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The Most Misused Words in Coin Collecting

Like many hobbies, professions, etc., there is a set of jargon or lingo that most people in the profession understand, yet to an outsider may seem confusing or even deceiving.  The purpose of this article to de-mystify some of those terms and slang.

Unsearched, or Unsearched By Me

This is the biggest lie, or misused term in coin collecting.  Now, I am not saying that it is possible that some hoards are indeed unsearched, but it is getting fewer and fewer every day.  Despite that, I think I see more and more “unsearched” bags of cents on ebay every day.  Do not believe everything you see.  The off-spring of “unsearched”, is the term, “unsearched by me”.  What this really means is that the seller knows s/he has a bag of junk, but by saying they did not search it, they hope to snag you, the gullible buyer into speculating that there is a rare coin in the bag. 

Gold Plated, Limited Edition, Never to be Produced Again

People, time to wake up.  Gold plated coins have so little gold, that it hardly gives any additional value to that otherwise worthless coin.  It is a micro layer of gold to only give the appearance of gold.  Creators of this junk take common coins and then market them to unsuspecting buyers as “Limited Edition”, or “Highly Collectible” and of course add that one term to get you to buy now, “Limited Time Offer”.  DO NOT DO IT!!


Replica would be the word “fake” or “counterfeit”, with political correctness. A replica is just that.  A copy or fake.  It has NO collector value.  These coins are also usually not of the metal content of the real coin.  In other words, a replica Morgan Dollar is not likely to contain any silver.  Don’t buy them.

Under Graded, Good Deal

This is a term many will use to make you believe that the coin may be worth more than the price they are asking for it.  For example, let’s say a common 1921 Morgan Dollar is in a PCGS MS65 slab, and it is priced appropriately for the grade.  Someone may say, “That coin is under graded, that’s a good deal”.  Well, two things you should ask yourself: 1) If it is under graded, why not send it back to PCGS, and 2) If it is such a good deal, why has it not sold yet.  Now, I am not saying this has never happened, I am just saying it does not happen as much as people claim.  When you hear the phrase, “Good Deal”, make sure you know who the good deal is for.

Perfect Grade, Highest Grade

There are several sellers on eBay who slab pocket change for big bucks buy slabbing far less than perfect coins and putting them in slabs marked MS70.   The ANA was able to get eBay to now allow these people to list their coins as MS70 in the description, so they use terms like “Perfect Coin” and Highest Grade.  When you see this, don’t walk, but RUN!

Estate Sale, Granpa’s Attic

It just boggles my mind that using this simple term brings in higher results for eBay auctions.  Folks, I am here to tell you, a common 1942 P Walking Liberty Half Dollar is a common 1942 P Walking Liberty Half Dollar whether it came from Granpa’s Attic, an estate sale, or my pocket.  There is no difference in that coin and truthfully, most of these claims are likely not true.  Don’t fall for it!!

Never to be Produced Again

 I know, I already said this one, but it is also used in a different way.  I have seen ads by BIG dealers trying to sell the state quarters and parks quarters with the tag line, “Never to be Produced Again”.   People, wake up, this is true of every coin every year.  The 2013 cent will only be made this year.  It will never be made again.

Beautifully Toned

First a disclaimer.  I do not like toning.  But, I understand others do.  And I understand that each person can have an individual taste.  But folks, I have seen some ugly dark coins in auctions that say, “Beautifully Toned”.    Make sure you know what you are buying.  Yes, I once bought a “Beautifully Toned” coin without seeing it first.  It was the darkest ugliest coin I ever saw.


What this really means is that a coin was altered in some way to make it look better.  It is NO LONGER original.  The problem I have with this is the folks who get a coin conserved and then sell as original.  On some it is just too hard to tell.

Lightly Cleaned

Does this mean dipped or lightly scrubbed with a wire brush?  Unless you need that coin, you should probably look elsewhere.


I hope these article helps clear up some of the mysteries in coin collecting and most importantly, helps you to make wise decisions when you purchase either coins or other numismatic items.

Keith Scott has been a collector for over 30 years. His website has US coins for sale. He also writes Coin Collecting Articles for fun. Visit his websites for a history of US coins, metal market updates and news about your favorite coins.

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