Coin Collecting A to Z

Coin Collecting Terms - Letter B

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Back - The paper money side opposite the face; analogous to the reverse of a coin.

Bag - A generic term for the cloth sacks used to transport and store coins. Also refers to the quantity of coins of a particular denomination found in a bag (such as 5000 cents or 1000 silver dollars).

Bag marks - Nicks and scratches resulting from contact with other coins in the same mint bag. Especially common on large, heavy coins such as Morgan Dollars and Double Eagles.

Bag toning - Coloring acquired from the bag while a coin was stored. When stored in bags for extended periods, coins in close proximity to the cloth often acquire beautiful red, yellow, blue and other colors. Bag toning is seen most often on Morgan silver dollars.

Banknote - A promissory note issued by a bank in useful denominations. Banknotes are payable to the bearer and intended to circulate as money. This term should not be used as a generic term for all forms of paper money.

Bar - A non-numismatic form of precious metal. Bars are found in many different sizes and shapes that create a convenient way to store precious metals.

Bar Cent - A token that was struck in the United States shortly after the Civil War. The Bar Cent is named after the series of bars on its reverse side. On the obverse of the coin is the lettering "U.S.A." in script, without any further design or date.

Barber coinage - Common name for Liberty Head dimes, quarters, and half dollars struck during the 1890s and early 1900s designed by Charles Barber.

Barter Economy - An economic system in which wages and prices are measured in terms of commodities rather than coins and paper currency.

Bas relief - A style of coinage in which the design elements are raised within depressions in the fields of a coin, so that no part of the design is undercut.

Basal state - The condition of a coin that is identifiable only as to date, mintmark, and type.

Basal value - The value base on which Dr. William H. Sheldon’s 70-point grade/price system started. The lowest-grade price was one dollar $1.00 for the 1794 large cent. This is what he based his system on.

Base metal - A metal not classified as a precious metal (i.e. copper, lead).

Base relief - Sculpture style featuring slight differences between the raised design and the field in which no part of the design is undercut. Base relief is used to execute models for coins and medals.

Basining - The process of polishing and repairing a die to create a mirrored surface or to remove clash marks or other damage from a die.

Bath Metal - Metal made from an alloy of zinc and copper. This metal was used in Britain in the 18th century for tokens and sometimes for medals.

Beaded border - Small round devices around the edge of a coin, often seen on early U.S. coins like the 1793 large cent.

BG Gold - Term sometimes applied to California fractional gold coins as documented in the Breen-Gillio reference work California Pioneer Fraction Gold.

Bicentennial coins - The special quarter dollar, half dollar and dollar struck from mid-1975 to the end of 1976 in honor of the 200th anniversary of American Independence. Coins feature the dual date 1776-1976 and special reverses emblematic of the celebration. These coins were issued in copper-nickel clad versions for circulation. Special 40 percent silver clad versions were sold to collectors.

Bid - The highest price offered to buy a particular coin issue and grade either on a trading network, pricing newsletter, or other medium.

Bid sheet - A form used by a buyer in an auction or mail-bid sale, on which the buyer lists the item being bid on by the number it is assigned and the price he is willing to pay.

Bidder - 1. A dealer issuing a quotation on an electronic trading system. 2. A participant in an auction.

Billon - A very low-grade alloy of silver and other metals, usually copper, which is used in minor coinage early in U.S. Mint history.

Bi-metallic - A coin with the center and outer ring(s) being made from different metal alloys.

Bison, Buffalo - Species considered typically North American, used on coinage and paper money of the United States. Examples of this are the Buffalo Nickel (1913-1938) and the Gold Buffalo (2006-present).

Bit - The old Mexican 8 reales silver coins, which circulated extensively in America in the 1700's and 1800's, was sometimes divided into sections. A "bit" was one eighth of the coin, "two bits" was one fourth. This is how our quarter dollar came to be known as Two Bits.

Black Book - An annually revised price guide for values of U.S. coins, published in a softcover format.

Blank - A disc of metal being prepared for coinage before the rims have been raised by passing through the upsetting mill.

Blazer - Refers to a brilliant-white coin that has 100% of its natural mint luster.

Blemishes - Minor nicks, flaws, marks or spots of discoloration that mar the surface of a coin.

Block - In paper money collecting, a series of related notes indicated by the same prefix and suffix letters in the serial number. When the suffix letter changes, a new block is created. The suffix currently changes when the serial number reaches 99 920 000.

Bloom - The term used to refer to the lustrous appearance of a coin immediately after striking. It is caused by the clash of the metal die and coin blank.

Blue Book - Nickname given to Handbook of United States Coins. It is an annual coin price guide for collectors that provides wholesale prices. The book has a blue cover, hence the nickname.

Blue Ikes - Refers to Eisenhower dollars minted between 1971-1978 which were issued by the U.S. Mint in blue envelopes. They are composed of 40% silver.

Bluesheet - Nickname for the Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter, The weekly price publication which reports current sight-unseen bid and ask prices for NGC and PCGS certified coins.

BN - Short for Brown; refers to copper coins that have had their original surface upset by everyday use causing oxidation.

