Glossary

Do you sometimes wonder just what it is we're talking about when we say obverse or circulating?

Here are some of the more common terms used when talking about coins:

Alloy -  A mixture of more than one metal.

Blank - A piece of coin-shaped metal that is stamped and made into a coin.

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

Circulating Coin - A coin that has been issued by a bank.

Coin - Usually a piece of metal, marked with a device, issued by a Government authority and intended to be used as money.

Denomination - The stated face value of the coin.

Die - A hardened metal tool, the face of which carries an engraved design that is to be stamped onto a blank.

Effigy - A sculpted image of a person, usually a monarch, to appear on the obverse of a coin.

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

Grade - A carefully constructed series of guidelines to determine the condition and therefore the rarity and value of a coin.

Mint mark - A letter or symbol, indicating the mint of origin.

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

Numismatics - The science, study or collecting of coins or similar objects.

Numismatist - A collector or knowledgeable person in the field of numismatics.

Obverse - The ‘heads’ side of a coin, usually carrying the effigy of the ruling monarch.

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

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

Proof Coin - A carefully struck coin using special dies, with frosted images on a mirror-like background. Proof is a method of manufacture, not a condition or grade.

Reverse - The ‘tails’ side of a coin, carrying a design to distinguish one coin from another.

Rim - A raised area of metal around the edge of a coin. It is intended to protect the rest of the coin from wear.

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

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