Chippewa Valley Coin Club
A Dictionary of
Coin & Paper Money Collecting
has a language spoken by its collectors and dealers. New collectors
unfamiliar with it's terms may feel confused by a bewildering
lexicon. A quick read through will give you a foundation of
Print This Out For Your
- About Good (AG)
- A grading term used to describe a heavily worn coin or banknote.
- About Uncirculated (AU)
- A grading term used to describe a coin or banknote.
- accolated, conjoined, jugate
- Design with two heads facing the same direction and overlapping.
- Coins, tokens, etc.,
unsorted, unclassified, and unattributed; not a collection.
- adjustment marks
- Filing down the face or rims of an overweight planchet.
Filing marks often survive the coining process. This is common on 18th
- aes grave
- Cast bronze issue of the Roman republic; literally heavy bronze.
- aes rude
- Large cast rectangular bronze coin, one of the
earliest Roman coins.
- A book or multipage holder for coins, stamps, or banknotes.
- Mixture of more than one metal.
- A coin, banknote, or
other numismatic item that has been
deliberately changed, usually to make it resemble a rare
or more valuable piece.
- American Arts Gold Medallions
- A series of 1ounce and half-ounce gold bullion
medals issued by the U.S. Mint from 1980-84.
Medals depict great American artists, writers and actors. See also medallion.
- American Eagle
- Bullion coins released by
the U.S. Mint beginning in October 1986. Five coins are available: a
1-ounce, .999 fine silver coin with $1 face value; a 1-ounce, .9167
fine gold coin with $50 face value; a half-ounce, .9167 fine gold coin
with $25 face value; a quarter-ounce, .9167 fine gold coin with $10
face value; and a tenth-ounce, .9167 fine gold coin with $5 face
value. Coins are sold at prices based on current metal prices plus a
markup. See also eagle.
- ancient coin
- Generally any coin or token issued before A.D.
- To soften dies, planchets
or metal by heat treatment.
- ant nose
- Primitive copper money of China ca. 600 B.C.
- artificial toning
- A method used to change the look of a coin by using chemicals or
- (Plural: asses) Bronze or orichalcum coins of
the Roman republic.
- Analytic test or trial to ascertain the fineness, weight and
consistency of precious or other metal in coin or bullion.
An assay piece is one that has been assayed.
- The identification of a numismatic item
by characteristics such as issuing authority, date or period, Mint, denomination,
metal in which struck, and by a standard reference.
- Method of selling by which items are presented for sale to the
- Authoritative determination of the genuineness of a numismatic
- authorized dealer
- An individual who is appointed by a person or company to do business
on their behalf.
- The paper money side opposite the face;
analogous to the reverse of a coin.
- bag marks
- See contact marks.
- A promissory note issued by a bank in useful denominations,
payable to bearer and intended to circulate as money.
Should not be used as a generic term for all forms of paper money.
- Such as a gold or silver bar in varying weights.
- base metal
- Non-precious metal; e.g., copper.
- base relief
- Sculpture style featuring slight differences between the raised
design and the field and in which no part of the design is undercut;
used to execute models for coins and medals.
See also relief.
- Bicentennial coins
- The special quarter dollar, half dollar and dollar struck from
mid-1975 to the end of 1976 in honor of the 200th anniversary of
American Independence. Coins feature the dual date
1776-1976 and special reverses emblematic of
the celebration. Issued in copper-nickel clad
versions for circulation. Special 40 percent silver clad
versions were sold to collectors.
- bid sheet
- A form used by a buyer in an auction or mail-bid
sale, on which the buyer lists the item being bid on by the number
it is assigned and the price he is willing to pay.
- bid-buy sale
- A combination form of fixed-price list and mail-bid
sale. Rules may vary from dealer to dealer. However, customers
usually may either buy a lot outright at the fixed price or place a
bid (higher or lower). It permits buyers to purchase a lot at less
than fixed price (in some cases), or by paying more, ensures a greater
chance of obtaining the lot.
- An alloy used for coin
issues consisting usually of a mixture of silver and copper.
- A coin made of two metals.
- bison, buffalo
- Species considered typically North American, used on coinage and paper
money of the United States; bison is a better term than buffalo,
which is a more general term referring to a number of related but
different species outside North America.
- A popular term for the Spanish-American 1real piece (also Danish
West Indies and other neighboring islands) which formerly circulated
in the United States. More often used in the plural, as two bits (25
cents) or four bits (50 cents). A bit is 12-1/2 cents.
- A stamped out piece of metal before the sides have been raised. See planchet.
- In paper money collecting, a series
of related notes indicated by the same prefix and suffix letters in
the serial number. When the suffix letter changes, a new block is
created. The suffix currently changes when the serial number reaches
99 920 000.
