Glossary of Terms

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A mintmark used to indicate coins struck at the Dahlonega, Georgia branch mint from 1838-1861 or the Denver, Colorado branch mint from 1906 to the present.

Dahlonega Mint

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

Damaged Coin

A coin that has been impaired apart from normal wear, by scraping, drilling, polishing, or other abuse. Generally, a damaged coin will not be given a stand-alone grading designation but will be described adjectivally. Example: 1822 cent, holed at the top, otherwise VF-30. Such a coin must not be simply described as VF-30 without further comment.


The numerals on a coin that represent the year the coin was struck . Restrikes are made in years subsequent to the date that appears on them.

Date Size Descriptions

Terms are used to differentiate the size of the numerals on the date of a given coin, comparative in relation to other varieties of the same issue. Such terms as Small Date, Large Date, and Medium Date are often used. Often capitalized in numismatic usage.

Date Spacing (Width) Descriptions

Terms such as Wide Date, Compact Date, Narrow Date, etc., are sometimes employed to describe the spacing of numerals within a date or the overall width of a date, comparative in relation to other varieties of the same issue.


An abbreviation for Deep Cameo contrast.


An abbreviation for doubled die obverse.


One who buys, sells, and trades numismatic material.

Deep Cameo

A term that applies typically to a Proof or prooflike coin with deeply frosted central devices and lettering in high contrast to the mirror like fields. Sometimes these are called "black and white" cameos.

Deep Cameo Contrast

Describes the portrait or devices on a Proof coin being especially frosted or satiny, or cameo, in contrast with mirrorlike fields. Abbreviated DCAM. Seemingly more contrasted than Cameo (CAM). Certain of this is semantics, with actual differences being slight between various cameo designations.

Deep Mirror Prooflike

An Uncirculated coin with the fields struck from highly polished or mirrored dies, and closely resembling a Proof.

Demand Note

Notes issued in 1861 and early 1862 redeemable in gold coins, with denominations $5 to $20.


The value assigned to a specific coin or piece of currency by the government.


Small, toothlike projections around the inner rim of some coins, most often seen on coins from the 18th and 19th centuries.


A shortened term for denticles.

Denver Mint

A branch of the United States Mint, located in Denver, Colorado that manufactures coins of all denominations for general circulation, stores gold and silver bullion, medals, coin dies, and manufactures Uncirculated coin sets and commemorative coins. The Denver Mint was established in 1906 and uses the "D" mintmark.


A coin or other numismatic item's motif. Peace dollars, Buffalo nickels, and Liberty double eagles are examples of designs.

Design Type

A distinct motif that is on a coin or other numismatic item and used for multiple denominations or subtypes. An example would be the Barber design type that was used on silver dimes, quarters and half dollars.


A characteristic added to a coin's grade that specifies a certain attribute or quality such as color, strike or appearance not covered by the numerical grade. Not all series and denominations have designations, but for those that do, the associated designation will affect the coin's value. Copper coins have color designations of Red, Red-Brown, and Brown. Standing Liberty quarters can have the designation of Full Head, where Miss Liberty's head is fully struck. Some other designations include: Prooflike, Deep Cameo, Deep Mirror Prooflike.


The artist who creates a coin's design.


Small features and fine lines in a coin design, particularly those seen in hair, leaves, wreaths, and feathers.


A slang term for a $2 bill.


Any element of design, often referring to the main design element, on either the obverse or reverse of a coin or numismatic item. An example would be the head of Miss Liberty.

Device Punch

A steel rod with raised devices on the end that would be used to punch the elements into a working die, a technique used prior to hubbed dies.


A shank or rod of steel engraved on its face with a design for use in stamping coins.

Die Alignment

A term that indicates that the obverse and reverse dies are in their proper position and will strike a coin evenly.

Die Break

A raised area on a coin caused by metal filling the space caused from a small chip or piece falling out of a die. Those at the rim of a coin are called cuds or cud breaks. Die breaks can be interesting and have no effect on grade or market value of older coins but for a modern issue can command a great premium.

Die Crack

A raised ridge, often irregular, on the surface of a coin, caused by a crack in the die, and metal from the planchet filling the crack. Die cracks can be interesting and have no effect on grade or market value of older coins but for a modern issue can command a great premium.

Die Line

Appearing as raised lines on a coin, these are caused by polish lines on the die.

Die Polish

Refers to a “bright” or mirrorlike spot or area, not the entire surface, of a coin, where a working die was polished slightly to remove an imperfection, rust, etc. Heavy die polishing is a different matter, and refers to the entire field of a coin being resurfaced, also called relapping. Heavy die polishing sometimes resulted in the removal of low-relief details in a coin, while at the same time giving a prooflike surface.

Die Rust

Raised grainy patches on a coin caused by rust on the die, often the result of improper storage.

Die State

An easily identified point in the life span of a coinage die. Dies can clash, rust, crack, break, etc., and evidence of such represents a different state of the die. Certain coins have barely distinguishable die states, while others show multiple distinctive die states.

Die Striations

Raised lines on coins caused by having been struck with polished dies, similar to die lines.

Die Trial

A term for testing the strike of a particular die in a different metal.

Die Variety

Any minor alteration to the basic design of a coin that has already been attributed by denomination, date, mintmark and major variety. Some examples of die varieties are variances in the size, shape, and positioning of the date and mintmark.

Die Wear

A term for the loss of detail on a coin caused by striking the coin with worn dies.


A denomination valued at one-tenth of the standard monetary unit, issued by the United States starting in 1796.


A common term for a small to medium sized mark on a coin.


A coin that has been placed in a chemical solution, often resulting in the removal of toning from most coins. When a coin is dipped, the first few layers of metal are removed and will eventually lose luster. We do not advise dipping your coins.

Dipping Solution

A commercial chemical solution available on the market and used to dip coins.


One tenth of a dollar. The early spelling of the word “dime.”


An abbreviation for coins struck at the Dahlonega, Georgia mint from 1838-1861 or the Denver, Colorado mint 1906-present.


An abbreviation for Deep Mirror Prooflike. Sometimes pronounced "dimple."


A descriptive term for a numismatic item that has been enhanced by chemical or other means, usually considered a derogatory expression.


A denomination valued at one hundred cents and considered to be the U.S. standard monetary unit. Authorized by the United States government via the Mint Act of 1792. The word "dollar" is the anglicized spelling of the European thaler and was chosen due to the world-wide acceptance of the thaler and the Spanish Milled dollar.

Double Die Obverse

A doubled die error (see also) that results in the doubling of design elements on the obverse only.

Double Eagle

A United States $20 gold coin.

Doubled Die

A die that has been struck more than once by a hub that is in imperfect alignment, resulting in the doubling of design elements; the coin is called a doubled-die error. The most famous is the 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln cent.


A term for a coin that is not ejected from the dies and is struck again. To sharpen their details, Proof coins are generally double struck intentionally and this is sometimes visible under magnification. Coins can also be triple-struck or more.


Spanish-American 8-escudos gold coin equal to about $16 U.S. Such coins were legal tender in the United States until the implementation of the Act of February 21, 1857, but were mainly used in large commercial transactions, not in everyday change. Fractional pieces of 8-escudo doubloons were called pieces of eight (as were fractional pieces of 8-real silver “dollars”).

Draped Bust

A design of Miss Liberty with a drape across her bust line attributed to Mint Engraver Robert Scot who is thought to have copied a portrait by Gilbert Stuart.

Drift Mark

A streaky or discolored area on a coin, typically long, caused by foreign matter or impurities on the die.


A lackluster numismatic item, possibly the result of natural environmental conditions or cleaning.