Coin Slang / Coin Jargon

So you just read an article about coins, and didn’t understand half of what it said? This page is here to help demystify and explain the language and acronyms that many coin collectors and dealers use on a daily basis. The following coin collector’s dictionary should help you out:

What do all these coin words mean?!

A – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Aesthetic Appeal: Basically, the attractiveness of a coin. This is subject to opinion, so don’t be convinced you think the coin looks great if you don’t think it does.

AG: About Good: Official ANA Coin Grade.

Alloy: A compound mixture of two, three, or sometimes more different metals.

American Eagle: Bullion coins issued by the US Mint. Most commonly available in silver and gold, proof and uncirculated.

ANA: American Numismatic Association: A nonprofit organization focused on promoting study and education of numismatics.

ANACS: This is one of the four generally trusted third party grading services.

Artificial Toning: Unnatural or fake coloring of a coin done by applying chemicals or other methods. People attempt to make it look like real toning, to get a premium for their coin.

Assay: Analyzing a coin to determine how pure a metal is.

AU: About Uncirculated: Official ANA Coin Grade.

Authentic: Genuine, aka not fake. Many third party grading services will ‘authenticate’ a coin.

B – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Bag Mark: Small marks on the surface of a coin caused by being in a bag with other coins.

Bank Note: Money in paper form.

Bicentennial Coins: Coins struck during the bicentennial era celebrating the 200th birthday of the US.

Blank: A metal circle without details. Basically a coin before it is pressed and made into a coin. Also know as a Planchet.

Blemish: Small marks or discolorations in a coin.

Blue Book: A guide to the “wholesale value” of a coin.

Blue Sheet: A section of the CDN newsletter.

BN: Brown: Relating to copper coins that are mostly brown, with little red remaining. Most commonly used with copper coinage.

Body Bag: A coin returned from a third party grading service that has not been giving a grade due to some sort of problem.

Bronze: A mixture of 95% copper and 5% zinc and tin.

BU: Brilliant Uncirculated: A coin that has no major indications of wear.

BU Roll: A roll of coins that have no major indications of wear.

Bullion: Precious metals in the form of bars, ingots, or rounds.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing: US Treasury Department agent that produces currency.

Business Strike: A coin made for everyday business. The coins in your pockets right now are business strikes.

C – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

C: North Carolina mint mark.

CAC: Third party company that puts a sticker on a slabbed coin to say they agree with the grade. I’m sure they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

CAM: Short for Cameo. A strong contrast between the mirrored field and the features. Deep Cameo and Ultra Cameo can also be used to describe superb cameo coins.

CC: Carson City mint mark.

CDN: Coin Dealer Newsletter aka greysheet. This is what most coin dealers base their prices off.

Certified Coin: A graded coin encapsulated by a third party. Also referred to as slabbed and holdered coins.

Cherry Picking: To search for a coin that is worth more than its selling price… in other words, searching for a great deal.

Circulated: A coin that has been in general circulation with signs of wear.

Clad Coin: An outer alloy bonded to a core of a different metal. Often referred to 40% silver Kennedy Half Dollars.

Clash Mark: Striking a coin opposite (flipped over), and then striking a new coin. The newly struck coin is left with a faint impression of the opposite side.

Cleaning: Altering the original surface of a coin. This almost always results in a lower value for the coin.

CN: Copper Nickel. An copper nickel alloy used in the minting of a handful of mid 19th century coins.

Coin Show: A gathering of coin dealers to trade, sell, and buy coins from the general public and other dealers.

Colonial Coins: Coins from any of the original 13 colonies. These are surprisingly affordable!

Color: Basic characteristic of a coin. Wide variety of options, like: White, Rainbow, Reddish Brown, etc…

Commemorative: A coin minted to honor an outstanding event, person, organization, or place.

Condition: The actual state of a given coin. This is the first thing to think about when grading a coin.

Copper: Metal used in the minting of some coins.

Copy: Fake. Replica. False. Many ‘copied’ coins have COPY stamped in them, but beware of the ones that do not.

Counterfeit: Fake coin made or altered with the intention to deceive or scam.

Counterstamp: A design stamped into a coin for identification or promotion of something.

Cull: Extraordinarily poor quality coin. Culls are often separated and sold for dirt cheap.

Currency: Any money form used for trade, like coins and paper money.

D – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

D: Denver mint mark.

Date: The year printed on the coin. Usually indicates the year is was minted.

DCAM: Deep Cameo: A coin with heavily frosted areas and sharp detail contrast within itself.

Dealer: Someone that buys and sells coins for profit.

Denomination: The dollar amount to any given coin. A nickel is an example of a denomination.

Details: The small characteristics within the design of a coin.

Die: The metal pieces used to strike a coin.

Die Break: The impression / alteration left in a coin by a crack in the die.

Die Chip: When a small piece breaks off from the die and effects the production of a coin.

