Coin Collecting A to Z

Coin Collecting Terms - Letter C

[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]

C - Mintmark used at the Branch Mint in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Cabinet friction - Slight surface wear on a coin, medal or token caused by friction between it and the tray in which it is contained.

CAM - Abbreviation for Cameo.

Cameo - A proof, or prooflike coin with exceptional contrast between the fields and the devices. On a cameo coin, the fields are mirrorlike, while the devices give a frosty appearance from the highly polished dies.

Canadian silver - Slang term for the silver coins of Canada.

Capped Bust - A term describing any of the various representations of the head of Miss Liberty depicted on certain early U.S. coins by a bust with a floppy cap. The design is attributed to John Reich.

Capped die - An error in which a coin gets jammed in the coining press and remains for successive strikes.

Carbon spot - A dark discoloration on the surface of a coin, possibly caused by a planchet imperfection prior to striking, or it may be caused by improper storage of the coin.

Carson City - The United States branch Mint located in Carson City, Nevada that struck coins from 1870 through 1885 and later from 1889 through 1893.

Cartwheel - An effect caused by the natural luster on most mint state, and on some proof coins. When the coin is tilted back and forth, beams of light seem to circle the central devices of the coin.

Cash - A copper coin of China with a square hole for stringing.

Cast - Made by pouring molten metal directly into a mold.

Cast blanks - Coin blanks that are molded, rather than cut from strips of metal.

Cast Coins - Coins which are made not in the usual manner of striking with dies, but by pouring molten metal into a mold.

Cast counterfeit - A replica of a genuine coin created by making molds of the obverse and reverse, then casting base metal in the molds.

Castaing machine - A machine invented by French engineer Jean Castaing that added the edge lettering and devices to early U.S. coins before they were struck. These machines were used until the introduction of close collar dies, which applied the edge device during the striking process.

CC - Mintmark used to indicate coins struck at the Carson City, Nevada branch Mint.

Census - A compilation of the known specimens of a particular numismatic item. Census reports are generally not as accurate as one may think. The counts, in some cases, take into consideration dealers and individuals cracking out coins and resubmitting them in the hopes they will grade higher.

Cent - A denomination valued at one-hundredth of a dollar, struck by the U.S. Mint. Also called a penny, however, the correct term is "cent".

Certified - Refers to a coin which has been authenticated and graded by one of the major grading and certification services. The major coin grading services include NGC, PCGS & ANACS.

Certified coin - A coin authenticated and graded by an unbiased, third-party professional coin grading service.

Chain Cent - The popular name for the Flowing Hair large cent of 1793. They were the first coins struck in the new Mint building in Philadelphia.

Chapman Proof - 1921 Morgan dollar Proofs supposedly struck for coin dealer Henry Chapman, having cameo devices and deeply mirrored surfaces like most Morgan dollar proofs.

Chapman, Henry - One of the most influential coin dealers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Perhaps best known for urging an estimated quantity of 12 silver dollar proofs to be coined in 1921. These coins are generally considered to be superior to other so-called-proofs minted that same year.

Charlotte - The United States branch Mint located in Charlotte, North Carolina that only struck gold coins from 1838 until its seizure by the Confederacy in 1861.

Chasing - A method used by forgers in creating a mintmark on a coin. Chasing involves heating the surfaces and moving the metal to form a mintmark.

Chatter - Usually refers to a small, but noticeable cluster of nicks on a coin. Sometimes the term is otherwise used to describe the vibratory movement of a die which produces minor double-striking.

Cherrypick - To secure the purchase a rare variety of a coin worth a premium over the seller's asking price for a common variety.

Choice - An adjective which the A.N.A. applies to coins of MS-65 or Proof-65 grade. Many dealers apply the term to the MS/Proof-63 coins, and call MS/Proof-65 coins “Gem”.

Choice BU - A term used to describe a nice, uncirculated coin - perhaps the equivalent numerical grade of MS-62 to MS-64.

Choice Unc - Abbreviation for Choice Uncirculated.

