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].
This is for "Fine" (the grade) and "12" (the numerical designation of the grade). The design detail is partially in evidence. The coin is still heavily worn. If there is any eye appeal in this grade it comes from the smooth surfaces associated with this grade, as any distracting marks have usually been worn off through circulation.
This is for "Fine" (the grade) and "15" (the numerical designation of the grade). Most of the letters in LIBERTY are visible, about 35-50% of the wing feathers are visible, or whatever applies to the coin in question. In other words, the coin is still in highly collectible shape.
The stated value on a coin, at which it can be spent or exchanged. The face value is usually different from a coin’s numismatic or precious metal value.
The adjective corresponding to the grade FR-2. In this grade, there is heavy wear with the lettering, devices, and date partially visible.
Slang for a counterfeit or altered coin.
A term applied to coins struck at the whim of Mint officials. Examples include the 1868 large cent Type of 1857 and the various 1865 Motto and 1866 No Motto coins.
Term to designate the Roman symbol of authority used as a motif on the reverse of Mercury (Winged Liberty Head) dimes. It consists of a bundle of rods wrapped around an ax with a protruding blade. The designation "full bands" refers to fasces on which there is complete separation in the central bands across the rods.
Slang for the Small Size Capped Bust quarter and half eagles. (Mainly heard as “fat head fives.)
Short for Full Bands.
Short for Full Bell Lines.
Short for Full Head.
Coins and paper money that do not have metal value or are not backed up by metal value.
The portion of a coin where there is no design – generally the flat part (although on some issues, the field is slightly curved).
A PCGS grader who, before computers were used for this task, compared his own grade with those of other graders and determined the final grade. The verifier replaced the finalizer after PCGS began inputting the grades by computer.
The adjective corresponding to the grades F-12 and 15. In these grades, most of a coin's detail is worn away. Some detail is present in the recessed areas, but it is not sharp.
The best-known condition example of a particular numismatic item.
Slang for the opportunity to get the first opportunity to buy items from a particular numismatic deal or from a particular dealer.
First Strike (TM)
Beginning in 2004, PCGS began designating coins delivered by the U.S. Mint in the 30 day period following the release date of a new product as "First Strike". For instance, new American Silver Eagles typically are released by the Mint on January 1st, thus any coins delivered between January 1 and January 31 qualify for the First Strike (TM) designation.
Short for a five-dollar gold coin or half eagle.
Slang for the Indian Head half eagles struck from 1908 to 1929.
Slang for the Liberty Head half eagles struck from 1839 until 1908.
fixed price list
A dealer listing of items for sale at set prices.
Term referring to the particular specimens of High Reliefs that do not have a wire edge.
A subdued type of luster seen on coins struck from worn dies. Often these coins have a gray or otherwise dull color that makes the fields seem even more lackluster.
This has two meanings. First, it is the term for the plastic sleeve in which coins are stored. Also, it can mean to quickly sell a recently purchased coin, usually for a short profit. (The plastic flips used to submit coins to PCGS are not recommended for long term storage unless they do not contain PVC. Care should be used with the PVC-free flips as they are very brittle and can damage the delicate coin surfaces).
Discoloration, often only slight, on the highest points of a coin resulting from contact with a flip. On occasion, highly desirable coins sold in auctions have acquired minor rub from being repeatedly examined by eager bidders. The shifting of the coin, although it may be slight, can cause this rub.
To sell a new purchase for a short profit.
The lines, sometimes visible, resulting from the metal flowing outward from the center of a planchet as it is struck. The “cartwheel” luster is the result of light reflecting from these radial lines.
The design attributed to Mint engraver Robert Scot that features Miss Liberty with long, flowing hair.
Short for Flying Eagle Cent.
Flying Eagle Cent
The small cent, struck in 88% copper and 12% nickel, that replaced the large cent. This featured James Longacre’s reduction of the Gobrecht eagle used on the reverse of the silver dollars of 1836-1839.
The area of a coin to which a viewer's eye is drawn. An example is the cheek of a Morgan dollar.
Any numismatic item not from the United States
four-dollar gold piece
An experimental issue, also known as a stella, struck in 1879-1880 as a pattern. Often collected along with regular-issue gold coins, this was meant to be an international coin approximating the Swiss and French twenty-franc coins, the Italian twenty lira, etc.
Short for Fixed Price List.
This is for "Fair" (the grade) and "2" (the numerical designation that means Fair). A coin that is worn out. There will be some detail intact, the date will be discernible (if not fully readable) and there is almost always heavy wear into the rims and fields.
Short for Franklin half dollar.
Franklin half dollar
The John Sinnock designed half dollar struck from 1948 until 1963. This featured Ben Franklin on the obverse and the Liberty Bell on the reverse.
Slight wear on a coin's high points or in the fields.
A crystallized-metal effect seen in the recessed areas of a die, thus the raised parts of a coin struck with that die. This is imparted to dies by various techniques, such as sandblasting them or pickling them in acid, then polishing the fields, leaving the recessed areas with frost.
Raised elements on coins struck with treated dies that have frost in their recessed areas. Such coins have crystalline surfaces that resemble frost on a lawn.
The crystalline appearance of coins struck with dies that have frost in their recessed areas. Such coins show vibrant luster on their devices and/or surfaces; the amount of crystallization may vary. Also, this term is applied to coins whose entire surface his this look.
Short for Full Steps.
These 1787-dated one-cent coins are considered by some to be the first regular issue United States coin. Authorized by the Continental Congress, this would seem to be a logical conclusion. However, the Mint Act was not passed by Congress until 1792, so the case for the half dismes of 1792 as the first regular issue is also valid. (Adam Eckfeldt, Chief Coiner from 1814 to 1839 worked for the fledgling Mint in 1792 and was present for the striking of the 1792 half dismes. He is quoted in the 1840s that he considered the half dismes patterns and that George Washington gave them out as presents. He was a very old man by then, so perhaps his memory was failing him, but debate continues as to which coin deserves the distinction as the first regular issue. If the half disme and the Fugio cent are not the first coins, then that title would go to the Chain cent, which was the first coin struck in the newly occupied Mint building. Although the building was likely occupied in late 1792, as records indicate, it appears that all the machinery was not fully operational as Chain cents were not struck until March, 1793.)
Term applied to Mercury (Winged Liberty Head) dimes when the central band is fully separated (FB). There can be no disturbance of the separation. Also applicable to Roosevelt dimes that display full separation in both the upper and lower pair of crossbands on the torch.
Full Bell Lines
Term applied to Franklin half dollars when the lower sets of bell lines are complete (FBL). Very slight disturbance of several lines is acceptable.
Term applied to Standing Liberty quarters when the helmet of the head has full detail (FH). Both Type 1 and 2 coins are so designated but the criteria is different for both.
Term applied to a Jefferson five-cent example when at least 5 steps of Monticello are present.
A numismatic item that displays the full detail intended by the designer. Weak striking pressure, worn dies or improper planchets can sometimes prevent all the details from appearing, even on uncirculated specimens.
The first coin show each year. This annual convention is sponsored by the Florida United Numismatists and is held in early January.