- Blue Book
- Nickname given to Handbook of United States Coins, an annual price
guide for collectors. The book has a blue cover, hence the nickname.
Gives wholesale prices, or what dealers might pay for U.S. coins.
- Comes from the diamond industry. Rhymes with horse, the area at a coin
show or convention where dealers set up tables of collectibles for
- Coinage metal alloy containing chiefly copper
- Gold bullion coin and its
fractionals to be issued by Great Britain beginning in 1987; also, the
allegorical figure representing Britain.
- Coin struck outside a restraining collar.
A coin minting error.
- A mirror image of a design from one side of a coin impressed to the
opposite side, caused by a coin being stuck in a die and another coin
stamped on top of the coin in the die.
- broken banknote
- paper money of a defunct bank or a bank
which has failed (broken), but often applied to any obsolete banknote.
- Coinage metal alloy containing chiefly copper
- Brown Back
- A Brown Back note is a Second Charter, First Issue national bank
note. Has brown ink on the back.
- Buffalo nickel
- An Indian Head 5-cent piece minted from 1913 to 1938.
- See bison.
- bullion coin
- A precious metal coin traded at the current bullion
- Uncoined precious metal in the form of bars, plates, ingots, and
- Bureau of Printing & Engraving (BEP)
- A division of the U.S. Treasury Department that prints our paper
- business strike
- A coin struck for general circulation.
- buyer's fee
- Winning bidders in a public auction are
usually charged a buyer's fee based on a certain percentage of the
- cabinet friction
- Slight surface wear on a coin, token
or medal caused by friction between it and the
tray or envelope in which it is contained.
- A coin usually struck as a proof, it has mirror fields and a frosty
or satin looking finish on the lifted design features.
- A name given to British pennies and later to Morgan Dollars because
of their wide rims.
- certified coins/certified banknotes
- A name given to coins or paper money graded by a third party
authentification and grading company.
- cherry picker
- A person who knows and picks out coins or banknotes that are
- check number
- On modern paper money, used as a cross
reference for the plate number which appears on the margin of a currency
sheet and which is trimmed from the note before it enters circulation
to identify the printing plate from which the note came. On the obverse,
the check number is a letter and number combination appearing in lower
right corner; on the reverse, it is a number
only appearing at the lower right. Often incorrectly called the plate
- chop mark (shroff mark)
- A small stamped or punched impression applied by Chinese (chop) or
Indian (shroff) banks or change offices to attest to the full weight
and metallic content of a coin.
- Denotes a numismatic item that has been used and no longer in it's
new condition as minted or printed.
- Civil War tokens
- Privately-issued emergency coin-like tokens, the approximate size of
current U.S. cents, which circulated during the Civil War because of a
scarcity of small change. Two major types were issued: patriotic
tokens, with patriotic themes; and store cards, advertising pieces
often carrying the issuer's name, address and type of business or
services. See also token.
- Civil War paper money
- Banknotes that were printed by the South and had no monetary value
after the war was over.
- Composite coinage metal strip composed of a core, usually of a base
metal such as copper, and surface layers of more valuable metal,
silver (or sometimes copper-nickel).
Cladding is a cost-saving measure, making coins
cheaper to produce while maintaining a desired appearance.
- clash marks (mint errors)
- Where the dies have hit each other and then transfer these marks to
- cleaned coins
- Coin that have been dipped in acids or abrasively cleaned with an
eraser or silver cleaners.
- cleaned paper money
- Banknotes that have been dipped and washed in cleaning fluids to
remove dirt and stains.
- Sometimes used to denote an incomplete planchet
coin; in earlier days, clipping was a process of
shaving edges of coins to remove small amounts of
metal for illegal gain (which gave rise to lettered or reeded edges).
- Coin note
- See Treasury note.
- Usually a piece of metal, marked with a device,
issued by a governing authority and intended to be used as money.
- coin show
- An event where dealers offer numismatic items to each other and the
- A retaining ring die within which the coin dies
operate; the collar forms the edge design of the
piece such as reeding or lettering.
- Numismatic holdings of any type (i.e.: coins, banknotes, stocks,
- Refers to coins or paper money issued by
the Colonial governments of the 13 British Colonies that became the
United States. See state coinages.
- A coin, token, or banknote issued to mark, honor or observe an
anniversary, other event, place or person, or to preserve its memory.
- compound-interest Treasury note
- A type of U.S. paper money authorized in
1863 and 1864; they brought 6 percent interest, and were to be
redeemed three years after issue.
- condition census
- Term to denote the finest specimen and average condition of next
five finest known of a given variety of large cents. Catalogers are
gradually extending the use of the term to other series.
