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A Glossary of Specialized Coin Terms

displays ten commemorative
coins in two horizontal rows

Coin Terms

Reference Notes

abrasion :
a mark on a coin where another object has displaced some of its constituent metal.

adjustment marks :
file marks on coins where excess metal was removed from oversized or overweight blanks (planchets).

Actual Gold Weight, being the amount of gold in a coin, not including any other metals.

album friction :
rubbing on the high points of a coin that occurs when pages slide against each other in a coin storage album.

album slide marks :
scrape lines, usually parallel, created by moving a coin across the plastic slide of a coin storage album.

alloy :
a coin composed of a mixture of two or more metals.

alms :
anything given to the poor or needy as charity, such as donated food or clothing, money or shelter; as derived from pity or compassion (v: eleemosynary).

alteration :
a coin that's been changed in some manner to simulate a more valuable issue.

aluminum / aluminium :
a lightweight, malleable, and ductile metallic element (Al) that's non-magnetic, corrosion-resistant, and of a bluish-white color, which is found only in combination, and is widely used in alloys. [cf: alumina, corundum; v: titanium]

American Eagle Bullion Coin :
coins produced in platinum, silver, and gold by the United States Mint since October 1986; available in proof-quality issues.

American Numismatic Association (ANA) :
a non-profit educational organization that encourages the study of money throughout the world.

ancients :
coins struck during the era: circa 600BC to AD450.

annealing :
heating blanks (planchets) in a furnace so as to soften the metal before striking in a coin press, which relieves molecular stress and helps prevent cracking.

anvil die :
the lower die in the coin press, which is usually the reverse coin face.

apothecaries' weight :
a system of weights (eg: grain, dram, ounce, etc) used chiefly in compounding and dispensing drugs.

artificial toning :
coloring added to the surface of a coin by the use of chemicals or heat.

assay :
an analysis that determines the composition and purity of metal.

attributes :
the elements, like luster and strike, that contribute to the evaluation of a coin's grade rating.

authentication :
the determination of an item's genuineness.

av :
abbreviation for 'avoirdupois weight'.

avdp :
abbreviation for 'avoirdupois weight'.

avoir :
abbreviation for 'avoirdupois weight'.

avoirdupois weight :
the system of weights that's based on the 16 ounce pound, which is used in the United States and Great Britain for goods other than gems, precious metals, and drugs; abbreviated 'av', 'avdp', or 'avoir'.

bad penny :
someone or something that's undesirable, especially when recurrent.

bag :
the cloth sacks in which coin are stored and transported.

bag mark :
a mark on a coin transferred from contact with other coins, especially when collected in a pocket or pouch.

bag toning :
discoloration acquired from the storage bag for coins.

bank-wrapped rolls :
rolls of coins wrapped in paper cylinders at a Federal Reserve Bank from original Mint bags.

base metal :
the core metal that's overlaid by another metal; the principal metal underlying a coating by another metal. Also, the principal metal of an alloy. Also, any common or ignoble metal, which will readily oxidize or go into solution, such as copper and tin, zinc and lead.

basining :
the process of removing marks from a die, which is then polished to a mirrored surface.

bas-relief :
relief sculpture wherein the figures project slightly from the background; as derived from Italian [basso rilievo] for "low relief".

bell-metal :
an alloy of copper, zinc, and tin that's used to manufacture bells and other cast metal objects.

bi-metallic :
a coin composed of two different metals, each bonded to the other.

bit :
informal reference to an amount equivalent to 12.5 cents, which is only used in even multiples; as derived from a former small silver coin of Spain and Spanish America that was worth one-eighth of a real. [nb: Spanish real is equal to one-eighth of a peso]

blank :
the common term for the smooth unmarked piece of metal upon which a coin design is stamped; a flat disk of metal before it is struck by the dies and made into a coin; properly known as a 'planchet'.

blended :
an element of a design that's been worn into another element on a coin's surface.

bourse :
a coin show.

bourse floor :
the area where a coin show occurs.

branch mint :
a subsidiary mint affiliated with the main mint of a country; in the United States, any government mint other than the Philadelphia Mint.

brass :
any of various non-ferrous metal alloys consisting mainly of copper and zinc, in colors varying from amber to lemon, metallic yellow to reddish yellow.

brilliant :
designation for a condition exhibiting full luster, which may contain extremely light toning.

brilliant uncirculated :
general reference to the excellent condition of any coin that's not been in circulation; abbreviated 'bu'.

Britannia / Britannia metal :
an alloy of tin, copper, antimony, often with zinc and bismuth admixed; as derived from the Roman name for Great Britain.

brockage :
a mint error wherein a sharp incused image is left on the next blank (planchet) fed into the chamber of the coin press.

bronze :
any of various non-ferrous metal alloys consisting mainly of copper and tin (not exceeding 11%) in a brownish metallic color. Also, any of various other alloys having a large copper content.

brown :
characterization of a copper coin that no longer shows the red color of copper.

bu :
abbreviation for 'brilliant uncirculated'.

buck :
a dollar, or money, as derived from 'buckskin' by shortening. Also, a coin or token used as a marker.

buckled die :
a warped die that produces coins that're slightly bent.

bulged die :
a die containing a small indentation that produces coins with a bulged area.

bullion :
platinum, gold, or silver in the form of bars or other storage shapes, including coins and ingots, that trade near their intrinsic metal value.

bullion coin :
a precious metal coin that's traded at current bullion prices; a legal tender coin that trades near its melt value.

bullion value :
the value of the metal(s) comprising a coin; the current market value of the precious metal(s) contained in a coin; also known as 'intrinsic value'.

burnish / burnishing :
polishing or rubbing a metallic surface to make it shiny or lusterous, which care inhibits tarnishing but also wears away its sharp detail.

burnished strike :
coins produced from blanks (planchets) that were polished at the mint before being struck.

burnishing lines :
minute polishing lines that mar the pristine surface.

