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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Slang Abbreviations
Accumulation A collection numismatic items which have not been classified, sorted or identified.
Alignment Alignment refers to the relative positioning of the obverse and reverse designs of a coin or medal. Historically, until the last few centuries, most coins were issued with the sides rotated 180 degrees (ie. the reverse is upside down to the obverse). This is known as Coin Alignment or Coin Rotation and continues to be observed by some coin issuing nations such as the United States of America. However, most countries in recent times now align obverse and reverse at 0 (or 360) degrees. This is known as Medal Alignment or Medal Rotation. See also the entry for upset error coins.
Annulus The outer ring of a bi-metallic coin or medal.
Assay A test performed to determine the weight and purity (fineness) of the precious metal contained in a piece.
Attribution The identification and classification of a numismatic item by a characteristic such as date, period, composition, issuing mint, denomination, etc.
Authorised Issue Coinage/Notes issued by a government, civilian or military authority in control of an area.
Bag Marks

Minor surface abrasions caused by coins coming in contact with each other when they have been counted and placed loose into bags for transportation from the issuing mint. Such coins are still considered to be uncirculated.

Banknote

A promissory note intended to circulate as money, usually printed on paper or plastic, issued by a bank with a specific denomination, payable to the bearer of the note.

Base Metal

A non-precious metal or alloy which has a low intrinsic value. Examples are copper, nickel, brass, bronze and aluminium.

Beading

A continuous series of small dots or denticles found either around the rim of a coin or between the legend and field.

Bill

Bill of Exchange - any form of paper money including banknotes, prommisory notes, currency notes, etc.

Billon

A metal alloy occassionally used for minor coin issues consisting of a mixture of silver and a very high copper content. Sometimes billon coins are treated with a thin silver coating to give a shiny appearance.

Bi-Metallic

A coin comprised of two sepatate pieces of metal. Normally one metal is used as a centerpiece (core) with the second metal surrounding (annulus) it to form two concentric circles.

Bitten coin

A coin with a piece missing. The missing portion, in the shape of a bite out of the coin, is usually caused in the blanking process.

Blank

The blank piece of metal cut and shaped to the required size but not yet struck into a coin. Also known as a planchet or flan.

Bourse

From a French word for 'Purse', a coin exhibition, show or fair where coin dealers, issuers and collectors assemble to buy, sell or trade items of a numismatic nature.

Brockage

A coin exhibiting an error caused by the failure of the coin press to release the previous coin from the die before striking it. The design from the first coin is imprinted, sunken in reverse, on the second coin. Brokage coins appear to have the same design on both sides with one side showing a reverse or mirror strike which, because the previous coin acts as the die, does not usually have the same quality of detail.

Bullion

Precious metal such as gold, platinum, silver, palladium, etc., usually in the form of bars, ingots or plates with a specific known weight and purity. The term is also used to descibe and measure the precious metal content of a coin

Cabinet Friction

Minor wear on the high points of an otherwise uncirculated numismatic piece which has been stored in a tray or cabinet. The wear is caused by rubbing when the tray or cabinet is moved and will adversely affect its value.

Carat

A value out of 24 used to describe the purity of precious metal. For example, 24 carat gold is pure gold, 22 carat is 91.67% pure and 18 carat is 75% gold and 25% of some other metal such as silver or copper.

Carbon Spot

A term used to describe the colour of dark spots found on the surface of a coin. The spots do not normally comprise the chemical 'carbon' and are more commonly found on bronze coins.

Center Thread

A metal security thread embedded in a banknote. On early decimal notes, this thread was located vertically in the approximate center of each note.

Chip

A token used as a substitute for money, particularly for gambling in casinos.

Choice

A subjective term used to describe a particularly nice example of a coin. It is not a recognized term for grading a coin.

Chop Mark

An identification mark punched into a coin by a Chinese merchant. The mark is used to indicate that the metal of the coin has been tested and is of a known quality.

Clashed Die

A coin exhibiting an error caused when the dies used to produce it have been previously brought together in the press without a blank/planchet in place. The design on each half of the die is impressed, in reverse, on the opposide side. On each side of a clashed die coin, the design appears to incorporate mirrored elements of the design used on the opposite side of the coin.

Clipping

An illegal practice of shaving or cutting pieces off a precious metal coin, usually done for the purpose of melting the clippings and selling them as bullion.

