List of Terms Related to Coinage and Banknotes.

Terms Related to Coinage and Banknotes.
Piedfort

Piedfort

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Proof FDC

Proof FDC

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Proof

Proofs are coins especially struck by a mint on prepared, polished or matte surface planchets (blanks). The dies used for the striking are also polished to produce coins with brilliant surfaces and perfect details. These are not regular, "circulation" coins.

Proof coins are generally sold by the mint or by appointed dealers at a premium.

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Fleur de Coin (FDC)

A perfect or virtually perfect coin. Fully struck up. No contact or other detracting marks visible with the naked eye, and only minute superficial imperfections, relating to the manufacturing process rather than any other cause, may be visible under magnification. Full lustre is present. Toning on silver coins (if present) must be attractive. Brilliance (colour) on bronze coins should be 90% plus. Eye appeal is outstanding. In short this is a completely flawless mint state coin with nothing forgiven. This grade is very rare, not to be taken lightly or accepted easily.

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Gem Uncirculated (Gem)

Gem Uncirculated. Equal to MS64 or MS65.

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Brilliant Uncirculated (BU, Choice Uncirculated)

Brilliant Uncirculated (BU, Choice Uncirculated). Equal to MS62 or MS63.

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Uncirculated (UNC)

A coin is "Uncirculated" when it is in its "mint state", i.e. the way it left the mint. This is not necessarily perfect - due to the production method there may be imperfections, "bag marks" (scratches from where it hit other coins) etc.

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Almost Uncirculated (aUNC, About UNC)

There are traces of wear on most of the higher areas of the designs and considerable disruption is seen in the larger fields. At least half of the original mint lustre is present.

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Good Extremely Fine (Good Extra Fine, gEF, gXF)

There is a very light overall wear on the coin's higher points, though all of the design details are very sharp. Mint lustre is still prominent on many areas of the coin's surface, though mainly in protected areas.

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Extremely Fine (Extra Fine, EF, XF)

There is light wear on the high points of the designs, but there is still an excellent overall sharpness. Considerable mint lustre will still show in the protected areas. In general, a coin in "Extremely Fine" condition includes a wide range of quality. This ranges from coins with some lustre to those with no lustre, and some wear on the fine details. In general, an XF coin has a full and complete design which on close examination exhibits minimal wear on the detail and can be completely devoid of lustre.

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Almost Extra Fine (aEF, About EF, aXF)

Almost Extra Fine (aEF, About EF, aXF)

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Good Very Fine (gVF)

There is a light even wear on all but the most protected surfaces, and the details on the high points are worn, though there is still some sharpness to the major design features and lettering. Traces of original mint lustre remain in the most protected areas.

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Very Fine (VF)

There is moderate wear on all of the high parts of the coin and the designs and lettering have lost much of their sharpness. The original mint lustre is virtually gone. A coin in "Very Fine" condition should have a full inscription, and all devices will be only moderately worn. It will usually have the most wear on the high points - hairlines, cheekbones, dress folds, and headgear (if present). Major parts of the design are clear, but minor details are weak. These coins are well circulated, with many coins fitting into this grade.

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Almost Very Fine (aVF, About VF)

Almost Very Fine (aVF, About VF)

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Good Fine (gF)

Good Fine (gF)

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Fine (F)

There is moderate to considerable even wear and although the original designs are recognisable and all lettering visible, they have some weaknesses and lack details. A coin in "Fine" condition has seen a great deal of circulation. The coin should have a full or almost full inscription, while some letters may be weak. Hairlines and other smaller details such as headgear, dress folds and facial features will show significant flatness, although the major devices on the coin will be fully outlined.

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Almost Fine (aF, About F)

Almost Fine (aF, About F)

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Very Good (VG)

This is a well worn coin with most of the larger details of the designs being worn nearly smooth. A coin in "Very Good" condition is not very good at all. The small details are all gone, as well as most of the large details. The portrait is outlined, and has some relief, but often a good deal of the legend is worn away. Coins of this grade quite often have scratches, bumps, and other disfigurements.

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Almost Very Good (aVG, About VG)

Almost Very Good (aVG, About VG)

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Good (G)

A heavily worn coin with all major designs still visible, though in little more than outline shapes with very little detail. There may be faintness in some areas, but most lettering should still be readable.

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Poor (Fair, Worn)

A coin in "Poor", "Fair" or "Worn" condition is basically just a piece of metal with a faint outline of the initial coin design. Recognisable as a coin, you might even recognise which coin exactly, but that's about it.

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Damaged

Damaged

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Alloy

An alloy is a mixture of more than one metal.

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Baby Coin Set

Baby coin sets are issued by some countries and are intended as a gift upon the birth of a baby; they consist of the circulation coins from the year of birth and possibly a medal as well.

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Blank

A "blank" is piece of coin-shaped metal that is then stamped and made into a coin.

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Burnishing

Burnishing is a form of surface preparation on proof or uncirculated coin blanks, using steel balls and detergent to remove any unwanted watermarks from the surface of the blank.

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Circulating Coin

A circulating coin is coin that has been issued by a bank into general circulation.

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Coin

A coin is usually a piece of metal, marked with a device, issued by a Government authority and intended to be used as money.