burnt :
any dull coin that has lost its luster from over-dipping.

business strike :
a regular coin produced for general circulation, as distinguished from a proof or uncirculated coin that's specially made for collectors; also called 'commercial strike', 'circulation strike', and 'regular strike'.

bust :
a portrait of a person on a coin, often in profile, and usually depicting their head and shoulders.

c :
the mint mark of the United States Mint at Charlotte, North Carolina (1838-1861) for specie. Also, abbreviation for 'carat'.

cabinet friction :
the slight wear exhibited on a coin that's been stored in a wooden cabinet.

cameo :
coins exhibiting frosted devices and lettering that contrast highly with the fields.

capped die :
a production error where a blank is jammed in the coin press during successive strikes, eventually forming a "cap" or "crown" that prevents further impression.

carat :
a unit of weight [200 milligrams (about 3.33 grains of troy or avoirdupois weight)] in gemstones; abbreviated 'c' or 'ct', and derived from the weight of four grains [qirat (Arabic)], as used by alchemists.

carbon spot :
a mark of carbon oxidation on the surface of a coin.

Carson City Mint :
established in 1870 at Carson City, Nevada as a result of the regional gold and silver strikes, its operations were discontinued in 1893; this facility used the 'CC' mint mark on coins struck there; it was also called the "CC-Mint".

cartwheel :
the visual effect of spinning luster when a shiny coin is rotated like a turning wheel. Also, slang for any large sized coin, especially the American silver dollar.

cast blanks :
smooth unmarked disks of metal (planchets) created in molds.

cast counterfeit :
replication of a coin created by molding casts of the obverse and reverse of its surfaces, then casting base metal in those molds.

CC :
the mint mark of the United States Mint at Carson City, Nevada (1870-1893) for specie.

census :
a compilation of the known specimens of all coins that are particularly collectible.

cent :
a monetary unit of exchange that's valued at one-hundredth of a dollar, which denomination has been issued by the United States since 1792; the one-cent coin is informally referred to as a 'penny'. [nb: 2¢ coins minted from 1864]

ch :
abbreviation for 'choice' condition.

challenge coin :
some organizations, including both military units and fraternal societies, began selling specially produced and serial numbered coins to unofficially raise funds for unit activities and recreation; which coins could be called forth (ie: "coining") for comparison to settle wagers and challenges, or contested to raise even more money. It is believed that the first genuine 'challenge coins' were produced by the (then) 77th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg around 1957, and their popularity quickly spread to cover many other units, operations, and special events.

Charlotte Mint :
established in 1838 at Charlotte, North Carolina to accommodate the regional Gold Rush, operations were discontinued in 1861 due to the Civil War; this facility used the 'C' mint mark on coins struck there; it was also called the "C-Mint".

chasing :
the act or art of embossing, incising, indenting, etching, or engraving on metals; a method used by forgers to alter the surface details of a coin by heating and manipulation.

choice :
designation for an especially attractive example of a particular grade of coin.

circulated :
a coin that shows wear consistent with use in commerce.

circulation :
the distribution of coins to the general public for commerce.

circulation strike :
any coin struck by normal methods on ordinary blanks (planchets); also called 'business strike', 'commercial strike', and 'regular strike'.

clad :
a coin composed of metallic layers, typically copper and nickel; also called 'sandwich' or 'sandwiched'.

clad coinage :
a coin that has its core and outer layer made of different metals; all of the American circulating dimes, quarters, half dollars, and dollar coins have been clad since 1965.

clashed dies :
dies damaged by striking each other without a blank (planchet) inserted between them, which usually creates a partial obverse image on the reverse die, and vice versa.

clash marks :
portions of both obverse and reverse images appearing on both faces of a coin; coins exhibiting blended obverse and reverse images on their surfaces as a result of clashed dies.

classic era :
the period of United States coinage from 1792 until 1964.

cleaned :
a coin whose original surface has been removed.

clip :
a coin struck from an uneven or irregular blank (clipped planchet).

clipped :
an unevenly or irregularly cut blank (planchet).

clogged die :
a die that has some contaminant lodged in the recessed areas creating coins with diminished detail.

close collar :
the edge device, also known as a 'collar die', that surrounds the lower (anvil) die so as to restrains the expansion of the metallic blank (planchet) while being struck.

coin :
a flat piece of metal issued by the government as money. Also, metal formed into standard shapes with various surface designs for use as medals or tokens.

coinage :
the metallic money of a country, its type and amount. Also, the act or process of making coins; coins collectively.

coin friction :
a rubbed area on the surface of a coin where small amounts of metal have been displaced by contact; a mark or spot resulting from coins being in contact.

coining :
the challenge of matching unit or operational coins as a gesture of fellowship or as a means of raising funds, often at a bar or other social event, using somewhat elaborate or esoteric rules. Also, the presentation of a unit, operational, or special event coin as a token of comradeship or recognition; such coins are usually not serial numbered or otherwise personalized.

coin show :
a place where coins are displayed, especially someplace where dealers sell and trade coins; also called a 'bourse'.

collar :
a surrounding piece of metal that restrains the expansion of the metallic blank (planchet) while being struck during manufacture.

collar die :
the edge device, also known as a 'close collar', that surrounds the lower (anvil) die so as to restrains the expansion of the metallic blank (planchet) while being struck.

commemorative :
a special coin or medal issued to honor an outstanding person, a significant place, or a noteworthy event.

commercial strike :
any coin struck by normal methods on ordinary blanks (planchets); also called 'business strike', 'regular strike', and 'circulation strike'.

common :
any issue that is readily available.

common date :
the date of an issued coin that is readily available.

complete set :
all possible coins within a series.

condition :
the physical state of a coin, represented by a grade rating or evaluation; the state of preservation of a particular coin.

condition rarity :
a common coin that's rarely found in a high grade condition.