Cob Piece

From the Spanish phrase cabo de barra translated as 'cut from a bar', cob pieces are coins made by placing a measured piece of metal between upper and lower coining irons (dies) and striking the upper die with a hammer.

Coin

An object, usually metal, marked in some recognised way and issued by a governing authority for the purpose of acting as money - an agreed and accepted medium of exchange.

Coin Rotation

The alignment of obverse and reverse sides of a coin or medal at 180 degrees. See the entry for alignment.

Coin Weight

A piece of metal which is the exact weight of a known coin. If the weight is placed on one side of a scale, and a coin that it is meant to measure is placed on the other side, the scale should balance.

Collar

The retaining ring which holds the blank immediately before a coin is struck in a coining press. The collar stops the coin from excessive lateral movement and is responsible for any reeding, milling, lettering or designs that appear on the coin's edge.

Commemorative

A coin issued with a one year only design to signify the anniversary of an important event, person or place.

Condition

The state of preservation of a coin or note. See the Grading Coins and Banknotes article for more information.

Contemporary Forgery

An illegal duplication of a coin made at the time that the coin circulated. See the separate forgeries article.

Counterfeit

An imitation of a numismatic item intended to deceive and/or defraud. See forgery.

Core

The inner disc of a bi-metallic coin or medal. The core is surrounded by the Annulus.

Countermark

Symbols, design(s) or lettering punched on a coin to change its value, usage or purpose. Also known as a counterstamp. See also surcharge.

Counterstamp

Symbols, design(s) or lettering punched on a coin to change its value, usage or purpose. Also known as a countermark. See also surcharge.

Cracked Die

See Die Crack.

Cupro-Nickel

Also known as Copper-Nickel - a metal alloy of copper and nickel - usually 75% copper and 25% nickel. The alloy is used widely throughout the world for coinage because of its long-wearing properties and low cost of production.

Currency

Derived from the Latin term currentia - a stream. Used to describe any medium of exchange which 'flows' from one hand to another such as coins, notes, tokens, shells, etc.

Currency Note

A bill of exchange issued by a person or firm (other than a bank) expressing a fixed value. These unofficial notes could only be exchanged for cash with the original issuer.

Debase

A term used with reference to precious metal coins to describe a reduction in the purity of the item by increasing the proportion of base metals or by filing or clipping the coin to reduce its weight.

Decimalisation

The conversion to a currency system where denominations are based on multiples of 10 (decimals). Australia changed from the Pounds, Shillings and Pence (LSD) system to the decimal Dollars and Cents system on 14 February, 1966. See the separate article. Great Britain did the same in 1971.

Demonetised

Currency which can no longer be used as legal tender in payment for goods and services or to retire debts. Once demonetised, coins and notes are worth only their intrinsic or collector value.

Denomination

The face value of a coin or banknote in the currency of the issuing country. Usually, but not always, the denomination is stated on the piece.

Denticles

A continuous string of beads (beading) or dots located immediately inside the rim on the face of a coin.

Device

The main design or feature of a coin other than the portrait or legend.

Die

The tool used to make an impression on a coin. A die is normally one of a pair of metal blocks with mirror or reverse designs cut into them which are transferred by striking on a blank piece of metal. See Working dies.

Die Crack

A raised line or lines found on a coin which has been struck using a damaged die. The die may have been damaged by too much pressure or simply by overuse.

Die Variety

A coin with a slight variation from the normal design attributed to a particular issue. These small differences result when minor design variations are made to obverse and/or reverse dies as they are replaced when they wear out.

Die Wear

Dies are commonly used to strike huge numbers of coins. Even if they are replaced before they break, gradual wearing can lead to the production of coins which appear to be weakly struck. On Australian pre-decimal coins, particularly during the war years, it was common practice to continue to use dies well after they would normally have been replaced, with the result that many coins of the era display 'soft strikes'.

Early Striking

A coin which is one of the first few produced by a new die pair. Each new die is usually highly polished and so the first few coins produced can appear almost proof-like. Such coins are often rarer than proofs and command high premiums.

Edge

The width of a coin - its third surface. The edge can be plain or can have a design imparted by a collar. Milling is a common edge finishing originally used to stop shaving of the coin for its metal content. Occassionally, the edge is inscribed, usually for a commemorative purpose.

