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Buyer's Guide
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.

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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?
  So, What is going on at the Philadelphia Mint anyway? Their quality is crap!

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

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?

US Presidential Dollars Release Schedule

Year President
2007 George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
2008 James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
2009 William Harrison
John Tyler
James Polk
Zachary Taylor
2010 Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
2011 Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes
James A. Garfield
2012 Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland 1st Term
Benjamin Harrison
Grover Cleveland 2nd Term
2013 William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
2014 Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt
2015 Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
2016 Richard M. Nixon
Gerald R. Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald W. Reagan
2017 George H.W. Bush
William J. Clinton
George W. Bush

National Park Quarters Release Schedule

Year Location National Park or
National Site
2010 Arkansas Hot Springs National Park
Wyoming Yellowstone National Park
California Yosemite National Park
Arizona Grand Canyon National Park
Oregon Mt. Hood National Forest
2011 Pennsylvania Gettysburg National Military Park
Montana Glacier National Park
Washington Olympic National Park
Mississippi Vicksburg National Military Park
Oklahoma Chickasaw National Recreation Area
2012 Puerto Rico El Yunque National Forest
New Mexico Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Maine Acadia National Park
Hawaii Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Alaska Denali National Park
2013 New Hampshire White Mountain National Forest
Ohio Perryâs Victory and International Peace Memorial
Nevada Great Basin National Park
Maryland Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
South Dakota Mount Rushmore National Memorial
2014 Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Virginia Shenandoah National Park
Utah Arches National Park
Colorado Great Sand Dunes National Park
Florida Everglades National Park
2015 Nebraska Homestead National Monument of America
Louisiana Kisatchie National Forest
North Carolina Blue Ridge Parkway
Delaware Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
New York Saratoga National Historical Park
2016 Illinois Shawnee National Forest
Kentucky Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
West Virginia Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt National Park
South Carolina Fort Moultrie (Fort Sumter National Monument)
2017 Iowa Effigy Mounds National Monument
District of Columbia Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Missouri Ozark National Scenic Riverways
New Jersey Ellis Island National Monument (Statue of Liberty)
Indiana George Rogers Clark National Historical Park
2018 Michigan Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Wisconsin Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Minnesota Voyageurs National Park
Georgia Cumberland Island National Seashore
Rhode Island Block Island National Wildlife Refuge
2019 Massachusetts Lowell National Historical Park
Northern Mariana Islands American Memorial Park
Guam War in the Pacific National Historical Park
Texas San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Idaho Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness
2020 American Samoa National Park of American Samoa
Connecticut Weir Farm National Historic Site
U.S. Virgin Islands Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve
Vermont Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park
Kansas Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
2021 Alabama Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
Why are there no Carter, Bush, or Obama Presidential Dollars?

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Dollar issue is the last in the Presidential Dollar series. All remaining presidents, including Carter 39, Bush 41, B. Clinton 42, Bush 43, and Obama 44 are still living, and therefore ineligible by federal law to have their image on a US coin. This has been the law of the land since long before it was more formalized by Congress in the 1950's. A two year gap from the date of death is required before consideration can be given to putting a former Presidents image on any US currency. According to the US Mint, the Presidential Dollar Program is now completed and no more will be added for the foreseeable future.

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