- See: accolated.
- contact marks, bag marks
- Minor abrasions on an otherwise Uncirculated coin,
caused by handling in Mint-sewn bags and contact with other surfaces.
Sometimes called bag marks.
- Continental currency
- paper money issued by the authority of
the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War. See also currency.
- Continental dollar
- A dollar-sized pattern struck in 1776 as a
- COPE, COPE PAK
- Acronyms used at Bureau of Engraving and Printing for Currency
Overprinting and Processing Equipment and Currency Overprinting and
Processing Equipment, Packaging. Machines used to apply overprinting
of seals, serial numbers and Federal Reserve index numbers to 16-note
half sheets of paper money; then the COPE
cuts the half sheets into single notes, bundles them into 100-note
packages with a paper band, and into larger plastic-wrapped packages.
- Coinage alloy composed of copper and nickel
in varying amounts.
- A reproduction or imitation of an original.
- Style of Liberty Head used on U.S. copper and gold coins
for much of the 19th century. Liberty wears a coronet (most depicting
the word LIBERTY).
- An object made to imitate a genuine numismatic
piece with intent to deceive or defraud, irrespective of whether the
intended fraud is primarily monetary or numismatic.
- A general term embracing most silver coins from
about 20 to 30 grams in weight and from about 33 to 42 millimeters in
size. The term has become applicable also to most nickel
alloy coins of the same range of size and weight.
Coins of 43 or more millimeters in diameter are said to be multiple
- A form of die break that leaves a shapeless lump
of metal on part of a coin.
- Copper-nickel; term often employed by
- Applies to both coins and paper
money. Many use the word currency for paper money only. Currency
is legal tender.
- Coins and paper money
- A change of original condition of a numismatic item, such as a hole,
tear, scratch, nick, or other problem.
- The years shown on banknotes, coins, or other numismatic items
that denotes the time of introduction or issue.
- Date Back
- A Date Back note is a Second Charter, Second Issue national bank
note. Refers to the dates 1902-1908 found on the back.
- A person or company that sells numismatic or other items.
- To become less valuable.
- deep mirror prooflike (DMPL)
- A grading term used to describe the fields of a coin.
- Demand note
- Demand notes, authorized in 1861, were the first paper
money issued by the United States federal government for
circulation. Nicknamed the greenback because of the green ink used on
the reverse (back) of the
- (Plural: denarii) Roman silver coin, later debased,
roughly equal to a Greek drachm. Initiated in 268 B.C, it equaled 16
asses; 25 denarii equals 1 gold aureus.
- The face value of a coin or paper note; the
amount of money it is worth.
- Ornamental device used on rims
of coins, often resembling teeth, hence the name;
- The appearance of numismatic item.
- A person or firm who designed a numismatic item.
- The principal element, such as a portrait, shield or heraldic
emblem, of the design on the obverse and reverse
of a coin, token or medal.
- Devil's Face note
- On some of Bank of Canada notes, First Issue of 1954, Queen
Elizabeth II's hair has a coincidental combination of shading and
light that looks like a devil's face. Shading was quickly changed
under public pressure to remove the face.
- A piece of the original die that has been broken off.
- die crack
- Where raised lines show on a coin where a die has cracked.
- die scratch
- Raised line on the surface of a coin, caused by
a scratch in the coinage die.
- A hardened metal punch, the face of which carries an intaglio
or incuse mirror-image to be impressed on one
side of a planchet.
- Spelling of the word dime on U.S. 1792 pattern pieces and name given
the 10-cent coin authorized in the Mint Act of
April 2, 1792. Probably pronounced like steam or time. The s is
- double die
- A die which has a multiple image created during
the die-making process. Coins struck from a doubled die show a doubled
image. There are many different causes of doubled dies, and many
doubled die coins. Sometimes mistakenly called double die.
- double eagle
- A gold $20 coin of the United States. See also eagle.
- Popular name given to Spanish gold 8escudo pieces of the
Conquistador era, also, a medal in special
circumstances Mardi Gras doubloon.
- (Pronounced dram) An ancient Greek
silver coin, plural drachms. Drachma (pronounced
DRAHKmuh) is the modern Greek denomination,
- (Pronounced DUCKet) Medieval gold coin; also any
of a number of modern issues of the Dutch Mint.
- A name given to the 1986 to date $1.00 silver coin and the gold $10 coin
of the United States. Also the national bird of the U.S.
- E Pluribus Unum
- A Latin statement meaning - Out of the many, one - referring to the
unification of the original 13 American colonies. Chosen for the
Continental Congress by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas
Jefferson, it is inscribed on the Great Seal of the United States and
on many U.S. coins.
