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Uncirculated.  A term for mint condition; never having reached circulation; pristine condition. Though somewhat broad, uncirculated means a numismatic item with no wear, no damage, no nicks, no tarnish – as perfect as it left the dies. While coins circulate, medals do not, the term is applied to both as a condition. It has been said the only true uncirculated coins are those still in the mint where they were made; once they "cross the street" (and in modern times are distributed by banks) they have circulated and are no longer pristine specimens. This is true, in part, because of the gross handling by banks and shipping with no concern for prohibiting mishandling to individual coins. In the 20th century, coins are received from the mint in bags and fed into counting machines which wrap coins in rolls. Even this minimal handling initiates minute abrasion.

The larger and heavier a coin the more chance of nicks and abrasions. The popularity of large size coins – particularly silver dollars – led to the modification of the term uncirculated. An attempt was made to determine when the nicks were made. If they were made at the mint or inside the original mint sealed bag, then, it was said, the coin is still "uncirculated." This came to fore in the United States when bags of silver dollars, stored for up to 100 years, were released to collectors. The bags may have been moved many times for storage, but still sealed. The coins exhibited the mishandling by numerous nicks.

Uncirculated grades numerically in a popular grading scale as mint state from 68 to 70. The French term is fleur de coin.  See condition.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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