Coin Glossary

You can find most popular coin collecting phrases in this coin glossary.

Coin Glossary


cast coin - a coin that was made by pouring melted metal into a mold or cast. Not made by striking a die against a blank like most coins. Casting was a common process used to try to counterfeit coins.

cent - one hundredth of a dollar on standard currency. Called a centime or centabo in some countries

certified - A coin certified as genuine by a coin grading service as genuine. Sometimes graded as well. Often a certified coin is accompanied by a photograph certificate or in a plastic slab. Also see "slabbed". 

cherry picker (cherrypicker) - a collector or dealer who finds hidden scarce coins by looking through collections or dealer’s inventory.

chop marks - oriental marks or characters stamped into previously made coins. Often found on silver trade dollars and other precious metal coins. When coins were used for trading purposes a oriental assayer would test a piece of the coin for purity. If it met his approval he would stamp his mark into the coin indicating to others it was pure and accurate weight. Today some collectors specialize in "Chop marked" coins. However, for many coins the chop marks may hurt the value.

circulation - coins used in commerce to purchase items by the populace are in circulation. A circulated coin is one that has been used one time or often more. Coins that have any kind of wear from handling, etc are also considered circulated.

clad - Clad coinage is a term used to describe coins that have a core of one type of metal and an outer layer of another metal or metals. Most U.S. dimes, quarters, and half dollars since 1965 have been clad. Clad differs from a plated coin in that the clad blank (or planchlet) is treated to seal the layers of metal together.

clad coin - Coins that have a core (center layer) and outer layer made of different metals. (See clad or silver clad.)

coin - object usually made of flat metal, small and round. Issued by a government as money. Usually, accepted by community as having value.

coin show - see "show".

Coin World - One of the most popular coin collecting weekly paper/magazine for collectors of US coins.

collar - when a coin is struck the collar on the printing press surrounds the rim of the coin preventing the metal from flowing outside of the collar.

colonials - coins produced by the colony states prior to the time the United States government was formed. Most were made of copper and in small denominations.

commemorative - a special coin or medal issued to honor an outstanding person, place, or event. Often one time or short lived production. Many times commemorative coins are not produced for general circulation.

condition - The physical state of a coin. Usually indicating the amount of wear. (See grading standards)

contact mark - a mark or marks on a coin that happened from coming in contact with another coin or object. Usually contact marks are small. Often this term is used to indicate marks on a coin that are not as obvious as bag marks. However, sometimes it is used to mean the same thing. See "abrasions", "bag mark", or "gouges".

copper nickel - A metal alloy of 88% copper and 12% nickel. This alloy was used for US Flying Eagle and Indian cents from 1856 to the middle of 1864. The alloy caused these small cents to have a pale copper color. Back then people called these cents "white cents" because of their pale color. A few other countries have used some copper nickel alloys of various percentages in their coin production. "Cupro-nickel" is a similar term. See "cupro nickel".

coppers - nick name for older copper coins, particularly the large cents, and half cents.

copy - refers to a reproduction of a coin or paper note. Some copies may be illegal. Current government regulations require reproductions of US coins and paper money to be much larger or smaller than the original. For copies of tokens and non-US-government coins the "hobby protection act" requires that the item contains the word "copy" or "reproduction" in a readable visible place. Advice: Don't get caught making a copy of something without finding out exactly what is legal.

corrosion - chemical reaction on the surface of a coin. Corrosion can result from a coin coming in contact with other things (chemicals) including chemicals in the air. This can come about because of things coming in contact with the coin years earlier. Corrosion damages a coins surface and is usually worse in copper, nickel, zinc, and silver coins. Some experts think that toning on the surface of a coin may help slow down this harmful process. Also see "toning".

counterfeit - a coin or piece of currency that is fake or reproduced in order to make people think it is genuine.

counter mark (countermark) - an impression, mark, or stamp put on a coin to verify it’s use by another. Sometimes done by governments when a monetary revaluation occurs.

crackout - coin that is cracked out of its plastic holder. Usually refers to coin removed from a grading service holder.

crown - a large size silver coin. Usually from Great Britain or a former British country.

cud - cattle ranchers have one definition for cud. Coin collectors have a different one. When a coin is struck by a broken die the place where the die is broken or missing will often show up as extra metal on the surface of a coin. This extra piece of metal or "cud" can be from a piece of the die being missing or a still intact, but moved.

- a mixture of copper, nickel, and possibly other metals. Today this term is most often used to refer to the current coins made by fusing layers of copper and nickel or combination alloy mixtures, resulting in a "sandwich" type of coin. The current US dimes and Quarters are examples. Technically the copper nickel cents, three cent nickels, and regular nickels are cupro-nickel. See "copper nickel".

currency - any kind of coins or paper money that is used as a medium of exchange.

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