American Coin Collecting Terms & Their Explanations

If you are new to coin collecting, there are several terms or types of coins that may be a bit confusing. This article will discuss several common terms that can be applied (yet not limited to) to United States Mint American coins like the Silver Eagle, Platinum Eagle, Gold Eagle and Gold Buffalo coins.

Mint or Mint-state: If the coin is described as “mint” or “mint-state” it means the coin has been made as a regular coin to be circulated, askanadviser yet it also means it has just come from the mint and has Not been circulated or damaged. The United States Mint sells these coins from normal production.

Proof: If the coin is labeled, or has “proof” in the description, it means the coin has been specially made using high pressure which gives the coin a shiny mirror finish. The images on it also have more details. These coins are not meant to be “spent” or be circulated. They are made to be collected.

“W” If the coin is described by the year with a W added to it (example: 2006-W), it means it has the mint-mark on it that is used by the West Point, New York branch mint.

Uncirculated: This term means that the coin has never been used or spent — it is in perfect condition, as if fresh from the Mint.

PCGS If the coin is described as PCGS, which stands for “Professional Coin Grading Service,” it means it has been graded by this service.

NGC If the coin is described as NGC, which stands for “Numismatic Guaranty Corporation,” it means it has been graded by this service.

Note: The above grading services cost money to be completed. If the coin is labeled as such, it means these services guarantee authenticity and quality and the coin should be higher in value. For more info please visit these sites:-

There are literally hundreds of coin collecting terms, yet the above can help you understand the basics especially if you are viewing collectible American coins for sale and may be interested in buying them. Many times these terms are in the title listings of the for sale coins.


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