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On early US gold, the planchets were at times slightly overweight. The raw plnachets
were filed down to the proper weight. Those file marks came through the minting
process and are known as Adjustment Marks.
Altered Any coin which has been physically
altered an an attempt to enhance the look of the coin. Artificial Toning, Whizzing,
changing mintmarks/dates are examples of altered coins.
Annealing The process of heating blank
planchets prior to minting so as to soften the metal.
Assay Raw gold and non mint gold product
is of unknown gold content. The process of determining the amount of pure gold
in whatever from of raw or minted gold is called Assaying. In the old west an
Assay office determined the actual gold content of nuggets miners found.
Artificial Toning The process of artificially,
ehancing a coins color or look through chemical or extreme heat/cold means.
Typically a bluish or dark brown color. Many times toned coins are spotty. Natural
Toning normally blends into the coin's surfaces and doesnt stand out.
Bagmark Newly minted coins are gathered
in bins then put into cloth bags. Through this process the coins hit each other
putting Bagmarks or hits on the coin.
Basining The process of polishing the
face of a die.
Blank Planchet The round disk (Type
I Blank) cut from strips of rolled metal which are fed trough a milling machine
which puts a slight rim on the coin (Type II Blank). The Blanks (Type II) are
fed through the minting process where the final product is produced.
Body Bag When Third Party Grading Services
believe a coin has a significant problem that they will not encapsulate the
coin, the coin is returned in a plastic polyvinyl bag inside a flip. That bag
is affectionately known as a Body Bag.
Brockage A coin that has been struck
in a die that still has an existing coin in it. The brockage coin will have
an inverted impression of the original coin on one side.
Bullion The term for coins or medals
minted out of precious metals (Gold, Silver, Palladium or Platinum) that carry
little to no numismatic premium.
Burnishing The process of polishing
the blank planchets, usually reserved for proof coinage.
Cameo A coin that has a noticeable
degree of contrast between the portrait/devices and the field. Cameos
can be on proof or uncirculated coins. Normally the fields of such coins posses
deep mirrors which accentuate the contrast.
- Deep or Ultra Cameo A coin that
possess a stunning degree of contrast. This is reserved for the most highly
- Moderate Cameo A light degree of
contrast. These typically would not receive a cameo designation from a third
party grading service, however, on a rare cameo coin will bring a modest premium.
Carbon Spots These are small black
spots of carbon that appear on a coin. They can not be removed and can grow
Cartwheel Effect The effect a highly
lusterous coin has when rotated in a circular motion
Cast Counterfeit A counterfeit coin
that is made in a cast vs a counterfeit that was struck from dies.
Cherrypick Finding a rare variety or
rare attribute among a group of similar coins. A roll of Morgan Dollars was
Cherrypicked for the finest coin.
Circulated A coin that has wear. Circulated
coins range in grade from Poor to Almost Uncirculated.
Clad - Composition metal coin with a sandwich
layer which is the clad layer, with two outer layers for the obverse and reverse.
- Silver 40% Silver clad was used
in the Kennedy Half Dollars from 1965-1970 and on all Eisenhower 40% Silver
- Copper Copper core used on all
circulating $.10-$1.00 from 1965 to present, except Kennedy halves listed
Clashmarks Clashmarks appear on a coin
from clashed dies. They are the inverse impression of the opposite side of a
coin due to the dies having clashed.
Clashed Die When the two die strike
each other without a blank planchet. The impression of each side of the coin
is somehwhat imparted on the opposite side of the coin.
Cleaning The act of attempting, through
some sort of solvent or rubbing to take contaminants off a coin. Cleaning more
often than not results in damage to the coin. Any cleaning that is necessary
due to contaminants that might continue to harm the coin should be left to the
experts. PVC is an example of a contaminant that should be removed from a coin.
Clipped Planchet A planchet that was
cut out of the edge of a strip that is missing a portion of the intended circumference
(A straight clip), or a planchet that was cut two or more times rendering a
Collar The portion of the press that
keeps the sides of the blank planchet from expanding beyond the desired size.
The collar also imparts the edge to the coin (reeded or lettered)
Counterfeit Any coin that is not made
by the authorized minting authority.
