Common Coin Terms for Collecting and Coin Searching


As you get into the wonderful world of currency searching, it is important to understand some of the common coin terms used in the hobby. Below is a table of the common coin terms and definitions. We add things to this list as necessary, it is obviously not a hugely extensive list of common coin terms, but nevertheless a good source to get you started.

Happy coin searching folks!

Assay A means of guaranteeing the quality and purity of gold or silver.
Bag marks Small nicks and abrasion marks coins may receive during initial transportation process.
Brilliant Uncirculated New coins that are in immaculate condition and have never been in circulation.
Buy/Sell Spreads The difference between buying and selling prices relative to the spot price.
Circulated Coins that have been distributed and used as public currency.
Condition The grade of a coin (Mint State, Extremely Fine, etc.)
Date The year of issue for a coin.
Grade An evaluation of the amount of wear on a coin. The Sheldon scale rates coins from 1- 70 numerically, while the adjective scale runs from Basal to Mint State. Color considerations and strike quality can also be factors in grading.
Legal Tender Coins that can be used as national currency.
Liquidity The ease of buying and selling.
Mint The facility that manufactured the coin.
Obverse The front side of a coin, usually depicting a head or face.
Population Refers to how many coins have been certified by a given grading service in that particular grade.
Proof These coins have been struck with special dies that create greater pressure for a more highly polished and clear design. Collectible and often trade at higher premiums.
Purity The percentage of precious metal content of a coin.
Reverse The back side of a coin.
Spot Price The up-to-date value of a precious metal determined by latest market trades.
Weight The weight of a coin.

4 thoughts on “Common Coin Terms for Collecting and Coin Searching

  • January 11, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Hi to all this so please forgive in advance for all the questions ..have so many i think i will start with a 1943 S nickel..i know its a war time nickel but the cool thing is the S above the dome is tilted to the right very obvious not straight..i was told by someone else this was not right and to check the cherrypickers guide but the one i ordered apperently has no pennies or nickeks in mean time good someone share some knoweledge about this coin and and is that a known error.!! Thanx total beginner!

  • January 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    I have a 1999s wide am in proof set.
    Ive seen videos of the lincoln 99s wide am but i can’t find any mention of a wide am proof?

  • February 27, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I have a 1944 penny it looks like something was on it when it was stuck over on leafs of some kind I’m New at this Thank You

  • June 8, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    I am new to coin collection, can anyone tell me a 1982 D mint mark or no mint mark large or small date of any value ? Any help would be appreciated, thanks Dan


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