U.S. Coin Price Guide

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C: the mintmark of the U.S. Mint at Charlotte, North Carolina.

cabinet friction: faint rub on the highest points of coins, usually caused by sliding around in a tray.

cameo: a coin that has frosty devices and brilliant fields.

cameo contrast: a measure of how frosty the devices are versus how deeply mirrored the fields are.

Capped Bust: a design type used on American coins from 1807-1839. 

carbon spot: a small spot of corrosion or oxidation on a coin caused by a spot of moisture.  When you talk around coins - Say it, don’t spray it!

Carson City: official U.S. Mint in Carson City, Nevada that issued coins from 1870 to 1893.

cartwheel: the dazzling, swirling effect reflected when a coin is turned under a light source.  The more dazzling the “cartwheel,” the more desirable the coin.

cast counterfeit: a fake coin made by pouring melted metal into a mold.  These will usually fail the ring test.

catalog: the printed listings offered by coin dealers at auction or fixed prices.  These are often great sources of information and illustrations.

CC: the mintmark of the U.S. Mint at Carson City, Nevada.

CCDN: abbreviation for the Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter (also known as the “Blue Sheet”).

CCE: abbreviation for the Certified Coin Exchange.

CDN: abbreviation for the Coin Dealer Newsletter (also known as the “Grey Sheet”).

census: no, I don’t care who lives in your house!  This is a listing of coins, usually the best ones known for that date.  Specialists often refer to this as the “Condition Census.”

Cent: the U.S. coin valued at one-hundredth of a Dollar.  Commonly known as the Penny.

certified: authenticated and graded by any of the independent, third-party grading services.

Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter: a weekly publication that records dealer Bid and Ask prices for certified U.S. coins.

Certified Coin Exchange: an electronic system that allows dealers to trade in certified U.S. coins.

Chain Cent: issued in 1793, this coin had a chain of 13 links on the reverse that was supposed to represent the original American colonies.  However, some people thought the chain represented bondage, so it was quickly replaced with a wreath!

Charlotte: official U.S. Mint at Charlotte, North Carolina that issued coins from 1838-1861.  Mintmark “C.”

cherrypick: buying a coin at a price way below its true value.  This is where your knowledge can make you money!

choice: nice.  Usually used with other grading terms, for example, “Choice Very Fine” or “Choice Uncirculated.”

Choice Uncirculated: equal to Mint State 63 on a scale of 1 to 70.

chopmark: the small mark punched onto coins (usually Trade Dollars) by Asian merchants who “certified” the coins authenticity and value.

circulated: a coin that is worn and no longer Uncirculated.

circulation: anywhere a coin is used or where it might become worn.  This can include banks, your pocket, your piggy bank, gumball machines, the store…you name it.

circulation strike: a coin that was made to be used and spent.  The opposite are Proof coins that are made specially for collectors and are not meant to be spent.

clad: coins made of layers of metal.  Examples include our modern Dimes, Quarters, Half Dollars, and One Dollars that have centers of copper and outer layers of a copper-nickel alloy.

clash marks: the damage caused when dies smash into each other with no coin blank between them.  Clash marks can be minor, severe, or anything in-between.

Classic Head: design type used on U.S. Half Cents from 1809-1836 and gold coins from 1834 and 1839.

cleaned: a coin that has dirt or toning removed with a cleaning agent.  Cleaning ranges from light to severe, depending on what is used to clean the coin.  Cleaning may disqualify a coin from being certified.  TIP: leave cleaning to the professionals, as cleaning generally lowers the collector value of a coin.

clip: the missing portion of the edge of a coin caused when coin blanks are punched improperly out of metal strips.

clipped: a coin that has a portion missing out of the edge because the planchet was cut improperly or someone removed some of the metal.

clipping: cutting a small amount of silver or gold from the edge of a coin for personal gain.

coin: a round piece of metal to which designs have been applied and a value assigned.

coin collection: a carefully organized grouping of coins that have been identified, classified, and valued.

coin collector: a person, like you, who loves coins and wants to own as many as possible.

Coin Dealer Newsletter: a weekly publication popularly known as the “Greysheet” that lists dealer Bid and Ask prices for U.S. coins.

coin doctor: someone who attempts to improve the appearance of a coin by cleaning, repairing, plugging and/or any other deliberate alteration.

coin show: a gathering of coin dealers in a public place for the purpose of meeting and trading with collectors and other dealers.

Coin World: the weekly numismatic newspaper published by Amos Press of Sidney, Ohio.

COINage: the monthly numismatic magazine published by Miller Magazines, Inc.

Coins Magazine: the monthly numismatic magazine published by Krause Publications of Iola, Wisconsin.

collar: the edge die of a coin that prevents the coin from spreading out when it is struck.

collection: an organized accumulation of coins.

collector: anyone who accumulates coins in a systematic, organized manner.

colonial: a coin issued by, or used in, any of the American colonies.  Includes some foreign coins.

commemorative: a coin struck specially to honor a place, event, or person.  Commemorative coins are generally sold at a premium and are not meant to circulate.

common: a coin that is readily available and inexpensive.

common date: a coin that is readily available and inexpensive.

condition: the grade of a coin.

Condition Census: a listing of the top examples known of a given coin.  For instance, the Condition Census for Large Cents includes the best examples known of a particular variety.

condition rarity: a coin that is common in low grade but very rare in high grade.  For example, some coins are unknown in Uncirculated condition.

consignment: the coins that are given to an auction house or dealer to sell.

consignor: the person whose coins are sold at auction or by a dealer.

contact marks: any marks on a coin that occur from contact with another coin or foreign object.

contemporary counterfeit: a fake made close to the date that appears on the coin.

Continental Dollars: large coin struck in 1776, usually in Pewter, considered by many to be the first U.S. Silver Dollar.

copper spot: the reddish spots of color that occasionally appear on gold coins due to oxidation of the small amount of copper in the alloy.

copper-nickel: an alloy used on United States coins that mixes Copper and Nickel in varying amounts.

Copper-Nickel Cent: the Flying Eagle and Indian Head Cents struck from 1856 to 1864.

copy: a replica of a real coin, usually meant to deceive.

copy dies: dies made officially or illegally from either actual coinage dies or coins.

Coronet Head: design type of a head of Liberty with a crown-like ornament.  Used on U.S. copper coins from 1816-1857 and U.S. gold coins from 1838-1907.

corrosion: pitting or green oxidation that appears on the surfaces of coins.  Light corrosion is called “porosity,” moderate corrosion is called “granularity,” and heavy corrosion is called “pitting.” 

counterfeit: a fake coin.

cud: a raised area on a coin caused when a chip of metal falls off a die.

cull:  a coin worn almost completely smooth.

Curated: a recently developed term to describe coins that have been cleaned, but where the cleaning has been so light and well done that it is impossible to tell.  Curation will not disqualify a coin from being certified.

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