Counterstamped A stamp signifying a
special event that is struck into the coin after the coin has been produced.
These are always post mint counterstamps. Some have significant historical significance
and can positively affect the value. Example Stone Mountain counterstamps.
Crown Any large dollar size coin the
circulated in European countries.
Cud When a die has a piece that has
broken off, the result is a raised portion on the coin in the area of the broken
die. That raised area is known as a Cud.
Devices The normally raised portion
of a coin that are not a part of the central design of the obverse or reverse.
The lettering and date are part of the devices of a coin.
Die/Die Pair The actual inverse impression
of the actual coin on hardened steel cylinder. This is what stamps the blank
planchets in the minting process. A Die Pair is the pair of dies which strike
the obverse and reverse of a particular coin.
Die Punch A punch used to add a date
or mintmark to a hub or working hub.
Dipping The act of putting a coin in
a mild acid bath to remove contaminants. Done correctly will not hurt the coin.
Done excessively, the coin will loose luster and become lackluster
or over dipped.
Double Die A coin struck by a working die that has two
slightly rotated impressions from a working hub. This is not to be confused
with machine doubling which creates a shelf like doubling affect on the coin.
True double dies are rare and several are very popular varieties within a series
The overall appeal of a coin. Eye appeal is what first strikes you about
a coin. Eye appeal is one of the primary determinants of grade. Eye appeal can
be good or bad.
Fasces A Roman symbolic ax depicted
on some US coins. Example the reverse of the Winged Liberty Dime.
Field The flat part of a coin. In the
die the field is the highest portion of the die. The portrait and devices are
sunken into the die, just the opposite of the finished product.
Galvano A large plaster relief of a
coins design/ this is used to transfer the design to a working die. See
Grading Scale The commonly used Sheldon
scale from 1-70. Also in adjectival form.
- Poor 1 The coin is identifiable
as to date and type
- Fair 2 Slightly less wear than
Poor. Rims are blending with
the fields. Many of the design elements are completely worn
- Almost Good 3 Less wear than Fair,
rims may be full in spots.
- Good - 4 & 6 Rims are full on both
obverse and reverse
- Very Good 8 & 10 Rims are full
and most details of the coin are well worn, however easily identifiable.
- Fine 12 & 15 All lettering
must be readable on both obverse and reverse.
- Very Fine 20, 25, 30 & 35
No mint luster present. Signifcant wear, however all lettering and devices
will be fully readable and well defined.
- Extremely Fine 40 & 45 25 50%
Mint Luster present. Only the slightest bit of wear on the high points.
- Almost Unciruclated 50, 53, 55, & 58
Virtually full mint luster with only minute evidence of wear.
- Mint State 60-70 See Mint State
Hairlines Minute lines, typically on
proof coins which were caused by light cleaning, polishing or light contact
with plastic flips or plastic slides.
Hub/Working Hub A working die is stamped
into a metal hub. This hub is then used to create the working dies.
Impaired Proof A proof coin that has
actual wear on the coin or other problems that would keep the coin from grading
at least Proof 60. Impaired proofs take on the grading scale just like Circulated
coins, however they get a PR designation in front of the numeric grade.
Incuse When the design of the coin
is cut into the coin, it is said to be incuse. On incuse coins, the fields are
the high points. Indian $2 ˝ and $5 are examples of incuse designs on
Ingot A bar of metal, usually precious
metal formed in a brick like shape. These can range from small 1-2 ounces to
very large, 900 ounces +.
Iridescent Toning Toning which appears
to float above the surface of the coin. The luster of the coin MUST be very
evident underneath thee toning. Only full mint luster coins can have Iridescent
The sheen imparted by a coin. Original luster is the sheen imparted
during the minting process. A washed out or over dipped coin is
said to be lacking luster. Gem coin must have full mint luster.
Master Die A die that is used to produce
a working hub. A master die can be used for years.
Milk Spots White spots that appear
on proof coins. These spots are part of the coin and can not be removed by any
Mint State Also known as uncirculated.
Mint State coins rnage in grade from MS60 (Basal) to MS70 (perfect). All Mint
State coins have no wear what so ever.