contact marks :
small marks on a coin, generally minor, that're incurred through contact with another coin or a foreign object.

copper :
a malleable and ductile metallic element (Cu) that has a characteristic reddish brown color, which is used extensively in conducting electricity, and in plating and alloying (eg: brass, bronze, etc).

copper spot :
a mark of discoloration, usually on gold coinage, which indicates an area of copper concentration that has oxidized.

copper-nickel :
an alloy composed of copper and nickel.

copy :
a reproduction of a coin or medal.

corrosion :
damage resulting from the reaction of elements and substances upon the metal used in coins.

counterfeit :
any item of currency made in imitation of the genuine article so as to deceive the public, such as a forged note or fake coin; money that's not genuine.

counterstamp :
an additional impression placed on the surface of a coin after it was initially struck at its original mint.

counting machine mark :
a dense patch of residual lines caused by the rubber wheel of a counting machine.

ct :
abbreviation for 'carat'.

cud :
an area of a coin struck by a die that has a complete break across part of its surface.

cull :
a coin of such poor condition that it's not collectible.

cupronickel / cupro-nickel :
any alloy of copper containing up to forty parts nickel.

currency :
any kind of money, from coins to paper notes, specie to scrip, that's used as a medium of exchange.

D :
the mint mark of the United States Mint at Dahlonega, Georgia (1838-1861) for gold coins, and later at Denver, Colorado (since 1906) for specie.

Dahlonega Mint :
opened in 1838 at Dahlonega, Georgia to accommodate the regional Gold Rush, operations at this facility were discontinued in 1861 due to the Civil War; gold coins struck at this mint used the 'D' mint mark.

date :
the numerals on a coin representing the year in which it was struck, typically situated in the exergue.

dealer :
someone who buys, sells, or trades collectible coins.

deep cameo :
coins having deeply frosted devices and lettering so as to contrast with the fields.

deep mirror proof :
a coin having deeply reflective mirror-like fields.

denomination :
the face value assigned by a government to a specific type of coin; the different values of money, with American coins being issued as cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar.

denticles :
tooth-like devices around the rim that're exhibited on many coins.

dentils :
short form of 'denticles'.

Denver Mint :
established in 1906 at Denver, Colorado to assume production from the deactivated Carson City Mint, this facility uses the 'D' mint mark on coins struck there; it's also called the "D-Mint".

design :
a particular motif arranged and scaled for display on the surface of a coin.

designer :
the individual responsible for creating or developing the motif used on a coin; the artist who creates a coin's design; however this artist doesn't necessarily engrave that design into a coinage die.

design type :
a specific motif that may be used for several denominations or series.

device :
any particular element of a design; any specific aspect of a motif.

die :
an engraved stamp that's used to impress a design (value, images, and mottoes) upon a blank piece of metal (planchet) in order to make a coin.

die alignment :
the relative position of each side to the other; the proper arrangement of the obverse and reverse dies.

die break :
an uncommon defect on a coin resulting from a strike by a broken die.

die crack :
an irregular raised line on a coin resulting from a hairline break in the die.

die line :
the raised lines on a coin resulting from the polish hairlines on the die.

die rust :
an accumulation of corrosive oxidation on an improperly stored die, often rendering it unusable.

die state :
the condition of a coinage die relative to its functional lifespan.

die striations :
raised lines on a coin that was struck with polished (basining) dies.

die trial :
the test strike of a coinage die.

die variety :
a representative coin that can be linked to a given set of dies with known or established characteristics.

die wear :
die deterioration caused by extended or excessive use, resulting in less detail than desired on coins.

dime :
the ten-cent coin; a monetary unit of exchange that's valued at one-tenth of a dollar, which denomination has been issued by the United States since 1796. [nb: each dime has 118 ridges around the outside edge]

dimple-texture :
an orange-peel field surface.

ding :
any small sized mark on a coin.

dip / dipped :
a mild acid wash that's intended to remove the toning from a coin; a coin that has been treated with a mild acid wash so as to remove all or most of its discoloration.

dipping solution :
a mild acid-based solution that's used to remove toning discoloration from coins.

disme :
the original spelling of 'dime', as derived from "tenth part" [decima]. [v: decimal, tithe]

doctored :
any coin that has been enhanced by some means.

dollar :
a monetary unit of exchange that consists of one hundred cents, which denomination has been issued by the United States since 1792. [nb: the American monetary system of decimalization was developed by Gouverneur Morris] [nb: there are 293 ways to make change for a dollar]

doré :
containing gold; golden or gilded.

double(d) die :
a coin that exhibits a doubling of design elements as a result of the die having been struck more than once.

Double Eagle :
a gold coin, equal to twenty dollars, that was issued by the United States from 1849 to 1933.

double edge lettering - inverted :
a coin processed through the edge lettering device twice, such that one set of lettering is upside down.

double edge lettering - overlapped :
a coin processed through the edge lettering device twice, so that both sets of lettering are in the same direction.

double-struck :
a coin that is inadvertently struck twice when the coining press fails to eject it from the dies.

drachm / dram :
a unit of troy or apothecaries' weight equal to 60 grains, 3.89 grams, or one-eighth of an ounce. Also, one-sixteenth of an ounce in avoirdupois weight, equal to 27.34 grains or 1.77 grams; abbreviated 'dr' and 'dr avdp'.

drift mark :
the discoloration of a coin that results from impurities in the die being transferred.

dull :
a coin that lacks luster.

Dutch gold :
a yellow-colored alloy of copper and zinc, which tarnishes easily unless lacquered; also known as German gold or Dutch metal.

dwt :
abbreviation for 'pennyweight'.