Body bag - Slang term for a coin returned from a grading service in a plastic sleeve within a flip. The coin referred to is deemed a “no-grade” and is not graded or encapsulated. Coins are no-grades for a number of reasons, including questionable authenticity, polishing, cleaning, and repair.

Booby Head - Term usually used to describe Large cents minted in 1839 in which the bust of Liberty exhibits a weird expression on her face.

Border - Raised circle whose outer circumference is the rim of a die or coin.

Bourse - The term used for a gathering of coin dealers at a show or convention, generally at tables or booths, where selections from their stock are offered for examination and purchase.

Bourse Floor - Named after the Paris Stock Exchange, this refers to the booth and trading area at a coin show where dealers display, buy and sell coins.

Bracteate - A very thin medieval European coin with the design impressed on one side showing through to the other side.

Braided Hair - Style of hair on half cents and large cents from 1840 on. The hair is pulled back into a tight bun drawn with a braided hair cord.

Branch Mint - Any US Mint other than Philadelphia. The first Branch Mints were established in the late 1830's in Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans.

Brass - A yellowish alloy consisting mainly of copper and zinc.

Breakout - Term referring to the removal of a coin from its certified slab for the purposes of re-submitting to the same or different certification service for a possible upgrade.

Breast feathers - The central feathers of eagle designs, particularly Morgan dollars. Fully struck coins typically command a premium and the breast feathers are usually the highest point of the reverse.

Breen Book - Slang for Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. It was published in 1988.

Breen letter - A written or typed document by Walter Breen rendering his opinion on a particular numismatic item. Prior to 3rd party certification, this was a common method collectors and dealers used to authenticate a unique item.

Breen, Walter (1930-1993) - Noted numismatic historian, authenticator and author.

Breen-Gillio - Numbering system base on the book California Pioneer Fraction Gold by Walter Breen and Ron Gillio.

Brick - A block of 4,000 Federal Reserve Notes bound together by metal straps as shipped from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to the various Federal Reserve banks.

Brilliant - Untoned. With no tarnish or oxidation, and with original cartwheel luster. Copper coins are considered brilliant if they have full original red.

Brilliant Proof - A particular type of proof coin that has a full mirror surface in the fields.

Brilliant Uncirculated - A generic term for any coin that has not been in circulation.

Britannia - Gold bullion coin and its fractionals to be issued by Great Britain beginning in 1987.

Broadstrike - A coin of a larger than normal diameter. This is actually not an oversize planchet but a striking error. The coin is struck without the protective collar and thereby is spread, by impact, beyond its normal dimensions.

Brockage - A misstruck coin, generally one showing the normal design on one side and a mirror image design on the other side.

Broken Bank Note - Privately issued paper money of the nineteenth century. Most firms or individuals issuing such currency went "broke," therefore the term broken bank note.

Bronze - An reddish/brown alloy consisting mainly of copper and tin, with a small amount of zinc.

Brown - The term applied to a copper coin that no longer has the red color of copper. It is abbreviated as BN when used as part of a grade.

Brown Back - A Brown Back note is a Second Charter, First Issue national bank note. Has brown ink on the back.

Brown Ikes - Refers to Eisenhower dollars minted between 1971-1978 which were issued by the U.S. Mint in brown boxes. They are composed of 40% silver.

BU - Acronym for Brilliant Uncirculated.

BU rolls - Wrapped coins (usually in paper) in specific quantities for each denomination. Cents are quantity 50, nickels quantity 40, dimes quantity 50, quarters quantity 40, half-dollars and dollars 20, etc.

Buckled die - A warped or distorted die. Can be caused by excess clashing. Often produces coins which are slightly bent.

Buffalo nickel - Slang for the Indian Head nickel, struck from 1913 to 1938.

Bugs Bunny - A variety of Franklin half dollars, that were struck in 1955, which have a die defect resulting in the portrait of Benjamin Franklin appearing to have teeth like Bugs Bunny.

Bulged die - A die with a small indentation, formed from clashing. Results in “bulged” coins.

Bullion - Ingots, coins, or other issues that trade for their intrinsic metal value. Only precious metals (silver, gold, platinum, and palladium) are included as bullion.

Bullion coin - A legal tender coin that trades at a slight premium to its value as plain metal but follows spot prices very closely.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing - An agency of the U.S. Treasury Department responsible for the production of currency.

Burnishing - A process in which the surfaces of a coin or a planchet are shined through rubbing or polishing.

Burnishing lines - Lines resulting from burnishing. Typically seen on open-collar Proofs and almost never observed on close-collar Proofs.

Business strike - A coin which was struck for use in general circulation.

Bust - Device including head, neck, and some part of shoulder or chest.

Bust dollar - Term used for silver dollars struck from 1795 through 1803.

Buy or Bid Sale - A mail-bid auction-style sale in which the bidder has the right to buy a coin at the published asking price at any time before the close of the sale or submit a bid lower than the asking price.

Buyer’s Premium - Winning bidders in a public auction are usually charged a buyer's fee based on a certain percentage of the winning bid.

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