Glossary of Terms

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A mintmark used to indicate a coin struck at the Charlotte, North Carolina branch mint.

Cabinet Friction

Typically seen on the obverse, slight friction seen on coins that have been stored in wooden cabinets used by early collectors. Often a soft cloth was used to wipe dust away, which would cause light tell-tale marks.

Cabinet, Coin Cabinet

A wooden (usually) cabinet with drawers used to store a numismatic collection. It is also a synonym for a coin collection that may or may not reside in a cabinet.


An abbreviation for the Certified Acceptance Corporation, a company that reviews coins that have already been encapsulated by a third-party grading service. If a coin meets CAC's stringent grading standard, it will receive a green or gold CAC hologram sticker. A gold CAC hologram sticker indicates the coin exceeds CAC's grading standards and a green hologram sticker indicates the coin meets the standards. This independent numismatic coin authentication service was founded by John Albanese.


Medical symbol, in this instance representing the fight against yellow fever in Panama. Shown on the 1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition $2.50.

California Fractional Gold

Descriptive of 25¢ and 50¢ pieces (also incorrectly extended to describe $1) minted privately in California from the 1850s through the 1880s, and described in literature by Lee, Burnie, Gillio, and Breen.


An abbreviation for Cameo.


A Proof or prooflike coin with extreme contrast between the devices and the fields, where the fields appear to be mirrorlike and the devices look frosty.


A general term for coins and other related numismatic items from Canada.


Slang for the coins and other numismatic items of the Canada.

Canadian Silver

Slang term used when referring to silver coins of Canada. (Mainly struck in 80% fineness.)

Cap Bust

A shortened term for Capped Bust.

Capped Bust

A term used to describe any of the various depictions of Miss Liberty as displayed on early U.S. coins by a bust and floppy-capped head. Designed by John Reich.

Capped Die

A "cap" forms on either the upper or lower die when a coin becomes jammed in the coining press and remains there for successive strikes. These are sometimes spectacular with the "cap" often much taller than a regular coin.

Carbon Spot

A dark brown to black discoloration on the surface of a coin caused by oxidation. This is mainly seen on copper and gold coins, though occasionally found on U.S. nickel coins. Carbon spots can vary in size, and their severity will affect the grade and value of the coin.

Carson City Mint

A popular branch of the United States Mint, located in Carson City, Nevada that produced gold and silver coins from 1870-1885 and 1889-1893. This mint used the “CC” mintmark.


A term applied mainly to frosty Mint State coins, especially silver dollars, to describe their luster when the coin is tilted back and forth under a light source. The luster rotates around the central devices of the coin. This can also be used as a slang term for a silver dollar.

Cast Blanks

Planchets created by a molding process, rather than cut from strips of metal.

Cast Counterfeit

A counterfeit coin upon which a seam is often found on the edge, unless it has been ground down. A replication of a genuine coin created by making molds of the obverse and reverse and casting base metal in the molds.

Castaing Machine

A machine which added edge lettering and devices to early U.S. coins before they were struck. Invented by French engineer Jean Castaing, these machines were used until close collar dies were introduced, which added the edge device during the striking process.


The process of writing a description of numismatic items offered for sale. A term also used for our printed listing of auction lots for sale.


A mintmark used to indicate coins struck at the Carson City branch mint, in Carson City, Nevada. See also Carson City Mint.


An abbreviation for the Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter.


An abbreviation for the Certified Coin Exchange.


An abbreviation for the Coin Dealer Newsletter.


The known specimens of a particular numismatic item. A census allows the collector to determine range and availability of a specific issue.


A U.S. coin denomination valued at one-hundredth of the standard monetary unit.

Central America, S.S.

Sidewheel steamship launched in 1853, in service in the Atlantic. On September 12, 1857, with over 400 passengers and crew aboard and over $1,600,000 in registered gold treasure (gold was worth $20.67 per ounce), she sank in a hurricane. Much of the treasure was recovered by Bob Evans, Tommy Thompson and others in the 1980s. In the early 21st century our firm participated in the publicity and distribution of certain coins and ingots from the treasure, and Q. David Bowers wrote A California Gold Rush History, which was widely acclaimed. Abbreviated as S.S.C.A.

Certification Service

Third-party grading service which, for a fee, will assign a grade opinion to a coin submitted. Firms include Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America (NGC), ANACS, and others.

Certified Coin

A coin that has been commercially graded by a grading service, a.k.a. certification service. The certified term arose when the American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS), which originally certified coins for their authenticity, began grading coins as well. Such coins were called certified. The name has remained with us.

Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter

A weekly newsletter that reports the bid, ask, and market prices for third-party certified coins. Also known as the "Bluesheet"

Certified Coin Exchange

A real-time coin bid/ask, sight-seen/unseen rule-governed trading system for coin dealers.