Eagle :
a former gold coin of the United States that was equal to ten dollars. Also, a gold American coin that's been available in various denominations since 1986.

early strike :
any one of the first coins struck from a new set of dies.

edge :
the outer border of a coin, which is considered to be the "third side" of a coin, and may feature lettering, reeding, or other ornamentation along this surface; not to be confused with the 'rim'.

edge device :
a group of letters or emblems on the surrounding outer edge of a coin.

electrum :
a natural pale-yellow alloy of gold and silver. [nb: composition of the oldest extant coin, issued in Lydia, dating from before 700BC]

elements :
the particular devices that comprise a design; the various specific aspects that compose a motif.

engraver :
an artist who sculpts the clay model of a coin's design so that the figures and lettering slightly project from the background (bas-relief) of its surface.

envelope toning :
discoloration resulting from storage in envelopes, the paper of which contains caustic, corrosive, or other reactive chemicals.

environmental damage :
erosive and corrosive damage caused by exposure to environmental elements.

error :
a coin that was improperly produced, which defect was overlooked, allowing it to be released into circulation; an unintentional variant.

exergue :
the space below the device on a coin or medal; the lower section of a coin or medal, usually offset, and often containing the date, mint mark, or engraver's initials.

extremely fine :
designation for a condition exhibiting nearly full detail with only the high points worn on the coin's surface.

extremely high relief :
sculptured relief that's raised to an extreme projection above the background; also called "ultra high relief".

eye appeal :
that aspect of a coin's condition that attracts the viewer's attention; the overall appealing appearance of a coin.

face value :
the sum for which a coin can be exchanged or redeemed, as opposed to its collector or precious metal value; the value of a coin as stated by its government of issue.

fair :
designation for a condition exhibiting heavy wear, with devices only partly visible.

fake :
a counterfeit or altered coin.

field :
the portion of a coin's surface not used for design or inscription; the background to the foreground design.

fine :
designation for a condition exhibiting worn detail that's not sharp.

finest known :
the best quality of coin available in the census.

flat luster :
a weak or poor luster resulting from worn dies.

flip :
a plastic sleeve in which coins are stored.

flip rub :
discoloration on the highest points of a coin design resulting from contact with a plastic sleeve ('flip').

flow lines :
the lines resulting from the outward movement of metal from the center of the blank (planchet) as it's struck by the die; also called 'metal stress lines'.

focal area :
the area of a coin that immediately attracts the viewer's attention when initially encountered.

forge :
a hearth or furnace wherein metal is heated before shaping; the workshop or smithy of a metalsmith. Also, to form metal by beating and hammering, as to pound into shape; to fashion by concentrated effort. Also, to imitate something fraudulently; to make a forgery of something.

foundry :
a place established to produce castings in molten metal; the process of founding (casting) metal objects.

friction :
slight wear to a coin's high points or across the fields.

frost :
the intense appearance of coins struck with sandblasted dies.

frosted devices :
the raised elements on coins that have a sandblasted treatment in their recessed areas.

frosty luster :
the crystalline appearance of coins that have a sandblasted treatment in their recessed areas.

full strike :
a coin that displays all the details intended by the designer.

gem :
slang for a superb coin.

German silver :
a white alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc that's used instead of sterling, and as a base for plating; abbreviated 'Gs', and also known as albata or nickel-silver.

gilded / gilt :
thinly plated, coated, layered, covered, edged, or highlighted with Gold or something golden in color. Also, a specious ostentation or pleasing appearance which conceals something inferior or worthless.

gold :
a precious metallic element (Au) that's bright yellow in color, dense and shiny, highly malleable and ductile, and is not subject to oxidation or corrosion.

good :
designation for a condition exhibiting little detail but outlines the major devices.

grade :
a rating that indicates how much a particular coin has been worn by circulation. The American Numismatic Association (ANA) scale grades coins in measurements from "About Good - 3" to "Perfect Uncirculated - 70". Uncirculated coins may vary to some degree because of blemishes, toning, or slight imperfections.

grading :
the process of rating or evaluating the condition of a particular coin.

grain :
the smallest unit of weight in avoirdupois, equal to 0.0648 gram or 0.002285 ounce in the United States and British system. Also, a unit of weight equal to 50 milligrams or one-quarter carat, as used for genstones. Also, any of the individual crystalline particles forming a metal.

gram :
a metric unit of mass or weight equal to 15.432 grains or 0.001 kilogram; abbreviated 'g' or 'gr'.

Gs :
abbreviation for German silver.

hairline / hairlines :
tiny lines or fine scratches on coin surfaces, which are usually caused by cleaning or polishing.

half-dollar :
informal reference to the fifty-cent coin; a monetary unit of exchange that's valued at one-half of a dollar.

half roll :
any roll containing half the usual number of coins

hammer die :
the upper die in the coin press, which is usually the obverse coin face.

hard cash :
actual money, as distinguished from checks or credit. [v: hard-asset; cf: fiat money]

hard currency :
money that is backed by gold reserves and is readily convertible into foreign currencies. [v: hard-asset; cf: fiat money]

hard times token :
any of a series of U.S. copper tokens, issued 1834-41, bearing a political inscription or advertising message, and serving as currency during coin shortages.

haze :
a cloudy film on a coin, whether original or added.

high end :
any coin rated at the upper end of a particular grade.

high relief :
sculptured relief that's sufficiently raised so as to strongly project the mass of the image from the background.

holder toning :
discoloration of a coin acquired as a result of storage in any type of holder.

hub :
the steel device from which a die is produced.

impaired proof :
a formerly proof-quality coin that is no longer in 'proof' condition (eg: circulated proof).

incomplete strike :
a coin that's missing design detail due to a striking process problem.

incuse :
the part of a coin's design that's depressed into the surface of the field; any design motif that's indented below the plane of the background, from which the relief motifs project.

