Coin Collecting A to Z

Coin Collecting Terms - Letter A

[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]


About Good - The grade AG-3. The grade for a coin that is just below good. On an About Good coin, only its main features are present. The date, mintmark, peripheral lettering, or other features are sometimes partially worn away.

About Uncirculated - The grades AU50, 53, 55, and 58. A coin with an AU grade initially appears to be in mint state condition. Upon further inspection it is found to have slight friction or rub keeping it from a mint state grade. Same as Almost Uncirculated.

Abrasions - An abrasion is an area of a coin where another coin or a foreign object has displaced metal in an abraded fashion.

Accolated - Design with two heads facing the same direction and overlapping. An example of this type of coin is the 1900 Lafayette Dollar.

Accumulation - Quantities of coins that have not been sorted, classified, attributed or organized in any meaningful way. A true coin collection is organized and generally follows a pattern or series.

Adjustment Marks - File marks made by the U.S. Mint on silver or gold coin blanks to correct the metal content and make them the perfect weight.

Aes grave - Cast bronze coins of the Roman republic; literal translation is "heavy bronze".

Aes rude - Large cast rectangular bronze coin, one of the earliest Roman coins. These coins circulated well before 500 BC and were exchanged by weight.

AG - Acronym for About Good.

AG-3 - Acronym for About Good. (the grade) and "3" (numerical designation). Most of the lettering on the coin is readable, but there is moderately heavy wear into the rims.

AGW - Actual Gold Weight - This refers to the amount of pure gold in a coin, medal or bar. Any alloys are part of the gross weight of a gold coin, but not part of the AGW.

Album - A holder with slots for storing and displaying coins in a book. Common brand names include Whitman and Dansco.

Album friction - A less severe instance of album slide marks. Album friction shows as slight rubbing on the high points.

Album slide marks - Lines that are imparted to the surface of a coin by the plastic “slide” of an album, mostly found on proof coins in the form of hairline scratches.

Alloy - A combination of two or more metals.

Almost Uncirculated - The grades AU50, 53, 55, and 58. A coin with an AU grade initially appears to be in mint state condition. Upon further inspection it is found to have slight friction or rub keeping it from a mint state grade. Same as About Uncirculated.

Altered - A coin, banknote, or other numismatic item that has been deliberately changed. The alteration is usually done to make it resemble a rare or more valuable piece.

Altered Surfaces - A designation given to coins which cannot be certified due to any number of alterations to its surfaces after it left the mint. Such alterations include cleaning, lacquering, tooling and artificial toning.

American Arts Gold Medallions - A series of one-ounce and half-ounce gold bullion medals issued by the US Mint from 1980-84. Medals depict great American artists, writers and actors.

American Eagle - Bullion coins released by the U.S. Mint beginning in October 1986. Nine coins are available: Silver Eagles are available in the one-ounce size with a face value of $1.00. Gold Eagles are available in sizes of one-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce and tenth-ounce. Platinum Eagles are available in those sizes as well.

ANA American Numismatic Association - An educational, nonprofit organization, that is the largest and most active numismatic body in the world. It invites and welcomes to membership all persons who have a sincere interest in numismatics, whether they collect coins, paper money, tokens or medals, whether advanced collectors or those only generally interested in the subject.

ANACS American Numismatic Association Certification Service - originated by offering authentication, and later provided grading services. The grading service and acronym were sold by the ANA and now operate under this name as a third-party grading service.

ANACS Certificate - A uniquely numbered opinion of authenticity and/or grade from the ANA Certification Service. The ANA now only authenticates, having sold the name and grading service.

Ancients - General term for coins of the world struck from 600 B.C. to 500 A.D.

Anglo American Coins & Tokens - The term Anglo American is applied to issues that were struck in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries for use in the American colonies. These coins and tokens were intended primarily or exclusively for British circulation but found their way to this country.

Annealing - The process of heating up coin planchets, just prior to striking in order to make them soft and thus receive a better impression of the design.

Annular - Ring-shaped. Many world coins, mostly in low denominations, and even some US coin patterns are annular.

ANS - Acronym for "American Numismatic Society".

Ant nose - Primitive copper money of China minted around 600 B.C.

Anvil die - The anvil die is the lower stationary die. This die is usually the reverse of the coin, although on some issues with striking problems, the obverse was employed as the lower die. Due to the physics of minting, the fixed lower-die impression is slightly better struck than the upper-die impression.

Arrows - Design element usually found in the left (viewer’s right) claw of the eagle seen on many US coins.

Arrows and rays - Term referring to 1853 quarters and half dollars. In 1854 the rays were removed due to striking difficulties created by the busy design.

Arrows at date - Term referring to the arrows to the left and right of the date. Arrows were added to the dies to indicate a weight increase or decrease.

Artificial toning - Adding color's to a coin by various treatments with chemicals, heat and other methods in an attempt to increase its value. Coins with natural toning may at times provide exceptional eye-appeal and command higher prices than an untoned specimens A coin that is known to have been artificially toned (a deceptive practice) will bring much lower than usual prices.

As - Bronze or orichalcum coins of the Roman republic.

Ask - The lowest current asking price of a particular coin issue and grade offered for sale on a trading network, pricing newsletter, or other medium.

Assay - Analytic test or trial to ascertain the fineness, weight and consistency of precious or base metal in a coin or bullion item. An assay piece is one that has been assayed.

Assay Office - An establishment or department of government that assures the content and quality of a coins alloy.

Assay Piece - A coin selected to be assayed, or produced for an assayer.

Attributes - The elements that make up a coin’s grade. The main attributes are marks, hairlines, reflectivity, luster, strike, and eye appeal.

Attribution - The identification of a numismatic item by characteristics such as issuing authority, date or period, Mint, denomination, metal in which struck, and by a standard reference.

AU - Acronym for About Uncirculated.

AU-50 - Acronym for About Uncirculated (the grade) and "50" (numerical designation). 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.

AU-53 - Acronym for About Uncirculated (the grade) and "53" (numerical designation). 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.

AU-55 - Acronym for About Uncirculated (the grade) and "55" (numerical designation). 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.

AU-58 - Acronym for About Uncirculated (the grade) and "58" (numerical designation). 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.

Auction - An offering to sell an individual item or group of items in which the price is determined by the highest bidder, sometimes with a reserve (minimum) price.

Authentic - As represented. Genuine. Made when and where the coin purports to have been made.

Authentication - Determination by a numismatic expert as to the status of a coin being original and genuine - not counterfeit.

Authorized Dealer - An individual who is appointed by a person or company to do business on their behalf.

Average Circulated - A grade used to describe a coin based on its age.




Coin Collecting Terms (A) to Glossary
Coin Collecting Terms (A) to Homepage