Certified Note

A note that has been commercially graded by a grading service, a.k.a. certification service, and placed in a sealed holder.


An abbreviation for the grade Choice.

Chain Cent

A nickname for the 1793 Flowing Hair cent with the Chain reverse, the first coins struck at the original mint building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Chapman Proof

The 1921 Morgan dollar Proofs supposedly struck for coin dealer Henry Chapman. These coins seldom have cameo devices and deeply mirrored surfaces like most Morgan dollar Proofs.

Charlotte Mint

A branch of the United States Mint, located in Charlotte, North Carolina that produced gold coins from 1838-1861 and was closed due to the Civil War. This mint uses the "C" mintmark.

Charter Number

Beginning in 1863, numbers were assigned to each of the National Banks that were chartered by the Treasury Department. These numbers were printed on the face of each note along with the notes serial numbers. Sometimes the numbers were retained by the bank even if the bank moved or changes its name.


A method used by forgers that involves heating the surfaces of a coin and moving the metal to form a mintmark.


A collector who finds scarce and unusual coins by carefully searching through unattributed items in old accumulations or dealer inventories.


An term used to describe an especially select specimen of a given grade, but with no official definition. A choice coin can simply be a nice or a pleasing coin at any grade level.

Choice Unc

An abbreviation for Choice Uncirculated.

Choice Uncirculated

A grading term for an Uncirculated coin grading MS-63 or MS-64.

Chop Marks

Chinese characters stamped on the surface of silver and gold coins in the 19th century to indicated to merchants, banks and others in China that these were of full weight and metallic content. Today, chop marked coins are collected as a numismatic specialty.


A term applied to a coin that has any extent of wear.


A term for using coins in commerce.

Circulation Strike

A coin intended for eventual use in commerce, also known as a business strike or a regular strike, different from a Proof coin which was intended for collectors.


A term used to describe the issues of United States dimes, quarters, halves and some dollars made since 1965 with a center core of pure copper and a layer of copper nickel or silver on both sides.

Clad Bag

A term used to describe a bag containing $1,000 of face value clad coinage, most commonly 40% silver half dollars.

Clash Marks

Impressions of the reverse design on the obverse of a coin or the obverse design on the reverse of a coin due to die damage caused when the striking dies impacted each other with great force and without an intervening planchet.

Clashed Dies

Dies that strike each other without a planchet between them (see: clash marks).


The process of the upper and lower dies striking each other without a planchet between them.

Classic Era

Considered to be the period from 1792 until 1964 when silver and gold coins of the United States were issued. (Gold coins, however, were not minted after 1933.)

Classic Head

This refers to the image of Miss Liberty that resembles the “classic” style of a Roman or Greek athlete wearing a ribbon around her hair.


A term applied to a coin from which the original surface has been stripped away by having been cleaned with a mild abrasive. The coin then appears slightly washed out and/or has an unnatural appearance depending on the severity of the method used. Coins that have been cleaned are considered damaged and this strongly affects their value.


A slang term for a coin struck from an irregularly cut or clipped planchet.


A term used to describe an irregularly cut planchet. The clip may be straight or curved.

Clogged Die

A die becomes clogged when grease or some sort of other contaminant becomes stuck in its recessed areas. This causes the coins that are struck from these dies to be lacking detail.

Close Collar

The edge apparatus, occasionally called a collar die, that surrounds the lower die and imparts a smooth, plain edge or reeding to the coin.

Closed Collar

Alternate term for close collar.


A term used for coins struck at the Charlotte, North Carolina branch mint.


Antecedent to the legal-tender Spanish-American coins in the Americas. Spanish-American gold or silver coin denominated in real or escudo denominations. Generally refers to pre-1732 coins which were crudely struck from planchets cut from rods or bars. The typical cob-style coin is crude in appearance with not all of the inscriptions fully struck.

Cohen Variety

Listed as C-1, C-2, C-2a, and so on, Cohen numbers describe different die varieties of half cents.

Coiled Hair

Descriptive of the coiffure of Miss Liberty on certain 1879-1880 pattern coins, especially the $4 gold stella, made by George T. Morgan.


A piece of metal of standard recognized value, issued under government authority, generally bearing a denomination and intended for circulation.

Coin Collection

A grouping of coins assembled for fun or profit.

Coin Collector

An individual who seeks out and accumulates coins in a systematic manner over a period of time.

Coin Dealer Newsletter

A weekly newsletter that reports the bid and ask for most U.S. coins. Also known as the "Greysheet."

Coin Doctor

Slang term for a collector or dealer who tries to enhance the value or grade of a coin by cleaning, artificial toning, or other processes, such procedure being conducted privately and with the coins later offered without mention of the “improvements.”

Coin Friction

A term for the area where small amounts of metal are displaced as a result of two coins rubbing together in bags or rolls.

