US Coins

What does 'satinated' mean?

Noncirculating legal tender collector coins with a “satinated” finish are struck, polished with glass and sand beads, hand brushed, and given a coat of silver tarnish protection, according to the Helvetic Mint, which made the coins.

Images courtesy of the Helvetic Mint.

I noticed on page 166 of the Feb. 4 Coin World Special Edition the term “satinated” to describe several silver coins. What does this mean?

Rob Stevens

Dayton, Ohio

While most American collectors are familiar with the terms “Brilliant Uncirculated” or “Proof,” which describe, respectively, a finish and a method of manufacture resulting in particular finishes, some world mints use terms that differ from those prevalent in the United States and broader world market.

The coins in question, listed in the “New Issues” section of the Feb. 4 Coin World, were produced by the Helvetic Mint for Fiji, to commemorate various themes related to the Mayan calendar that “ended” Dec. 21, 2012.

The Helvetic Mint is a fairly recent comer to the world coin market, joining private mints like the Pobjoy Mint, the New Zealand Mint and the Mayer Mint, among others, that issue noncirculating legal tender coins, generally for smaller and sometimes distant nations.

According to Sabine Meyer of the Helvetic Mint, satinated coins have a very smooth surface, having been softly brushed by hand in one direction, with a result that is not shiny.

Upon questioning, Meyer said the process is more or less secret, but would confirm that a coin requires six steps, after being struck “as usual,” to become satinated.

The process involves different glass and sand bead blasting runs and the aforementioned brushing by hand in one direction. All satinated coins get a silver tarnish protection finishing.

I recently bought a 1988 1-ounce gold American Eagle that weighs 34.09 grams with a diameter between 32.82 millimeters and 32.86 mm.

Do you know where I can find the United States Mint production tolerances for 1986 and forward for gold American Eagles?

I am concerned that my coin seems outside production tolerances.

John Breuer

via email

Production tolerances for American Eagles are not readily available. A weight of 33.931 grams is provided by the Coin World’s annual Guide to U.S. Coins for a $50 1-ounce American Eagle gold coin. A diameter of 32.7 millimeters is also referenced. This is for coins minted from 1986 to date.

The measurements of your coin seem to be a bit higher than they should be. It might be useful to compare other weights of different coins to see if measures by your equipment differ consistently.

Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins or other items for examination without prior permission from Coin World. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to or call 800-673-8311, Ext. 172.

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