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.585 – The fineness of 14 Kt. gold.
.9167 Fine – The purity of the 22-karat gold contained in American Gold Eagles. The percentage is 91.67% with an additional alloy consisting of 3% silver and 5.33% copper.
.999 Fine – Gold or silver that is 99.9% pure. American Silver Eagle coins, the most popular in the world, are .999 fine. Gold that is .999 fine is also referred to as 24 Kt. gold.
.9999 Fine - Gold that is 99.99% pure. Canadian Gold Maple Leafs and American Gold Buffalos are typically .9999 fine. Also designated as 24 Kt. gold.
.99999 Fine – Refers to a precious metal that is 99.999% pure. A Canadian Gold Maple Leaf that was first issued in 2007 was 99.999% pure gold. Sometimes referred to as “five-nines” and “ultra-pure.”
1933 – The year Executive Order 6102 resulted in the government confiscation of gold and gold certificates then in the hands of US citizens.
14 karat – Refers to gold that is 58.5% pure.
22 karat – Refers to gold that is 91.67% pure.
24 karat – Refers to gold that is 99.99% pure.
40% - Percentage of silver contained in Kennedy half-dollars struck between 1965–1970.
90% - The percentage of silver contained in US silver coins minted prior to 1965.
Alloy – The mixture of two or more metals to produce another metal. The US Gold Eagle, for example, contains 91.67% gold, 3% silver, and 5.33% copper, while most dimes, quarters, and halves minted since 1965 are manufactured from an alloy of copper and nickel.
Assay – Determining the purity of a metal, and issuing some type of certification attesting to that.
Ask (price) -The price which a dealer is willing to sell precious metals.
Assay Card – Official documentation from a mint of a precious metals bar’s weight and purity. See “in assay” and “with assay”
Au - Au is the chemical symbol for gold.
AU – About Uncirculated, a grading range for coins with minimal wear.
AUD – Short for Australian dollars. E.g., $20 AUD is the same as 20 Australian dollars.
Bar – A measured weight of precious metal used for transaction or investment purposes other than coin, usually rectangular. When issued by a commercial mint, bars are generally stamped with the name of the mint, the purity of the metal, the weight of the bar, and often a serial number and specific design. Gold, Silver, platinum, and palladium bars are often accompanied by assay cards, whereby the issuing mint attests to the characteristics enumerated above. Bars can be extruded, stamped, or cast, or poured.
Bid (price) – What one is willing to pay for a particular precious metal.
Blank – The flat metal disk that becomes a coin when struck, stamped into a “planchet”, then into a “coin” or a “round.”
BU – See Brilliant Uncirculated
Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) – Description of a coin that has never been in circulation. The US Mint uses the terms “uncirculated” and “brilliant uncirculated” synonymously, and TPGs substitute MS (Mint State.)
Buffalo Nickel – An American 5¢ piece that was minted between 1913 and 1938. Its obverse (heads side) features an American bison (reputed to have been named “Black Diamond”,) while its reverse (tails side) displays the profile of an Indian chieftain. Also known as a Indian Head Nickel.
Bullion - Precious metals that are traded on commodity markets. The values of gold, silver, platinum and palladium coins, rounds, and bars are determined by the value of the bullion they contain, rather than their face values.
Bullion Coin – An official coin whose value is determined by its precious metal content, rather than its face value. See “coin” and “round.”
Buffalo Round – A privately minted coin that contains 1 troy ounce of .999 fine silver and has no monetary value as legal tender. Not to be confused with “coin.”
Burnish, Burnished – Satin finish, matte, softly frosted.
CAD – Short for Canadian Dollar. E.g. $20 CAD is the same as 20 Canadian dollars.
Cameo – The grade of a proof coin with a frosted device against a mirrored background, or “field.”
Capsule – The clear, sealed hard plastic holder into which a graded coin is placed after examination and certification by a TPG service. See “encapsulated.”
Cert – Slang term for “certificate.”
Certified Coins – Certified coins are coins that have been assessed and assigned a grade by a recognized TPG company such as NGC (Numismatic Guarantee Corporation) or PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service), according to an extremely detailed set of standards that include verification of age, authenticity, state, condition, and myriad other factors. Dealers and collectors have the option of having their coins graded by such an institution, after which each is individually sealed in a tamper-proof transparent plastic capsule (encapsulated), or slab, with a label affixed attesting to its grade. See raw and OGP
Chop Mark – An Asian seal or device, usually denoting authorship, ownership, or official status when on coins.
