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Coin Lingo information on Rare Coins
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Short for 1909-S VDB Lincoln Head cent.
Term applied to the coins struck at the San Francisco, California branch Mint
Slang for the Saint-Gaudens inspired double eagle struck from 1907 until 1933. (The 1933 issue is currently considered illegal to own as the government insists that none of this date were legally released.) This low relief copy of the Extremely High Relief and High Relief designs was the work of Chief Engraver Charles Barber.
Last name of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the preeminent sculptor of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. At the request of President Teddy Roosevelt, he redesigned the eagle and double eagle in 1907 although he died mid-production. Also, slang for the Liberty Head double eagle or Saint.
San Francisco
The United States branch Mint located in San Francisco, California that struck coins from 1854 until 1955. After its closing as a Mint, it served as an assay office until it reopened as a coinage facility in 1965.
satin finish
Another of the experimental Proof surfaces used on U.S. gold coins after 1907. The dies were treated in some manner to create the silky surfaces imparted to the coins.
satin luster
Fine, silky luster seen on many business strike coins, especially copper and nickel issues. Almost no “cartwheel” effect is seen on coins with this type of luster.
A detracting line that is more severe than a hairline. The size of a coin determines the point at which a line ceases to be viewed as a hairline and instead is regarded a scratch; the larger the coin, the greater the tolerance. A heavy scratch may result in a coin not being graded by PCGS.
Short for small date
Short for Liberty Seated.
Seated coinage
Term commonly used for Liberty Seated coinage.
A term used to describe a coin that has some mirror-like surface mixed with satin or frosty luster. Reflectivity is obscured on such a specimen, unlike the reflectivity on prooflike and deep mirror prooflike coins.
A particular design or motif used over a period of time. This can used for a single denomination, or in some cases, used for several denominations. The Liberty Seated series encompasses five denominations, the Barber series three, etc.
A term indicating a collection of coins in a series, a collection of types, or a collection from a particular Mint. Examples include a complete series set (Lincoln cents from 1909 to date); a type set of gold coins (8 or 12 piece sets are the most common); a set of branch mint quarter eagles (Dahlonega quarter eagles from 1838 to 1859)
Specifically, Dr. William Sheldon who wrote the seminal work on 1793 to 1814 large cents.
Sheldon Book
The large cent book, first published in 1949 as Early American Cents with only Dr. Sheldon listed, updated in 1958 with Walter Breen and Dorothy Paschal also listed as authors with the new name, Penny Whimsy.
Sheldon number
The reference number for 1793 to 1814 large cents per the Sheldon books, Early American Cents and Penny Whimsy. When certain Sheldon numbers are mentioned among large cent aficionados, an immediate hush is observed until all the facts of that particular specimen are disseminated.
Sheldon scale
The rarity scale introduced in 1949 in Early American Cents.
The emblem used on certain issues that has horizontal and vertical lines in a shield shape. These are first found in the center of the heraldic eagle and on each succeeding eagle until the end of the Barber quarter series in 1916. They shield as a single motif first appeared on the two-cent coins of 1864, later also used on the nickels of 1866. Starting in 1860, Indian Head cents used the shield motif at the top of the wreath on the reverse.
Shield nickel
Common name for the Shield five-cent coin struck from 1866 until 1883. The 1866 and some 1867 coins have rays between the stars on the reverse and are referred to as Rays type (or With Rays type). Those 1867 through 1883 coins without the rays are called No Rays type.
Common term for a bourse or coin show. Example: the ANA show was great!
sight seen
A term to indicate that the buyer of a particular numismatic item in a particular grade wants to view the coin before he buys it. He may have a customer who wants an untoned coin – or a toned coin, or some other specific requirement.
sight unseen
A term to indicate that the buyer of a particular numismatic item in a particular grade will pay a certain price without examining the item.
Term to indicate coins struck in silver (generally 90% silver and 10% copper but there are a few exceptions).
silver commem
Short for silver commemorative coins.
silver commemoratives
Originally, those commemorative coins struck from 1892 until 1954, although not in every year. These are all struck in 90% silver and 10% copper alloy. Of course, those post-1982 silver commemorative issues also could technically be so called.
silver dollar
A coin of the one dollar denomination that is struck in a composition of 90% silver (or so) and 10% copper. The silver dollar was introduced in 1794 and was issued for circulation in intermittent years through 1935. The most frequently seen silver dollars are the Morgan design (1878-1921) and the Peace design (1921-35). These coins remained in circulation until the 1960s, mostly in the western US. Modern dollar coins are sometimes called "silver dollars" as well, even though the pieces struck for circulation contain no silver.
skirt lines
The lines representing the folds on Miss Liberty’s flowing gown on Walking Liberty half dollars. The early issues (1916-1918 and some coins through the entire series) are particularly weak in this feature. Well struck coins with full skirt lines often bring substantial premiums over those that are weakly struck.
Short for small letters.
