Numismatic Glossary - A

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& (Ampersand) (mintmark)

Mintmark for the city of Aix (French coins).


The series number of a coin album produced by Dansco Corporation that is designed to house a representative major type set of US coins from half cent through dollar denominations; a page can be added to include a type set of US gold coins. It has become the de facto "standard" for a US Type Set.


Mintmark of the cities of: Vienna (Austrian coins) Paris (French coins), Berlin (German, East German and Prussian coins), Alamos (Mexican coins).


Mintmarks for the French coins minted in Metz from the period 1662-1793.


Short for Auro Argento Aere Flando Feriundo title for the triumviri monetalis, the 3 chosen mint masters in the Roman Empire. On some coins minted in the area of Augustus we also find the title shown as III VIR AAA FF (tree men for melting, poring and hammering gold, silver and copper.


Greek for table or plate used for counting.


A Persian silver coin named at the Sjah of Persia Abbas I the great, ruler from 1587-1629, the coin is also known as rial.
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Coin from India, value of a half rupee from Mysore, a state in the south of India, this coin was issued in 1786, before the English occupied this state.

About Good

A grading term describing a coin that is less than Good. Only the main features on the surfaces are visible. Typically, peripheral lettering, date, stars, or other features are partially worn away. Abbreviated as AG and numerically assigned the number 3.
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About Uncirculated

A grading term describing a coin that initially appears to be Uncirculated, but upon closer inspection a little rub or friction can be seen. Abbreviated as AU. Numerical equivalents associated with About Uncirculated are: AU-50, 53, 55, and 58, with AU-50 being the lowest grade and AU-58 being borderline Uncirculated.


Area(s) of a coin where a foreign object or another coin has displaced metal in an abraded fashion. Not the same as hairlines or bag marks.

Abu kelb

Name for the lionthaler, Abu Tera and Abu Kush where the names for the Maria theresia thaler. Abu = Thaler.

Abu midfa

Middle East name for the Spanish real.


Overlapped impression, as with two or more portraits on the face of a coin. Example: The 1900 Lafayette commemorative silver dollar bears the accolated portraits of Washington and Lafayette.


A group of miscellaneous and random coins, often a monetary hoard, not a coin collection. This term may also refer to a grouping of a particular series, date or type such as an accumulation of Walking Liberty half dollars.


Numismatic nickname for a $1 bill, particularly a $1 National Bank Note of the Original Series or the Series of 1875.


Silver coin issued by the African Company of Merchants in 1796 and 1818 for the trade at the gold coast in Africa (now known as Ghana).
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Adjectival Grading; Adjectival Grading System

The traditional grading system employed until superseded by the numerical grading system. Coins in grades from the most worn (Poor) were described adjectivally in these progressive steps: Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, Fine, Very Fine, Extremely Fine, About Uncirculated, and Uncirculated. Modifiers such as "choice" and "gem" were sometimes used to indicate an especially nice specimen within a grade level, such as Choice Extremely Fine or Gem Uncirculated.

Adjustment Marks

Small, straight (never curved) striations or file marks found on early United States coins. Caused during planchet preparation (before striking) by drawing a file across the coins to remove excess metal so as to reduce the planchet to its proper weight. The result is a series of parallel grooves.


Bronze, this is from Aes = as, the bronze roman coin.


Roman goddess for equality, op coins to be recognized with sceptre and or horn.
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Aesthetic Appeal

Term used to indicate the artistic or visual desirability of a coin in addition to its numerical or technical grade. Synonym: eye appeal.


Roman goddess for eternity, on coins with a flame, sceptre or globe.


Coin nomination from Afghanistan, used sinds 1926. From 1926-1931 in silver, after that in nickel steel struck.


Element symbol for silver.

AG, AG-3

Designation for About Good.

Agricultural Wreath

A wreath motif created by James B. Longacre and used on the 1854 Type II gold dollar, 1854 $3 gold coin, 1856 Flying Eagle cent, and other issues. Wreath of corn (most prominent), wheat, cotton, and tobacco—called a cereal wreath by Mint Director Snowden in his 1860 book, A Description of Ancient and Modern Coins in the Cabinet Collection of the Mint of the United States. Called tobacco wreath by Edgar H. Adams, The Numismatist, July 1912, pp. 246-247.

AGW (Actual Gold Weight)

An infrequently used term for the weight of pure gold that is in a coin, medal or bar. In contrast, the gross weight of a gold coin includes the weight of alloys.


