A 354-page book just published called El Numiscadero is the most extensive Spanish – English numismatic dictionary available. It is being distributed by its author in Spain and California. A first edition of 1,000 serially numbered copies have been printed in Spain. Half of the books for distribution in Europe are in Spain, and half for the Americas are in San Diego, California.


The dictionary’s author is veteran numismatist Gary Beals, from San Diego, California, who has just begun his 17th year living in Spain. The book has a heavy plastic laminated full color cover with a sewn spine and fold-in wings. It lists 2,543 Spanish terms and 1,876 English terms and has 1,264 photographs and illustrations. The book has four sections: An introduction, a Spanish to English glossary, a English to Spanish glossary, and a special lists section that includes major numismatic associations, grading coins, current spending power of old Spanish coins, money slang, monarchs of Spain, monarchs of Great Britain, Roman emperors, a list of popes, and Presidents of the USA. The listings at the rear of the book augment the main glossaries and clarify certain points quickly and easily. The price of the book is $39 or $30 for numismatic or cultural association members.


 “Spanish-speaking and English-speaking collectors have a lot to share with each other,” Beals said. “This book is a tool to make the numismatic learning curve more fun and a richer experience. This is a jumping off point into deeper corners of the coin collecting world. Spanish-speaking collectors could be baffled by such English words as bucks, slabs, crack-outs, brockages, hubs, banknote pinholes, cuds, junk silver, basining, non-circulating legal tender, Sacagewea, smackeroos, chops, bits, whizzing, trussels, tressures and artificial toning.


 “English speaking collectors might wonder about Spanish terms like media leche, patacones, pachucos, pacificos, pasta, patolcuachtlis, menudo, mereauz, perra gorda, marias, marinos, ochavos, onzas, óbolos, novenos and vellón, both rico and pobre.

“Learning to speak numismatics is not showing off — it is just getting our communication clear and correct.  New words are invented for the field now and then. ‘Royal’ was created by a dealer in New York City in the 1960s to add romance to the more carefully made round 8 reales cob coins — which were never really just for Spanish royalty. Redondo or galano did not seem impressive enough to him.”


El Numiscadero is a guide to better understanding coin collecting in two of the world’s most popular languages. There are 399 million Spanish speaking people living in 31 nations and 380 million English speaking people. There are also at least 500 million people who speak English or Spanish as a second language. There are a lot of coin collectors in the world who could enjoy themselves more if they could understand more of the words used in their hobby. Many of the finest works are available only in Spanish or in English. I believe El Numiscadero is a bilingual dictionary which can also be read for pleasure. It is designed for a stroll through numismatic history, habits and activities as well as a resource for gathering information.

In my past life as an advertising agency owner, I was always explaining to clients that a good ad or brochure needed to be understood with a 5 second glance and later with a 5 minutes read. I would like the book to do something like that. We start with a clear, brief meaning of a term. If that is all you need, great. We may also provide you with some interesting how and why of the device or process. And perhaps the history about how it was developed.

Technical Editor for the book D. Wayne Johnson

Technical Editor for the book is D. Wayne Johnson, past editor of Coin World and a veteran medals production expert. “Thanks to Dick Johnson we have some fascinating and little known details about coin and medals manufacturing.  For example, do you know what ‘extrusion dwell’ is? It means that when dies come down on a coin blank they don't just bang it, but they pause for a microsecond while squeezing the planchet. That tiny fraction of a second pause, or dwell, in a coining press cycle is to prevent the metal from springing back by molecular memory. Who would have thought gold, silver and copper could do that? In simple terms, apparently all materials want to stay as they are.”

Johnson was the corporate historian, senior consultant and director of research for Medallic Art Company. A coin collector since 1939, he was the founding editor of Coin World in 1960. He has written more than 200 articles and more than 800 brief items in E-Sylum, a numismatic newsletter. He created a directory of American coin and medal artists, now numbering more than 3,150 such artists, and an encyclopedia of coin and medal technology with 1,842 major entries.


“Dick's decades of work in the artistic medals field shines through here. Few of us think of the difficulty involved in making a high relief medal. We learn that it takes three or four strikes with the dies to complete a medal. Each strike causes the metal to become work-hardened. So the metal must be softened by heating it in a furnace and then allowing it to cool before each additional strike. Sometimes an initial die is needed to get the high relief struck up, and then a die with the fine detail is used for completing the piece.”

The misunderstanding about cobs

“By the virtue of living in Spain I have uncovered some misunderstandings about Hispanic coin minting that I have carried around since I was a Spanish American crowns collector in 1960. The term ‘cob’ is said to come from the Spanish phrase cabo de barra, purported to mean ‘cut from a bar.’ That has created confusion in collectors’ minds for decades.  The mental picture many people have is that these crude coins were cut from a rough cylindrical bar, like slicing salami. The reality is that the word ‘bar’ was more like a modern Hershey bar — thin, narrow and flat. Cobs were cut from rolled out slabs of silver and gold and further trimmed with shears to the proper weight. Those slabs or sheets of metal were created from ingots and intermediate long thin ingots called rieles which were rolled or hammered to coin thickness.


“This book has an international numismatic focus that stretches back 2,600 years,” Beals said. “The glossaries cover words encountered in simple coin collecting and those of the complex study of numismatics — coins, medals, tokens, banknotes, primitive money, and out on the fringes, stocks and bonds, and other money-like items. Many terms are about minting and printing processes and the artistic work that precedes them. The listing of a word in Numiscadero means that evidence exists showing that the term has been used or is in use in some part of the Spanish or English-speaking world. Many of the words are regionalisms, used in only a portion of the Spanish world. To illustrate, in Spanish America ocho reales was used to describe the 8-reales piece, while in Spain the coin was more often called a real de a ocho.”