Circulated / Circulation – Denotes a coin that has been used as currency and thus has wear.
COA – Certificate Of Authenticity.
Coin – A metal disk, usually produced under the authority of a sovereign entity or government, and intended for circulation as a medium of exchange with applied monetary value.
Coinage (n) – Coins that have been issued by a country to be used as currency.
Collector (coin) - One who systematically acquires coins according to a particular taxonomy.
Commemoratives - Coins that are especially minted in to celebrate events, themes, places or people, etc., and are be struck from any metal, but especially precious metals.
Condition – The state of a coin, usually set by a TPG.
Currency – Money that is used as a medium of exchange. Can be coin or paper or even beads or cowry shells.
DCAM – Deep Cameo proofs with mirror-like fields and satin devices that can appear black and white when held at an angle.
Denomination – The face value of a currency that is assigned to it by a country or government.
Designer – The person responsible for the display of a particular coin.
Device – The predominant design feature of a coin, such as the Buffalo or Indian on coins of the same name.
Eagles – Short for American Silver or Gold Eagle Coins that are struck by the US Mint.
Early Release – NGC’s designation for coins delivered by the U.S. Mint within 30 days of a new product’s release. Synonymous with “First Strike.”
Early Strike – A grade designating one of the first coins struck by a pair of dies, before wear began setting in.
Encapsulated – After a coin has been graded by a TPG service, it is sealed in a clear plastic holder (a capsule) along with an official authentication label that shows the coin’s specifics, its grade, the name and chop of the TPG and a serial number. It is the final step in the grading process.
EF – Short for grade of coin designated “Extremely Fine” or “Extra Fine.” Sometimes “XF.”
Executive Order 6102 – The 1933 directive by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that forbade "the Hoarding of Gold Coin, Gold Bullion, and Gold Certificates within the continental United States," and which led to a mass confiscation of most individually held gold.
Extrusion – A method for creating silver bars, in which melted silver bullion is forced into molds or dies.
Eye Appeal – The “look” of a coin that contributes to its grade by a TPG and thus to its desirability.
Fiat Currency – Coins and paper currency that have no metallic value, and whose value is set by a government or other official agency.
Face Value - The denomination that is stamped on a coin. It is the legal-tender monetary value of a coin.
Field – The background of a coin, against which a raised “device” is laid.
First Strike – A term trademarked by PCGS to denote coins delivered by the U.S. Mint within 30 days of a new product’s release.
Fineness – A means by which the purity of bullion precious metals can be described, as parts per 1,000. For example, gold that is .999 fine is 99.9% gold, with the rest being an alloy of some sort. Note that .999 fine can also be referred to as .24 Kt. On the other hand, 14 Kt. gold, the most popular among jewelers, is only .585 fine.
Flip - A small, plastic—often Mylar™—fold-over envelope into which individual coins are placed for storage, transportation, or protection.
Fractional / Fractional Denomination – Money that has a face value less than the standard unit of that currency, E.g. a ½ Gold Eagle is worth 50% less than a 1 ounce Gold Eagle. Specifically refers to a “fraction” of an ounce, e.g. 1/2 ounce, 1/4 ounce, 1/10 ounce, 1/20 ounce.
Gold Buffalo – An official American gold bullion coin—issued by the United States Mint—that contains 1 troy ounce of .9999 fine (99.99%), 24-karat gold.
Gold Bullion – Gold that is traded on commodity markets. When used for minting coins or bars. A bullion metal that can be anywhere from 99.9% to 99.99% and even higher.
Gold Eagle – An official American gold bullion coin that is .9167 pure total gold content and whose standard weight and denomination is 1 troy ounce and $50, respectively.
Grade – Designation of the condition of a coin, as certified by a TPG. Usually denoted by a number, letter, or combination thereof.
Half – Short for “half-dollar”
Hoard – A group of coins assembled and held for other than collecting or numismatic reasons.
In Assay – When a bar of precious metal precious is tightly sealed together with its assay card as a measure and guarantee of the bar’s authenticity.
Ingot – Ingots may be used synonymously with bars, and can be fabricated from any metal.
Intrinsic Value – The value of the metal contained in a coin on the market, irrespective of its face value.
Investor – One who acquires precious metals specifically hoping that they will rise in value.
IRA Eligible – Specific varieties of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium coins and bullion that can legally be invested in a precious-metals IRA (Individual Retirement Account.)