Small golden coin from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) made in the 9th and 10th century on the front is the goddess Lakshmi with a flower vase.


Also known as patagon, coin struck for the south Netherlands first struck in 1612.

Album Friction

Evidenced by a slight rubbing on a coin's high points, similar to but not as severe as album slide marks. When repeatedly removed and inserted into albums with clear slides, the slides can impart horizontal scratches if they touch the coin’s surface. To prevent this, carefully push the coin well into the hole so the slide does not touch it.

Album Slide Marks

Lines on the surface of a coin, usually parallel, caused by the plastic "slide" of a coin album.


In the Rhine states in Germany well known name for coins of almost pure silver from the 14th till the 18th century. The coin system in the Rein states was based on this type until the Thaler came, and took over the system.


The transmutation of base metals such as lead and mercury into gold; practiced in historic times by various chemists, pretenders, etc.


Copper and sometimes silver are mixed with gold to add strength and durability to a coin, and the resulting metal is called an alloy. Coins made of pure gold are very soft, and easily scratched, worn and damaged.

All-Seeing Eye

Eye motif, usually surrounded by resplendent rays. Used on certain copper coins of the 1780s such as the 1783-1786 Nova Constellatio coinage, the 1783 Nova Constellatio silver patterns, the 1785-1786 Landscape-type Vermont coppers (Ryder 2 through 8), and, in more modern times, the small-size $1 note (included as part of a pyramid design, no rays surrounding).

Almost Uncirculated

Another grading term for About Uncirculated.


The tampering with a feature of a coin’s surface such as the date, mintmark, etc. to give it the appearance of being another date, mintmark, or variety. An unethical and sometimes illegal practice.

Altered Surfaces

When the surfaces of a coin have been affected by cleaning or other processes resulting in it being less desirable to collectors.


A Turkish coin first time issued in 1454 during the ruling of Muhammad II


An elemental metal. Aluminum was a precious metal in the 1850s, but by the 1860s came into limited use to strike patterns as well as delicacies for collectors. Aluminum tended to oxidize quickly, forming a protective gray coating, which then stabilized and endures in many instances to the present day. In 1973 the Mint contemplated using aluminum for regular coinage of cents, since copper was rising sharply in price on the commercial market. About a million and a half Lincoln cents were struck with the date 1974, and some were given out as samples, but the metal was never used for regular coinage.


Golden coin from Afghanistan, struck between 1919 and 1936 in weight and gold same as the British pound, there are also , 2 and 5 Amani pieces.


Milanese (Italy) golden and silver coins struck in a short period of the Ambrosian republic from 1302-1310.

American Auction Association

1970s auction division of Bowers and Ruddy Galleries. This name was discontinued, and later catalogs bore the Bowers and Ruddy Galleries name.

American Eagle

A series of bullion coins created by the U. S. Mint featuring a family of eagles on the reverse. The silver coins were introduced in 1986 in a $1 denomination. The gold coins were first produced in 1987 in 1/10, ¼, ½, and 1 ounce versions.

American Numismatic Association

A nonprofit educational organization founded in 1888, dedicated to encouraging the study and collecting of money and related items. The ANA helps people discover and explore the world of money through a vast array of programs including education and outreach, museum, library, publications, conventions, and seminars. They are headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Read more about them at

American Numismatic Association Grading System

Adopted in 1977, the ANA Grading System was described in the book, Official ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins, and evaluated coins based upon the Sheldon scale for grading.

American Numismatic Association Hall of Fame

Pantheon and gallery located at the American Numismatic Association Headquarters, Colorado Springs, CO. Numismatists past and present who are deemed worthy and elected for the honor are enshrined by being included in the exhibit, a highly desirable honor. The first honorees enshrined in 1969 were: Edgar H. Adams, George J. Bauer, Frank G. Duffield, Dr. George F. Heath, Edward T. Newell, Wayte Raymond, David C. Wismer, Howland Wood, and Farran Zerbe.

American Numismatic Association Headquarters

A.k.a. ANA. Headquartered at: North Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO, on the campus of Colorado College. Built in the 1960s on land leased for $1 per year for 100 years (option of 100 years renewal) from the college. Action center for executive, editorial, membership, museum, authentication, and other functions. Focal point for exhibits, seminars, other events.

