As is the case with most hobbies, coin collecting has its own specialized terms or “lingo”. The following, while not an exhaustive list of all the coin collecting terms that you may encounter, provides definitions for the most commonly used terms.
Alloy – a combination of two or more metals in a coin such as cupro-nickel or cupro-zinc.
Ancient – refers to any coin minted before 500 A.D.
Bag marks – nicks, marks and scratches resulting from coins in a mint bag being in contact with each other.
Bi-metallic coin – a coin with the center made from one metal with its outer portion being comprised of a different metal.
Blank – a round piece of metal made for subsequent minting into coinage.
Bullion – a coin made of gold or other precious metal with little numismatic value apart from the current value of the metal from which the coin is made.
Cameo – a coin with a frosted appearance.
Circulated coin – a coin which has actually been used as money and shows some degree of wear.
Commemorative coin – A coin with a design struck in honor of some historical or current event, famous person or special anniversary.
Error coin – a coin minted by mistake or with a design different than intended.
Grade – the condition of a coin determined by a set methodology.
High points – the highest part of a coin’s design where the first signs of wear and tear generally appear.
Legend – the words that are inscribed around the outer edge of a coin.
Mintage – the total number of coins of a particular denomination, date and/or type produced by a mint.
Mint mark – a symbol identifying the particular mint which produced the Coin.
Mint state – an un-circulated coin in the same condition as when it was originally minted showing no signs of wear.
Numismatics – the study of coins, paper currency, tokens, medals, and other similar items.
Obverse – the “heads” side of the coin where a portrait of a president, king, queen or other national leader appears.
Proof coins – coins that are struck with greater pressure than normal using specially polished dies to make the design more highly polished or mirror-like.
Reverse – the back or “tails” side of a coin, the opposite side to the obverse side of a coin.
Rim – the outer edge of a coin.
Un-circulated coin – a coin that has never actually been used as money and has no visible signs of wear.
Variety – any change in the design of a coin results in a new coin Variety.
NOTE: There are many, many more terms, but this is a good start for the beginning collector.
Guide to Coin Collecting – Index