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].
Common name for the Liberty Head five-cent coins struck from 1883 through 1912. (The 1913 was struck clandestinely and is not listed in Mint reports.)
Unique number assigned to each die combination of Morgan and Peace dollar known to the authors of The Complete Catalog and Encyclopedia of United States Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars. Called VAM because of the authors Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis.
The Morgan and Peace dollar variety book authors. First published in 1971, it was updated and reprinted in 1998.
A coin of the same date and basic design as another but with slight differences. PCGS recognizes all major varieties while there are thousands of minor varieties, most of which have significance only to specialists of the particular series. After hubbed dies, introduced in the 1840s, varieties are mainly variations in date and mintmark size and placement.
Short for 1909 VDB Lincoln Head cent. Controversy arose over having a non-Mint engraver’s initials on a coin, so Victor D. Brenner’s initials were removed. This was likely a jealous complaint from the Chief Engraver Charles Barber as the tiny B on the Barber series had generated no outcry. This is a similar situation to the complaint lodged, again probably by the Chief Engraver of the time William Kneass, against the name-below-base Gobrecht dollars. This overt signing was moved to a less obvious position on the base of the rock of the Gobrecht dollar while, in 1918, the VDB was returned to the Lincoln Head cent albeit in a less conspicuous place on the slanted area at the bottom of Lincoln’s shoulder.
The grader at PCGS who looks at graded coins and decides whether the indicated grade is correct. He may tag a coin to be looked at again by the graders.
The term corresponding to the grades VF-20, 25, 30, and 35. This has the broadest range of any circulated grade, with nearly full detail on some VF-35 coins and less than half on some VF-20 specimens.
The term corresponding to the grades VG-8 and VG-10. In these grades, between Good and Fine, a coin has slightly more detail than in Good, usually with full rims except on certain series such as Buffalo nickels.
vest pocket dealer
A part-time coin merchant. The term originated with those individuals who roamed the bourse floor ready to whip out of their vests a small plastic coin binder containing coins in two-by-two cardboard holders. Today, not one-in-a-thousand individuals wears a vest, but the moniker stuck.
This is for "Very Fine" (the grade) and "20" (the numerical designation of the grade). Wing feathers show most of their detail, lettering is readable but sometimes indistinct and some minor detail is sometimes separate but usually blended.
This is for "Very Fine" (the grade) and "25" (the numerical designation of the grade). In this grade about 60% of the original detail is evident, with the major devices being clear and distinct.
This is for "Very Fine" (the grade) and "30" (the numerical designation of the grade). The devices are sharp with only a small amount of blending. Up to 75% of the original detail is evident.
This is for "Very Fine" (the grade) and "35" (the numerical designation of the grade). This grade used to be called VF/EF (or VF/XF) before numerical grading was accepted throughout the hobby. Devices are sharp and clear and up to 80% of the detail is in evidence.
This is for "Very Good" (the grade) and "10" (the numerical designation of the grade). A higher grade (less worn) than the VG-8 coin. Design detail is still heavily worn but the major devices and lettering are clear.
This is for "Very Good" (the grade) and "8" (the numerical designation of the grade). A slight amount of design detail is still showing on the coin, such as a couple of letters in the word LIBERTY.