Change Checker Encyclopedia – Coin terminology made easy!

The thing we love about coin collecting is that anybody can do it…but, we’re aware that to those who are not seasoned collectors, some of the terminology can be a bit daunting. So we decided to draw up a go-to terminology list, the Change Checker Encyclopedia, to ensure you never confuse your ‘base metal’ from your ‘bi-metallic’ again!

Face Value

The face value of coins is usually its legal value. However, their market value usually doesn’t bear any relationship to the face value as collectors pay close attention to the coin’s metal content, finish and rarity.

Obverse

This is the side of the coin which features the monarch’s head- hence “Heads”

Reverse

This is the opposite side of the coin to the monarch’s head and commonly referred to as “tails”. This will usually feature an emblem or another design.

Circulated

These are the coins that you find in your change. As they’ve been circulated among the population they’re likely to show some wear and tear.

Uncirculated

A coin in a new condition fresh from the Mint originally intended for circulation but not circulated. Usually they have some small scratches and marks.

Brilliant Uncirculated

These coins are struck to a superior finish and don’t have the scratched or blemishes you’ll find on the coins in your change.

Proof

‘Proof’ refers to the finish of a coin and is often a favourite amongst collectors. Proof coins are struck several times with special highly polished dies and usually have a mirror lustre finish, with frosted relief.

Blank

This is a disc-shaped piece of metal onto which a coin image is struck or pressed

Base Metal

This is a common and inexpensive metal, usually either Cupro-Nickel or Nickel Brass, used to produced coins for circulation.

Milled Coin

This is any coin that has been struck in a coining press.

 Die

This is a block of hardened metal that has a design or effigy engraved on to it. It is used to impress the design onto a coin blank. 

Strike

This is the final stage of the coin making process where an image is pressed (using huge force created by two dies) onto both sides of a coin blank.

Bi-Metallic

A coin made from the combination of 2 metals or alloys, our £2 and the new 12-sided £1 coin are good examples.


Mis-Strike

The striking process is never fully exempt from human error and sometimes a coin can become mis-aligned during the striking process, making it a mis-strike.


Error

Genuine errors, such as the undated 20p and ‘silver’ 2p are extremely rare. If you think you’ve found one you can send an image to info@changechecker.org and we will verify if it is genuine.

Mintage Figures

Simply speaking the mintage figure is the total quantity of a specific coin that has been struck. This can be higher than the ‘edition limit’ depending on how the coin is offered. Mintage figures are only one of the guides to the collectability of coins as over time coins will be withdrawn from circulation due to damage, they may get lost or be retained by collectors.

Mint

This refers to any organisation authorised to strike coins and medals. The British Royal Mint is one of the oldest and most respected in the world dating back to the 7th century.


You can download the images from the Change Checker Encyclopedia so that you always have a copy to hand.

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4 Responses to Change Checker Encyclopedia – Coin terminology made easy!

  1. Adam says:

    It might also be worth mentioning that ‘mule’ is another term for error as that’s one that threw me in the early days.

    • Luke Hearn says:

      Hi Adam, that is s good idea, we’ll get this added to the Change Checker Dictionary. Thanks, Luke

  2. Dinero says:

    Here is an interesting question. will the withdrawal of pre 2016 £1 coins increase the scarcity of higher mintage coins relative to the low mintage , as the high mintage ones will neither be in circulation or in rare coin collections. Will it change the scarcity index.

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