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Coin Alignment

The alignment of the reverse relative to the obverse side of the coin depends on how the dies are positioned during minting. In the case of "Coin orientation" (like pre-euro French coinage or US issues), the image on one face of the coin is upside-down relative to the other, while in "Medallic orientation" (like British, German etc. coinage), the top of the reverse shares the same position as the top of the obverse.

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Commemorative Coins

Commemorative coins are specially designed and struck to mark some special occasion or to commemorate an event.

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Denomination

The denomination of the coin is its stated face value.

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Designer

The designer is the person who conceives the design of a coin. Sometimes the designer's name or initials appear on the coin. Most often a coin has a different designer for each side.

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Diameter

The diameter of a coin is the largest distance that can be measured from edge to edge across the surface of the coin.

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Die

A die is a hardened metal tool, the face of which carries an engraved design that is to be stamped onto a blank to convert it into a coin.

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Dies

Dies are made of steel, specially hardened and used in pairs of obverse and reverse to strike each coin in one operation. A matrix, or "master die" is prepared, from which the working dies are struck. It is these working dies that actually strike the coins, and usually many are made from the master die as the actual working life of a die may be quite short.

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Effigy

An effigy is the sculpted image of a person, usually a monarch, to appear on the obverse of a coin.

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Engraver

The engraver is the person who cuts the dies and is usually a member of the mint staff. Often the designer and the engraver is the same person.

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Frosting

Frosting is an effect in which parts of a coin are slightly dulled (using sandblasting techniques) to provide a contrast to the shinier parts of metal.

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Grade

The grade of a coin is an indication of how well preserved it is; it is arrived at by a carefully constructed series of guidelines to determine the condition and therefore the rarity and value of a coin.

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Helvetia

Helvetia is the pictorial allegory of Switzerland. She is a mythical figure who never actually existed. Allegorical depictions were very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even though Helvetia was depicted seated on the first franc coins, she has been obliged to remain standing since 1874.

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Inscription

Also know as "legend" - or words found on either side of the coin, or sometimes on the edge.

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Legend

The legend is the inscription or words found on either side of the coin, or sometimes on the edge.

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Libertas

Libertas is the pictorial allegory of freedom. Illustrations of her head are featured on the current 5, 10 and 20-centime coins as well as on gold coins from the period 1883-1896. Libertas can be recognised by her attributes, such as the Phrygian cap, or by the inscription LIBERTAS on Swiss coins.

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Mass

The actual mass of the coin when struck at the mint and before wear takes place. Specifications are laid down as standard by the issuing institution. Measured in grammes (abbreviated to g).

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Medallic Alignment

The alignment of the reverse relative to the obverse side of the coin depends on how the dies are positioned during minting. In the case of "Medallic" or "medal" orientation" (like British, German etc. coinage), the top of the reverse shares the same position as the top of the obverse, whereas in the case of "Coin orientation" (like pre-euro French coinage or US issues), the image on one face of the coin is upside-down relative to the other.

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Mint

The place where the metal is prepared, the dies engraved, and the coins struck. Many coins carry mint marks to show at which mint they were struck.

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Mint Mark

A mint mark is a letter or symbol which indicates the mint of origin of a coin.

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Mule

A mule is a coin, token or medal whose obverse design is not matched with its reverse.

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Numismatics

Numismatics is the science, study or collecting of coins or similar objects.

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Numismatist

A numismatist is a collector or knowledgeable person in the field of numismatics.

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Obverse

The "heads" side of the coin, which is usually considered to be the more "important" side. It represents the country which has issued the coin, or - in the case of monarchies - the reigning monarch. The monarch may be represented by an effigy and/or legend.

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Pickling

Pickling is a process in which proof blanks are cleaned in acid to remove oil, directional rolling lines and dirt from their surface.

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Plaster

A plaster is the model made during the design process, approximately four times larger than the actual size of the final coin or medal.

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Proof Coin

Proof coins are specially prepared coins which are not meant for circulation. The working dies and the coin blanks are polished to a mirror-like surface before the coins are struck.

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Regular Issue Coins

Regular issue coins are the standard type of coins released for regular circulation, as distinct from proof and commemorative coins.

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Reverse

The "tails", or "other" side of the coin (the Obverse being considered the main side). It usually displays a national motif, the value and the date.

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Rim

The rim of a coin is the raised area of metal around the edge. It is intended to protect the rest of the coin from wear.

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Smartminting

Smartminting is a way of making coins with greater levels of relief, with finer detail for a given weight, or keeping a similar level of relief but expanding the diameter for a greater working area. This allows the production of coins with profiles and shapes which would not be possible with traditional techniques.

The method is used for the creation of "collectors edition" coins which would not be suitable for regular circulation.

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Types

Once a coin design has been submitted and approved and the master die engraved, it becomes the standard or "type". Any variation of this type is called a variety.

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Uncirculated Coin

A coin which has not been distributed or used as currency.

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Uniface

A coin, medal or token which has only been struck on one side.

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Unknown

Unknown

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Variety

A variety can occur in a number of ways, the most common being caused by a working die which becomes cracked or worn and requires touching up to restore it. In the recutting process a little of the design, date, or lettering may be altered slightly or eliminated altogether.

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Weight

The actual weight of the coin when struck at the mint and before wear takes place. Specifications are laid down as standard by the issuing institution. This used to be expressed in "grains" but is now measured in grammes (abbreviated to g).

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