Die Clash: Striking a coin opposite (flipped over), and then striking a new coin. The newly struck coin is left with a faint impression of the opposite side.

Die Polish: Raised lines on a coin caused from the polishing of die.

Die State: The current condition of any given die.

Die Variety: Often referred to when talking about coin dies. A die variety is a minor change to the coin design often caused by different die pairs.

Dipped: Removing tarnish and surface dirt from a coin by placing it in a mild acidic solution.

Double Struck: A coin struck twice.

Double Die: A coin that has misaligned elements created by striking it in two different positions.

E – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Edge: The area around a coin. Think of the circumference.

EF: Extra Fine: Official ANA Coin Grade.

Error Coin: A coin with any given number of defects. Accidentally released to the public.

Exonumia: The art of collecting medals, tokens, and other similar coin-like objects.

Eye Appeal: Basically the attractiveness of a coin. This is subject to opinion, so don’t let the dealer convince you the coin looks great if you don’t think it does.

F – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

F: Fine: Official ANA Coin Grade.

Face Value: A quarter has a ‘face value’ of 25 cents. Got it?

Fair: A coin in absolutely horrible and almost unreadable state.

FBL: Full Bell Line: Special term for Franklin Half Dollar where the lower lines on the Liberty Bell are completely visible. These are more rare than non-FBL, so keep your eyes open!

First Strike: A coin that is struck soon after a new die is installed. These are popular because the details are sharper than other coins in the same series.

Flip: Also called a 2 x 2. This is a cheap square coin holder that allows you to see the coin details and offers some protection. Can also be a mylar flip, which is made out of, you guess it… mylar.

Flip A Coin: Just like flipping a house. Buy the coin, turn around quickly and sell it for a profit.

Fractional Currency: Paper money that has a face value below $1.

Frost: A Crystallized metal effect that can be seen in the low areas of a die.

FS: Full Steps: A special term for the Jefferson Nickel where all of the steps on the reverse are visible and fully defined.

FSB: Full Split Band: A special term for the Mercury Dime where all of the horizontal bands on the reverse are visible and fully separated.

Fugio Cent: First coin that the US government authorized in 1787. This was minted by private contractors.

Full Horn: Special term for Buffalo Nickels, where the all of the horn on the buffalo is visible. Along with the date, this is one of the spots on the buffalo nickel where signs of wear shows quickly.

Full Strike: A coin that has complete details. This is cause by a hard solid strike.

G – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

G: Good: Official ANA Coin Grade.

Gem BU: A coin that is in excellent condition. No signs of wear, and can be uncirculated or proof.

Grade: A rating for the condition of any given coin. Coins are currently graded on a 70 point scale.

Grading Services: A third party company that encapsulates a coin and gives it a grade. Remember, there are four trustworthy grading services.

Greysheet: Also known as the CDN, Coin Dealer Newsletter. This weekly newsletter is what coin dealers use as the basis for their prices.

H – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Hairline: A tiny line or scratch.

High Relief: A coin that has details that are high and fields that are low. This is most commonly seen in the St. Gaudens double eagle $20 coin.

Hobo Nickel: A Buffalo nickel that was modified to look more like art. There are original Hobo Nickels, and many many many recent copies.

Holder: Where you put your coins. Also know as a slab.

Holed: A coin that has a hole drilled in it. Usually used for jewelry.

I – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ICG: Independent Coin Grading. One of the four major grading service companies.

Ingot: Metal formed into a cube, bar, or round for easy trade.

Inscription: The small lettering stamped onto a coin.

Intrinsic Value: The precious metal value of a coin.

J – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Junk Silver: 90% silver coinage.

K – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Key Date: Lowest mintage coins in a given series. Also know as the hardest dates to acquire.

L – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Lettered Edge: Writing on the edge of a coin.

Loupe: Small magnifying glass commonly used by coin nerds.

Lot: A group of items. Most commonly used in regards to auctions.

Luster: A glossy sheen that is reflected in a coin. Luster may fade from the time a coin was minted.

M – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Market Value: The price a coin can be sold for.

Matte Proof: A special type of proof coin used in the early 1900s.

Medallion: Looks like a coin, but its not a coin. Similar to a token.

Melt Value: What a coin would be worth if you melted it down. Based on the precious metal content.

Micro: Tiny. A great example is the 1945 Micro S Mercury Dime.

Mint: A place where coins are made!

Motto: A phrase on a coin that expresses an important ideal. A great example of a motto is “In God We Trust”.

MS: Mint State: Official ANA Coin Grade.

N – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Natural Toning: Natural coloring that occurs over time on a coin.

NCLT: Non-circulating legal tender. Coins that are technically legal tender (gold coins, proofs, etc…) but not intended for monetary use.

Net Grade: Coin grade after all the negative aspects / problems are evaluated for a coin.

Net Price: Most commonly used for the price of a coin that has some kind of problems.