- Basal Or Mint State 60. This describes
a coin that has no wear and numerous bagmarks. Normally lacking in eye appeal.
- Choice Or Mint State 63. This describes
a coin that has few than normal bagmarks. The coin may be weakly struck. Should
have some eye appeal.
- Gem Or Mint State 65. A coin that
is well struck, has above average eye appeal with minimal bagmarks.
- Superb Gem - Or Mint State 67. A coin with
tremendous eye appeal. Must be fully struck and have very few noticeable bag
Mint Sets A complete set of circulation
strike coins from each mint and each denomination. These were sold by the mint
beginning in 1948. From 1948-1958, mint sets were housed in cardboard holders,
of which 2 of each coin from each mint were included. Some of these sets have
spectacular toning to them. Beginning in 1959, only one coin from each year
was included and the packaging was changed to a plastic package in a paper envelope.
Mule A double denomination coin that
has an obverse of one denomination and reverse of another. These are extremely
rare, however, do exist.
Multiple Strike A coin that has been
struck more than one time in a rotated fashion. This is not to be confused with
a double die.
Obverse The front side of a coin. Typically
that is the side with the date and the portrait.
Off-Center A coin that has been struck
un centered in the press. Both sides of the coin will have the same blank area.
Original Die A die made for use during
the year of issue (date) vs a restrike die used for making the same date coin
Original Set Original sets are sets
of coins, typically from one year that were issued together and not replaced
by other coins.
Overdate A coin that has a numeral
or two from a different year in it. This typically occurred as the mint was
attempting to use a previous years working hub. Example 1943/2 Jefferson
Over Mintmark Similar to an Overdate,
however, the mintmark is stamped twice into the coin (d/d) or another mints
hub was passed along creating an over mintmark with two mint marks. Example
Pattern A coin that proposed either
by someone at the mint or other that is actually produced as a coin, but never
adopted for general use.
Pedigree Some famous and rare coins
have ownership traced to major collections or auctions. A coin that can be traced
over time, tends to have more value, due to its Pedigree.
Planchet See Blank Planchet
Planchet Defect - A defect on the planchet
that was not eliminated during the striking process. A piece of metal of dirt
in the die can cause this, as well as a problem with the original planchet that
was fed into the die.
Plug A hole filled on a coin is done
with a plug. The plug is inserted in the hole and then ground down to be smooth
with the fields. A plugged coin can still have value if the overall coin is
rare enough. They will bring considerably less than an original unplugged coin.
Typically plugged coins are from the 18th and 19th century.
Portrait Typically on the obverse of
the coin, the portrait can be a person, or an image (in the US, the image of
Liberty is ubiquitous)
Press The machine used to produce the
actual coin. Can be a machine press, screw press or hammer press.
Proof A coin made from specially prepared
dies and blank planchets. Proof coins are struck at least twice to fully bring
out the design. Proofs are meant to be as near as possible to the top of the
- Brilliant A proof coin that has
no contrast between field and portrait/devices. The surface is very reflective.
- Cameo See Cameo
- Matte Proofs coined from 1909-1916
which exhibit a granular sandblast look. They do not have reflective field.
- Satin Proofs struck in a fashion
in between a Brilliant and Matte proof. These coins have a smooth surface,
however, are not reflective. Examples would be Peace proofs from 1921 and
Proof Set A set of proof coins usually
cent through half/dollar that has been packaged as a group by the mint. Proof
sets have been produced since 1950. Prior to that coins were sold as individual
pieces. Collectors could buy one of each and assemble their own proof
Prooflike/Deep Mirror Prooflike The
term used to describe business strike coins that have reflective fields. They
look similar to proofs, however, do not exhibit the unusually strong strike
of prods, nor the squared rims. Usually reserved for Morgan Silver Dollars.
Deep Mirror Prooflikes have mirrors that reflect clearly at least 4.
Prooflikes must reflect at least 2.
Prototype Pattern coins which virtually
are identical to the coins adopted for general use. Usually dated the year prior
to the general use coin. Example 1863 Two Cent Piece
PVC Poly Vinyl Chloride. This chemical
is present in soft plastic flips. Its the chemical that keeps the plastic
soft. It also will put a greenish film on coins. If left too long in PVC flips,
a coin can be damaged permanently. Any PVC on a coin should be removed professionally
and immediately. Never store coin in PVC flips, even for a second.