Karat - Karat is another way of stating the fineness or purity of gold or another precious metal. Pure gold, at .9999 fine, is 24 karats, while ..9167 is 22 karats. The term is spelled “carat” in most European countries and when applied to precious stones.
Kennedy Half Dollar – Issued following the assassination of Pres. John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In 1964—its first year of issue—they had a 90% silver content. In 1965, that percentage was reduced to 40%, and in 1971, the silver content was eliminated altogether.
kt. – Short for “karat.”
Legal Tender – Currency issued by a government that is designated for use as payment for goods, services, and/or debts.
Legend – A phrase that appears on a coin.
Locked-In Price – The price guaranteed by a seller, notwithstanding fluctuation(s) in the price of the underlying metal.
Maple Leaf – Short for Canadian Gold or Silver Maple Leaf coins struck by the Royal Canadian Mint.
Mercanti, John M. – Chief engraver of the U.S. Mint from 2006 – 2011.
Mint (adj.) – Pristine condition. Also “Mint condition.”
Mint (n.) – A manufactory of metallic coins and bars.
Mint (v.) – The process of manufacturing metallic coins and bars.
Mint State – A designation used to describe certain coins that were never circulated. Also known as “MS” or “Uncirculated.”
Mintage – Designates the number of coins of a particular date struck by a particular mint in a particular year.
Mintmark / Mint Mark – Small letter or letters on a coin that indicate the mint at which a particular coin was struck.
Melt (Price) – The value of the metal itself, divorced from any numismatic value. Sometimes used in place of “spot.”
Monster Box – A unit of which a mint distributes coins. The U.S. Mint ships its 1 oz. Silver Eagles in monster boxes, each of which contains 25 plastic tubes of 20 coins each, or 500 coins total in green plastic monster boxes. The lid of each box has on it two Department of the Treasury seals and the phrase “United States Mint” in raised letters. Before they are shipped, each is sealed with straps by the Mint and a label affixed indicating the year of issue and a unique serial number. Size is typically 15” x 4.5” x 8.5” and is synonymous with “case.”
Monster Box (Royal Canadian Mint) - A yellow mint box, usually sealed, containing 20 tubes of 25 maple leafs, or 500 bullion coins.
NGC – The Numismatic Guarantee Corporation, one of the two largest and most reputable grading services in the United States.
MS – Mint State (Uncirculated)
Mylar ™ - The brand name of the plastic of which coin “flips” are made.
Numismatic (adj.) - For our purposes, a coin with a valuation based on factors other than intrinsic bullion content, such as rarity, age, design, desirability, etc.
Numismatics – Refers to the study or collecting of currency or medium of exchange.
Numismatic Coins - Coins whose values are based upon their rarity, dates and condition, rather than their bullion content. Numismatic coins are most often traded as certified.
Obverse – The “heads” side of a coin. If no portrait is displayed, it is usually the side of a coin that remains the same through subsequent mintages (for example, the "Temple of Heaven" on Chinese Panda Coins). Sometimes, it will bear the name of the country in which of it is legal tender. See “reverse.”
OGP - Original Government Packaging. As delivered by the United States, or other national Mints. OGP is often discarded when dealers submit individual coins for grading.
Original Government Packaging – The official box and/or documentation that accompanies coins shipped from the U.S. Mint.
Over Spot – A means of stating the sale price of a bullion item, comprised of the spot-price at a given moment, plus a seller’s premium, or mark-up. “E.g. I’ll sell you that Gold Eagle for $59 over spot.”
Oz. – Short for “ounce” or “troy ounce,” when referring to bullion.
Palladium Bullion - Palladium that is traded on commodity markets. The Royal Canadian Mint manufactures a 1-ounce Palladium Maple Leaf that is .9995 fine.
PAMP (Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux) – One of the premier international mints and a major source of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion bars, located in Ticino, Switzerland.
PCGS - Professional Coin Grading Service. As the name indicates, PCGS grades coins and bullion for collectors, investors, and dealers and provides authentication as to their purity, content, and condition as well as other factors.
Perth Mint – Owned by the West Australian Government, it produces both legal tender coins as well as bullion coins and bars.
PF – Proof State grade employed by NGC.
PF69 – NGC’s designation of an “almost perfect” proof coin
PF70 – NGC’s designation of a “perfect” proof coin.
PL – The designation for a “prooflike” coin.
Planchet – A “blank” after it has passed through a machine that produces a raised rim.
