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Glossary of Terms

We have listed here some of the more commonly used terms and their definitions as it relates to the hobby. If you need a definition you did not see, email us at Your inquiries will help us expand this listing!
A combination of two or more metals
Bag mark
a mark acquired from contact with another coin while in the bag the mint used to ship
low grade silver, less than 50% fine
a copper, zinc, and tin alloy
a precious metal in bar form or a coin where the value is derived from the metal content
Certified Coin
a coin that has been encapsulated by a third party
Circulation or Business Strike
a coin struck to be used in commerce
used in dimes, quarters, and halves in the U.S. since 1965. The core is copper and the surface layer is copper-nickel or silver
Contact Marks
minor abrasions, usually bag marks
a dollar size coin usually European and struck in silver
the artist who designed the coin
an engraving piece of metal used to strike coins
Die Crack
raised lines on a coin from where metal flowed into breaks in the die
Double Eagle
a U.S. twenty dollar gold coin
Double Die
a coin struck from a die that was given two impressions that were misaligned
a U.S. ten dollar gold coin
the person who cuts the design in to dies
the background portion of the coin — void if design or description
the expression of the quality of a coin
Half Eagle
a U.S. five dollar coin
a positive image punch used to impress a coins design into a die
the lettering on a coin
Intrinsic Value
the “melt” value of a coin
Junk Silver
a common silver coin, usually worn, that is worth only its intrinsic value
Key Coin
the scarcest coins in a series are the “keys” to the series
Legal Tender
money that is authorized by Congress and is good for all debts — public and private
the brilliance or “frost” of an uncirculated coin
Mint Mark
a letter or letters on a coin that indicates the mint at which is was made
Mint Set
a set issued by the U.S. Mint that contains all of the coins of a certain year that were struck for circulation
a coin struck from two dies that were not intended to be used together
the front of a coin — “heads”
the heavy toning found on ancient bronze coins, from a long period of oxidation
an experimental or trial coin
the blank piece of metal from which a coin is struck
a coin that is double struck from polished dies in polished planchets. Made for collectors
Quarter Eagle
a U.S. $2.50 gold coin
a coin graded by the seller, not by a third party
the back side of a coin — “tails”
Spot Price
the market value of a precious metal
a private issue
a series of coins defined by a design