Home > Glossary C

The rare coin market, like any specialized field, has its own terms and slang. This glossary is a comprehensive list of terms and slang that you may encounter in your collecting pursuits. This list was compiled using several reference works and the experience of our numismatists. Click on one of the letters below to go to a specific letter.

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Charlotte Mint
Located in North Carolina, the branch moint at Charlotte operated from 1838-1861 and was closed due to the Civil War. The Charlotte mint struck only gold coins (mostly from local, native ore), all of which bear the “C” mintmark.                                                                                                                                         

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

Collectors Acceptance Corporation is a service that was recently established by John Albanese (Former owner of NGC) to identify certified coins that are PQ (Premium Quality for the grade) by affixing a holographic tamper-proof sticker to the coin's holder. CAC coins often trade at premium prices.

The term applied to coins, usually Proofs and prooflike coins that have frosted devices and lettering that contrast with the fields. When this is deep the coins are said to be “black and white” cameos. Occasionally frosty coins have “cameo” devices though they obviously do not contrast as dramatically with the fields as the cameo devices of Proofs do.

Capped Die
A major DIE VARIETY created by over-punching a small "CC" MINTMARK over a larger "CC" mintmark on the reverse die used to produce some 1879 Carson-City Mint silver dollars.

Carbon Spot
A spot seen mainly on copper and gold coins, though also occasionally found on U.S. nickel coins (which are 75 percent copper) and silver coins (which are 10 percent copper). Carbon spots are brown to black spots of oxidation that range from minor to severe – some so large and far advanced that the coin is not graded because of environmental damage.


Carson City Mint

Located in Nevada, this mint produced gold and silver coins from 1870-1893. It was closed from 1885-1889 due to a lack of funding. In 1893 the mint was permanently closed due to internal corruption. In 1895 it was found that several employees and prominent community officials were stealing bullion from the mint and this dashed all hopes of the mint ever reopening. Coins minted in Carson City are among the most popular branch-mint issues. This mint uses the “CC” mintmark.

A term used to describe the coruscating LUSTER often seen on un-circulated white / brilliant coinage.

Made by pouring molten metal directly into a mold. It is an older method used in counterfeiting coins.

CCE / Certified Coin Exchange
The on-line / satellite trading exchange used by many dealers in high-quality coinage. Member-dealers can post SIGHT-UNSEEN or SIGHT-SEEN BIDS and ASKS for many certified coins.

Refers to the number of coins certified and graded in a specific grade by one (or more) of the grading services. See also: POPULATION,, CONDITION CENSUS.

Refers to a coin which has been authenticated and graded by one of the major grading and certification services. See also: NGC, PCGS, GRADE

Certified Coin Exchange

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. See also: ZERBE

Usually refers to a small, but noticeable cluster of TICKS on a coin. Sometimes the term is otherwise used to describe the vibratory movement of a DIE which produces minor double-striking. See also CONTACT MARKS, BAGMARKS, and HITS.

To find and purchase a coin worth a premium over the seller's asking price (generally a rare die variety priced as a more common variety) See also: RIP

Choice BU
A term used to describe a nice, UN-CIRCULATED coin - perhaps the equivalent of a numerical grade of 63-64 on the SHELDON SCALE.

Chop Marks
Found primarily on American Trade dollars dated 1873-1878 and Japanese Yen dated 1870-1914 which were circulated throughout the Orient. Chinese businessmen, ever watchful for fakes, placed their sign or "chop" on any of these trade coins that passed muster. Numerous pieces are found with multiple chop marks on both sides.

Term used to describe coins with obvious signs of WEAR or damage due to being "circulated" in regular commerce or through mishandling.

Composite coinage metal strip composed of a core, usually of a base metal such as copper and surface layers of more valuable metal, silver (or sometimes copper-nickel). Cladding is a cost-saving measure, making coins cheaper to produce while maintaining a desired appearance. Clad coins were not produced in the United States until authorized by the Coinage Act of 1965.

Clash Marks
Marks on the DIE caused by the unintentional striking of a coin without a PLANCHET being in the die. Each side of the die impresses reversed portions of its design on the other.

Classic Rarity
These are coins which have always been considered rare and over time have proven themselves to be the most sought after issues. Coins in this elite category include the 1804 Dollar and 1913 Liberty Nickel. See also; STOPPER




Sometimes used to denote an incomplete planchet coin; in earlier days, clipping was a process of shaving edges of coins to remove small amounts of metal for illegal gain (which gave rise to lettered or reeded edges)

A metal piece that either positions a planchet beneath the dies and/or restrains the expanding metal of a coin during striking. Collars are considered the “third” die and, today, are used to impart the edge markings to a coin. Collars can be merely a hole in a flat piece of metal or a set of segments that pull away from the coin after it is struck.

Generic term for coins made in (or for) America prior to the Federal Mint beginning operations.

Short for Commemorative coin A
piece issued to mark, honor or observe an anniversary, other event, place or person, or to preserve its memory.

In relation to NUMISMATICS, this term is used to describe how dealers buy and sell the most common issues. The founders of PCGS and NGC envisioned creating a standard of GRADING which would be so accepted by the rare coin industry that certified coins could be traded SIGHT-UNSEEN much like a traditional commodity that is traded on an electronic exchange. See also: CCE

Common (Date)
Refers to the most plentiful date or dates in a particular coin series.

Condition Census
Term given to denote the finest graded specimen and average condition of the next five finest known examples of a particular date coin. Generally used in conjunction with the building of registry sets.

Copper Spots
Small red/orange areas of patina that occur on gold coins because of impurities in their alloy. Large, numerous copper spots will cause the grade of a gold coin to be lowered, while small and unobtrusive spots are not usually considered when determining a coin's grade. They do however affect value.

Literally, a coin that is not genuine. There are cast and struck counterfeits and the term is also applied to issues with added mint marks, altered dates, etc.



Damage that results when reactive chemicals act upon metal. When toning ceases to be a "protective" coating and instead begins to damage a coin, corrosion is the cause. Usually confined to copper, nickel and silver regular issues, although patterns in aluminum, white metal, tin, etc., also are subject to this harmful process.



A stamp or impression placed on a coin after it has left the Mint of origin. Counterstamps were frequently used as advertising gimmicks on Large Cents and other coins. The counterstamp leaves a permanent impression on the metal and may hurt the value of the coin. It may also help the value, as in the case of an Ephriam Brasher counterstamp.


A form of die break that leaves a shapeless lump of metal on part of a coin.

A term for a coin (usually silver dollars) excessively WORN or damaged.

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

Paper circulating as money. As opposed to "hard money" which possesses an intrinsic value.

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