- Often termed the third side of a coin, it is the
surface perpendicular to the obverse and reverse.
Not to be confused with rim. Edges can be plain,
lettered or milled (reeded or with some other
repetitious device). Edges became particularly
important with the advent of machine-struck coinage.
- Educational notes
- The Series 1896 $1, $2 and $5 silver certificates are called
Educational notes because of the allegorical and educational themes of
the vignettes. Replaced in 1899 with a new series.
- A copy or reproduction of a coin,
token or medal made by the
- Naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver
used for early coins of the Mediterranean region.
- elongated coin
- An oval medalet produced by a roller die
using a coin, token or medal
as a planchet usually a cent.
- encapsulated coin
- One which has been sealed in a plastic holder, especially by a
third-party grading service.
- encased postage stamp
- A postage stamp unofficially encased in a metal, plastic or
cardboard frame and intended to be used as small change.
- A coin, token, medal
or paper money item evidencing a mistake
made in its manufacture.
- essai; essay
- In paper money, a print made to test a
design; analogous to a trial strike in coinage. See also Proof.
- (Pronounced EXsurge) Area on a coin generally
below the main design area, often site of date.
- A broad category of non-money, non-legal tender numismatic
items, including tokens, medals
and badges. An economist is a specialist in exonumia. See also legal
- experimental pieces
- Struck from any convenient dies to test a new
metal, new alloy or new denomination;
those testing a new shape; those testing a standard metal for a new
denomination; and those representing changes in planchets
for the purposes of combating counterfeiting.
- eye appeal
- The quality of a coin's attractiveness, distinct
from any quantifiable measure of condition.
- face value
- Refers to the value of a piece of currency;
the denomination multiple that appears on
the note or coin.
- The front of a currency note, generally the
side with signatures; analogous to the obverse
of a coin.
- An object having the physical characteristics of a coin,
issued by an agency other than a governing authority yet purporting to
be issued by a real or imaginary governing authority as a coin.
- Federal Reserve Banknote
- A form of U.S. paper money authorized by
the Federal Reserve Acts of Dec. 23, 1913, and April 23, 1918, and by
the Act of March 9, 1933. The obligation to pay was by the individual
issuing bank, not the federal government or other Federal Reserve
Banks. The 1933 notes were an emergency issue to alleviate a shortage
of paper money. Not to be confused with
Federal Reserve notes. See also bank note.
- Federal Reserve note
- A form of U.S. paper money authorized by
the Federal Reserve Act of February 1913. The obligation to pay is on
the United States government and not the issuing banks. This is the
only form of paper money currently being printed in the United States.
- fiat money
- Unbacked currency, that which cannot be
converted into coin or specie of equal value.
- The flat part of a surface of a coin surrounding
and between the head, legend or other designs.
- Represents the purity of precious metal, either in monetary or bullion
form. Most forms of precious metal require an additional metal to
provide a durable alloy. Often stated in terms of
purity per 1,000 parts: A .925 fine silver coin
has 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent other metal.
- fixed-price list
- A price list or catalog of coins, exonumia, paper
money or other numismatic items offered
at set prices.
- A coin holder, usually plastic, that has two
pouches, one to hold a coin and the other to hold identification. It
is folded over, or flipped, to close.
- flow lines
- Microscopic striations in a coin's surface caused by the movement of
metal under striking pressures.
- A Roman and Byzantine coin denomination;
plural is folli.
- fractional currency
- Usually refers to the United States paper
money issued from 1862 to 1876 in denominations
from 3 to 50 cents. See also currency.
- Referring to bullion coins,
those of less that 1 ounce.
- Effect caused by striking a coin with
sandblasted dies, often used in reference to Proof
- German silver
- An alloy of copper, nickel
and zinc but no silver. Also called American silver, Feuchtwanger's
composition, nickel silver
- gold certificate
- A form of U.S. paper money once
redeemable in gold coin. Temporarily made illegal
for most to hold between 1933 and 1964.
- A gold-colored finish often used for medals or tokens.
- The process of determining a coin's condition.
- Fine scratches in the surface of the coin. Not
to be confused with die scratches.
- half dime, half disme
- A silver 5-cent coin of the United States. The
Mint Act of April 2, 1792, authorizes "half dismes." See
- half eagle
- A gold $5 coin of the United States. See also eagle.
- hammer die
- The die that performs the striking action. See
also anvil die.
- hammer price
- In an auction, the price the auctioneer calls
the winning bid, excluding any additional fees the buyer may have to
pay for the lot.
- Hard Times token
- An unofficial large cent-sized copper token
struck in a wide variety of types during 1833-1843, serving as de
facto currency, and bearing a politically
inspired legend; or issued with advertising as a store card.
