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About Ideal » Coin Glossary

Coin Glossary

  • Bullion. Precious metal such as silver and gold, usually sold for only a slight premium over the spot price.
  • Certified. A coin, stamp, or bank note that has been authenticated and graded by independent experts and is encapsulated in a custom tamper-proof holder.
  • Eagle. 1. The name given to the silver, gold, and platinum bullion coins issued by the U.S. Mint. 2. The $10 unit of currency that is the basis of the U.S. monetary system: a $10 gold coin is known as an "Eagle" and a $20 gold coin is known as a "Double Eagle."
  • Encapsulated Coin. An investment grade coin that is independently certified and graded, then placed in a clear plastic holder for protection and preservation. The encapsulation is known as a "slab" by collectors.
  • Fineness. The purity of precious metal in a coin or bullion bar. Classic silver and gold coins are generally 90% fine silver or gold, whereas America Buffalo gold bullion coins are 99.99% fine gold.
  • Grade. Coins are graded on a scale from 1 to 70, with 70 being rarely-seen absolute perfection. The higher the grade, the better the coin. When dealing with investment grade coins, the coins should be encapsulated as a guarantee of authenticity and grade.
  • Investment Grade. A coin that has a considerable numismatic value beyond its bullion value. Most investment grade coins will be certified and encapsulated.
  • Legal Tender. A coin or bank note that is issued under the authority of the government and that bears a specific face value.
  • Mint Mark. A small letter on the coin that identifies where the coin was struck. The mint mark can sometimes mean the coin is exceptionally rare and valuable.
  • Mint Set. A set of all coins struck for circulation and placed in a special holder at the U.S. Mint. All coins in a Mint Set will be in Uncirculated condition.
  • MS. The abbreviation for "mint state" on an encapsulated coin, for example MS-65.
  • Numismatic. Of or relating to coins.
  • Numismatics. The study or collecting of coins.
  • Numismatist. A person who collects coins.
  • Obverse. The "front" or "heads" of a coin. Traditionally, the obverse of U.S. coins showed Liberty. The other side is the reverse.
  • PF or PR. The abbreviation for "Proof" on an encapsulated coin, for example PF-69 or PR-69.
  • Proof. A coin that was made using a special minting process and that was created exclusively for collectors. A proof coin is struck at least twice on a polished coin blank to bring out the sharp contrasts between the design and background. Proof coins are not released into circulation.
  • Proof Set. Each of the year's coin designs struck in Proof quality and assembled at the U.S. Mint in a special protective holder.
  • Reverse. The "back" or "tails" of a coin. An eagle or other symbol of the United States generally appears on the reverse of United States coins. The other side is the obverse.
  • Spot Price. The current market value of bullion.
  • Slab. See Encapsulated Coin.
  • Uncirculated. A coin that has never been released into circulation and is still in the same condition as the day it was struck. On the grading scale, Uncirculated coins are assigned grades of MS-60 to MS-70.

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