Indian Head cent :
a one-cent coin featuring an Indian head motif that was issued by the United States from 1859 until 1909.

ingot :
a mass of metal cast in a convenient form for shaping, remelting, or refining; as derived from "pour or flow into a mold".

inscription :
words stamped on a coin or medal.

intrinsic value :
the value of the metal(s) comprising a coin; the current market value of the precious metal(s) contained in a coin; also known as 'bullion value'.

k :
abbreviation for 'karat'.

karat :
a unit of measure used for designating the fineness of gold, with pure gold being 24 karats fine; abbreviated 'k' or 'kt', and derived as a spelling variant of 'carat'.

key coin :
the most important coin in a particular series.

key date :
a scarce coin date that's required to complete a collection; a date that's typically more difficult for the collector to find and afford.

kt :
abbreviation for 'karat'.

lamination :
a piece of metal that has nearly become detached from a coin.

legal tender :
coins, bills or banknotes, and other currency that's been issued by a government as official money for the payment of debts and the exchange of commerce.

legend :
the principal lettering on a coin.

lettered edge :
a coin edge that displays an inscription, legend or motto; a design element along the edge of a coin, other than reeded or plain.

Liberty :
a symbolic female figure who personifies freedom from despotism, as used in many coin designs.

Liberty Head silver dollar :
informal reference to the one-dollar coin featuring the personification of Liberty that was issued by the United States from 1878 until 1904, and again in 1921; also called the 'Morgan dollar'.

light line :
the band of light appearing on photographs of coins.

Lincoln cent :
a one-cent coin featuring a bust of Abraham Lincoln, designed by Victor D. Brenner, that was first struck by the United States in 1909.

Lincoln Head penny :
informal reference to the Lincoln cent.

lint mark :
a repeating depression on a coin that was caused by a thread adhering to a die during striking.

loupe :
a small magnifying glass used to examine coins.

low relief :
see bas-relief.

luster :
the flow lines of a coin reflecting the glossy brilliance of light.

lustrous :
shining or brilliant; coins that retain their original mint bloom.

marks :
imperfections acquired after striking the coin.

master die :
the principal production die of the master hub, from which many working hubs are created.

master hub :
the original hub created by the portrait lathe, which is then used to create master dies.

maundy / maundy money :
money distributed as alms, especially as part of the ceremonial observance of Maundy Thursday during Holy Week; as derived from Jesus' mandate to His disciples after washing their feet and sharing the Last Supper.

medal :
a metal object resembling a coin, but with no stated value, and that's not intended to circulate as money, which has been issued to recognize an event or place, a person or group. [nb: it's illegal to deface, disfigure, or deform U.S. currency; furthermore, the size and weight of commemorative medallions or commercial tokens must be other than that of U.S. coinage]

medallion :
a large medal. Also, an ornament resembling a medal; a metallic token resembling a 'coin' but intended to be used in non-monetary applications or non-commercial exchanges. [nb: it's illegal to deface, disfigure, or deform U.S. currency; furthermore, the size and weight of commemorative medallions or commercial tokens must be other than that of U.S. coinage]

medium of exchange :
anything that people agree has a certain value; something generally accepted as representing a standard of value and able to be traded for goods and services.

melt :
informal reference to the intrinsic value of the metal(s) comprising a particular numismatic item; the reduced or rendered worth of a coin, regardless of its artistic or historic value.

Mercury dime :
informal reference to the ten-cent coin featuring the personification of Winged Liberty that was issued by the United States from 1916 until 1945.

metal :
any of a class of elementary substances, all of which are crystalline when solid, and many of which are characterized by opacity, ductility, conductivity, and a unique luster when freshly fractured; usually pure or admixed (alloy).

metal stress lines :
radial lines that result from the metal flowing outward from the center of the blank (planchet) during the minting process; also called 'flow lines'.

mill :
a factory established for certain kinds of manufacture, especially one equipped with machinery for grinding, pulverizing, crushing, or rolling raw materials. Also, any of the various apparatuses used for shaping materials or performing other mechanical operations.

milling mark :
a mark resulting from the reeded edge of one coin contacting the surface of another.

mint :
a place where the coins of a country are manufactured under government authority; each facility thereof distinctively marks its products. Also, any commercial coin production facility.

mintage :
the quantity of coins produced by a mint; the number of coins of a particular date struck at a given mint.

mint luster :
the dull, frosty, or satiny shine found on uncirculated coins.

mint mark / mintmark :
a small letter (ie: P, S, D, W, C, CC, O) on a coin (often situated in the exergue) that identifies which of the United States Mint facilities struck the particular coin.

mint set :
a complete set of uncirculated coins of each denomination produced by a particular mint in any given year.

mint state :
a business strike coin in uncirculated condition.

mishandled proof :
a proof coin that has had its pristine condition reduced by polishing, cleaning, circulation, or any other mistreatment.

missing edge lettering :
a coin that doesn't display any of the intended design on its surrounding edge.

mis-struck :
any error coin that features irregularities from striking.

mite :
a copper coin of very small value, hence any very small contribution or sum of money; derived by comparison with the minute arachnids.

Morgan dollar :
informal reference to the one-dollar coin featuring the personification of Liberty that was issued by the United States from 1878 until 1904, and again in 1921; also called the 'Liberty Head silver dollar'.

mottled toning :
uneven discoloration of a coin.

motto :
a guiding word or phrase inscribed on a coin that expresses a widespread principle, such as the national maxim 'E Pluribus Unum' ("out of many, one") inscribed on all U.S. circulating coins.

mule error :
a matching mistake wherein the obverse die is of one coin design and the reverse die is of a different coin design.

Muntz metal :
an alloy of copper (55%-61%) with zinc (39%-45%); also called "alpha-beta brass", and named after its inventor, G.F. Muntz, a 19th century English metallurgist and manufacturer.

mutilated :
a coin that's been so baddly damaged that it can no longer be graded for valuation.

Mylar™ :
the trademarked brand name of a strong thin polyester film that's used for storing coins because it's protective and non-reactive with the metals.

new :
a coin that's never been in circulation.