Edge Nicks

Abrasions caused by modern minting techniques where coins are struck and then dumped into a container. The coins crash into each other causing nicks and cuts around the edges. Abrasions on the surface of the coins they strike - referred to as bag marks - also result. These nicks reduce the value of a coin - beware of attempts by unscrupulous sellers to rectify such nicks.

Effigy

A slightly raised (bas-relief) design, usually on the obverse of a coin, depicting a portrait or likeness of a person such as the monarch or head of the issuing country.

Electrotype

A copy or reproduction of a coin or medal made by the chemical process of electro-deposition (electroplating). These pieces, made in two halves and then glued or soldered together, can be very deceptive. The best method of detection is a light tap on the rim which will not yield the charastic ringing sound of a genuine coin.

Encapsulated

A rigid, transparent, protective casing in which a coin is placed to protect it from corrosion and damage. For special collector issues, this case is usually made of two halves of an inert moulded plastic material to the exact dimensions of the coin to be protected. The two halves are either screwed or pressed together to 'encapsulate' the coin.

Exergue

A small area usually delineated by a line at the base of the reverse side of a coin below the design. The area was often used in Roman coinage for Latin inscriptions.

Exonumia

Numismatic items other coins and banknotes. For example, tokens.

Face Value

The value or denomination stated on a coin, note or token. See also fiat money.

Fantasy

A medal struck, not as a possible coin design (pattern), but simply as a piece of art/sculpture in a numismatic form. Many fantasy coins have become collectors items eg. the numerous issues struck following the abdication of Edward VIII and various private designs struck around the time of decimalisation.

Fiat Money

A medium of exchange such as a coin which is accepted at a face value which is greater than its intrinsic value as a result of backing by the issuing authority (usually government).

Field

The blank or unused portions behind the design on a coin.

Flan

The blank piece of metal cut and shaped to the required size but not yet struck into a coin. Also known as a blank or planchet.

Forgery

An imitation of a numismatic item intended to deceive and/or defraud. See the separate article.

Frosting

An engraving technique which produces a slightly dulled effect on certain parts of a coin's design. The effect is produced by lightly sand blasting or etching that part of the design on the die. The technique has become popular in the latter half of the 20th century but is rarely used on other than proof, pattern or specimen pieces.

Ghosting

See Clashed Die.

Grade

The precisely defined condition of a numismatic piece. See the Grading Coins and Banknotes article for more information.

Grain

A measure of weight equal to 0.064799 grams.

Graining

See Reeded Edge or Milling - the serrations on the edge of a coin impressed by the collar die.

Gem

A non-standard grading term used to describe a flawless coin struck from dies used for normal circulation coinage.

Hairlines

Difficult to see scratches occuring on coins which have been cleaned or incorrectly handled. Hairline scratches can be caused by the abrasive components of cleaning solutions applied by rubbing the coin and become most apparent under magnification. See the Cleaning Coins article for more information.

Hammered

The striking of a coin by placing a blank or flan horizontally between two dies and then striking the back of the top die with a hammer. Last used in Australia to produce the Dump and Holey Dollar, the technique has now been replaced by the Coining Press.

Hubs

The positive pair of metal dies from which working dies are struck - see Working Hubs.

Incuse

This term refers to lettering or a design on a coin or medal which is struck below the surrounding field rather that the more usual practice of raising it above the surface.

Ingot

A mass of metal created from a mould. Most precious metal ingots are impressed or stamped to convey the weight and purity (Assay) of the piece.

Inscription

The lettering on a coin - also referred to as the legend.

Intaglio

A stage in the note printing process where black ink is transferred to the sheet of notes. Ink is applied to the metal plates and then wiped clear, remaining only in the incuse design. Under high pressure, the ink is transferred to the paper stock leaving a slightly raised design.

Intrinsic Value

The melted down or bullion value of a precious metal coin. This value often bears no relation to the face value or denomination of the coin.

Jugate

A dual portrait with heads side by side in profile. Often used on Roman coins to depict the Emperor and Empress.

Legal Tender

Any medium of exchange which may legally be offered in exchange for goods or services or in payment of a debt, and which a creditor, seller or service provider must legally accept.

Legend

An inscription or lettering often found around the extremities of the face of a coin just inside the rim and denticles.

Letterpress

A stage in the note printing process where the coloured background design is transferred to the sheet of notes, normally both sides at the same time. Also known as the Simultan stage.

