834 presentation Proof sets.
Specially prepared dies, often sandblasted or acid-picked, that are used to strike Proof coins. Often, the fields are highly polished to a mirrorlike finish, while the recessed areas are left “rough”; on coins struck with such dies, the devices are frosted and contrast with highly reflective fields. Matte, Roman, and Satin Proof dies are not polished to a mirror-like finish.
A coin struck only in Proof, with no business-strike counterpart.
Term to designate a coin that has mirror-like surfaces, the term especially applicable to Morgan dollars. Those Morgan dollars that meet PCGS prooflike standards are designated PL.
Term synonymous with pedigree.
A steel rod with a device, lettering, date, star, or some other symbol on the end which was sunk into a working die by hammering on the opposite end of the rod.
Term applied to a roll of coins that is not original, usually the best condition coins have been removed and replaced with lesser quality coins. (It is not unusual to find slightly circulated coins in such rolls.)
Short for polyvinyl chloride.
A film, usually green, left on a coin after storage in flips that contain PVC. During the early stage, this film may be clear and sticky.
Any of the various soft coin flips that contain PVC.