New Orleans Mint :
opened in 1838 at New Orleans, Louisiana to accommodate the regional Gold Rush, operations at this facility were discontinued in 1861 due to the Civil War, then re-opened in 1879 until finally closed in 1909; this facility uses the 'O' mint mark on coins struck there; it was also called the "O-Mint".

nickel :
informal reference to the five-cent coin struck in a cupronickel alloy; a monetary unit of exchange that's valued at one-twentieth of a dollar, which denomination has been issued by the United States since 1866. Also, a hard, silvery white, ductile and malleable metallic element (Ni) that's not readily oxidized; as derived from 'copper demon' [Swiss: kopparnickel; German kupfernickel] because it yielded none despite looking like copper.

noble metal :
any of a number of metals that resist oxidation when heated in air, and solution by inorganic acids, such as gold or platinum.

not worth a plugged nickel :
a colloquialism for worthless or valueless, bootless or unavailing, futile or pointless, ineffectual or meretricious; also represented as "not worth a straw", "of no account", and "good-for-nothing".

numismatics :
the study and collecting of objects that are used as money, including coins, tokens, medals, and paper bills.

numismatist :
someone who studies or collects the objects that are used as money.

O :
the mint mark of the United States Mint at New Orleans, Louisiana (1838-1861, 1879-1909) for specie.

obsolete :
a coin design or type that is no longer produced.

obverse :
the front (or "heads") side of a coin, which usually features the date, mint mark, and main design.

off-center :
a coin struck on a blank (planchet) that was not properly centered over the anvil; a coin that received a misaligned strike from the coin press, such that portions of its design are missing.

orange-peel surfaces :
the dimple-textured fields displayed on many gold proof coins.

original :
a coin struck from dies in the year it's dated, and has never been dipped or cleaned.

original roll :
coins of certain denominations in fixed quantities that were wrapped in paper and stored at the time of their issuance.

original toning :
natural age-related discoloration; synonymous with 'patina'.

ormolu :
any of various alloys of copper, tin, and zinc that resemble the appearance of gold, as used in jewelry and decoration; also known as mosaic gold, doré, and gilt metal. Also, anything apparently genuine but actually derivative or inferior.

ounce :
a unit of weight equal to 437.5 grains, 28.349 grams, or one-sixteenth of a pound avoirdupois; abbreviated 'oz'. Also, a unit of weight equal to 480 grains, 31.103 grams, or one-twelfth of a pound troy or apothecaries' weight.

overdate :
a different date that's been punched directly over the original year on the die struck image of a coin.

over-dipped :
a coin that has become dull from too many washes in an acidic cleaning solution.

over-mintmark :
a coin with the die struck mint mark that's been altered by engraving another mint mark over it.

overstrike :
a new coin that's been produced from a previously struck coin, instead of using a blank (planchet).

P :
the mint mark of the United States Mint at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (since 1980) for specie.

partial edge lettering :
a coin that has at least one complete letter or element missing on its surrounding edge.

patina :
a film or coating of color on the surface of exposed metal, as caused by oxidation, and often highly esteemed as being of aesthetic value; synonymous with 'original toning'.

pattern :
an experimental or trial piece, generally of a new design or different metal.

pedigree :
a coin's provenance; citing of a coin's history and ownership.

penny :
informal reference to the one-cent coin; a monetary unit of exchange that's valued at one-hundredth of a dollar, which denomination has been issued by the United States since 1792. [nb: 2¢ coins minted from 1864]

a penny for your thoughts :
a colloquialism inviting a companion to share a confidence; an invitation to speak one's innermost considerations, as addressed to a pensive or bemused person; a request for someone in a "brown study" to reveal their private concerns. This phrase is humorously represented in John Heywood's Proverbs (1546) where one's most engrossing thoughts are ironically worth the least amount of money.

pennyweight :
a unit of 24 grains or 1/20 of an ounce in troy weight; abbreviated 'dwt' or 'pwt'.

peripheral toning :
discoloration around the margin or edge of a coin.

pewter :
originally composed of tin and lead, this dull gray malleable alloy is composed of tin and antimony.

Philadelphia Mint :
opened in 1792 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the production of United States specie, as authorized by the Constitution in 1787; coins struck at this facility were unmarked until 1980, when it began using the 'P' mint mark; it's also called the "P-Mint".

piedfort :
designating 'double thick'.

pile :
a large accumulation of money.

pinchbeck :
an alloy of copper and zinc that's used in imitation of gold. Also, any sham, fraud, or imitation.

plain edge :
a flat, smooth surrounding edge on a coin; unmarked and undecorated.

planchet :
the blank piece of metal (generally disk shaped) onto which a coin design is stamped.

planchet defects :
various abnormalities found on coin blanks (planchets) including drift marks, laminations, clips, and so forth.

planchet flaw :
an irregular hole in a coin blank (planchet).

planchet striations :
fine incuse lines that're found on coins, usually as a result of polishing blanks (planchets) so as to impart mirror-like surfaces before the design is struck.

plated / plating :
the application of a thin layer of metal to a core or base in order to inexpensively create an attractive coin.

platinum :
a heavy, highly malleable and ductile metallic element (Pt) that's practically unoxidizable, and colored a grayish white with very slight bluish tinge when compared to silver; a precious or noble metal.

plug / plugged :
a core or interior segment taken from a larger matrix; to remove a core or small plug-shaped piece, as when a hole in a coin has been filled with a base metal to replace a more valuable metal.

polished die :
a die that's been polished (basining) to remove clash marks or other defects.

poor :
designation for a condition exhibiting readable date and mint marks on a coin, but little more.

porous :
a rough or granular surface; a coin with an eroded face(s).

pot metal :
an admixture of scrap metals used as a base for plating; term derives from the crucible used to blend the constituent ingredients.

pr :
abbreviation for 'proof'.

precious metal :
a metal of the gold, silver, or platinum group.

premium quality :
coins deemed to be the best specimens within a particular grade.

