Numismatic Dictionary

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There are currently 47 names in this directory beginning with the letter B.
bag mark
Scratches, marks, or other impairments caused by coins hitting each other usually during transportation or storage after being placed in bags by the U.S. Mint. Larger coins are more susceptible to bag marks.

bag toning
Coloring from the oxidation of a coin’s metal caused by a reaction with the cloth bag the coin was stored in.

A type of paper currency issued by a legal bank, whether by a government’s central bank or private bank with the permission of a government, that is payable to the bearer. It is intended to circulate in trade as legal tender in trade.

Barber coinage
Name used to describe the coinage designed by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber.

Barr Notes
Named for Joseph W. Barr, the 59th Secretary of the Treasury, who served for one month at the end of Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.

bas relief
A sculpture technique where the design is carved or engraved below what is perceived as the surface of the material. See also incuse.

basal state
A coin whose condition is such low quality that it can barely identified as to the date and mintmark (if any) based on visible features.

base metal
A metal with low intrinsic value that is usually worth less than the coin. Examples of base metals used for coins are copper, nickel, tin, steel, and aluminum.

The process of polishing a die to remove imperfections as the die is worn during the striking process.

beaded border
Small round devices around the edge of a coin often seen on early U.S. coins.


The highest price of a particular coin issue and grade offered for sale. See also ask.

An alloy of gold or silver with copper or other base metals that were used for striking coins of small denomination.

Coin made from two distinct metals. Bimetallic coins include the Canadian $2 (Twonie), 1 and 2 euro coins.

Numismatically, a bit is one-eighth of a dollar. It comes from the days when the Spanish Milled Dollar, or 8 reals coin, was cut into bits for fractional currency. See also milled dollar or real.

Blakesley Effect
On a coin with a curved clip error, the edge opposite of the curved clip has a weak or missing rim. See also clip.

A flat disk of metal destined to be made into a coin. See also planchet.

blanking die
A die used to cut coining blanks from pieces of prepared metal. See also planchet.

blanking press
The press that uses blanking dies to punch blanks from prepared metal See also planchet.

Blue Sheet
Nickname for the publication Certified Coin Dealers Newsletter, a pricing guide.

Nickname for the book Handbook of United States Coins by R. S. Yeoman and Kenneth Bressett. The Bluebook is a popular wholesale price reference guide that is published annually. See also Red Book.

body bag
Term used to describe a coin that is returned by a grading service that was not encased and without a grade because or a problem with the coin.

Booby Head
A nickname for a variety of 1839 Large Cents where the curl of Liberty’s hair peaks around the bust, which is physically impossible. See also Silly Head.

A term used to describe a stock market trading floor, especially in France, but used by the numismatic community to describe the trading floor at a coin show.

bourse floor
The physical area where coin shows takes place.

Bowtie Clip Error
A type of error coin that was punched on a scrap of metal punched from the webbing created when blanks are punched from the metal sheets. The scrap was punched from the web-like sheets and the resulting scrap resembles a bowtie. The scrap is mixed with the other planchets and is punched with the working dies.

branch mint
A subsidiary mint facility other than the main mint facility that also strikes coinage. The U.S. Mint has branch mints in Denver, San Francisco, and West Point.

An alloy of copper and zinc.

Breen Book
Term used for the book Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins by Walter Breen.

Bright and shiny coin with its original finish. A copper coin is one that has maintained it full original luster described. See also red.

brilliant proof
A proof coin with mirrored surfaces and no toning.

brilliant uncirculated
A term for a coin that has its original surface appearance and has not been circulated.

Bullion Coin program produced by the Royal Mint in the United Kingdom. Named for Britannia, the female personification of Great Britain.

broad strike
A coin that is struck in a way that expands beyond the boundaries of the collar. A broadstrike can give the coin a flat or elongated look.

A type of striking error when the coin is not ejected properly from the press and causes the mirror image of the exposed design to be struck on the next coin.

Broken Banknotes
Synonym for Obsolete Banknotes.

An alloy of copper and tin.

Term applied to a copper coin that no longer has the red color of copper.

A term used to describe the color of a copper or copper-plated coin that has less than 5-percent of its original color because of natural oxidation.

Coins, ingots, or other items are bought and sold for their intrinsic metal value. Only precious metals are included as bullion.

bullion coin
A legal tender coin that trades for the value of its metal or with only a slight premium.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Bureau under the Department of the Treasury that is the official security printer of the United States government. Their primary responsibility is to print U.S. Federal Reserve Notes. See also National Currency Bureau.

A process in which the surface of a coin is polished to better its appearance.

burnishing lines
Lines on the surface of a coin as a result from burnishing. This is typically seen on open-collar Proofs and almost never observed on close-collar Proofs.

business strike
A term used to describe a coin that is being struck for circulation.

The head, neck, and upper shoulders an image generally found on the obverse (front) of a coin.

buyer's premium
A Buyer's Premium is a service fee charged by an auction company on a success bid of an auction item based on the terms and conditions of the auction.

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