NGC: Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. One of the four trusted third party grading services.

Nickel: Alloy of copper and nickel.

Numismatics: The collection and study of coins. Also a fancy word to say coin collecting.

Numismatist: One who ‘studies’ coin collecting. Also know as a coin nerd.

O – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

O: New Orleans mint mark.

Obsolete: A coin that is no longer minted.

Obverse: The front side of a coin. Also known as the “heads” side.

OBW Roll: Original Bank Wrapped Roll: A roll of uncirculated coins from the same year and mint.

Off-center: A coin that is not exactly centered.

Overdate: A date that is stamped over another date. Written like 1878/9.

Overgrading: Giving a coin a higher grade than it actually is. Usually done to deceive a buyer into paying more than they should.

P – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

P: Philadelphia Mint Mark.

Patina: Most commonly found on ancient coins. It’s the green or brown layer surrounding a copper or bronze coin.

PCGS: Professional Coin Grading Service. One of the four trusted third party grading services.

Perfect: A flawless coin. Also known as MS 70.

PL: Prooflike: A coin that is not a proof, but has proof like qualities such as a mirror finish.

Planchet: A metal circle without details. Basically a coin before it is pressed and made into a coin. Also know as a Blank.

Poor: A heavily worn coin with little to know details.

PQ: Premium Quality: A Fine coin specimen with great eye appeal.

PR: Proof: A coin minted for collectors that has been repeatedly struck to have a mirror like finish in the fields.

Problem Coin: A cleaned or damaged coin.

Proof Set: A set of proof coins of each denomination for any given year.

R – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Rare: A coin in limited quantity. Often overused.

Raw: A coin that has not been graded / encapsulated by a third party grading service.

RB: Red Brown: A color attributed most commonly to copper coinage that has most of the red color visible.

RD: Red: A color attributed most commonly to copper coinage that has almost all of the red color visible.

Reeded Edge: Vertical lines around the edge of a coin. The current quarters have reeded edges.

Relief: The details of a coin that are raised above the rest of the coin.

Replica: Copy. Fake. Reproduction.

Restrike: A coin that was struck from an original die pair some time after the of the original issue.

Reverse: The back side of a coin. Also known as the “tails” side.

Rim: The raised section on the face of the coin that follows the edge. This is a great place to detect wear on a coin.

Roll: Coins of the same denomination stored in a roll. These are often wrapped in paper or in a plastic tube.

S – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

S: The San Francisco mint mark.

Scratch: A gouge in a coin.

Semi-Prooflike: A coin having some proof qualities, but not enough to bo Prooflike.

Semi-Key Date: A coin that is not as hard to find as a Key Date, but still rather difficult when compared to the common dates in a series.

Slab: Certified Coin by a third party grading service. Also known as holdered or encapsulated coin.

Slider: A coin that is on the verge of being a high grade.

SMS: Special Mint Set: Set of coins from the US Mint. Made from 1965-1967.

Split Grade: Different grades on the reverse and the obverse for the same coin.

Spot Price: Current price for precious metals.

Striations: Small raised lines on a coin surface.

Strike: Stamping a coin with a design.

Super Slider: A coin that is so close to the next grade, some people will believe it is the higher grade.

T – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Token: Looks like a coin, sounds like a coin, but it’s not a coin. No monetary value.

Toning: Natural (sometimes not natural) coloring of a coin. Many dealers pay low for toned coins, but most collectors pay a premium.

Troy Ounce: A unit of weight. When talking about precious metals, ounce = troy ounce.

Tube: Small plastic cylinder for storing a group of the same denomination.

Type: Used to differentiate variances in a particular coin. Commonly Type I and Type II.

Type Coin: A coin from a given series. People collect type coins to have one of each of the series, and dates and mint marks are less important.

Type Set: A collection of all the different coins from a particular denomination. It can also mean one of each coin from each denomination.

U – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Uncirculated:A coin that has no signs of wear and is in its original mint state.

Undergrading: Giving a coin a lower grade than it actually is. Sometimes used to scam novice sellers into selling a coin for less than it is worth.

Unique: Often overused / incorrectly used, but it means that only ONE exists.

V – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

VAM: A variety of silver dollar discussed in the Morgan and Peace dollar book by Van Allen and Mallis.

Variety: Often referred to when talking about coin dies. A die variety is a minor change to the coin design often caused by different die pairs.

VF: Very Fine:

VG: Very Good:

W – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Weak Strike: A poor strike that leaves weak details. Possibly due to a well used die, or incorrect striking pressure.

Wear: Just what it sounds like… basic wear and tear from a coin being handled.

White: Coin term for a brilliant silver coin that has not been toned or cleaned.

Whizzing: Altering a coin by a rotating wire brush that removes some of the surface metal to give the coin a better appearance. This can be detected with magnification.

Y – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Year Set: A collection of all the different denominations in a given year.