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Sound Like a Coin Pro

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Speak the lingo

Coin collectors soon find out that coin collecting comes with it's own set of terminology. Knowing the language puts all collectors on the same page so it is much easier to communicate. Let's talk about some of the most important ways to identify your coin to other collectors and dealers.  Know that the obverse and reverse refers to the front and back of a coin.  Understand the difference between relief (device) on a coin and which part is the field.  These are just some basics but they will go a long way.

coin anatomy 1879 silver dollar

Know your mint marks

Knowing the mint mark on your coin is just as important as the date or even the type of coin you are holding! A common way to collect coins is to put together a date set, so many collectors are worried about the date and not especially where it was struck. Other collectors want to collect all the different mint marks and still some collect solely by mint mark alone. Regardless of how you put a collection together, the mint mark is vital information in not only the value of the coin but also the little nuances that come from coins being struck at different mints. For example, 1893 dated Morgan Silver Dollars can vary in price from $1,000 to over $100,000 based solely upon which mint it was struck! When speaking about a coin, always relay the date and the mint mark when you say what it is. For example, you would say "this is an 1878-S Morgan Silver Dollar." 

 1878-S Morgan Silver Dollar

The Philadelphia Mint was the first mint and is still considered to be the primary mint today. In fact, Philadelphia has not always used a mint mark and most coins around today without a mint mark were typically struck there. However, other mints have come and gone but they have left their marks on their coins too. To a new collector, some mint marks do not make sense and other mints even share a mint mark. The history of the mints is entirely another story but here is a quick reference of U.S. mints.

C- Charlotte, NC 1838-1861 (only gold coins)

CC- Carson City, NV 1870-1893

D- Dahlonega, GA 1838-1861 (only gold coins)

D- Denver, CO 1906-present

O- New Orleans, LA 1838-1861, 1879-1909

P- Philadelphia, PA 1793-present (has not always used a mint mark)

S- San Francisco, CA 1854-present

W- West Point, NY 1984-present (has not always used a mint mark)

In short, identifying your coin by date and mint mark and describing your coin with the correct lingo goes a long way in keeping everyone on the same page. Not to mention, you'll sound like a pro!


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