Coins Glossary

In the complicated world of coin collecting, terms and classifications abound. From the “Deep Cameo” and “Cameo” that reflect the fascinating contrast of the coin’s design, to the historical significance of the “First Day of Issue” to the impeccable quality denoted by “Mint State (MS)”, the numismatic lexicon is both extensive and fascinating. This dictionary takes an in-depth look at these terms and many more, ensuring you are well-equipped to understand and appreciate the nuances of your valuable collections.


Struck off – minting of a coin blank with a die bearing the design. The mintage can be classified as full, average, or weak for a given coin and affects the value of rare coins.

AG – the chemical symbol for silver (lat. Argentum).

Bullioncoin – a coin made of precious metal, minted in large quantities and used for speculation on the value of the precious metal or as a financial investment. Krugerrand, Maple Leaf, China Panda, American Eagle and Britannia are among the most popular bullion coins worldwide.

AU – the chemical symbol for gold (lat. Aurum)

Mintage – the number of coins issued with a particular design.

Authentic hand signed / Authentic hand signed – NGC is the leading provider of labels hand signed by some of the most influential personalities. These“Authentic hand signed” labels add a personal touch that creates a unique collectible with an important historical connection.

Obverse – designation of the obverse side of a coin Obverse (French) is an internationally used numismatic term for the designation of the obverse side of a coin in contrast to the reverse side.


Bi-metal: A coin that consists of two different metals bonded together.

Example: Canada Set $2 Bi-Metal Gold-Silver 1996 2 Issues

BU: brilliant uncirculated – denotes a bullion coin in new condition.

Bullion coin – is another word for bullion coin.

Bust – A portrait on a coin that usually includes the head, neck, and upper shoulders.


Cameo applies to proof coins only: the fields are deeply mirrored and the devices are frosted on both sides of the coins for moderate contrast.


Deep Cameo – For a coin to be called a “Deep Cameo” -> PCGS (or “Ultra Cameo” -> To be labeled NGC, it must have a uniform matt pattern on both the front and back. There should be a clear difference between the glossy background and the matte elements, and this contrast should be even and unbroken.

Designer – The artist who creates the design of a coin (but does not necessarily engrave the design on a coin die).


Precious metals – Precious metals e.g. gold, silver or platinum are used, because of their corrosion resistance, for the production of jewelry and coins.

Preservation grade – term used to assess the condition of the coin. The degree of preservation determines the external condition of a coin and is an important indicator of collector value.


Counterfeit – A coin or coinage that imitates a genuine article in order to deceive buyers or users. Perhaps also interesting:

Fineness – chemically pure proportion of a precious metal in an alloy. The fineness is expressed in parts per thousand. More about the difference between troy ounce and fineness:

Fineness – the fineness is the net weight of the metal of a coin.

Fine gold – is 999.99 percent pure (unadulterated) gold.

Field – The part of the coin surface that is not used for the design or inscription.

Mismint – A coin that was not properly produced, but was not discovered and issued by the mint.

First Day of Issue – to be used as First Day of Issue to be valid, coins must be purchased within one day of the first day a mint offers a new coin issue for sale and must be received by NGC within one week of the issue date. First Day of Issue coins are available by special request only and require a higher grading fee. First Day of Issue coins are listed separately in the NGC census. They are also eligible for inclusion in the popular NGC registry.

First Releases” – NGC offers the “First Releases®” designation for select coins received by NGC within the first 30 days of their release. The term “First Releases” is noted in the coin’s description on the NGC certification label. First-releases coins are listed separately in the NGC Census. They are also eligible for inclusion in the popular NGC Registry.


Krugerrand 2017 50th Anniversary Gold NGC First Releases PF70 UCAM

Krugerrand 2017 50th Anniversary Prestige Set NGC First Releases 6 Gold Coins


Commemorative Coin – A coin of special design issued in honor of an outstanding person, place, or historical event.

Graded Coin – A coin that has been independently certified (for example, PCGS, NGC) and encapsulated in a holder. The holder is marked with a code indicating the coin, grade, date and value. Many of our gold coins are graded by PCGS and NGC and have received the best grade – PR70DCAM (Deep Cameo): 200 ruble gold coin 2000 Snow Leopard Proof or 50 ruble gold coin 1995 Lynx Proof.

Legal tender – A coin, bill, or other article issued by a government as official money.

Gold ounce (1 oz.) – a gold coin that has a gold content of exactly one ounce.

Degree of wear – The condition or degree of wear of a coin. The Sheldon scale measures or grades coins up to a maximum of 70.

Engraver – The person who stamps the design into a coin die (not necessarily the designer).


Hairlines – Tiny lines or scratches on coins, usually caused by cleaning or polishing.


Inscription – The lettering that extends across the fields of a coin.

Intrinsic Value / Melt Value – Refers to the value of the metal in a coin.


