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US Rare Coin The Numismatics Glossary
Category: Sport and Leisure > Coin Collecting
Date & country: 11/09/2007, USA
The front of a currency note, generally the side with signatures; analogous to the obverse of a coin.
Refers to the value of a piece of currency; the denomination multiple that appears on the note or 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 Bank note
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Referring to bullion coins, those of less that 1 ounce.
Usually refers to the United States paper money issued from 1862 to 1876 in denominations from 3 to 50 cents. See also currency.
Effect caused by striking a coin with sandblasted dies, often used in reference to Proof coins.
An alloy of copper, nickel and zinc but no silver. Also called American silver, Feuchtwanger's composition, nickel silver.
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.'
A gold $5 coin of the United States. See also eagle.
The die that performs the striking action. See also anvil die.
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, discovered accidentally.
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 working dies.
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.
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.
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.
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 collectors' hands.
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.
Refers to the U.S. cents of 1793 to 1857, with diameters between 26-29 millimeters, depending on the year it was struck.
A variety of coin on which the date is physically larger than other varieties of the same year.
Currency explicitly determined by a government to be acceptable in the discharge of debts.
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.
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.
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.
A coin which has been altered by smoothing one or both surfaces and engraving initials, scenes, messages, etc., thereon.
Surface quality of a coin, result of light reflected from the microscopic flow lines.
Similar to an auction, but all bids and transactions are completed through the mail or by telephone; no bidding is conducted 'in person.'
Maria Theresia taler
An Austrian silver trade coin dated 1780, but struck repeatedly since then with the one date.
A metal punch used to produce 'working hubs,' which are then used to produce 'working dies.'
A metal punch used to produce 'master dies.'
Especially U.S. gold coins of 1908-1916, coins produced from dies entirely sandblasted with no mirror surfaces.
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 three or more inches in diameter.
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 destroyed.
Extremely small lettering difficult to discern with the naked eye, used as an anti-counterfeiting device on paper money.
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.
A silver coin of less than crown weight, or any coin struck in base metal.
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.
A letter or other symbol, sometimes of a privy nature, indicating the Mint of origin.
Common term for an Uncircumcised 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.
A clay or plaster three-dimensional design for a coin or medal.
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 die.
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.
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.
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 drachma.
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.
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' side.
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 money error.
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.
The date made by a Mint engraver superimposing one or more numbers over the date on a previously dated die.
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 pirate treasure.
A piece struck on a planchet twice or more the normal thickness. The French spelling used in Europe is piedfort.
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.
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 device.
Synthetic modelling 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.
The First Issue fractional note series.
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).
Small device used on coinage often commemorative in nature, similar to Mint mark in placement, but not indicative of Mint of origin.