Platinum Bullion - Platinum that is traded on commodity markets. The United States Mint manufactures a 1-ounce Platinum Eagle that contains 99.95% platinum.
Platinum Eagle – Identical in weight, size, and design to the American Gold Eagle, save that they are struck from .9995 fine platinum.
Population Report – Publicized account of the number of particular coins and their grades.
Poured (Adj.) – A type of silver bars created when molten silver bullion is poured into a mold and allowed to cool to a desired shape.
Precious Metals IRA – See Self-Directed IRA
Premium – The amount over the spot price of a precious metal that comprises a seller’s profit.
Proof Coin / Proof Set – Proofs are limited, high-quality editions of collectors’ coins. They have reflective, mirror-like backgrounds against highly detailed frosted contrasting images. They usually sell at higher premiums than bullion or uncirculated coins, and come packaged in protective displays. Proof Sets consist of combinations of Proof Coins, of similar dates, events, or having other things in common.
PR – Proof Strike, used by PCGS
PR69 - PCGS’s grade designating a near-perfect proof coin.
PR70 - PCGS’s grade designating a perfect proof coin.
Raw – Coins that have not been graded by a TPG.
Refinery – Manufactory where precious metals are purified.
Relief – That part of a coin that is raised above the field.
Reverse – The “tails” side of a coin. If no portrait is displayed on its obverse, it is usually the side of a coin that changes in subsequent mintages (for example, the kangaroo side of the Australian of the gold “nugget”). Sometimes, it will bear the name of the country in which of it is legal tender. See “obverse.”
Roll (of coins) – A specific quantity of a particular coin that is wrapped in paper to resemble a cylinder.
Round – A privately minted precious metal disk that resembles a “coin,” but is not—and cannot—be used as currency. Rounds are typically purchased by collectors and investors who appreciate their designs and prefer not to pay the higher premiums associated with mint coins. Note: the word “coin” is reserved for use by the United States Mint and not for rounds.
Royal Canadian Mint – Source of the Canadian Maple Leaf series of bullion coins.
Saint-Gaudens, Augustus – Designer of several iconic American coins, e.g., the American Eagle and Double Eagle.
Saint-Gaudens – Slang for the Liberty Head Double Eagle.
Secondary Market – Buying and/or selling coins from or to a party other than the original.
Series – Coins that share a particular characteristic, such as design, motif, date, mint, etc.
Set – A subset of coins within a series.
Silver Bullion – Silver that is traded on commodity markets. The United States Mint manufactures a 1-ounce Silver Eagle that contains 99.9% silver.
Slab – (n.) The plastic holder in which coins are encapsulated by a TPG after it has been graded. (v.) The process of encapsulating a graded coin.
Spot (Price) Price of 1 ounce of metal on the world market, for immediate delivery, usually quoted in troy ounces.
Stacker – A person who purchases bullion coins and bars on a regular basis.
Strike (v.) – The minting of a coin.
TGP - Third Party Grading Service. Companies that employ various criteria and experts to rate, or “grade” coins. The four major TPGs are PCGS, NGC, ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service), and IGC (Independent Coin Graders).
Trade – (v.) Buying or selling coins and bullion. (n.) The purchase or sale of coins and bullion.
Trader – One who trades.
Troy Ounce – A unit of imperial measure, commonly used to denote the weight of precious metals. One troy ounce equals 31.1035 grams, and was first adopted for measuring coinage in 1527 England.
Tube – Cylindrical plastic coin holder in which various mints package their bullion coins for shipment. US Mint tubes hold 20 1-oz. Eagles, 40 ½-and ¼oz. Eagles, and 50 1/10 Eagles. Canadian Mint Tubes hold 25 Gold Maple Leafs.
UCAM –Ultra Cameo.
Uncirculated – See “brilliant uncirculated.”
United States Mint – The facility that produces official currency of and for the United States government. The origination of a particular coin is designated by a small letter () stamped into the field of a coin. The main United States Mint is located in West Point, New York (W), with additional facilities located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (P); Denver Colorado (D); and San Francisco, California.
Variety - A coin of a particular year, design, and denomination but having a slight difference from the others.
VG – Very Good.
W – Mintmark of the West Point Mint.
With Assay - A bar of precious metal shipped with its assay card displaying such details as its weight, purity, serial number, and originating mint. Sometimes expressed as, “w/Assay.” Compare to “In Assay.”
XF – Extremely Fine.