Year Set – A collection containing at least one coin from each year of a series. May include coins from a single mint or coins with different mint marks.


Krugerrand – (also known as Krugerrand) is the most famous gold coin in the world and very widely used and sought after. In South Africa, the Krugerrand is formally considered legal tender, but in reality this function is not used. The Krugerrand was named after the President of South Africa Paul Kruger and the Rand – currency in South Africa. Krugerrand coins are the most popular bullion and collectible coins in the world.


Alloy – A mixture of two or more metals.

Legend – The lettering that encircles the fields of a coin within its edges.

Limitation – the coins issued by the state are issued in a limited edition. This limitation guarantees the exclusivity and ensures the value of the coins.


Maple Leaf – a coinage of the Royal Canadian Mint, which has become one of the most popular investment gold coins in the world, along with the Krugerrand.

Medal – A metal object that resembles a coin but does not have legal tender status. Medals are minted as coin-like mementos mostly for special occasions and commemorations.

Motto – A phrase or slogan on a coin, often political or religious, that is significant to a particular country.

MS / Mint State = Mintage State: coins minted in the same format as the circulation issues. Applies to grades 60 to 70.

Mint – an industrial facility that produces coins (e.g. the SA Mint = South African Mint).

Coin luster – The matte, frosty, or satin sheen or finish found on coins that results from the centrifugal flow of the metal as the dies strike the coin blank.

Coin die – minting tool with the incorporated images to be stamped on the coin.

Mint Mark – A small letter indicating the mint that struck the coin.


Reminting – A coin minted after the year of its date with the original dies.

Face Value – The value represented by a particular currency, such as a rand, dollar, or ruble as opposed to its collector or precious metal value.

Numismatics – The study and collecting of coins or articles used as money.


PL / Prooflike: the fields are mirrored. Does not apply to proof coins.

Mintage – The amount of coins produced.

Die – A metal piece that bears the design of the coin. Two dies (obverse and reverse) meet a coin blank to strike a finished coin.

Mint condition – The same as uncirculated = without rubbing, friction or wear from traffic.

Proof / PP = Polished Plate – A specially produced coin made from highly polished flakes and dies, often struck twice to highlight the design.

Proof Set – A complete set of proof coins of each denomination produced in one year.


Edge – The outer edge of a coin, considered the “third side” of a coin (not to be confused with the “rim”). Some coins have lettering, fluting or decorative motifs on their edges, which are formed by the collar.

Edge lettering – writing on the edge of the coin or medal. The edge lettering was originally introduced to prevent clipping = weight reduction of the coin.

Relief – Any part of a coin design that rises above the surface of the coin is a relief.

Reverse – Reverse (French) is an internationally used numismatic term for the designation of the back of a coin in contrast to the obverse.


Series – All dates and mintmarks of a particular design and denomination.

Silver ounce – the silver ounce is a silver coin that has a silver content of exactly one ounce.

Slabbed coins: Coins encapsulated in plastic to protect them from wear. Typically, “slabbed” coins are graded by one of the two major grading services (PCGS or NGC).

Specular luster (SP) – a special manufacturing process in the minting of coins and medals, in which the background is not only shiny, but really reflects. The embossed motif, on the other hand, stands out matt. The motif seems somehow “frosty”.

SP (Specimen – designation on an NGC holder) is a collective term for a variety of surface treatments that differ from the appearance of circulating issues but do not fit into any of the proof categories. Example: Monaco 200 Francs Gold – Rainier III Grace Kelly – 10th Wedding Anniversary

Spread – the difference between the buying price and the selling price of a precious metal coin or trading unit.

Stamp gloss (ST) – in stamp gloss minting, the coins are produced in an automatic process. Basically, the coins are produced in two minting qualities. In the simple quality: Stamp gloss (ST) as well as in the higher minting quality: Mirror gloss (SP). In the case of the mirror-finish coins, the production process is more complex. The coins have a very special luster and are especially popular as collectibles among collectors.


Tinting – coloring (patination) that results from chemical reactions with air or other materials over time.


Ultra Cameo applies to proof coins only: The fields are deeply mirrored and the devices are heavily frosted for strong contrast on both sides of the coin.

Circulation coins – valid means of payment of a certain territory, circulating in large numbers. Circulation coins are also named as bullion coins.

Uncirculated: a coin in new condition, sometimes referred to as “Brilliant Uncirculated” or “BU”. The term is often used interchangeably with “Mint State” = “MS”.

Overstrikes – the recoinage on a coin that has already been minted. This was done, for example, for religious or political reasons, but also out of thrift.


Variety – A slight deviation from the basic design of a coin.

Obverse – The front/verse of a coin, usually showing the date and main design.


Value side – side of the coin on which its face value is stamped.


Condition – The physical state of a coin.

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