- Gold bullion coins issued by Switzerland;
also, the allegorical figure representing Switzerland. From the name
given to the area by the Romans.
- Usually a deposit of coins, secreted at some time in the past,
- hobo nickel
- An Indian Head 5-cent coin with Indian bust engraved to resemble
hobo or other individual. Engraving may also alter the bison
on the reverse.
- A three-dimensional image on a flat surface, gaining experimental
use as a security device on credit cards and printed currency.
- A right-reading, positive punch used to impress wrong-reading
- inaugural medal
- A medal issued by the official inaugural
committee commemorating the inauguration of a U.S. president.
- The opposite of bas--relief; design is
recessed rather than raised. Used when referring to coins, medals,
tokens and other metallic items.
- Indian Head
- The preferred name for the 5-cent coin often called Buffalo nickel.
Indian Head cents, gold dollars, gold $3 coins, $5 half eagles, $10
eagles and $20 double eagles exist. See
- Indian peace medal
- A medal issued by a government agency to an
Indian in an attempt to earn goodwill. The U.S. government issued
Indian peace medals from the administration of George Washington
through the administration of Andrew Johnson.
- A method of printing using engraved plates. Paper is forced into the
ink-filled lines of the plate, leaving a raised line of ink on the
paper. All U.S. paper money is printed by
the intaglio method.
- As applied to value, the net metallic value as distinguished from
face and numismatic value.
- irradiated dime
- Collectible made by exposing Roosevelt dimes to cesium or other
radioactive substance and then placing in a special package; harmless,
as any acquired radioactivity has dissipated by the time it reaches
- Accolated, conjoined.
- A gold bullion coin of South Africa. It is
composed of .9167 fine gold. Exists in 1-ounce, half-ounce,
quarter-ounce and tenth-ounce sizes.
- Coinage defect consisting of a portion of the metal separating from
the rest due to impurities or internal stresses; common with clad
or plated coinage.
- large cent
- Refers to the U.S. cents of 1793 to 1857, with diameters between
26-29 millimeters, depending on the year it was struck.
- large date
- A variety of coin on which the date is physically larger than other
varieties of the same year.
- legal tender bullion coin
- Government issued precious metal coins produced for investors, they
have legal tender status, and usually a nominal face value, even
though they are not intended to circulate as currency.
See also bullion.
- legal tender
- Currency explicitly determined by a
government to be acceptable in the discharge of debts.
- The inscription on a numismatic item.
- Denomination of various values and
weights used throughout the ancient Greek
world and in modern Greece, generally a small copper or bronze coin.
- lettered edge
- An incused or raised inscription on the edge
of a coin.
- A silver bullion coin of Mexico, containing 1
ounce of .999 fine silver.
- A collector of wooden nickels and similar items.
- love token
- A coin which has been altered by smoothing
one or both surfaces and engraving initials, scenes, messages, etc.,
thereon. See also token.
- Surface quality of a coin, result of light reflected from the
microscopic flow lines.
- mail-bid sale
- Similar to an auction, but all bids and
transactions are completed through the mail or by telephone; no
bidding is conducted in person.
- Maple Leaf
- A gold bullion coin of Canada. It is composed
of .9999 fine gold. Produced in four sizes: 1-ounce with a $50 face
value; half-ounce, $25; quarter-ounce, $10; and tenth-ounce, $5.
Plural, Maple Leafs.
- Maria Theresia taler
- An Austrian silver trade coin dated 1780, but struck repeatedly
since then with the one date.
- master die
- A metal punch used to produce "working hubs," which are
then used to produce working dies. See also die and
- master hub
- A metal punch used to produce master dies. See also hub
and master die.
- Matte Proof
- Especially U.S. gold coins of 1908-1916, coins produced from dies
entirely sandblasted with no mirror surfaces.
See also frost and Proof.
- An unidentifiable specimen, generally referring to a token.
- Usually a piece of metal, marked with a design or inscription, made
to honor a person, place or event; not intended to pass as money.
- Depending on sources, a small medal no larger
than 1 inch in diameter or a medal 35 millimeters in diameter or less.
- A large Roman presentation piece of the fifth century. Sometimes
used for a large medal, usually 3 or more inches
- medieval coin
- A coin struck from about A.D. 500 to 1500.
- The unofficial nickname given to the Winged Liberty Head dime of
1916-45. The designer never intended the coin to depict Mercury, a
male Greek god with wings on his ankles. The bust on the dime is an
allegorical female Liberty Head figure with a winged cap. Also, some
coins have been plated outside the Mint with mercury to give them a Prooflike
appearance; mercury metal is highly toxic and these coins should be
- Extremely small lettering difficult to discern with the naked eye,
used as an anti-counterfeiting device on paper
- milling; milled coin
- Milling refers to the devices on the edge
of a coin; a milled coin is one struck by machine. They are related
due to the rise of the importance of the collar
with machine-produced coinage.