Lightweight

A error where a coin is struck on an incomplete blank - caused when the machine punching out the blanks strikes partially beyond the end of the metal sheet.

Master die

The original die from which working dies are cast. New working dies can be taken from the master die as the wear out or break. See the How Coins Are Made article for more information.

Matte Proof

A proof coin or medal with a finely grained finish over the entire surface . This technique was popular in the 19th century and has now been almost completely replaced by the frosting of certain parts of a coin's design.

Medal Rotation

The alignment of obverse and reverse sides of a coin or medal at 0 or 360 degrees. See the entry for alignment.

Milling

See Reeded Edge or Graining - the serrations on the edge of a coin impressed by the collar die.

Mint lustre

The shine or bloom found on the surface of an uncirculated coin. The effect is caused by the movement or flow of metal when the planchet is struck in the coining press.

Mintmark

A letter, character, symbol, emblem, privy or other mark placed in the design of a coin to indicate the mint of origin.

Mint roll

Refers to a pre-set number of identical coins wrapped in paper. Mint rolls are often used by issuing authorities as part of the normal process for the distribution of coins minted for circulation.

Mint Set

A set of coins usually consisting of choice or gem uncirculated examples produced by an issuing authority.

Mint State

A coin or other numismatic piece which exhibits it's original state of preservation - in grading terms the equivalent is Uncirculated.

Misprint

An error on a banknote resulting from a fault in the printing process.

Mis-strike

A coin exhibiting an error caused in the coining process. The usual result of a mis-strike is an off-center placement of the design on the coin when it is struck while the planchet is incorrectly aligned between the two dies in the coining press. During World War II the care of inspection was relaxed resulting in many mis-struck coins reaching circulaton. Few mis-struck coins dated prior to 1939 are seen.

Mule

A coin, token or medal with obverse and reverse sides which are not normally matched by the issuing authority. Mules are normally the result of a mistake in the coining process when one half of a die pair is accidentally used with another half of a different die pair.

Non Circulating Legal Tender (NCLT)

Coin or banknote issues created and sold by, or under authorisation of, agencies of sovereign governments, expressly for collectors. Such issues are normally marketed at prices substantially in excess of face value and therefore do not enter circulation. The metallic content value of NCLT coins is often greater value than the face value.

Notes of Hand

A bill which is completely hand written.

Numismatics

The discipline, science, study and/or collection of coins, tokens, medals, banknotes, instruments of exchange and other similar objects.

Obverse

The front or main side of a coin, as defined by the issuing authority. This side often displays the portrait of a monarch or other important person.

Off-Metal Strike

A coin struck on a planchet composed of a metal on which the coin is not normally struck.

Overdate

A technique where the mint engraver superimposes one or more numbers over the date numbers of an earlier year's die and the resulting coins show traces of the old number.

Overstrike

A coin which has been re-issued after striking a new design over the top of the original. Often traces of the old design remain visible..

Patina

The natural colouring acquired by a coin, token or medal over time. This colouring is often the result of oxidation or other chemical processes caused by contact of the coin's surface with the air.

Pattern

A coin struck and submitted to the coin issuing authority as a proposed issue. Technically, examples with adopted designs are patterns, but often, only those with designs which are not adopted can be identified as patterns.

Paymasters Note

A bill issued by the military paymaster as pay to a soldier. These notes were used as bills of exchange.

Piedfort

A coin, token or medal which has been struck using standard dies on a planchet which is thicker than normal (usually double thickness). Piedfort strikings are normally restricted to collector or VIP issues.

Planchet

The blank piece of metal cut and shaped to the required size but not yet struck into a coin. Also known as a blank or flan.

Prefix

Letters, numbers or symbols printed in front of the serial number on a banknote.

Privy

A mark, similar to a mintmark, placed in the design of a coin to identify the maker or to indicate a special purpose for the release of the item.

Promissory Note

A bill, issued by a person other than a bank, where the amount is not shown as a pre-printed fixed value.

Proof

A coin specially struck using carefully prepared dies and a polished planchet. Most contemporary proofs have miror-like fields with frosted designs and are struck at least twice. Technically, the term proof refers to a coins method of manufacture, not its state of preservation. However, in reality, the term is used in grading to describe a pristine example of a proof manufactured coin. Lesser graded or damaged examples are described as impaired proofs.