presentation strike / presentation striking :
a coin that's been specially struck for bestowal to a dignitary or other honored person.

press :
any of the various machines used to produce coins.

pretty penny :
a considerable sum of money.

pristine :
flawless coins in original condition; a prime specimen.

proof :
a specially produced coin that's made from highly polished (basining) dies and blanks (planchets), which are often struck more than once in specially adapted coining presses to accent the design. Proof coins receive the highest quality strike possible and can be distinguished by their mirror-like background and frosted foreground, bringing forth the most minute details with remarkably sharp clarity.

proof dies :
dies that're specially prepared by sandblasting or acid-picking for use in striking proof coins.

proof-like :
any coin that has mirror-like surfaces.

proof-only issue :
a coin designed for proof production only, without any business strike coins produced in the same design.

proof set :
a complete set of proof-quality coins of each denomination that're made during a particular production year.

put-together roll :
a roll of selected coins; a roll of coins assembled from picked-over specimens in imitation of an original roll from the mint.

PVC damage :
a film residue left on a coin after being stored in a plastic holder (flip) that contains polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

PVC flip :
a soft plastic coin holder (flip) that contains polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

pwt :
abbreviation for 'pennyweight'.

quarter :
informal reference to the twenty-five-cent coin ("two-bits"); a monetary unit of exchange that's valued at one-fourth of a dollar.

questionable toning :
color on a coin that may not be original.

rainbow toning :
discoloration on a coin that's multi-hued.

rare / rarity :
coins that are scarce or uncommon in availability; a coin within a series that's very difficult to locate.

rays :
the lines in a coin design that represent sunbeams or sunrays.

red :
characterization of a copper coin that retains 95% or more of its original color.

red-brown :
characterization of a copper coin that retains 5% to 95% of its original color.

reeded edge :
a small convex molding of parallel vertical grooves set into the edge surrounding some coins (eg: dime, quarter, half dollar, dollar); often used as decoration, but instituted to prevent theft by edge trimming or shaving.

reeding mark :
a mark on the surface of a coin from contact with the reeded edge of another coin.

regular issue :
coins struck for commerce; a business strike coin produced for general circulation.

regular strike :
any coin struck by normal methods on ordinary blanks (planchets); also called 'business strike', 'commercial strike', and 'circulation strike'.

relief :
the part of a coin's design that's raised above the surface of the field; any design motif that's elevated above the plane of the background, from which the incuse motifs descend. Also, the relative height of the devices of a design in relation to the background fields.

render :
to melt down; to extract impurities by melting, especially for industrial use. Also, to pay as due; to present for payment. Also, to provide due reward.

replica :
the reproduction of a particular coin.

restrike :
a coin that's minted using the original dies but at a later date.

retoned / re-toned :
a coin that's been dipped or cleaned, and then has re-acquired its tone.

reverse :
the back (or "tails") side of a coin, which usually features the secondary design.

riddler :
a machine that screens-out blanks (planchets) of the wrong size or shape for production consistency.

rim :
the raised edge on both sides of a coin that helps protect the coin's design from wear; also called a 'rolled edge', such a raised edge is created by the 'upsetting mill'.

rim nick :
a mark or ding on the raised rim of a coin.

roll :
coins of the same denomination that've been packaged by banks or mints, dealers or merchants, with the number of coins contained in each paper-wrapped roll varying by denomination: 50 cents, 40 nickels, 50 dimes, 40 quarters, 20 half dollars, and 25 dollars.

rolled edge :
a synonym for 'rim'.

roller marks :
the mostly parallel incuse lines exhibited on some coins after striking.

roll friction :
minor marks exhibited on coins that've been stored in rolls.

rub :
the effect of slight wear to the surface of a coin.

S :
the mint mark of the United States Mint at San Francisco, California for specie.

sandblasted :
decorative stippling introduced by air- or steam-driven sand against a firm surface, resulting in a 'frosty' or 'frosted' effect.

sandwich / sandwiched :
slang for a coin composed of metallic layers, with its core and outer layer made of different metals; also called 'clad'.

San Francisco Mint :
opened in 1854 at San Francisco, California to accommodate the 1849 Gold Rush, and operating until 1955, then re-opening in 1965; this facility uses the 'S' mint mark on coins struck there; it's also called the "S-Mint".

satin luster :
a fine luster, as exhibited by many business strike coins.

scissel :
scraps of waste metal clippings and strips that're produced during the manufacture of coins.

scratch :
a line or mark that detracts from the appearance of a coin, and is more severe than a hairline.

second toning :
any discoloration of the surface after a coin has been dipped or cleaned.

semi-common :
coins that are available somewhere between common and rare.

semi-proof :
a coin finish that mixes some mirror-like surface with some satin or frosty luster.

series :
a collection of coins that includes all of the date and mint marks of a specific coin design and denomination used over a particular period.

set :
a collection of coins, as in a series, or of types, or from a particular mint.

shield :
the shield-shaped emblem used as a symbol on some coins.

shotgun rolls :
rolls of coins that contain twice as many coins as are contained in regular paper-wrapped rolls, and are closed by machine-crimped folds, in a manner similar to the end of a shotgun shell.

silver :
a white, ductile, metallic element (Ag); a lustrous precious metal used as a commodity or a currency standard.

slab / slabbed :
a nickname for some of the protective coin encapsulation methods, especially those holders that're rectangular and permanently sealed.

slug :
a coin-like metal disk used as a token of limited exchange [eg: $50 gold California token (1849)]. Also, a counterfeit coin. [nb: it's illegal to deface, disfigure, or deform U.S. currency; furthermore, the size and weight of commemorative medallions or commercial tokens must be other than that of U.S. coinage]

specie :
coined money.

splotchy toning :
uneven surface color on a coin.

spot :
a discolored area on a coin.

standard coin :
a coin having value in bullion at least equal to its face value.

