Glossary of Terms


Attribution

Attribution is the process of determining the obverse and reverse die used to strike a particular coin. This process is described in detail in the section on Die Attribution.

Attribution Grid

The attribution grid is a set of lines which are overlaid on the obverse of a Seated Dollar, then used to define the date position. The attribution grid is described in detail in the section on Die Attribution.

Bag Marks

Bag marks are the marks created by contact with other coins when coins are stored in bags, as many Seated Dollars were before they left the mint.

Business Strikes

Business strikes are coins that were struck by the mint with the intent that they would be placed into circulation and used for commerce. Contrast this to proofs, which were struck specifically for collectors from specially prepared dies. The term “circulation strike” is also used by some authors to describe what we call business strikes. The terms are interchangeable.

Cabinet Friction

Cabinet friction is discoloration on the high points of a high-grade coin that doesn’t appear to be the result of circulation wear. It can be the result of contact with the storage media, such as an envelope or felt.

Cameo, Cameo Contrast

Cameo refers to the effect often seen on proof coins where the frosty surfaces of the devices strongly contrast to the mirrored appearance of the fields. This effect is usually seen on early proof strikes. It fades as the use of the dies progresses.

Choice

Choice is a term used to describe mint state coins in the MS63-MS64 grade range. It was used frequently prior to the appearance of the numerical grading scale. Mint state coins were described as BU (MS60-MS62), choice (MS63-MS64), or gem (MS65 or better).

Clash Marks

Clash marks appear on dies as a result of the obverse and reverse dies coming together without a planchet in the coining press. This contact results in depressions in the dies, the obverse exhibiting parts of the reverse design, the reverse exhibiting part of the obverse design. These depressions in the dies then appear as raised elements on all subsequent coins struck by those dies.

Denticles

The denticles are the beaded elements that surround the obverse and reverse just inside the edge of the coin. These are pictured in the photo below. These are also called “dentils” by some authors. The terms are interchangeable.



Seated Dollar Denticles


Devices

Devices are the major design elements of a die – for the obverse the figure of Miss Liberty, the stars, and the date; for the reverse the eagle, branches, arrows, and the lettering which surrounds the die, plus the motto for with motto coins. Contrast this with the fields – the flat surfaces onto which the design elements are placed.

Die Markers

Die markers are unique features on the surface of a die which are transferred to the coin on striking and serve as data to uniquely identify the die. These features usually result from one of these sources:

1. Die Lines are created on the surface of the die during the die preparation process or subsequent polishing. These lines are usually incused on the surface of the die and thus appear raised on the surface of the coin. They are sometimes strong enough to be easily visible under low magnification, but often require higher magnification under a stereo microscope.

2. Lumps on the surface of coins result from pits or indentations on the surface of the die created by rust or other sources. As with die lines these lumps are sometimes strong enough to be visible under a glass, but often require a microscope.

3. Unfinished Areas appear on the die where the edge of the devices doesn’t intersect sharply with the field. These areas tend to be reduced or sometimes completely disappear as the die is polished. The most common places where these unfinished areas are seen are under the chin and around the intersection of the pole with the arm on the obverse die, and between the leaves, between the claws, and in the shield recesses on the reverse die.

Other types of features are sometimes seen. Any feature that is on the surface of the die and is unique to a particular die can be a die marker. Some of the features on the die are imparted by the hub when the die is created, and thus appear on all dies for the year. These are NOT die markers.

Die Marriage

A die marriage is a unique combination of obverse and reverse dies that was used to strike one or more coins in a specific year. Each coin is a representative of a unique die marriage. Normally many coins were struck for each die marriage. We’ve chosen to identify the business strike die marriages for a year as OC-1, OC-2, OC-3, etc. Proofs are identified as OC-P1, OC-P2, etc.

Die Pair

This is another way to refer to a die marriage - a unique combination of obverse and reverse dies.

Die Rotation

Die rotation refers to the alignment of the obverse and reverse dies when a coin was struck. The normal alignment – zero rotation has Miss Liberty’s head at 12 o’clock and the space between the E in ONE and the D in DOL at 6 o’clock. Any variation is a die rotation (see the section on Die Rotation).

Die State

The die state can vary as the die is used. The initial state at first use of the die is perfect. Subsequently the die can crack, receive clash marks, be polished, or otherwise degrade with use. We assigned states of a, b, c, etc. to represent each state of degradation. The perfect die is always represented as state a. It should be noted that a particular die marriage may not occur with state a dies if one or both of the dies have been used in previous pairings.

Emission Sequence

The emission sequence is the order in which the die marriages were produced. For each year, we include a table documenting this emission sequence. As an example, the table below represents the emission sequence for 1847. Note that numbered the Die Marriages in emission sequence order. Exceptions are die marriages which were discovered after our web site went on line in 2016. The die marriage numbers were frozen at that time.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-1 Perfect obverse in early states.
2 OC-2 A faint die crack crosses the base of the date in all states.
3 OC-3 Perfect obverse in early states.
4 OC-4 Unfinished area under the chin has been reduced by die polishing. A faint die crack crosses the base of the date in later states, possibly in all states.
1847 Emission Sequence


Fields

The fields are the flat surfaces of a die onto which the design elements are placed. Contrast this to the devices - the major elements of the design.