Toned Coin A coin that has a very vibrant colored patina. To
be rainbow toned, several colors of the rainbow should be present. Normally,
deep greens, blues, oranges and reds dictate a Rainbow Toned coin.
Rarity Scale/Sheldon Scale The scale
by which rarity in terms of known or likely known specimens of a particular
- R-1 1,251 or more
- R-2 501-1250 Known
- R-3 201-500 Known
- R-4 76-200 Known
- R-5 31-75 Known
- R-6 13-30 Known
- R-7 4-12 Known
- R-8 1-3 Known
Reduction The transfer of a coins design
from a Galvano to a Master Die which is actual size. See Galvano.
Reeding The edge treatment of most
US coins of dime denomination or larger. The Reeding is imparted by the collar
during the striking process.
Reverse The back of a coin. Normally
the reverse will have some sort of eagle or shield.
Relief The depth of the devices and
portrait on a coin. Some coins come if high relief and low relief varieties.
The most famous of these is the 1907 High Relief Saint Gaudens Twenty Dollar
Restrike A coin that is struck after
the year it was intended to be struck. Restrike occurred mostly in the mid 1850s
when collector demand began to rise. Prominent collectors asked the mint to
recreate certain coins they could not find. These coins are restrikes and have
different characteristics than the originals.
Rim The outer most part of the coin,
Rockford Test The mint tested the strength
of the metal in the blank planchets and finished coins with a special metal
strength test called a Rockford Test. A steel pin was pressed into the blank
or finished coin at a standard pressure. The resistance of the coin to the punch
determined the strength of the metal. Rockford Test Punch coins exist, however,
are extremely rare. The test punch is normally on the obverse and looks as though
the coin were shoot with a single BB.
Seignorage The difference between the
actual cost of producing a coin and the face value of that coin. It is the profit,
so to speak, of the mint.
Slider A coin that appears to be uncirculated,
however, upon closer inspection, has the slightest bit of wear.
Special Mint Sets The were sets that
were minted from 1965-1967. This was a transitional time at the mint, as the
mint was moving away from 90% silver coins. The Special Mint Set (SMS) coins
were specially prepared, however, much less care was given to them than proof
coins. They were only struck once, compared to proofs which were struck twice
from specially prepared dies and planchets. These sets were issued in 5 coin
sets from cent to half dollar. A few 1964 SMS coins were minted in 1964, and
are extremely rare. Authentication is mandatory.
Striation Die polish lines that run
close to parallel in the fields of a coin. They are caused by polishing of the
dies and or harsh blank planchets.
Strike How well the relief of a coin
is minted in a particular coin. Strikes range from weak to strong. Many dates
of a particular denomination are notorious for weak strikes. Some dates normally
come with full strikes. It is important to understand how a particular date
and mint strike normally comes.
Strip A rolled piece of metal that
the blank planchets are cut from.
Thaler A large German coin about the
size of a silver dollar. This is the forerunner of the US term Dollar.
Toned Coin A coin that has some not
mint imparted patina. The patina can be any color. Some toned coins are very
impressive, others are downright ugly. Toning can add to or detract from the
overall value of the coin.
Trial Strike A coin that has been struck
in an attempt to adjust the pressure of the dies. A trial strike normally is
a very very weakly struck coin.
Uncirculated A coin that has absolutely
no wear. Uncirculated coins are also called Mint State coins. Grades range from
Mint State (MS) 60 through MS70.
Upset Mill The machine that imparts
the first portion of the edge on a blank panchet.
Variety A variation of a particular
coin. Some dates have several die varieties. Example 1954 D/S nickels, or any
Wear Once an uncirculated coin is touched,
a small portion of the luster is removed. This is called wear.
Whizzing The process of attempting
to add luster to a coin by polishing the coin with a buffing wheel.
Working Hub Also called a hub. The
working hub is made from a master die and is used to make working dies.
Working Die A die that is made from
a working hub. Working dies are the dies which produce the actual coins.