 “The English to Spanish glossary makes this book a far more complete cross-cultural reference. It relates the two languages more completely by listing expressions in English about coin production, collecting and a full range of numismatics — much more on medals, tokens and banknotes. Our hope is that Spanish speaking numismatists will add to their English vocabulary of British and American coin collecting with this section at hand,” Beals said. “We can imagine new collectors in Argentina wondering ‘Que es un slab?’  Well amigos, los gringos invented the slab, or encapsulated coin, in 1972. It began its major growth in 1989. Interestingly, slabs are pervasive in the USA now yet still almost unknown in Europe where collectors like a close touching rapport with their coins”

Mocos? Now the full translation

“I had a big laugh at my research of 50 years ago with the word ‘moco,’” Beals noted. Mocos are the dime-sized blanks punched out of 8 reales coins used on some Caribbean islands in the 1700s. The government



The only book that comes with a free goblet of fine Spanish wine or a hot cup of bracing espresso coffee 

When you come to Spain plan on visiting the Royal Mint in Segovia built in 1583 under orders of King Felipe II. This pet project of his is now a fully restored granite complex with a growing numismatic museum inside.  We can enjoy a drink there or in the shadow of the Roman aqueduct in the center of the small city.


The Madrid Mint Museum in the heart of the national capital city just an hour away from Segovia is well worth seeing too.


Every Sunday in Madrid’s Plaza Major there is a coin and small antiques flea market with dealers large and small.

decided to modify the 8 reales the residents were used to circulating by creating a donut-shaped coin and then stamping the blanks to serve as a minor coin. The only thing I overlooked was the citizen’s reaction to this bureaucratic scam. They nicknamed the blanks ‘mocos.’ My limited Spanish in 1966 simply reported what I just noted. After a few years living in Spain I became aware of the insult given to the now-rare blanks. Moco means snot —or booger. The residents did not like their money being manipulated!


“This book has an international numismatic focus that stretches back 2,600 years,” Beals said. The glossaries cover words encountered in simple coin collecting and those of the complex study of numismatics — coins, medals, tokens, banknotes, primitive money, and out on the fringes, stocks and bonds, and other money-like items. Many terms are about minting and printing processes and the artistic work that precedes them. Many of the words are regionalisms, used in only a portion of the Spanish world.


A sad fact now: The term ‘dollar-size’ no longer has meaning.  So, we will use in this book the term ‘crown-size’ which is a long-accepted description of coins the size of British coins of the 1800s called crowns, the Hispanic 8 reales pieces, and U.S. silver dollars.


Beals says many people think the Spanish spoken in Spain is vastly different than in the Americas. That is not so. The difference between the Castillian used in Spain and that of the new world is no greater than British English is to American English. Someone’s Mexican Spanish will serve them well in Spain and the primary language of Spain is perfectly serviceable in South America, minus Brazil, of course.  The most important historic numismatic slang in both Spanish and English is scattered through both glossaries. The more academic word for slang, argot, is the same in both languages.


There is a bit of a trick in this book if you want the English definition of an English term.  For example, let’s say you want to know more about those adjustment marks on silver coins of the 1700s and 1800s. You see in the English to Spanish glossary, “Adjustment marks” It tells you: Marcas de ajuste. If you don’t read Spanish, go to the Spanish to English glossary, under that Spanish term, Marcas de ajuste. There you will find six lines in English explaining this old mint procedure.  We have covered many important terms in this way.


“I found creating this new book was a great learning process for my re-entry into numismatics,” Beals said. “When I moved to Spain for the first time and dropped out of coin collecting in 1969 there were no personal computers, cel phones, coins in plastic slabs, and almost no silly junk-coinage non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) by the world’s mints. There was no Internet which would come to sell multi-millions of dollars worth of coins and banknotes each year. Great Spanish shipwreck treasures were just beginning to be found back then, and since then we have gained the astounding technology that has uncovered tons of gold and silver ingots and coins. The odd 70-point American grading system existed in 1966 but it was largely ignored. There are 11 highly imaginative grades of ‘uncirculated?’ In my opinion, not likely.”


A gulf of 50 years separates the earlier numismatic dictionary created by Beals written in 1966 book when he was age 21. That 85-page book, Numismatic Terms of Spain & Spanish America, only translated Spanish terms into English. This glossary is more than three times larger, plus the English to Spanish glossary which is totally new. “No rush, or nothing” jokes Beals, who wrote Numismatic Terms just after graduating from college and before departing for duty as a U.S. Air Force officer. “I created a book with the word ‘Spain’ in the title, never dreaming I would ever live there, but by July 1969 I was in Madrid.” He returned to San Diego in 1973 to form a marketing agency he operated for some 30 years. He moved to Spain in 2004 and now lives in Segovia, Spain with his wife Maureen.


 “No amount of high technology can replace the help of supportive people. Some great numismatists generously helped in the research and preparation of these books. As a young collector and author of the 1966 book I received the assistance, friendship and encouragement of noted numismatists who I remember to this day for helping with Numismatic Terms of Spain and Spanish America. One of them, Mexico coin expert Clyde Hubbard, is still active in numismatics — at age 100.

Interested collectors and dealers can contact Beals directly at: Segovia.gary@Yahoo.com.

© 2017 El Numiscadero Gary Beals

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