Choice Uncirculated - An Uncirculated coin in grade MS-63 or MS-64.

Chop mark - A symbol added to money by someone other than the government which issued it to indicate authenticity. Commonly found on U.S. Trade Dollars.

Cinci - Short for a Cincinnati Silver Commemorative Half Dollar made in 1936.

Circulated- Describes a coin that is no longer in mint state, generally as a result of normal handling and exchange.

Circulating commemorative - A commemorative coin issued through the usual distribution channels as a circulation strike coin.

Circulation - A term applied to coins that have been spent in commerce.

Circulation strike - A coin meant for commerce. An alternate term Regular Strike or Business Strike.

Civil War Token - Unofficial pieces made to approximate size of current U.S. large cents and half cents. They were placed into circulation during the Civil War because of a scarcity of small change.

Clad bag - Usually applied to a $1,000 bag of 40 percent silver half-dollars although it also could apply to any bag of clad coins.

Clad Coinage - Issues of United States dimes, quarters, halves, and dollars made since 1965. Each coin has a center core of copper, and a layer of copper-nickel or silver on both sides of the coin.

Clash marks - Where the dies have hit each other and then transfer these marks to the coins being struck with the dies.

Clashed dies - Extraneous design detail often appears on a die as a result of two dies coming together without a planchet between them during the minting process.

Classic Era - Term for the period from 1792 through 1964 when silver and gold coins of the United States were issued for circulation.

Classic Head - An image of Miss Liberty that depicts the style of a Roman or Greek athlete wearing a ribbon in her hair.

Classic Rarity - Coins such as the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent and the 1934-S Peace Dollar are classic rarities due to the publicity they receive in the numismatic world.

Cleaned coin - A coin which has been dipped, polished, whizzed, wiped, etc. Generally speaking, a certain amount of very light cleaning, such as dipping, done by a professional may be acceptable. However, this always causes some sort of damage to the coin. Coin cleaning is usually frowned upon in the numismatic community.

Cleaned paper money - Banknotes that have been dipped and washed in cleaning fluids to remove dirt and stains.

Cleaning - Any procedure that removes corrosion, toning, or anything that makes a coin unattractive.

Clip - A coin, planchet or blank missing a portion of metal, caused by an error during blank production; types of clips include curved, ragged, straight, elliptical, bowtie, disk and assay.

Clipped - Term for an irregularly cut planchet or coin blank. A clip can be straight or curved, depending upon where it was cut.

Clipping - Shearing or shaving from the edge of gold and silver coins for personal gain. Patterns and mottos are included on edges to discourage the practice.

Clogged die - Dies that have contaminants lodged in the recessed areas. Coins struck from a clogged die will have diminished or even missing detail.

Closed collar - An edge device sometimes called a collar die that surrounds the lower die. The close collar imparts reeding, lettering, or a smooth, plain edge.

C-Mint - Term applied to the gold coins struck at the Charlotte, North Carolina branch Mint. This Mint only struck gold coins from its opening in late 1837 until it was seized by the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Cob Money - Crude silver coins of Spain, Central and South America.

Cohen variety - A die variety for half cents, denoted as C-1, C-2a, etc.

Coin - Metal formed into a disk of standardized weight and stamped with a standard design to enable it to circulate as money authorized by a government body.

Coin collection - A grouping of coins that have been sorted, classified or attributed for fun or profit.

Coin collector - A person who accumulates coins based on denomination, series, date, variety, or some other means that is interesting to that individual.

Coin friction - Term applied to the area resulting when coins contact each other in rolls or bags and small amounts of metal are displaced.

Coin show - An event where numismatic items are bought, sold, traded and often exhibited. Exceedingly valuable coins are usually on display at larger coin shows throughout the U.S.

Coinage - The issuance of metallic money of a particular country.

Coiner - The mint official in charge of stamping planchets into money.

Colonials - Generic term for coins made in or for America before the Federal Mint began regular operations.

Colorized - Indicates that paint, enamel or a color sticker has been applied after the minting process.

Commem - Short for Commemorative Coin.

