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FAQs

FAQs

What is a certified coin ?
What is a raw coin?
What is the difference between a proof coin and a mint state (uncirculated) coin?
What does “E Pluribus Unum” mean?
What do “obverse” and “reverse” mean?
How should I store and handle my coins?
Why do silver coins change color?
Why is coin grading important? How does it affect coin values?
What does the term “Key Date” mean?
What are a coin’s relief and its field?
What is a clad coin?
Why do many coins have grooves on the edges?
Why do uncirculated coins have scratches?
What does Brilliant Uncirculated mean?
What is a reprocessed steel cent coin?
What does the “W” mark on my coin mean?
What’s the difference between a coin’s rim and its edge?
What if my coin has no mintmark?
How should I clean my coins?


What is a certified coin?
Certified coins are graded and authenticated by a third-party grading service. Respected grading authorities include Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). All certified coins are sealed in a tamper-proof case and given a unique serial number.

What is a raw coin?
Raw coins are those that have not been certified.

What is the difference between a proof coin and a mint state (uncirculated) coin?
Proof coins are made specifically for coin collectors from highly polished planchet and dies, and are usually struck more than one time. This process creates a truly magnificent coin with remarkable sharpness in the design and a brilliant, mirror-like surface.

A mint state coin is another way of saying an uncirculated coin, which has not yet been put into circulation. If even the slightest bit of wear is detected, it does not qualify as a mint state coin. These coins are beautiful, but they are only struck once, and the planchets and dies are not polished, so they may not have the high brilliance of proof coins.

What does E Pluribus Unum mean?
E Pluribus Unum means Out of Many, One. In God We Trust, the motto of the United States, also appears on U.S. minted coins. In God We Trust first appeared on the two-cent piece in 1864, and became mandatory in 1955.

What do obverse and reverse mean?
Obverse is the front or “head” side of the coin. It usually includes the date of issue and primary design, often (but not always) a head study of a dignitary or leader. Reverse is the back of the coin, or “tail” side.

How should I store and handle my coins?
Keep them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Natural oils in the hands can corrode coins, so always handle them by the edges, and wear cotton gloves if possible. Always handle collectible coins over a soft surface, so if you accidentally drop the coin it won’t be damaged. Raw coins should be kept in their protective holders. If you take them out of their holders, wear gloves and handle them on the edges.

Why do silver coins change color?
Silver changes color when it reacts to conditions in the environment or atmosphere. Coin collectors refer to these color changes as toning.

Why is coin grading important? How does it affect coin values?
With time, a coin will wear from circulation and contact with hard surfaces and other coins. Grading measures a coin’s condition, or quality, based on the level of wear it shows. The grade has a direct influence on a coin’s value and thus, the price, so a universal grading system was developed by the American Numismatic Association (ANA) to facilitate accurate trading.

What does the term “Key Date” mean?
A coin with a date and mintmark that is extremely scarce is referred to as having a “key date.” They may be scarce because the original mintage was low, or a large percentage of them were melted down for their silver content. Due to their rarity, these coins are highly prized by collectors.

What are a coin’s relief and its field?
The relief is the portion of the design raised above the surface, while the field is the background that does not feature design elements or inscription.

What is a clad coin?
Clad coins are dimes, quarters, dollars and most half dollars produced since 1965, which are made of a copper and nickel composition, rather than the 90% silver traditionally used.

Why do many coins have grooves on the edges?
Years ago, people would file the edges of coins to get the valuable gold and silver they were made from. Grooved edges, referred to as “reeded,” made filing much more difficult to do. Coins that never contained precious metals have never featured grooved edges, such as the U.S. nickel and cent. Even though none of today’s coins are made from precious metals, the dimes, quarters, dollars and half dollars still have reeded edges so people who are visually impaired can readily identify them.

Why do uncirculated coins have scratches?
Coins graded MS-60 and better have contact marks, referred to as “bag marks.” These slight marks are the result of contact with other coins during the minting process and while being handled and stored in U.S. Mint sealed bags.

What does Brilliant Uncirculated mean?
Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) describes an uncirculated coin that is as bright as the day it was minted. Sometimes, these coins will have very slight natural toning.

What is a reprocessed steel cent coin?
Reprocessed steel cents have had the old zinc stripped off and have been recoated with fresh zinc for a shiny finish.

What does the W mark on my coin mean?
It means that the coin was minted at the West Point Mint in New York. D stands for the Denver Mint, P stands for the Philadelphia Mint and “S” stands for the San Francisco Mint.

What’s the difference between a coin’s rim and its edge?
The rim is the raised edge on both sides of the coin, while the edge is the outer border. Edges can be plain (as with a nickel), reeded (grooved, as with a quarter), lettered or decorated.

What if my coin has no mintmark?
Prior to 1979, coins produced at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia did not bear a mintmark, other than Jefferson nickels struck there from 1942-1945. In 1980, the P mintmark was added to all coins produced by the Philadelphia Mint, except for the cent.

How should I clean my coins?
You shouldn’t clean your coins. Cleaning will permanently damage the coin’s surface, significantly lowering its value to collectors.

 
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