Coin Collecting Glossary: Common Coin Collecting Terms Explained

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dictionary-by-Phil-Romans.jpgNew coin collectors discover early during their time in the hobby that, along with the many interesting coins, there are also many new terms to learn and remember.

Let’s look at a few basic coin terms that you will most-often encounter:

Coin Club:  An organization focusing on some aspect of the hobby of coin collecting. Hundreds exist around the United States. They range in size, as well as scope. Some coin clubs have only a few members interested in just error coins (for example). Other clubs have hundreds of members and encompass more general areas of the coin collecting hobby. One of the largest and most popular coin organizations is the American Numismatic Association (ANA). Founded in 1891, the ANA has tens of thousands of members and has been chartered by Congress.

Read: Reasons To Join A Coin Club


Coin Show:  An event which draws coin dealers, coin collectors, investors, lecturers, and vendors. Coin shows vary in size and range from monthly events held at small-town meeting halls to annual events drawing nationwide attention.

Read: What To Expect At Your First Coin Show


Cull:  A coin which is either extremely worn or has some type of “problem.” Common detractions among cull coins are past cleanings, scratches, discoloration, holes, and dents.

Read: What Is A Cull Coin? How Much Are Cull Coins Worth?

Grading:  The process of evaluating coins to assess how much wear it has.

Read: Coin Grading Basics To Help You Find The Value Of Your Coin


Key Coin / Key Date:  A coin in a series (like “Indian Head” pennies, “Mercury” dimes, or “Morgan” dollars, for example) which is very rare and required to complete the set.

Read: Lincoln Semi-Key Coins vs. Key Coins


No-Problem Coin:  A coin which may or may not have wear but always lacks any “issues” such as a cleaning, dents, dings, scratches, and other imperfections which hinder the coin’s eye-appeal and value.

Read: Problem Coins Defined


Mint Set:  A set of coins packaged at the mint containing uncirculated coins. Mint sets usually contain one specimen of each coin produced for circulation in a given year and represent any and all minting facilities which produced coins that year.

Read: What Are Mint Coin Sets?


Proof Set:  A set of proof coins packaged by the U.S. mint.

Read: Proof Coins & Proof Sets – What You Need To Know


Roll:  A measured, short stack of coins wrapped in paper or plastic. Rolls usually come in certain standard amounts, varying on the denomination of coins within. For each roll, there are usually:

  • 50 pennies
  • 40 nickels
  • 50 dimes
  • 40 quarters
  • 20 half-dollars
  • 20 large-size dollar coins
  • 25 small-size dollar coins

Read: A Coin Collector’s Payoff – When Bank Rolls Yield Valuable Coins


Slabbing:  A reference to sending a coin to third-party grading service with the intent of having the coin authenticated, graded, and placed in a tamper-evident holder.

Read: Slabbed Coins – Highly Sought After, Often Expensive, Frequently Rare


Third-Party Grading Service:  A company which will, for a fee, examine your coin, authenticate it, grade it, and then seal it in a special holder labeled with essential details about your coin.

Read: 5 Best Coin Sites To Explore Coin Collecting Online


Type:  Refers to a particular series of coins and, frequently, older coins (as in “type” coins). When one assembles a “type set,” the collector is usually building a collection of coins which includes one example of each design of coin made during a certain period of time, or a certain spectrum of designs within a denomination. A “type set” may also refer to a set of coins from a certain country or the year of a special occasion in a person’s life.

Read: Tips For Building A 20th Century Type Coin Set


Uncirculated:  A coin which has never been worn. Thus, it has never been in circulation or actually used as money in commerce. Uncirculated coins are in mint condition.

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