Commemorative - A coin with a design honoring or as a reminder of a specific person, place or event. Commemoratives are normally struck for a limited period of time.

Commercial grade - A synonym for Market Grade.

Commercial strike - A synonym for regular strike or business strike.

Common date - Refers to the most issues that are readily available in a series. No exact number can be used to determine which coins are common dates as this is relative to the mintage of the series.

Complete set - A term for all possible coins within a series, all types, or all coins from a particular branch Mint. For example, a complete gold type set would include examples of all series from 1795 until 1933.

Condition - The state of preservation of a numismatic item.

Condition census - Term introduced by Dr. William H. Sheldon to denote the finest specimen and average condition of next five finest known of a given variety of large cents. Catalogers are gradually extending the use of the term to other series.

Condition rarity - A term to indicate a common coin that is exceedingly rare when found in high grades.

Consensus grading - The process of evaluating the condition of a coin by using multiple graders. Some third party grading services use this process to grade coins.

Conserved - Numismatic conservation involves examination, scientific analysis, and a reliance upon an extensive base of numismatic knowledge to determine the nature of a coin’s state of preservation and the extent of any damage. Conservation also encompasses appropriate procedures to protect the coin’s original appearance and to guard against future deterioration to whatever extent possible.

Contact marks - Marks on a coin that are caused by contact with another coin or a foreign object, usually in a bag or bin. These are generally small, compared to other types of marks such as gouges.

Contemporary counterfeit - A coin, usually base metal, struck from crude dies and made to pass for legal tender at the time of creation.

Continental currency - Paper money issued by the authority of the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War.

Continental dollar - A dollar-sized pattern coin struck in 1776 as proposed coinage.

COPE, COPE PAK - Acronyms used at Bureau of Engraving and Printing for Currency Overprinting and Processing Equipment and Currency Overprinting and Processing Equipment, Packaging. Machines used to apply overprinting of seals, serial numbers and Federal Reserve index numbers to 16-note half sheets of paper money; then the COPE cuts the half sheets into single notes, bundles them into 100-note packages with a paper band, and into larger plastic-wrapped packages.

Copper Spots - Small red or orange areas of patina that occur on gold coins because the metal was improperly mixed in its molten state.

Copper-nickel - Coinage alloy composed of copper and nickel in varying amounts.

Copper-Nickel Cent - Cents issued from 1856 through 1864 in the copper-nickel alloy. These were called white cents during the period because of their pale color compared to the earlier red cents made of pure copper.

Coppers - Slang term for copper, half cents, and large cents, minted through 1857.

Copy - Any reproduction, fraudulent or otherwise, of a coin.

Copy dies - Dies made at a later date, usually showing slight differences from the originals. Also used to describe counterfeit dies copied directly from a genuine coin.

Coronet Head - Alternate name for Braided Hair design by Christian Gobrecht. This is sometimes also called the Liberty Head or Coronet design.

Corrosion - Damage which occurs on the surface of some coins, generally due to improper storage. Corrosion is caused when a chemical reaction, such as rust, actually eats into the metal. This is also called pitting in a more advanced state.

Counterfeit - An object made to imitate a genuine numismatic piece with intent to deceive or defraud.

Countermark - Sometimes called counterstamp is a stamp or mark impressed on a coin to verify its use by another government, Counterstamps are used to indicate revaluation.

Counting machine mark - A dense patch of lines caused by the rubber wheel of a counting machine. Caused when the wheel spacing was insufficient for the selected coin.

Crown - A dollar-size silver coin, specifically one of Great Britain.

Cud - A raised lump of metal on a coin caused by a piece of the die breaking off, leaving an open space on the die.

Cull - A term for a coin, usually silver dollars, that are excessively worn or damaged.

Curating - Refers to cleaning, enhancing or improving a coin's appearance through non-abrasive means and stabilizing its surfaces.

Currency - Paper circulating as money. Opposed to "hard money" such as gold and silver which posses intrinsic value.

Current - Coins and paper money that are in circulation.

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