Coin Note

A note redeemable in coins issued in the Series of 1890 and 1891. The denominations range from $1 to $1,000. It was up to the Treasury Department to determine whether silver or gold coins would be paid, but in practice the bearer decided. Also known as Treasury Note.

Coin Show

A defined time and location at which coin dealers and collectors gather to display numismatic items for sale and trade.

Coin World

The top weekly numismatic periodical, established in 1960.


A monthly numismatic publication.


The issuance of metallic money.

Coins Magazine

A monthly numismatic publication.


The outer ring that holds a planchet in place in the coinage press while the coin is struck by the obverse and reverse dies.

Colonial Coin

A coin struck in or related to colonial America (pre-Revolution) or, loosely, referring to certain other coins through the early 1790s, not made by the federal government.


The New York-based Commodity Exchange, Inc. where gold and silver is traded on a daily basis. In the United States, the spot price, or market value of gold at the moment a transaction is finalized, is usually based upon trading at the COMEX.


A shortened term for the word “commemorative.”


A coin issued in recognition of a person, place, or event, often also to raise funds for a related cause. Sometimes referred to as NCLT (non-circulating legal tender) commemoratives.

Commercial Strike

An alternate term for regular strike or business strike.


A term used to describe the relative availability of a numismatic issue since there is no numerical value assigned for scarcity.

Common Date

A readily available date of issue within a series. A relative term, since there is no exact value for determining the difference between common and scarce dates.

Complete Set

A collection that includes all possible coins within a series, all types, or all coins from a particular branch mint. For example, a complete set of Peace dollars (series) would includes all dates and types between 1921 and 1935.

Compound Interest Treasury Note

Notes issued in the early 1860s in the denominations $1 to $1,000, which would yield interest to the bearer.


A numismatic item's state of preservation.

Condition Census

Data concerning the range and availability of the finest known examples of a particular numismatic issue.

Condition Rarity

A term for a common coin that is rare when found in high grades.

Consensus Grading

Using multiple graders to evaluate the condition of a coin.


Carefully changing the appearance of a coin’s surface by dissolving grease or oxidation, removing stains or spots, etc., in a manner that does not disturb the original surface (lustrous or mirrorlike), with the goal of enhancing the coin's market value and desirability.

Contact Marks

The term for marks on a coin that are inflicted by contact with another coin or foreign object. Generally these are small in comparison to gouges or other types of marks.

Contemporary Counterfeit

A coin struck from crude dies, usually composed of base metal, and created to pass for legal tender at the time it was made. These can be collected along with genuine coins, especially in American colonial issues.

Continental Dollars

The first silver dollar-sized coins ever proposed for the United States that are dated 1776, although likely struck sometime later. The reverse link design was suggested by Benjamin Franklin. These were struck in pewter (scarce), brass (rare), copper (extremely rare) and silver (extremely rare) and varieties result from differences in the spelling of the word CURRENCY and the addition of EG FECIT on the obverse. Some of these were possibly struck as experimental or pattern coins.

Copper Spot

A stain or spot that appears on an area where copper concentration that has oxidized, typically seen on gold coinage. Copper stains or spots range in size from tiny dots to large blotches.


The alloy used for small cents from 1856 to mid-1864, comprised of 88% copper and 12% nickel.

Copper-Nickel Cents

A term for cents issued from 1856 until mid 1864 made from copper-nickel alloy. These were commonly called white cents when they were issued due to their pale color in comparison to the red cents of the past.


A slang term that encompasses pre-federal copper issues, half cents, and large cents.


Any reproduction of a coin, fraudulent or otherwise.

Copy Dies

Counterfeit dies copied directly from a genuine coin and also dies made at a later date, typically showing slight differences from the originals.

Coronet Head

Another name for the Braided Hair design by Christian Gobrecht, also called the Liberty Head design.


Damage that occurs on a coin's surface as the result of a chemical reaction, typically due to improper storage. An example would be rust.


The price paid for a numismatic item.


A coin or a piece of currency that is not genuine and was forged in defiance of government authority with the intent to defraud. These include coins that are cast and struck counterfeits, bills printed from false plates, issues with added mintmarks, and issues with altered dates.


A design, group of letters, or other mark stamped on a coin for special identification or advertising purposes. Counterstamped coins are graded the way regular (not counterstamped) coins are, but the nature and condition of the counterstamp must also be described.

Counting Machine Mark

When the counting machine's rubber wheel was not set with the proper spacing, it would cause a dense patch of lines on the surface of the coin. This patch of lines is called a counting machine mark.


A coin that was encapsulated by one grading service, then sent to another and put in a holder of the second company; i.e., the coin crossed over.


A die break (see listing) at the rim of a coin, often filling in part of the rim and dentils.


Any alloy of copper and nickel.