U.S. Coin Price Guide

Coin Collecting

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bag: the heavy cloth bag used by the Mint to ship coins.

bagmark: the nicks and dings caused when coins smack into each other.

Barber coinage: Dimes, Quarter Dollars, and Half Dollars designed by Charles Barber and issued from 1892 to 1916.

bas relief: raised design elements in a sunken area.

beaded border: a decorative, outer ring of tiny raised beads found on some coins.

bid: the wholesale buy price offered by coin dealers.

bidder: anyone who bids in an auction.

bidder number: the unique number assigned to you at an auction, used to properly record who bought what.

billon: an alloy containing a small amount of silver mixed with a base metal.

bit: one-eighth of a Spanish 8 Reales “Piece of Eight.  Two bits equal a quarter (hence, the cheer: …two bits, four bits, six bits, a Dollar)

blank: the disk of metal that is later stamped to make a coin.

blemishes: any defects on the surface of a coin.

Bluebook: a popular price guide used for buying coins.  Guess what color the cover is.

Bluesheet: a popular weekly price guide for certified coins.  Guess what color the paper is.

bourse: a coin show where dealers buy and sell among themselves and with the general public.

Braided Hair: a design type found on Half Cents and Large Cents dating from 1839 to 1857.

branch mint: any U.S. Mint other than the Philadelphia Mint (the “mother” of all mints).

brass: a yellow alloy of copper and zinc.

breast feathers: the feathers on the chest of the eagle, usually the highest point on the back of many U.S. coins, especially Morgan Dollars.

brilliant: used to describe the  flashy luster of a coin.

Brilliant Uncirculated: a “brand new” coin that is bright and flashy.

broadstrike: an error coin struck outside of its collar, resulting in an expanded planchet.

bronze: a reddish alloy of copper and a small amount of tin.

Brown: the color of copper coins that have toned down from their original, bright red color.

BU: abbreviation for Brilliant Uncirculated.

BU rolls: set quantities of coins that are Brilliant Uncirculated.  Example: a BU roll of Morgan Dollars has 20 coins, all Uncirculated.

Buffalo nickel: the popular 5 Cent piece with an Indian Head on the front and a buffalo on the back, issued from 1913 to 1938.

bulged die: a coin with wavy, concave or convex surfaces caused by a defective stamp.

bullion: raw metal, usually gold or silver in ingot form.

bullion coin: a coin that has no collector premium above the value of its metal.

burnishing: altering the surfaces of a coin to make it look better than it actually is.  Burnishing is a bit more aggressive than polishing.

business strike: a coin struck for use in circulation.

Bust dollar: the United States Silver Dollars issued from 1795 to 1804.

buyer’s fee: the premium charged to a successful bidder at auction, added to the hammer price (final bid) of each lot.  In recent years, the buyer’s fee has risen from zero percent to fifteen percent.

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