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|Does "BU" or "Brilliant Uncirculated" mean a perfect coin?|
What is Brilliant Uncirculated?
Brilliant Uncirculated may seem self explanatory, but it’s definition is surprisingly murky. At one time this meant that a coin still had the original luster from the mint and the coin was undamaged. However, BU is often used with a much broader definition. As the name implies, an uncirculated coin has not been used for commerce. The US Mint will often issue separate ‘Uncirculated’ coins specifically for collectors. For example, the American Silver Eagles are issued either as bullion coins or ‘Uncirculated’ coins for collectors. The ‘brilliant’ part of the title is not as exciting as you might think. Yes, the coin should appear shiny and new, but brilliant uncirculated is the lowest grade of uncirculated coins.
Why is it the lowest grade?
Even though a coin qualifies as Brilliant Uncirculated that doesn’t mean that it is in perfect condition. Why not? Coins are often distributed and stored in large bags. As the bags are moved around the coins hit one another. When lots of coins are banging into one another in a bag they end up with ‘bag marks’ or scratches. Basically, a coin can be BU and still be covered in scratches and gouges.
Even though the coin has some scratches and gouges it shouldn’t have any signs of use, or wear. What does that mean? As you handle a coin with your fingers you will gradually rub off the fine details of the coin. A Morgan silver dollar has small lines in the hair that will rub off and a silver American Eagle may lose some folds in lady liberty’s gown. If you see signs that a coin’s details or date have rubbed off–even if it appears shiny–the coin is not in BU condition.
What is better than Brilliant Uncirculated condition?
BU condition usually refers to a Mint State 60 grade or higher on the Sheldon Scale. Coin grading is done on a scale up to 70, so any coin from MS-60 to MS-70 is in BU condition. The higher the number the better the coin’s condition. If a coin has been graded, it will be kept in a protective rectangular ‘slab’ which will verify it’s condition. There are a couple other terms to look out for: ‘Choice BU’ refers to coins in MS63-MS64; ‘Gem BU’ refers to coins graded MS65 or higher.
How can I care for my BU coins?
To make sure a coin remains in BU condition you should always handle the coin with gloves. If you don’t, the oils on your skin can damage the coin’s surface. Although some BU coins will come in a flip–or a little plastic pouch–most will be delivered in an acrylic capsule to protect the coin from damage.
Should I buy BU coins?
There are two big advantages to buying Brilliant Uncirculated condition. First, the coins still have all the fine details. If you’re someone who likes to look at and appreciate the design elements of the coins you collect you’ll appreciate having the coins with all the details intact. Secondly, coin grade is a factor when someone looks at the investment value of coins. Basically, even though the mintage numbers of a coin may be high a relatively small number of coins are likely to be in Brilliant Uncirculated condition. That makes your coin a little more rare than the next one.
|How much is your shipping charge?|
|Our shipping charge is based on total order value, and are different for domestic vs. international orders:
Domestic: Please view the current shipping rates on the shopping cart page.
International: Please view the current shipping rates on the shopping cart page.
These prices are subject to change without notice. You will be shown actual shipping cost prior to checkout.
|What do the coin grade abbreviations G3, VG, EF40, etc. mean?|
|There are coin grading standards set by the American Numismatic Association which determine the quality, and therefore the value, of a coin, and range from MS(Mint State)-3 (the lowest quality possible) to MS-70 (the highest quality possible). You may view a general description of the grades and their meanings at this link:
Coin Grading Guide
|What's up with the quality of the P (Philadelphia) Mint Presidential Dollars?|
Well, we're not so sure. The current US Mint facility at Philadelphia has been minting coins since 1969. However this year (2015) we have noted, as you may have, that the quality of the Philadelphia Mint Presidential Dollar coins has grown significantly worse. The Lyndon Johnson Presidential Dollar issue is even worse than the John F. Kennedy issue, which we did not think could be possible. General quality, eye appeal, blemishes, lack of brightness, errors, and many bag marks (surface scratches and dings) are very common. Some of these coins, quite honestly, look like they've been run over by a truck.
The Denver Mint seems to be doing significantly better at production quality, and has generally over the years. Here is another perspective from several years back. A contributor to Numismatic News, the most widely known trade publication, laments the quality of the Philadelphia Mint with regard to State Quarters, but it holds true it seems for most of their production:
We have suggested that collectors contact the US Mint to make their opinions known. As these coins are no longer minted for general circulation, but rather for collectors only, one would think that they would pay more attention to quality. In any event, there really is nothing we can do about this, as the US Mint has complete and absolute control over the production of coins. Although sealed very well, only about 5-10 coins out of a 25 coin roll are in a condition which we would even accept as sellable. Cleaning the coins is not generally an option for dealers, and normally quality is high enough that we would not consider "cherry picking", and never have. However in this case, we must.
We have noted from several customers, however, that dipping individual discolored coins in a product call E Z est coin cleaner removes much of the discoloration. We do not sell this product ourselves, and generally recommend against the use of cleaners, however in this case, you may prefer the results, It is generally available at retailers such as Amazon.com:
And should you wish to contact the US Mint:
Please be assured that we are only sending out the best examples that we ourselves receive. If you have any questions regarding this that we have not answered here, please feel free to inquire here. Thank you.
|When will the next Presidential Dollar and National Park Quarter be available?|
|The U.S. National Park Quarters are released five times throughout each year, from 2010 through 2021, during the following approximate periods:
March, June, August, October, December
The U.S. Presidential Dollars are released four times throughout each year, from 2007 through 2017, during the following approximate periods:
March, June, September, December
These will be available to purchase through our website as we receive them.
|Where can I find a list of the Pres. Dollar and Nat. Park Quarter Releases?|
|Why are there no Carter, Bush, or Obama Presidential Dollars?|
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