standard dollar :
the basic monetary unit of the United States of America, having value in bullion at least equal to its face value; containing 25.8 grains of gold (0.900 fine) until 31 January 1934, thereafter containing 21 grains of gold (0.900 fine). [v: silver certificate, gold certificate, gold note, gold bond]

standard money :
money made of a metal that has utility and value apart from its use as a unit of monetary exchange, such as 'standard coin' or 'hard currency'. [nb: by definition, money has four basic characteristics: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value, and a standard of deferred payments] [v: silver standard, gold standard, gold bullion standard, gold-exchange standard, gold point, gold reserve, hard-asset; cf: fiat money, flash money]

steel cent :
common name for the 1943 U.S. one-cent piece.

sterling / sterling silver :
a composition of 925 parts of pure silver with 75 parts of copper; as derived from the fineness 'star' mark used on some of these mintages. [nb: the standard of fineness for coins in the United Kingdom is 0.91666 for gold and 0.500 for silver]

strike / struck :
the process of stamping a coin blank (planchet) with a design; the minting of a coin. The strength of the imprint (full, average, or weak) affects the grade and value of rare coins.

strike thru / struck thru :
an error caused by the interference of a foreign object introduced between the dies and the blank (planchet).

strip :
the flat metal stock from which blanks (planchets) are cut.

surface preservation :
a determination of the condition of a coin's surfaces.

surfaces :
the faces of a coin; obverse and reverse.

sweating :
a procedure in which coins are placed in a bag that's then vigorously shaken so as to knock-off small pieces of metal, which scraps are then melted and reused; this procedure produces small nicks in the original coins.

tarnish :
a metallic surface that's dulled or discolored by oxidation; a luster that's diminished or stained. Also, to sully or blemish the purity of something, especially character or reputation.

token :
a stamped piece of metal that's been issued as a limited medium of exchange, as for bus fares or bridge tolls; a substitute for a coin. Also, a decorative piece of metal serving as a memento or souvenir. [nb: it's illegal to deface, disfigure, or deform U.S. currency; furthermore, the size and weight of commemorative medallions or commercial tokens must be other than that of U.S. coinage]

tombac :
a copper-zinc alloy used to imitate gold.

toning :
a discoloration on the surface of a coin that's caused by storage (transference) or aging (oxidation), which can occur in many hues.

tooling mark :
a line, usually small and fine, which results from a reworking of the die to remove unwanted elements.

transfer die :
a die created from the sacrifice of an actual coin that's used as an impression model.

troy weight :
a system of weights in use for measuring precious metals and gemstones, wherein a troy pound equals twelve troy ounces, and a troy ounce equals twenty pennyweights or 480 grains.

turn an honest penny :
to earn one's living by hard work or honest labor.

two-bit / two-bits :
twenty-five cents, especially the coin ('quarter') minted to represent this sum, being the fourth part of a dollar. Also, slang for inferior, unimportant, small-time, or of little value; as related to something worth, costing, or selling for twenty-five cents. Also, an archaism for anything embellished, made fancy or decorative; as from "penny plain, twopence coloured" for theatrical cardboard cutouts sold during and after the 18th century, and by extension, anything that can easily be enriched. Also, slang for a big or long word, being representative of a term that's polysyllabic and recondite, complex and abstruse, which word is used instead of a plain or simple expression (eg: "Never use a two-bit word when a nickel word will do.").

two cents / two-cents :
the 2¢ coin minted from 1864 to represent the sum of two pennies, as used for legal tender and alms. Also, something of little to no value; anything insignificant, trifling, or paltry. Also, an opinion, usually unsolicited and unwelcome; as "two cents worth".

type :
a specimen or example of a specific coin design in its size or content.

type coin :
any coin of a particular design and denomination, usually one of the more common dates of any specific series.

type metal :
an alloy that consists chiefly of lead and antimony, sometimes with small quantities of tin and copper, that's used to make printing type and similar castings.

type set :
a collection of coins based upon denomination, including designs, dates, and mint marks.

ultra high relief :
sculptured relief that's raised to an extreme projection above the background; also called "extremely high relief".

ultra rarity :
a coin that exists as only a few representative examples.

unc :
abbreviation for 'uncirculated' condition.

uncirculated :
any coin that has not been used in everyday commerce, which typically indicates the qualitative grade of an unused coin's condition; abbreviated 'unc', a coin without wear. Also, a special coining process with qualitative enhancements (slightly higher coining force, early strikes from dies, special cleaning after stamping, and special packaging) that're used to give a coin a brilliant finish during its manufacture.

upsetting mill :
a machine that raises the rim on both sides of a coin blank (planchet) at the edge.

variety :
a minor change from the basic design type of a coin of the same denomination.

Very Fine :
a grading term that encompasses coins with nearly full detail down to coins with less than half detail.

W :
the mint mark of the United States Mint at West Point, New York for specie.

watery look :
a surface that portrays a wavy appearance, as exhibited by most close-collar proof coins.

weak edge lettering :
a coin with a portion of its inscription or design missing from its surrounding edge.

weak strike :
a coin that does not display the intended design detail due to improper striking pressure.

West Point Mint :
originally opened as a bullion depository in 1937, this facility at West Point, New York began minting in 1988 using the 'W' mint mark on coins struck there; it's also called the "W-Mint".

whizzing :
slang for the practice of mechanically moving a coin to simulate luster on its metallic surface.

Winged Liberty Head dime :
informal reference to the ten-cent coin featuring the Winged Liberty motif that was issued by the United States from 1916 until 1945; also called 'Mercury dime'.

wire edge :
a knife-like projection that's created on rims when metal flows between the collar and the dies.

working die :
a die used to strike coins.

working hub :
a steel device (hub) used to create the working dies.

worn die :
a die that's lost its detail from extended usage.

year set :
a collection of all coins issued by a country for any one year, which does not necessarily include every mint mark.

displays five overlapped
commemorative coins along a single horizontal row