American Numismatic Society

A museum and research institute devoted to the study of coins from all periods and cultures. They are headquartered in New York City, New York. Abbreviated as "ANS."


Coins or tokens who have believed to have a magical value, very known in china and related territories.


An abbreviation for the "American Numismatic Association."

ANACS – (American Numismatic Association Certification Service)

An authentication service started by the ANA that later provided grading services. The ANA later sold the acronym and this service, which now operates as a third-party grading service.

ANACS Certificate

Issued by the ANA Certification Service, a written document of authenticity and/or grade that bears a unique number.


A term for world coins struck circa 600 B.C. to circa 450 A.D.


Russian golden coins struck during the period of Peter the Great 1682-1725. Also struck during the time of Elizabeth I from Russia during 1741-1762.

Andries or Andreasgulder

Golden coin with the Holy Andreas on them, minted in the southern Netherlands from 1474-1494 and from 1567-1571 It's a 792/900 gold coin with the weight of 3,40 grams.


Very nice golden coins struck by Edward the 4th of England, on the front side Michal fighting the dragon, struck sinds 1465.

Angelet or half angel

This coin was in circulation till 1619.


French coin similar like the angel, minted in 1427 at mint houses in Paris, Saint-L and Le Mans.

Anchor money

Popular name for English coins struck for the use on Mauritius, in Canada West Indies and Ceylon. The inscription is COLONIR: BRITAIN: MONET:


Name for the old Indian coins, in later times it went to 1/16 th of a rupee. 1 Anna = 4 pysas or 12 pie.


A process by which a die or planchet is heated and then cooled to soften the metal for die preparation or the striking of a coin.


Roman goddess of the harvest, on coins she goes with a shell of corn and or a horn.


Ring like, ring form. Refers to a coin with a circular perforation or hole at the center, certain pattern cents of 1850 being examples.


In heraldry and in numismatic descriptions, a small ring or related emblem as part of a design.


An abbreviation for the "American Numismatic Society."


A roman coin first from silver, later a mix of silver and other materials issued by the roman emperor Marinus Aurelius Antonius also known as Caracalla in 214 AD it was a double dinarius between 4.7 and 5.3 grams. The coin is easy to recognize by the radiate crown around the head of the emperor.


The mint mark of the Dutch mint master Ir. J. de Jong, mint master of the Royal Dutch mint from 1980-1987.

Anvil Die

Usually the reverse of the coin, the lower, stationary die. On some issues with striking problems, the obverse is used as the lower die. Due to the physics of minting, the stationary lower-die impression is slightly better struck than the upper-die impression.


Apfelgulder, golden guilder from the Rhineland from the 15th and 16th century named for the cross and apple on its front.


Greek goddess of love, in Rome called Venus, often to see with her child Eros on Greek and roman coins.

Aqueduct (mintmark)

Mintmark for the city of Segovia on Spanish coins, normally resembling a curved-top "M" with a second, smaller flat-top "M" above it. The mark is taken from the old Roman aqueduct that forms a prominent landmark in the city.

Arcade Tokens

Metallic tokens used in penny arcades, amusement emporiums, and related places. Sometimes bearing a denomination, these tokens could be used in place of cents, nickels, quarters, or other coins in coin-operated devices.


Silver roman coin who was introduced by the Emperor Diocletian in 294 AD and struck until 310 AD. The weight is 3.4 grams.


A variety of “German silver,” an alloy without silver, which contains a mixture of nickel, tin, copper, and other metals.


Golden coin from Argentina with the value of 5 pesos, struck from 1881-1889 and 1896.


The currency unit of Madagascar. It is a unitary currency, having no fractional units except for the transitional "iraimbilanja", worth 1/5th of an ariary or 1 old French colonial franc. The name derives from a local word meaning a silver dollar.


In heraldry, on banknotes, and on coins and medals, the representation of a state, family, or other entity, often incorporating a shield with patterns and designs, so as to permit easy identification of that entity. Certain state copper coins, commemoratives, and other United States issues included arms of various states.


Design element seen on many U.S. coins, most frequently in the eagle's left claw.

Arrow and Rays

Term referring to a design element on quarters and half dollars dated 1853. The rays were removed the following year due to striking difficulties created by the complicated design.

Arrows at Date

The arrows to the left and right of the date on a coin. The Mint added these to the dies to indicate a weight increase or decrease.


Greek goddess of the hunt, with a bow and arrow shown on Greek and roman coins.