- minor coin
- A silver coin of less than crown weight, or any
coin struck in base metal.
- Mint luster
- The sheen or bloom on the surface of an Uncirculated numismatic
object resulting from the centrifugal flow of metal caused by striking
with dies. Mint luster or bloom is somewhat frosty
in appearance as opposed to the mirror like smoothness of the field of
a Proof. See also luster.
- Mint mark
- A letter or other symbol, sometimes of a privy nature, indicating
the Mint of origin.
- Mint set
- Common term for an Uncirculated Mint set, an official set containing
one of each coin struck during a given year.
- Highly reflective surface or field of a coin; usually mirror field
with frosted relief.
- model, plaster
- A clay or plaster three-dimensional design for a coin or medal.
- modern coin
- A coin struck after about A.D. 1500.
- A medium of exchange.
- A coin, token or medal
whose obverse die is not
matched with its official or regular reverse
- national bank note
- paper money issued in United States by
national banks from 1863 through 1929 and secured by government bonds
or other collateral. Also called national currency.
See also bank note.
- National Coin Week
- An annual observance sponsored by American Numismatic Association to
acquaint the public with the hobby and science of numismatics.
- national gold bank note
- National bank notes payable in
gold coin by some California banks and one Boston bank pursuant to
authorization by Act of July 12, 1870. See also bank
- A silver-white metal widely used for coinage, usually alloyed
with copper. Do not use for the copper-nickel
5-cent coin. In the mid-19th century, copper-nickel cents and 3-cent
coins were also nicknamed nickel, like the 5-cent coin.
- The science, study or collecting of coins, tokens,
medals, orders and decorations, paper
money and similar objects.
- A person knowledgeable in numismatics,
with greater knowledge than a collector.
- Greek denomination equal to one-sixth
- obsolete bank note
- Note of an American bank of issue prior to 1865; a more accurate
term than broken bank note, since many note-issuing banks converted
into national banks or liquidated without failing. See also bank
- The side of a numismatic item which bears
the principal design or device, often as
prescribed by the issuing authority. In paper
money, this is called the face. In slang, the obverse is the heads
- Printing method in which a metallic plate places an ink impression
on an elastic blanket and is then transferred to the paper. Also, a
term sometimes used to describe a blanket impression paper
- OPA token
- A cardboard fiber token issued in the United States by the Office of
Price Administration in 1944 during World War II. They were used to
make change for meat and processed food coupons (to keep track of
ration points awarded each family during periods of rationing). They
were issued in red and blue versions. Both sides of the OPA token
depicts a numeral 1 flanked by two small initials. See also token.
- The date made by a Mint engraver superimposing one or more numbers
over the date on a previously dated die.
- paper money
- Printed monetary instruments. Modern collectors may be challenged
for a new term as nations experiment with plastics and other materials
for their printed currency.
- The surface quality that a coin acquires over time as the metal
reacts with the environment.
- Coin-like pieces designed to test proposed coin designs, mottoes or denominations
proposed for adoption as a regular issue, struck in the metal to be
issued for circulation and which were not adopted, at least in year of
pattern issue. Do not use as a generic term describing experimental
pieces and trial pieces.
- pieces of eight
- Popular term for silver Spanish 8-real pieces; often associated with
- A piece struck on a planchet twice or more
the normal thickness. The French spelling used in Europe is piedfort.
- pioneer gold
- Gold coins, often privately produced, struck in areas of the United
States to meet the needs of a coin shortage, generally in traditional
U.S. denominations. The U.S. Assay
Office coins of California official coinage struck before the
establishment of the San Francisco Mint are part of the series.
Also known as private gold and territorial gold.
- planchet, blank
- The disc of metal or other material on which the dies
of the coin, token or medal
are impressed; also called blank, disc, flan. In paper
money, a small colored disc embedded in the paper used as an anti-counterfeiting
- (See model.)
- Synthetic modeling clay.
- Abbreviation of philatelic-numismatic
combination (or cover). A combination of a coin, medal,
token or other numismatic item inserted into an
envelope that is postmarked on a special occasion, such as the release
of a new postage stamp. The numismatic item (or numis) is generally
visible through a window in the envelope.
- postage note
- The First Issue fractional note series.
- postal note
- Forerunner of the postal money order, issued by
the U.S. Post Office.
