Glossary of Terms

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An abbreviation for Fine.

Face of a Note

The front side of a note and paper money equivalent of obverse used for coins.

Face Value

The denomination's originally assigned value stamped on a coin. Face value does not determine actual value, which is based on numismatic value or metal content.


A grading term for coins showing heavy wear with the lettering, devices and the date partially visible. This is abbreviated as FR. The numerical equivalent is FR-2.


A term for a counterfeit, forged or altered coin.

Fantasy Piece

A term applied to coins struck at the whim of mint officials. Examples include the various 1865 Motto and 1866 No Motto coins, as well as the 1868 large cent Type of 1857.


The design element consisting of a bundle of rods wrapped around an ax with a protruding blade seen on the reverse of Mercury dimes. The designation "Full Bands" refers to the fasces on which there is complete separation in the central bands across the rods.

Fat Head

A slang term for small size Capped Bust quarters and half eagles.


An abbreviation for Full Bands.


An abbreviation for Full Bell Lines.

Federal Reserve Bank Note

Notes which have the boldly imprinted name of a Federal Reserve Bank across the middle of the face of the note and a letter designating its district. These large sized notes were issued in the Series of 1915 and 1918 and bear the denominations $1 to $50; small sized notes were issued in the Series of 1929 with denominations ranging from $5 to $100.

Federal Reserve Note

Large size and small size notes from $1 to $10,000, bearing the name of Federal Reserve Bank and a letter designating its district. The first was the Series of 1914 and has been used to the present day.


An abbreviation for Full Head.

Fiat Currency

Coinage not backed by a metal value.


The portion of a coin’s surface not used for a design or inscription.


A grading term for coins upon which details are worn away. Some detail is present in the recessed areas, but it is not sharp. This is also abbreviated as F. The numerical equivalents associated with Fine are F-12 and F-15.

Fine Gold Content

The actual weight of pure gold in a coin, as opposed to the gross or overall weight of the piece. A U.S. gold bullion eagle has a fine weight of 31.1033 grams. The gross weight of 33.933 grams includes the copper that strengthens the alloy.


Purity of gold or silver, normally expressed in terms of one thousand parts.

Finest Known

The best-known condition example of a particular numismatic item.

First Charter Note

A common term for Original Series and Series of 1875 National Bank Notes, with no basis in Treasury documents.

First Shot

The opportunity to buy a numismatic item before it is offered to or shown to anyone else

First Strike

An unofficial term, once popular but now used rarely, referring to a coin struck shortly after a new die is put into use. Such coins often have prooflike surfaces and resemble Proofs in certain (but not all) characteristics. Resurfaced previously-used dies sometimes also have these characteristics, hence there is confusion when this term is used.


Term for a half eagle or a $5 gold coin.

Five Indian

A common term for Indian Head half eagles which were struck from 1908 to 1929.

Five Lib

A common term for Liberty Head half eagles which were struck from 1839 until 1908.

Fixed Price List

A listing of numismatic items for sale at set prices.

Flat Edge

A particular variety of High Reliefs that do not have a wire design on the edge.

Flat Luster

A term for the effect seen on coins that are struck from worn dies, evidenced by a subdued gray or dull luster.


A plastic, flexible sleeve used to display or store coins. Also, to immediately sell a newly purchased item, usually for short profit.

Flip Rub

A term for slight discoloration on the high points of a coin, caused by contact with a flip.

Flow Lines

A term for the lines that appear when the metal flows outward from the center of the planchet as the coin is struck. These lines reflect light and cause "cartwheel" luster.

Flowing Hair

A design of Miss Liberty where she has long, flowing hair, used from 1794-1795 on half dimes, half dollars and dollars, designed by Robert Scot.

Flying Eagle

A shortened term for Flying Eagle cent.

Flying Eagle Cent

The small cent that replaced the larger one, struck from 1856-1858, designed by James B. Longacre, and composed of 88% copper and 12% nickel.


Minute oxidation spots often seen on the surfaces of coins, particularly higher grade copper and nickel coins, caused by exposure to small drops of moisture.

Focal Area

The area of a coin which draws a viewer's eye. An example is the cheek of a Morgan dollar.

Ford, John Jr., Jr.

Ford, born in 1924, entered numismatics as a youth, and when he was a teenager was actively dealing in the greater New York area. He was also an employee of Stack’s and helped with cataloging and sales. Beginning in 1950 he joined New Netherlands Coin Company, and commencing in 1972 worked with Walter Breen and others to turn out some of the finest auction catalogs ever published. In the early 21st century his collection was consigned to us by his estate and was showcased in 24 separate sales over a long period of time. The offering of numismatic Americana was unprecedented and will never be equaled, as it combined not only Ford’s longtime purchases but selections from the estate of F.C.C. Boyd, Wayte Raymond, and others, many of which were unique. Today the catalogs stand as a valuable reference. The total realized challenged the $60 million mark, the most valuable collection ever sold anywhere in the world.


A numismatic item not from the United States.

Four-Dollar Gold Piece

Commonly known as a Stella, these were struck from 1879-1800 as patterns.


An abbreviation for Fair.

Fractional Currency

Pertains to small denomination notes issued by the Treasury Department beginning in 1863 and continuing through 1876, of denominations from three cents to fifty cents. These served as monetary substitutes in an era in which silver coins were hoarded by the public. Today they are widely collected.


A shortened term for a Franklin half dollar.

Franklin Half Dollar

The half dollar featuring Benjamin Franklin on the obverse and the Liberty Bell on the reverse, designed by John Sinnock, and struck from 1948 until 1963.


The appearance of slight wear on a coin's high points or in the fields, where only the luster is disturbed. Caused by rubbing.

Friedberg Numbers

Refers to catalog numbers devised by Robert Friedberg in Paper Money of the United States, first published in 1953 and a standard reference, updated by his sons Ira and Arthur.

Frosted Devices

The crystallized appearance seen on the raised elements of a coin.

Frosty Luster

The crystalline appearance of coins struck with dies that have frost in their recessed areas. Such coins show vibrant luster on their devices and/or surfaces. The amount of crystallization may vary.


An abbreviation for Full Steps.

Fugio Cents

Considered to be the first coins issued by authority of the United States dated 1787; however Congress did not pass the Mint Act until 1792 so the case for the half dismes of 1792 as the first regular issue is also valid. These were coined in New Haven, Connecticut.

Full Bands

A descriptive term applied to Mercury (Winged Liberty Head) dimes or Roosevelt dimes. On Mercury dimes it is when the central band is fully separated. On Roosevelt dimes it refers to full separation on both the upper and lower parts of the crossbands on the torch. Abbreviated as FB.

Full Bell Lines

A descriptive term applied to Franklin half dollars when the lower sets of bell lines are complete. Abbreviated as FBL.

Full Head

A descriptive term applied to Standing Liberty quarters when the helmet of the head has full detail. Abbreviated as FH

Full Steps

A descriptive term applied to a Jefferson nickel when at least 5 steps of Monticello are present. Abbreviated as FS.

Full Strike

The term for an item that displays crisp, full detail.

FUN Show

The annual convention held in early January sponsored by the Florida United Numismatists (FUN).

Fusible Alloy

Copper mixed with silver to create an alloy that would be lighter in weight than copper yet have higher intrinsic value. Used to strike certain 1792 pattern coins.