Numismatic slang for the holder in which a coin is encapsulated by a grading service. The coin contained therein is said to be slabbed.
The process of sending a coin to a third-party grading service to have it authenticated, graded, and encapsulated in a sonically sealed holder.
A term used to describe an AU coin that looks, or can be sold as, Uncirculated. Occasionally used as a reference to another grade; a slider EF coin, for example, would be a VF/EF coin that is nearly EF.
small cent
Those cents of reduced size, replacing the large cent in 1857. The 1856 small cents technically are patterns, but have been so widely collected with the regular issues that their acceptance is universal.
small date
Term referring to the size of the digits of the date on a coin. (Use of this term implies that a large or medium date exists for that coin or series.)
Small Eagle
The plain eagle on a perch first used on the 1794 half dime and half dollar, although the 1795 half eagle is the first coin to use the term to denote a type coin.
small letters
Term referring to the size of the lettering of the date on a coin. (Use of this term implies that large or medium letters exist for that coin or series.)
Small Motto
Common short name for the particular variety of two-cent coin of 1864 with small letters in the motto. The inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST” was first used as a motto on the two-cent coinage of 1864.
small size
A term referring to the particular diameter of a coin in a series. (Use of this term implies that there is a large size or diameter with the same motif. Examples are the Large and Small size Capped Bust quarters.)
Term used to indicate special coins struck at the Mint from 1792-1816 that display many characteristics of the later Proof coinage. Prior to 1817, the minting equipment and technology was limited, so these coins do not have the “watery” surfaces of later Proofs nor the evenness of strike of the close collar Proofs. PCGS designates these coins SP.
A discolored area on a coin. This can be a small dot of copper staining on a gold coin or a large, dark “tar” spot on a copper coin. The spot(s) can have a small or large effect on the grade of a coin depending on the severity, size, placement, number, and so on.
St. Gaudens
Short for Augustus Saint-Gaudens or slang for the Standing Liberty double eagle or Saint.
Standing Liberty
Motif with Miss Liberty in a upright front-facing position. The design was used in 1907 on the Saint-Gaudens double eagles and later on the Hermon A. MacNeil quarter first struck in 1917.
Standing Liberty quarter
Common name of the Hermon MacNeil designed quarter dollar struck from 1917 until 1930.
A term for the five-pointed and six-pointed devices used on many U.S. coins. On the earliest U.S. coins, thirteen stars were depicted, representing the thirteen original colonies/states. As new states were admitted into the Union, more stars were added; up to sixteen appeared on some coins. Adding stars for each state was impractical, however, so the number was reduced to the original thirteen. Exception include the forty-six stars, later forty-eight stars, around the periphery of Saint-Gaudens double eagles, reflecting the number of states in the Union at the time those coins were issued. Also, as a single motif, the star was used on the obverse of the three-cent silver issue from 1851 until 1873.
State quarter
One of the 1999 and later Washington quarters struck with unique reverse designs for each state, issued in the order of admittance to the United States. (The order for the original 13 colonies was determined by the date which each state ratified the Constitution.)
steam-powered press
A coining press driven by a steam-powered engine. This type of press, more powerful than its predecessors, was installed in the United States Mint in 1836, replacing the hand and horse-powered screw presses except for most Proof strikings and die hubbing.
steel cent
Common name for the 1943 cents (and certain 1944 cents struck on left-over steel blanks) struck in steel and plated with zinc.
Slang for 1943 steel cents.
A term applied to the experimental four-dollar gold coins struck by the U.S. Mint in 1879-1880. So named for the large star on the coins’ reverse.
Term for the incuse polish lines on the die which result in raised lines on coins. These are usually fine, parallel lines though on some coins they are swirling, still others with criss-cross lines. Planchet striations are burnishing lines not struck away by the minting process and are incuse on the coins.
A term used to describe a coin produced from dies and a coining press.
surface preservation
The condition of the surface of a coin. On weakly struck coins, this is a better indicator grade than is the coins’ detail.
The entire obverse and reverse of a coin, although often used to mean just the field areas
Helpful Tips when viewing Coin Images...
The image, or "scan", of a rare coin should only be used as a reference point, rather than a final decision maker when purchasing rare coins. "No" digital image or scan will ever do true justice to the natural beauty of a coin. A digital camera or scanner, at this stage of technology, can never reproduce the way a human eye views an object. As you move a coin in the light, the surfaces change appearance depending on the angle at which the light source is hitting the coin. This effect is most obvious with very deep, proof coins. In person this "mirrored" effect is quite dramatic as you move the coin around. A two dimensional digital image loses this reflective nature of a coin, not being able to depict the mirrored qualities that your eye is able to perceive. Keep in mind that nothing can compare to examining a coin in person.
At Albanese Rare Coins we strive to achieve the highest quality images in order to assist you with a purchasing decision; considering the balance between download times and image quality. As always, you can be confident when purchasing rare coins from us, as we "hand select" every coin for its true beauty and eye appeal.