Glossary of Numismatic Terms
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Alloy A mixture of 2 or more metals. Examples are bronze (copper+tin), brass (copper+zinc) and cupro-nickel (copper+nickel). Usually used to make the coin less expensive or make the coin harder and more resistant to scratches and dents.
ANA American Numismatic Association
Anepigraphic coin A coin without an inscription
Assay To analyse and assess the purity and quality of precious metals like gold, silver or platinum.
Bag mark Marks made on coins from being in a bag of other coins.
Blank The base piece of metal, usually disk shaped, that is pressed or struck to form a coin. Also known as a Planchet or Disc.
Base Metal Non-precious metal, usually copper but can be other metals. Sometimes mixed with gold or silver to make the precious metal harder or to dilute its value.
Bi-metallic A coin with one type of metal in the center with an outer ring of a different metal. Examples are the UK £2 and the One Euro coin.
Britannia (coin) British 1oz silver bullion coin.
Bullion A coin, bar or other object made from precious metal, such as gold, silver and platinum, that is made for investment purposes rather than for numismatic collecting.
Business strike A coin produced for general circulation.
Bust see Portrait
Circulated A coin that has been in circulation and has marks and scuffs.
Clad A coin than is made of one metal but coated in another. For example, modern ‘copper’ coins are usually copper covered steel. In the UK, collectors tend to say copper-coated or plated.
COA Certificate of Authenticity. Some sort of written proof that the coin is genuine.
Coin A flat piece of metal with an image or pattern on it that the government has designated as money or currency.
Collar A collar is a piece of metal that restrains the expanding metal of a blank/planchet during the striking process.
Crown A large British coin, was 5 shillings but now denominated as £5. Usually for commemorative use only.
Designer Artist or creator of the design of the coin
Denomination The face value of a coin, e.g. ‘One Pound’ or ’10 cents’.
Die Metal tool engraved with the design of the coin used to stamp the blank.
Dime American 10 cent coin.
Double Eagle American $20 gold coin (1850-1933)
Double Strike A coin that is struck twice leaving a double impression as a defect.
Eagle [i] USA $10 coin (1795-1933), [ii] USA Gold Bullion coins 1986 onwards as 1oz, ½oz, ¼oz and tenth oz.
Edge Rim of the coin. May be engraved with words or decorated with patterns.
Exonumia Numismatic items (such as tokens, medals, badges, counter-stamped coins, elongated coins, encased coins, souvenir medallions) other than coins and paper money.
FDC (Fleur de Coin) A coin that is a perfect specimen.
Filler A coin (in a collection) that is poor or well worn but is kept until a better or more expensive specimen can be obtained.
Fineness The purity as a decimal of 1.000 e.g. 90% pure is .900. The best in practice is 0.99999 fine.
Flan The blank piece of metal before striking, also called a planchet or a blank.
Florin An English two shilling coin. Replaced by the 10 pence piece.
Grade The formal condition of the coin, such as Fine (F), Good (G), Uncirculated (UNC). May vary by Country.
Hammered Coins made by hand by striking the die with a hammer. Usually very old coins made this way.
Ingot Bar of metal formed by pouring molten metal into a mold. It may be stamped with its weight, purity and certification.
Inscription Letters and words on a coin.
Intrinsic Value The price of the coin based on its metal value rather than its numismatic value. See also Bullion Coin.
Legal Tender Coins which can be accepted in payment of debt.
Legend The words and inscription on a coin. On many coins these may be in Latin.
Loupe A small but powerful magnifying class used by collectors or Jewellers
Lustre/Luster The brightness of a coin from the way in which it reflects light. Such as on brand new copper coins.
Marks Imperfections on the coin, like scratches or dents.
Maundy Money An annual gift made on Maundy Thursday (the last Thursday before Easter) of a set of pure silver coins made by the Royal Mint and personally given by the Monarch to the poor of Canterbury. The number of sets reflects the number of years the Monarch has occupied the throne
Milled Edge The rim around the outer surface of a coin.
Mint Mark A small letter(s) on the coin indicated where the coin was minted.
Mis-strike A defect where the coin is not struck centrally.
Mule Coin struck from two dies (Obverse and Reverse) not intended to be used together.
Notaphily The study of banknotes and paper money.
Numismatic Relating to coin collecting
Obverse The front of the coin, i.e. ‘heads’.
Planchet See Blank
Portrait Engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders. Sometimes called a bust.
Overstrike Usually a defect caused by a die striking a coin that already has been struck.
Pattern Coin struck from official dies but not intended for circulation, such as for demonstration or specimen test purposes only.
Patina Surface film or discolouration caused by oxidation sometimes found on older silver, copper or bronze coins.
PGCS Professional Coin Grading Service, a leading third-party coin grading service located in USA.
Piedfort A coin struck on a blank that is thicker than normal, usually twice as thick.
Example: A Piedfort £2 is a £2 coin that is twice as thick. Increases the weight of high value metal coins like silver.
Planchet See Blank.
Proof Coins specially struck for collectors using polished dies and blanks, giving a mirror finish and raised areas which may be frosted in appearance.
Proof Set A set of proof coins sold by the mint, usually connected by a date or theme, like a 2001 sovereign set.
Quarter A USA Quarter Dollar.
Reverse The back of the coin, i.e. ‘tails’
Reeded Edge Edge of a coin with grooved lines around the perimeter. Also known as a Milled edge
Re-strike Coin struck from genuine dies at a date later than the original issue.
Rim Raised portion of the design found on the edge to protect the coin from wear. It also makes the coins stackable and easy to roll by machine.
Sovereign (a) A gold sovereign, or
(b) A Sovereign is the head of state, like a Queen or King.
Sovs Colloquial term for ‘sovereigns’
Tanner Colloquial term for a British sixpence
Token A coin intended to spend but not an official issue. Common is Britain during the 18th and 19th Century.
Uncirculated A coin that has not been in circulation. Should have its lustre but may have slight marks due to rubbing with other coins.
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