coin terms

Coin terms

Letter P


Mintmark used by the main mint located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Term applied to the coins struck at the main Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

paper money

Term used among collectors for notes of the entire field of currency, no matter what medium on which they may be printed.


Synonym for toning.


A test striking of a coin produced to demonstrate a proposed design, size, or composition (whether adopted or not). Patterns often are made in metals other than the one proposed; examples of this include aluminum and copper patterns of the silver Trade dollar. Off-metal strikes such as this also are referred to as die trials of a pattern.

Peace dollar

Common name for the silver dollar struck from 1921 to 1935. Designed by Anthony Francisci to commemorate the peace following World War I, the first year featured another coin designated High Relief. In 1922, the relief was lowered resulting in the Regular Relief type that continued until 1935.


A listing of a coin’s current owner plus all known previous owners.


In American numismatics, slang for a one-cent coin.

peripheral toning

Light, medium, or dark coloring around the edge of a coin.

Philadelphia Mint

The “mother” Mint, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. First established in 1792, the Philadelphia Mint has occupied four different locations. Currently, it is located in Independence Square, within sight of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

The Philadelphia mint engraves all U.S. coins and medals, manufactures coin and medal dies, manufactures coins of all denominations for general circulation, manufactures commemorative coins, and produces medals. This mint currently uses the “P” mintmark but coins produced prior to 1980 have no mintmark.

pick off

Slang for a coin bought at a bargain price.

picked off

Term to describe the dealer who sells a pick off.


A term that means “double thick,” it usually refers to French coins that were made in a double thickness to signify double value. Sometimes spelled Piefort.

Pioneer gold

Those privately-issued gold coins struck prior to 1861. These include coins struck in Georgia and North Carolina although no “pioneers” were responsible for the gold mined in those states. Generally associated with the private issues from California and the other post-1848 finds in Nevada, Oregon, and Colorado.

plain edge

A flat, smooth edge seen mainly on a small-denomination coinage.


The blank disk of metal before it is struck by a coining press which transforms it into a coin. Type I planchets are flat. Type II planchets have upset rims from the milling machine, these to facilitate easier striking in close collars.

planchet defects

Any of the various abnormalities found on coin blanks. These include drift marks, laminations, clips, and so forth.

planchet flaw

An irregular hole in a coin blank, sometimes the result of a lamination that has broken away.

planchet striations

Fine, incuse lines found on some Proof coins, though rarely on business strikes, usually the result of polishing blanks to impart mirrorlike surfaces prior to striking.


A term used to describe a coin to which a thin layer of metal has been applied-for example, gold-plated copper strikings of certain U.S. pattern coins.


Precious metal sometimes used for coinage. The only United States issues struck in platinum are the pattern half dollars of 1814 and the modern platinum Eagles.


A term used to describe a coin that has had a hole filled, often so expertly that it can only be discerned only under magnification.

polished die

A die that has been basined to remove clash marks or other die injury. In a positive sense, Proof dies were basined to impart mirrorlike surfaces, resulting in coins with reflective field.

polyvinyl chloride

A chemical used in coin flips to make them pliable.


The grade PO-1. A coin with readable date and mint mark (if present), but little more, barely identifiable as to type. (One-year type coins do not require a readable date to qualify for this grade.)


A description indicating a rough or granular surface, typically seen on pre-1816 copper coins.

premium quality

A term applied to coins that are the best examples within a particular grade.

presentation striking

A coin, often a Proof or an exceptionally sharp business strike, specially struck and given to a dignitary or other person.


Any of the various coining machines. Examples include the screw press and the steam-powered knuckle-action press.

The asking quotation for a particular numismatic item. “What’s the price?” is a common phrase on the bourse floor.

price guide

A periodical, whether electronic or paper, listing approximate prices for numismatic items, whether wholesale or retail.


A term applied to coins in original, unimpaired condition. These coins typically are graded MS/PR-67 and higher.

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS)

Established in 1985, this was the first third-party grading service to grade, encapsulate, and guarantee the authenticity for numismatic material. Based in Newport Beach, California.

Professional Numismatists Guild

A dealer organization begun in 1955. The membership is restricted by financial and longevity requirements.


A coin usually struck from a specially prepared coin die on a specially prepared planchet. Proofs are usually given more than one blow from the dies and are usually struck with presses operating at slower speeds and higher striking pressure. Because of this extra care, Proofs usually exhibit much sharper detail than regular, or business, strikes.

Proof set

A coin set containing Proof issues from particular year. A few sets contain anomalies such as the 1804 dollar and eagle in 1834 presentation Proof sets.

Proof dies

Specially prepared dies, often sandblasted or acid-picked, that are used to strike Proof coins. Often, the fields are highly polished to a mirrorlike finish, while the recessed areas are left “rough”; on coins struck with such dies, the devices are frosted and contrast with highly reflective fields. Matte, Roman, and Satin Proof dies are not polished to a mirror-like finish.

Proof-only issue

A coin struck only in Proof, with no business-strike counterpart.


Term to designate a coin that has mirror-like surfaces, the term especially applicable to Morgan dollars.


A steel rod with a device, lettering, date, star, or some other symbol on the end which was sunk into a working die by hammering on the opposite end of the rod.

put-together roll

Term applied to a roll of coins that is not original, usually the best condition coins have been removed and replaced with lesser quality coins. (It is not unusual to find slightly circulated coins in such rolls.)


Short for polyvinyl chloride.

PVC damage

A film, usually green, left on a coin after storage in flips that contain PVC. During the early stage, this film may be clear and sticky.

PVC flip

Any of the various soft coin flips that contain PVC.

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