- Prestige Proof set
- A special U.S. Proof set, commemorating regular Proof
coins plus commemorative coins of that
year. Offered first in 1983 with 1983-S Olympic silver dollar; also
offered in 1984 (with 1984-S Olympic dollar) and 1986 (with 1986-S
Immigrant half dollar and 1986-S Ellis Island dollar).
- privy mark
- Small device used on coinage often commemorative
in nature, similar to Mint mark in placement, but not indicative of
Mint of origin.
- A coin struck on specially-prepared planchets
on special presses to receive the highest quality strike possible,
especially for collectors. For paper money,
a print made to test the plate, analogous to a die
trial strike in coinage.
- Proof set
- A set of one Proof coin of each current denomination
issued by a recognized Mint for a specific year. See Prestige Proof
- An Uncirculated coin having received special minting treatment and a
mirror surface for the benefit of collectors, with minor imperfections
due to the minting process permissible.
- quarter eagle
- A gold $2.50 coin of the United States. See also eagle.
- A comparative term denoting a high degree of scarcity. Often
modified adverbially, e.g., very rare or extremely rare; or modified
by the use of figures, e.g., R4 or R7. There is no universally
accepted scale of rarity.
- Red Book
- Nickname given to A Guide Book of United States Coins, an annually
published price guide. The cover is red, hence the nickname. Gives
retail prices, or what dealers might charge for U.S. coins.
- reeded edge
- The result of a minting process which creates vertical serrations on
the edge of a coin.
- Raised. In coinage and medallic numismatic
items, a relief design is raised above the surface of the field.
Sometimes called bas--relief. Opposite of incuse
- A copy of the original, a facsimile. A
- A numismatic item produced from original dies
at a later date; in the case of a coin usually not with a view to
meeting monetary requirements but to fill a demand for a numismatic
- The side opposite to that on which the head or principal figure is
impressed. The side opposite from the obverse.
On paper money this is called the back.
- Raised border around the circumference of a coin, not to be confused
with the edge.
- Not common, but not as uncommon as rare.
- screw press
- early hand-operated machine for striking coins.
- Paper currency usually of denominations
less than $1 issued as substitutes for currency
to private persons or organizations. Tokens
issued by coal mines and settlers also are called scrip.
- The study and science of collecting financial documents, including
stock certificates, shares, government and private bonds, and checks.
A student of scripophily is a scripophilist.
- A device placed on paper
money indicating authority of issue. Modern Federal Reserve notes
have two seals, a green Department of Treasury seal and a black Fed
- The profits resulting from the difference between the cost to make a
coin and its face value, or its worth as money
and legal tender. Most coins cost less to
make than their face value; when it becomes too expensive to make a
certain coin, size, weight and composition are often changed.
- serial number
- Number used chiefly on paper money and
sometimes on limited-issue medals to indicate
order of production.
- Related coinage of the same denomination,
design and type, including modifications, or varieties, of design. The
Lincoln/Wheat Ears cents of 1909 to 1958 represent a complete series.
- An ancient Roman coin; plural, sestertii.
- shekel, sheqel
- Shekel is a silver coin of ancient Judea
of various weights; sheqel is modern Israeli denomination,
- silver certificate
- Authorized by the Acts of Feb. 28, 1878, and Aug. 4, 1886. Were
redeemable in silver coin, and in early to mid1960s, silver bullion.
No longer produced, but all specimens remain legal
tender although the notes can no longer be redeemed in silver.
- Popular nickname for certain kinds of protective coin encapsulation
methods, especially those that are permanently sealed and rectangular.
- A term applied to the $50 gold coin issued by various private Mints
in California from 1851 to 1855 occurring in both round and octagonal
shapes, or to tokens manufactured expressly for
use in certain coin-operated machines.
- small date
- A variety of coin on which the date is physically smaller than other
varieties of the same year. Similar varieties include medium date and
- so-called dollar
- A silver dollar-sized medal commemorating a
- souvenir card
- Popular collectible item, usually well-printed on heavy paper using
an engraving used on paper money. They also
contain information of a historical or commemorative
- Souvenir Mint sets
- An issue of the U.S. Mint, containing the coinage of one Mint. It is
generally sold only at the Mint represented by the coins.
- Special Mint sets (SMS)
- Coins produced under special conditions by the United States Mint at
San Francisco during the years 1965, 1966 and 1967. Coins have no Mint
- In the form of coin, especially precious metal coin; paper
money redeemable in coin. From Latin meaning "in kind";
see also fiat money.
- star notes
- Mainly intended as replacements for notes that were damaged or
produced with errors or mistakes at the Bureau of Engraving and
Printing. On modern Federal Reserve notes, a solid star appears at the
end of the serial number; on earlier notes, the star appears at the
beginning of the number. Until the 1980s, star notes were also used to
represent the 100 millionth note since the serial numbering machinery
has only eight digits.