Q-Metal

A yellowish-white quaternary (4 metal) alloy of 50 percent silver, 40 percent copper, 5 percent nickel and 5 percent zinc. Devised by the English Royal Mint to replace sterling silver in the 1920's, the alloy was used for Australia's silver coins from 1947.

Reeded Edge

Also known as milling or graining, the serrations on the edge of a coin impressed by the collar die. Originally used to prevent clipping, the practice is now used primarily as a decorative feature.

Relief

The normal raised lettering or design on a coin. Such a design is also known as bas-relief. The opposite is known as incuse, intaglio or sunken lettering/design.

Replica

A copy of a numismatic item intended purely for collectors. Unlike counterfeit, no attempt is made to disguise such items as real. Often, replicas are copies of rare coins with the word copy or a similar marking to ensure it is not mistaken for the real thing.

Restrike

A coin which is struck some time (normally years) after the original striking using the original dies.

Reverse

The back or opposite side of the coin to the Obverse.

Rim

A raised area of metal around the outer surface of the face of a coin or flan. The rim is designed to protect the rest of the design on the surface of the coin from wear. Occassionally, beading, dots or denticles are placed directly inside the rim.

Security Thread

See Center Thread and Side Thread.

Side Thread

A metal security thread embedded in a banknote. On later paper decimal notes, this thread was located vertically in the left half of each note. It had previously been located in the center of the note but was moved when it was found to cause excessive wear and tearing.

Simultan

A stage in the note printing process where the coloured background design is transferred to the sheet of notes, normally both sides at the same time. Also known as the Letterpress stage.

Soft Strike

A coin which exhibits less detail than would be expected for its condition. This can occur if the pressure applied by the coining press is lowered or through die wear.

Specimen

A coin or banknote prepared and selected with special care as an example of a numismatic issue.

Split coin

The use of cupro-nickel has resulted in a phenomenon where a coin splits in two along its edge. Splits result when air bubbles are left in the alloy being spread by rolling and annealing. When the flattened bubble gets into a finished coin, an accidental drop or sharp tap may split it into two thinner pieces, one with an obverse and the other a reverse.

Stirling Silver

A mixture of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper which was used in English silver coins for over 1,000 years.

Store Receipt

A receipt issued by the Commissariat (Government Store) in return for goods. Although not intended for general circulation, these notes were used as bills of exchange.

Suffix

Letters, numbers or symbols printed after the serial number on a banknote.

Superscribed

Wording superimposed over a banknote to change its value or ratify the issuing authority.

Surcharge

A numismatic item which has been struck or counterstamped with another name or denomination.

Token

Technically, a token is any numismatic issue which has an intrinsic value which is significantly less than its face value or denomination. As this is now the case with most legal coin issues, the term token, in numismatic circles, has come to mean a non-legal numismatic piece which at some point in time, became widely accepted as a medium of exchange with a generally accepted face value.

Toning

The natural process where a coin's surface oxidises over a number of years due to contact with the air. Blue, yellow, gold and red tonings can occur. If attractive, toning can add value to a coin.

Treasury Bill

A bill of exchange payable in sterling by the English Treasury.

Trial Piece

A test coin striking to examine the effectiveness of new or re-worked dies. Sometimes, test pieces are struck in a metal not used for normal coins struck for circulation.

Type

A series of coins of similar design and denomination where only the date changes from year to year.

Type Set

A collection of one example of each design type in a coin series Type.

Uniface

A coin which has been struck with a design on one side only. The other side is blank. Normally uniface coins are patterns but ocassionally are found as errors caused by a faulty striking process.

Upgrading

The process where a collector progressively improves the quality of a numismatic collection by replacing lesser quality coins with higher graded examples.

Upset

A coin exhibiting an error where the two sides are not correctly aligned. This is caused when one of the dies in the coining press works loose and rotates to a different angle before striking the coin. See also the glossary entry for Alignment.

Variety

A coin with a slight variation from the normal design attributed to a particular issue.

Vignette

The pictorial portion of a banknote as opposed to its frame or lettering.

Watermark

An unobtrusive design imparted to the fibres of banknote paper at the time of the paper's manufacture. The watermark is normally visible only when held up to the light. The technique is often used as an anti-counterfeiting measure.

Working Dies

Dies taken from the master dies (hubs) and used in a coin press to actually stamp the coins. They are discarded and replaced as they wear out or break. See also die.

Working Hubs

The transfer punch with a relief design from which the working dies are made.


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Slang Abbreviations


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