Glossary of Terms
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Back of a Note

The reverse side of a note and the paper money equivalent of reverse used for coins

Back of a Note

The reverse side of a note and the paper money equivalent of reverse used for coins.

Bag

A term for the cloth sacks that were used to carry, transport and store coins. Bags replaced wooden kegs in the mid-nineteenth century. The term "bag" can also refer to the value by volume of a specific denomination. Example: a bag of silver dollars is $1,000 face value.

Bag

A term for the cloth sacks that were used to carry, transport and store coins. Bags replaced wooden kegs in the mid-nineteenth century. The term "bag" can also refer to the value by volume of a specific denomination. Example: a bag of silver dollars is $1,000 face value.

Bag Marks

Minor marks on an otherwise Uncirculated coin often resulting from having been stored or shipped in bags with other coins.

Bag Toning

This occurs when the surface of a coin has changed color from being stored in a cloth bag. The material that comprised cloth bags contained metal-reactive chemicals, including sulfur, and when stored for extended periods of time, the coins near the cloth would acquire attractive blue, green, yellow, red and other vibrant colors. Depending on the coin's placement in the bag, you can sometimes see the texture of the bag in the toning. Crescent-shaped toning can also occur when a coin is on top of another coin in the bag. Since part of the coin's surface is covered, toning doesn't develop in certain areas. Bag toning is most often seen on Morgan silver dollars, but it is occasionally seen on other series.

Bank Note

1. piece of paper money, or currency, issued by or bearing the name of a bank. In numismatics this most particularly refers to obsolete currency issued by banks circa 1782-1866. 2. Popularly, any type of paper money issued by a bank or government.

Bank Note Reporter

A printed publication issued monthly by F+W Publications.

Bank-Wrapped Rolls

The Federal Reserve Bank would wrap rolls of coins by denomination from the original mint bags. These rolls are typically desired by collectors because they have not been looked through by other collectors or dealers. Also abbreviated as OBW, for "original bank wrapped."

Bar Copper, Bar Cent

Copper coin or token, slightly smaller than the size of a contemporary state copper coin, featuring the monogram USA on the obverse, and 13 parallel bars on the reverse. Original pieces are said to have circulated in New York in 1785. The maker is unknown.

Bar, Metal

A slug or ingot of metal issued by a mine, refinery, mint, or other establishment working with metals. Sizes range from small, weighing just a few ounces (such as those issued as souvenirs and keepsakes by mining companies) to large versions weighing many pounds. Gold and silver bars of the 19th century were customarily stamped with information including the weight, purity, issue, a serial number, and sometimes the value and/or the date. Also known as an ingot.

Barber Coinage

A common name for the series of Liberty Head dimes, quarters, and half dollars designed by Charles Barber which were struck from 1892 until 1916.

Basal State

The lowest grade of a numismatic item. The coin is worn to the point where it can only be identified as a coin, and that it is a certain denomination and type.

Basal Value

This is the value base upon which Dr. William H. Sheldon’s 70-point grade/price system was created. Each variety of large copper cents dated from 1793 to 1814 was given a basal value that could be multiplied by the numerical grade of an individual coin to determine its market price. Thus a cent with a basal value of $5 and in VF-20 grade would be worth $100. The system was fine in theory, but it failed in practice and is no longer used today.

Baseball Cap Coin

A slang term for the Panama-Pacific (Pan-Pac) commemorative gold dollar coin, because the figure on the obverse wears a cap that resembles a baseball cap.

Basining

A die polishing process to remove clash marks or other damage or to create a mirrored surface on the die.

Bass, Harry W. Jr.

Numismatic connoisseur, builder of one of the greatest collections of American gold ever formed. We auctioned his collection in a number of sales beginning in 1999. Today the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Museum at ANA Headquarters in Colorado Springs showcases additional treasures. The Harry W. Bass Museum Sylloge, by Q. David Bowers, was published by us.

Battleship Note

A common name for a Series of 1918 $2 Federal Reserve Bank Note which depicts a battleship on the back printed in green.

Beaded Border

A continuous band of small, round design elements around the edge of a coin, later replaced by dentils. These are most often seen on early U.S. coins.

Betts Medal

A medal with motifs relating to early America as described by C. Wyllys Betts in American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals published in 1894.

BG Gold

A common term for California fractional gold coins as stated in the Breen-Gillio reference work titled California Pioneer Fractional Gold.

Bid

An offer made by a bidder at an auction for a particular numismatic item. Also, the top price a buyer is willing to pay for a specific coin issue and grade, accepted either on a trading network, pricing newsletter, or other medium. See also: ask; spread.

Bidder

A participant in an auction or a dealer issuing a quotation on an electronic trading system.

BIdder Number

Assigned by the auction house, the number assigned to a potential buyer who would like to execute bids during an auction.

Bill

Piece of paper money of $1 face value or higher.

Bimetallic

Refers to a coin made of two different metals, usually bonded or clad (not mixed as an alloy), with each metal being visible upon examination. Example: Certain pattern two-cent pieces with sections of silver bonded or fixed to a planchet of bronze. 2. A monetary system in which two precious metals, usually silver and gold, are both accorded full legal tender status based upon their intrinsic value.

Birch Cent

Any one of several pattern one-cent pieces dated 1792 and engraved by Birch.

Bison Note

A common name for the $10 Series of 1901 Legal Tender Notes. Printed on the front is a bison.

Bit

A nickname for the Spanish-American silver two-real coin worth 12½¢, popular in United States commerce until demonetized by the Act of February 21, 1857. A two-bit piece was worth 25¢. This nickname is sometimes used today to refer to the United States quarter dollar.

