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Numismatic Dictionary 101


Have you ever heard or read certain words that you don’t understand? You were unsure to ask because you didn’t want to seem stupid.

Here is a list of some words in the coin industry that you might here. So next time, you will understand what someone is talking about.


90%/Junk Silver: coins that are made of a majority of silver, that we sell for the silver value as opposed to the collector’s value

Bars and Rounds: commonly used term to describe Bullion made by a non-government mint (third party). They are not coins, so the only value they have in them is the composition.
Base Metal: an element that is less valuable than a precious metal. Typically, they are used as the majority/core of modern coins.
Bullion: 99% pure (such as Gold or Silver)


Circulated: the condition of a coin or note that has everyday wear
Coin: an object that has monetary value to it issued by a government. As opposed to a token. (Examples: Dollar, Pound, Euro, Yuan, and Baht)
Cull: a coin that is very worn and/or damaged, that its only worth is in the composition


Die: the stamp that gives a coin its image
Error: a mistake made during the coin making process that is supposedly not repeated. As opposed to a variety.
Exomumia: anything else that is remotely associated with or resembles coins and currency, that is not coin or currency. (Tokens, Novelty Pieces, and Medals)
Face Value: the value of the coin or note that is stated on the coin or note


Grading: the process of determining a coin or notes condition. There is a standard that is used in the industry.
“Greysheet”: also known as “Coin Dealer Newsletter (CDN)”. It is a pricing guide that every reputable dealer should be using. It is updated daily with the current market trends.
Intrinsic Value: the worth of something, based on the composition


Mint error/variety: an error or variety that is made during the minting process, as opposed to afterwards
Minting process: the way a coin is made

Note: also known as cash or paper money

Numismatics: the study of coins


Obverse: the “heads” side of a coin
Precious Metal: an element that is more valuable than an “everyday” element. (Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium)
Premium: the dollar value added to a piece because it is also has a collectors value
Proof: a coin that has a mirror-like surface. They are struck twice, and the dies are heavily polished. Most modern (1971 to present) proof coins will have a “S” or “W” mintmark


“Red Book”: a guide to U.S. coins. It includes technical information such as: mintage years, composition, weight, names of coins, etc. Even though there are prices in it, it is NOT a price guide. The prices are written months in advance, assuming that is where the market will be. For pricing, we use “Greysheet”.
Relief: the height of the image on a coin
Reverse: the “tails” side of a coin
Spot/Spot Price: the value of a Metal on the market at a specific time. Like the stock market, it can go up and down within seconds.


Token: a coin like object which has value not identified by a government. (Gaming, Car Wash, and Mining)
Troy Ounce (toz): unit of measurement of mass used in the world of Bullion, as opposed to an ounce. 1 toz = 1.10 oz
Uncirculated: the condition of a coin or note that has no circulation wear


Variety: a mistake made in the coin making process that is repeated. As opposed to an error.
VAM: an acronym for Leroy Van Allen and George Mallis. They spent decades identifying and classifying Morgan and Peace dollar varieties. Every Morgan and Peace has a VAM. Some are common and some are rare. Bill has discovered 42 varieties.


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