Frosty

Frosty refers to the appearance of the surfaces of a coin. The term is normally used to describe high grade coins – strong AU or better. Prior to first use dies were usually polished. The first coins struck exhibited prooflike surfaces, much like mirrors. As the striking continued and die wear progressed the surfaces of the die eroded. The prooflike appearance disappeared and the coins struck progressed from prooflike to frosty. In the later states the surfaces reflect light in all directions and thus appear much like frost on a flat surface.

Gem

Gem is a term used to describe mint state coins that grade MS65 or better. It was used frequently prior to the appearance of the numerical grading scale. Mint state coins were described as BU (MS60-MS62), choice (MS63-MS64), or gem (MS65 or better).

Grid

See Attribution Grid.

Hub

The hub was the device used to create working dies. The hub would appear like a coin, whereas the die that it created would look like a reverse image of a coin. Markers on the hub would be transferred to all working dies, and thus could not be considered as die markers. Hubs did not include dates or mintmarks, so they could be used to create working dies for multiple years.

No Motto

A no motto coin does not have the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse. This design was used from 1840 through 1865. Two 1866 no motto coins are known, but most authors believe that they were created sometime after that date.

Obverse

The obverse is the “heads” side of the coin. In the case of Liberty Seated Dollars it’s the side on which Miss Liberty appears.

Overdate

An overdate is a die, and thus a group of coins, on which the date originally punched into the die has been changed, and the original date can still be detected. To our knowledge there are no overdates in the Liberty Seated Dollar series. One frequently listed, the 1856/4, has since been shown to be an 1856/6 (reference 12).

Planchet

The planchet is the blank piece of metal which becomes a coin when inserted into the coining press and struck by the dies.

Proof

Proofs are coins that were struck by the mint specifically for collectors from specially prepared dies. Dies used to strike proofs were normally polished to give the coins a mirror finish. The coins were usually struck slowly with heavy pressure to bring up all the detail possible. Contrast this to business strikes, which were struck at high speed with the intent that they would be placed into circulation and used for commerce.

Prooflike

Prooflike coins exhibit surfaces which are at least partially mirrored, similar to proof coins. The term is used to refer to business strikes.

Repunched

Dates and mintmarks were punched into the dies by hand. All other elements of the design were in the hub, and thus are the same on all dies. If a date or mintmark was punched more than once, and the punch wasn’t exactly aligned with the original punch, the date or mintmark is referred to as repunched, and exhibits some evidence of doubling.

Restrike

A restrike is a coin that was struck in year later than the date indicated on the coin. In the Liberty Seated Dollar series several proof issues were restruck, some as many as three different times. Also see the section on Restrikes.

Re-Submission

Re-submission refers to the practice of submitting a coin to a grading service multiple times to get the highest grade possible. If a coin is graded, then removed from its holder and re-submitted the result is two entries in the grading service population report that in fact represent only one coin. This can be corrected by returning the original grading information to the grading service and having the first submission removed from the population report, but this is often not done. We have heard of cases in which a coin has been submitted as many as 10 times. The result is artificial inflation of the population report figures.

Reverse

The reverse is the “tails” side of the coin. In the case of Liberty Seated Dollars it’s the side on which the eagle appears.

Rub

Rub shows as flat spots or discoloration on the high points of a coin and is the result of circulation.

Serif

A serif is the pointed element of a digit or letter. For example, the 1 in the date of a Liberty Seated Dollar has three serifs, one on each side of the base of the digit, and one extending from the upper left side of the digit. The A in AMERICA has four serifs, one on each side of the left base of the letter, and one on each side of the right base.

Star Centrals

The star centrals are the center elements of the obverse stars. Each star is defined by six points, with incused radial lines between the points extending inward to a center that appears as a slight depression. These radial lines and the center depression together are referred to as the star centrals. They are often weakly struck. Consequently, they’re used as one of the major indicators of strike quality.

Strike Weakness

Strike weakness results when striking pressure isn’t sufficient to cause the metal that makes up the planchet to flow into all the recesses of the die. The result is flat spots in the areas where the relief is highest, and thus a lack of full definition of the intended design. For Liberty Seated Dollars the most often seen indicators are weakness in the star centrals, Miss Liberty’s hair detail, and the detailing of the feathers on the eagle's upper left wing.

Tine

A tine is a pointed feature, usually a die marker.

Transitional

A reverse die is identified as transitional if it is used in multiple years. For example, 1848 Reverse A is transitional to 1849, 1850, 1851, and possibly 1852.

With Motto

A with motto coin has the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse. This design was used from 1866 through 1873.




Copyright © 2015, by Dick Osburn and Brian Cushing, All rights reserved.