Black Eagle Note

A common name for the $1 Series of 1899 Silver Certificates with a bold eagle on the face of the note, printed in black.

Blank

A flat, plain metal disc prior to being struck into a coin. See also: planchet.

Blemish

Minor nick, mark, flaw, or spot of discoloration that mars the surface of a coin and detracts from its grade and appearance.

Blended

A term used to describe when one element of a coin is worn into another element or the surrounding field.

Bluebook

An annual wholesale pricing book for United States coins published by Whitman Publishing, LLC and so named because of its blue cover.

Bluesheet

A common name for the Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter.

Blundered Die

A coin die with an error in engraving, such as an inverted letter or numeral or some other mistake.

BM

An abbreviation for "Branch Mint" typically used when describing Branch Mint Proof coins, an example being the 1893-CC BM Proof Morgan dollar.

BN

An abbreviation for "brown" when referring to copper coins.

Body Bag

Slang term for a plastic sleeve, envelope, or other container used by a grading service to return a coin, with a comment as to why the firm did not want to grade it (problems, etc.).

Bourse

A term synonymous with a coin show or coin convention.

Bourse Floor

The physical location where a coin show or coin convention takes place.

Braided Hair

This refers to the hair style where the hair is pulled back into a tight bun with a braided hair cord. This is seen on half cents and large cents from 1840 on.

Branch Mint

A United States mint other than the Philadelphia Mint where coins are, or were formerly, struck.

Breast Feathers

The central feathers of the eagle design on many different coins, but particularly Morgan dollars. Fully and well struck coins tend to command a premium and the breast feathers are usually the most telling feature when value is being determined.

Breen

A slang term used when referring to the late Walter Breen.

Breen Book

Slang for Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, a reference book published in 1988.

Breen Letter

A document written or typed by Walter Breen in which he states his opinion on a specific numismatic item. Before third party certification services, this was the common method used by dealers and collectors to authenticate a unique item.

Breen-Gillio

Numbering system for fractional gold coins based on the book, California Pioneer Fractional Gold, by Walter Breen and Ron Gillio.

Brilliant

A grading term for a coin with original cartwheel or prooflike luster, unimpeded by toning.

Brilliant Proof

A Proof coin with mirrorlike surfaces.

Brilliant Uncirculated

A common term for any coin that has not been circulated.

Brockage

A mint error coin caused by the failure to eject a struck coin from the dies, after which a blank planchet is inserted into the dies, receiving on one side the correct image of a die and on the other side an incuse impression made from the already-struck coin in the dies. The result is a coin which has one side in relief and the other side with an incuse mirror image of the same die. A brockage can be of a reverse or an obverse. Obverse brockages are seen more frequently.

Bronze

An alloy of copper, zinc, and tin, usually 95% copper and the balance zinc and tin.

Brother Jonathan, S.S.

Sidewheel steamship lost off the coast of California in 1865, recovered in the late 20th century. Double eagles and other gold coins auctioned by us, and a book, The Treasure Ship S.S. Brother Jonathan, by Q. David Bowers, was published by us.

Brown

Describes the toning on certain copper coins that have lost their red color, usually abbreviated as BN on certified holders.

Brushing

A series of minute parallel lines caused by rubbing a light abrasive across the surface of a coin.

Bryan money, Bryan

Describes tokens and medals relating to William Jennings Bryan’s presidential campaigns of 1896 (in particular), 1900, and 1908, mostly with inscriptions relating to the “silver question.”

BU

An abbreviation for Brilliant Uncirculated.

BU Rolls

Wrapped coins, typically in paper, in specific quantities for each denomination. Cents, 50; nickels, 40; dimes, 50; quarters, 40; half dollars and dollars, 20.

Buckled Die

A die that is warped or distorted, typically caused by excessive clashing, that produces slightly bent coins.

Buffalo Nickel

Slang term for the Indian Head nickel, which depicts an American bison on the reverse. These were struck from 1913 to 1938.

Bulged Die

A die that clashes multiple times can form a small indentation, metal then fills the indentation and produces coins that have a bulged area.

Bullet Toning

A synonym for target toning

Bullion

Uncoined gold or silver in the form of bars, ingots or plates that trade based on their intrinsic metal value.

Bullion Coin

A coin struck for sale as a convenient form of gold, silver, platinum or palladium, often in increments of a Troy ounce. Intrinsic metal weight determines value. Examples include the U.S. Gold Eagle and the Canadian Maple Leaf.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Federal department in change of printing paper money and other security items.

Burn Mark

A synonym for counting machine mark.

Burnishing

Rubbing or polishing the surfaces of a coin or planchet to make it shine. Proof planchets are burnished before they are struck, originally by rubbing wet sand across the surface to reveal a mirror-like finish. Burnishing can also refer to when the surfaces on altered or repaired coins are treated, through a variety of ways, either mechanically or chemically. Burnishing a coin after it is struck lessens its value.

Burnishing Lines

Incuse lines resulting from burnishing, most often seen on open-collar Proofs.

Burnt

A slang term for a coin that has dull and lacklustre surfaces because the coin has been over-dipped.

Business Strike

A term devised by Walter Breen to describe a coin struck and intended for regular circulation rather than primarily for sale to collectors. Circulation strike is the more descriptive preferred term.

Bust

The head and shoulders of Miss Liberty as seen on many United States issues.

Bust Dollar

A slang term for Draped Bust dollar, silver dollars struck from 1795-1803.

Buyer's Premium

An additional fee paid by the winning bidder, as defined by our terms of sale.

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