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 West Point, New York branch mint.
Term applied to the coins struck at the West Point, New York branch mint.
Slang for a Walking Liberty half dollar.
Common name for a Walking Liberty half dollar.
Walking Liberty half dollar
Those half dollars struck from 1916 until 1947. The Walking Liberty design by A.A. Weinman undoubtedly was inspired by the popular Saint-Gaudens/Charles Barber Liberty Standing double eagle then current.
Short for Wartime nickel.
Those five-cent coins struck during World War II comprised of 35% silver, 9% manganese, and 56% copper. Tradition has been that nickel was needed for the war effort, hence the metallic change. However, recent research has shown that the boost to morale by having an intrinsic-value small denomination coin may have played an important part in the issuance of the Wartime nickel.
Short for Washington quarter dollar.
Washington quarter dollar
The John Flanagan designed quarter dollar first struck in 1932 as a circulating commemorative coin. (This was to celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of George Washington’s birth.) It became a continuing series in 1934 and has been struck every year to 1998, albeit with a different reverse in 1976. In 1999, the obverse was redesigned and the State quarter series began to be struck. Each of the 50 State quarters will have a different reverse design with 5 new issues per year for 10 years.
A look seen on the surfaces of most close-collar Proof coins. Highly polished planchets and dies give the surfaces an almost “wavy” look-hence the term.
Weak Edge Lettering
Indicates the edge lettering is weaker than normal and has a portion of a letter/star or inscription missing. The missing part could be the serif of an "S" or "T" or part of a star.
Note: This variety will not be recognized if part of the edge design was caused by damage. This variety will also not be recognized if the overall strength of the edge lettering is strong and the missing element is caused by a die chip.
A term used to describe a coin that does not show intended detail because of improper striking pressure or improperly aligned dies.
An individual who is obsessed with a particular series or group of series. Examples are copper weenies, bust half weenies, etc.
West Point Mint
The West Point Mint was originally opened in 1937 as a bullion depository and was officially designated by Congress as a Mint on March 31, 1988. This mint manufactures American Eagle uncirculated and proof coins, manufactures all sizes of the proof and uncirculated silver, gold and platinum American Eagle coins, manufactures commemorative coins that Congress mandates, and stores platinum, gold and silver bullion. This mint uses the “W” mintmark.
Synonymous with “counting machine mark.”
Term to describe the process of mechanically moving the metal of a lightly circulated coin to simulate luster. Usually accomplished by using a wire brush attachment on a high-speed drill.
The thin, knife-like projection seen on some rims created when metal flows between the collar and the dies. Also, slang for the Wire Edge Indian Head eagle of 1907.
Wire Edge eagle
The 1907 Indian Head eagle for which only 500 coins were struck. Technically, a pattern, this design featured a fine wire rim and surfaces unlike any other United States issue. The fields and the devices of the die were heavily polished leaving myriad die striations that transferred to the struck coins. With a combination of satiny and striated surfaces, these rare coins have a look of their own. Often, unknowledgeable numismatists will look at one of these specimens and declare it hairlined or harshly cleaned.
Wire Edge Ten
Common name for the 1907-dated Wire Edge Indian Head eagle.
Alternate form of wire edge.
Alternate form of arrows at date.
with arrows and rays
Alternate form of arrows and rays.
Alternate form of motto.
Alternate for of rays.
Slang for a coin whose condition is particularly superb.
A die prepared from a working hub and used to strike coins.
A hub created from a master die and used to create the many working dies required for coinage.
Term applied to coins from countries other than the United States.
A die that has lost detail from extended use. Dies were often used until they wore out or were excessively cracked or broke apart. Coins struck from worn dies often appear to be weakly struck but no amount of striking pressure will produce detail that does not exist.
Common name for the second large cent type of 1793. Complaints about the Chain cent led to the redesign resulting in the Flowing Hair with wreath reverse type.