"Basal State" is a term used for coins that are of the
A Basal State coin is "identifiable and unmutilated, but so
badly worn that only a portion of the legend or inscription is
legible," according to William H. Sheldon, whose book Penny
Whimsy was quoted by editor Steve Roach in a 2013 Coin World article.
Sheldon, who introduced the term, says that enough of the coin must
remain for variety identification to be considered Basal State.
Basal State is used as a substitue for the term "Poor" in
coin grading. Sheldon wrote that "Poor" is a difficult term
to define and "often means too much."
The 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath cent pictured is an example of a Basal
State coin even though the date is worn off. As Roach wrote in 2013,
"The presence of Liberty’s profile and the edge lettering, along
with part of the leaves over the date, allow for specific identification."