Artificial Toning

Toning or patination applied to a coin by chemical, heat, or other means to decrease its brightness or brilliance and to give it the appearance of having acquired attractive colors over a long period of time. Such coins are plentiful in the marketplace, including in certified holders, and a keen eye is needed to identify them.


Roman coin unit that is related to the As Libra, a coin that is used a verry long time in the roman empire.


Acronym for American Silver Eagle.
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The price that represents what a seller is willing to accept for a particular coin issue and grade. This changes with market fluctuations. See also: Bid; Spread


To evaluate and calculate the purity of a metallic alloy.

Assay Bar, Assay Ingot

A rectangular (usually) ingot or bar of silver or gold, produced by an assay office (see listing) and stamped with data, usually including the name of the assayer, weight, fineness (purity), metal, a serial number, and, sometimes, the date and market value.

Assay Office

A facility established by the federal government or by private individuals to receive and evaluate precious metals, especially gold, silver and copper. The government operated assay offices in Butte (Montana), New York City, Denver, and elsewhere. During the Gold Rush several assay offices did good business in California, including Kellogg & Humbert, Harris & Marchand, Justh & Hunter, Moffat & Co., and the United States Assay Office of Gold, among others.


One who performs assays. Position at the Mint from 1792 onward. Most assayers operated in the private sector, however, especially in the conduct of business in assay offices, mines, refineries, etc.


French paper money from the late 1700's; one of the earliest occasions of hyperinflation caused by overissue of notes.


Currency of Laos. 100 At = 1 Kip.


Acronym for America the Beautiful refering to the US quarter series started in 2010. Also referred to as National Park quarters.
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Goddess symbolic of Athens. Athena and her owl (denoting wisdom) are motifs on the 1915-S commemorative $50 gold coins, round and octagonal formats, issued for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.


Copper coin minted in Thailand from 1874-1905.


The components that determine a coin’s grade, primarily marks (or hairlines for Proofs), strike, eye appeal, and luster.


The assigning or referencing of a coin to its source, engraver of its dies, or of its die variety as described in a numismatic work. Example: United States copper cents of the 1793-1814 years can be attributed to Sheldon numbers, as, for example, S-48, as delineated in Early American Cents, Dr. William H. Sheldon, 1949.


An abbreviation for "About Uncirculated" or "Almost Uncirculated."


This is for "About Uncirculated" (the grade) and "50" (the numerical designation of that grade). Also called "Almost Uncirculated-50." This is the lowest of the four AU grades, with the others being AU53, AU55, and AU58. Between 50% and 100% of the surfaces will exhibit luster disturbances, and perhaps the only luster still in evidence will be in the protected areas. The high points of the coin will have wear that is easily visible to the naked eye.
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This is for "About Uncirculated" (the grade) and "53" (the numerical designation of that grade). Also called "Almost Uncirculated-53." There is obvious wear on the high points with light friction covering 50-75% of the fields. There are noticeable luster breaks, with most of the luster still intact in the protected areas.
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This is for "About Uncirculated" (the grade) and "55" (the numerical designation of that grade). Also called "Almost Uncirculated-55." There is slight wear on the high points with minor friction in the fields. Luster can range from almost nonexistent to virtually full, but it will be missing from the high points. The grade of "Choice AU" equates to AU55.
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This is for "About Uncirculated" (the grade) and "58" (the numerical designation of that grade). Also called "Almost Uncirculated-58." There is the slightest wear on the high points, even though it may be necessary to tilt the coin towards the light source to see the friction. In many cases the reverse of an AU58 coin will be fully Mint State. Less than 10% of the surface area will show luster breaks. The grade of "Borderline Unc" equates to AU58.
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An offering of numismatic items for sale to the highest bidder, rather than ordering from a catalog, price list, or advertisement at a fixed price.


The person who recognizes and accepts bids during an auction.


Golden coin from Kaiser Friedrich II as king of sicily minted in 1231 at Messina and Brindisi with a weight of 5,24 grams.


An ancient Roman gold coin, tariffed at 25 denarii or 100 sestertii. Replaced by the solidus in 309 AD.


A numismatic item that is genuine and was produced at the time and place to which it has been attributed.


The process by which a determination is made as to whether a coin or other numismatic item is genuine.


International name for the front side of the coin or token.


Currency of Macao, a portugese colony in the east indies, and at East Timor, (Indonesia) 100 avo = 1 pataca.

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