- state coinages or notes
- Refers to coins issued by one of four state governments
(Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont) between the
Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the U.S.
Constitution when the states' rights to issue coins were suspended.
Among paper money, refers to notes issued
between Declaration of Independence and Civil War by state
governments. See also Colonial.
- Greek coin equal to two drachms or didrachm, or 12 obols.
- A gold $4 pattern never issued for circulation. Also struck in other
- sterling silver
- Silver that is .925 fine; in Israel, .935 fine silver. From the
British standard pound sterling.
- store card
- A token bearing a business name and/or address,
and often intended as a local or adhoc medium of exchange as well as
an advertisement for the issuer.
- The act of impressing the image of a die into a planchet,
making a coin. The quality of strike is important when determining the
amount of wear on a coin.
- Rolls of coinage metal to be punched into planchets.
- An extra charge placed on an item, the revenue of which is usually
earmarked for a specific fund. It has been the recent practice of the
United States Congress to place a surcharge on commemorative
coins, sometimes to benefit a worthy organization.
- The study of printed currency and related
items; from syngraph, a writing signed by all parties to a contract or
- Usually a piece of durable material appropriately marked and
unofficially issued for monetary, advertising, services or other
- Trade dollar
- A silver dollar coin produced for overseas markets. The United
States issued a Trade dollar between 1873-85 for use in the Orient.
Great Britain also issued a trade dollar. Also used incorrectly to
refer to Canadian trade tokens of $1 nominal value.
- Treasury note
- Sometimes called a coin note. Issued under the Act of July 14, 1890.
Redeemable in silver and gold coins.
- tree coinage
- Silver coins issued by the Massachusetts Colony in three forms:
Willow Tree, Oak Tree and Pine Tree. Issued between 1652-82 although
all but one are dated 1652.
- A market value guide based on averages derived from auction
results, dealer advertisements, price lists and other sources.
Represents a guide, not firm buying or selling prices.
- tribute penny
- A silver denarius of the Roman emperor Tiberius.
- Unofficial nickname given to the silver 3-cent coin. Formed by
combining tri and the last two letters of dime.
- type set
- A collection composed of one of each coin of a given series
- U.S. Gold
- Marketing name for American Arts Gold Medallions.
- Uncirculated set
- Set of coins issued by the U.S. Mint, consisting of one of each coin
issued for circulated. Also called Uncirculated Mint set, or
unofficially, a Mint set.
- uncut sheet
- Refers to the 32-note (or 32-subject) sheets of Federal Reserve
notes being sold by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The 16-note
and four-note sheets being sold are cut partial sheets, although they
are often referred to as uncut sheets. Earlier sheets of U.S. paper
money came with different numbers of notes.
- Having a design on one side only.
- Extant in only one known specimen. Very often misused, as in
- United States note
- A specific type of note first authorized in 1862 and called legal
tender notes; name officially changed to United States notes in
July 1873. By law, $346,681,016 in United States notes must be kept in
circulation. The term United States note is not a generic term for all
forms of U.S. paper money.
- upsetting mill
- A machine that squeezes planchets so that
they have a raised rim, in preparation for
- Transportation tokens.
- A collector who specializes in transportation tokens.
- A pictorial element of a bank note design
that shades off gradually into the surrounding unprinted paper or
background rather than having sharp outlines or a frame.
- want list
- A list given by a collector to a dealer listing items the collector
needs for a collection. The dealer keeps the want list and attempts to
purchase items listed on it for the collector.
- Design formed by differing thickness of paper during production;
often used as security device in paper money.
- The severe polishing of a coin in an attempt to improve its
appearance and salability to the uninformed. A form of alteration
regarded as misleading by the numismatic
community, and which actually lowers the value of the coin.
- widow's mite
- An ancient Jewish lepton denomination
coin of the time of Christ.
- wire rim
- Slight flange on coins or medals caused by
heavy striking pressure, often characteristic on Proof
coins. The metal is squeezed up the side of the die
faces by the collar die. Sometimes incorrectly
called wire edge. See also rim.
- wooden nickels
- Originally, substitute for coins first used in the 1931-35
depression, having originated in Tenino, Wash. Issued in round or
rectangular form and in many denominations.
Currently used for advertising and souvenir purposes.
- working die
- A metal punch that is used to impress images into coins;
wrong-reading. See also die.
- working hub
- A metal punch used to produce working dies; right-reading. See also die
- year set
- A set of coins for any given year, generally containing one specimen
of each coin from each Mint issued for circulation, and packaged
privately, not by the government