With regard to coins, BU stands for “Brilliant Uncirculated.” Coins are also sometimes called “Mint State,” “Uncirculated,” and “Beautiful Uncirculated.” BU coins are in exceptional condition, although they aren’t rare, since they were originally intended for use as currency. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to BU coins, brought to you by the professionals from First National Bullion, San Diego gold coin dealers with experience and market know-how you can rely on.
Collecting BU Coins
Brilliant Uncirculated coins are bright and undamaged, and they’ve never seen the inside of a vending machine or the underside of a couch cushion. As the name suggests, they’ve never been in circulation. They likely went into storage immediately after minting. Marks on BU coins likely came from being in a mint bag with other coins. Often, coin dealers will use Brilliant Uncirculated to grade a coin that isn’t worth officially grading numerically because it isn’t of much value but still has the luster of a newly minted coin.
The Sheldon Scale
It used to be difficult to pinpoint the quality of coins. Terms such as “nice,” “good,” and “slightly worn” were used, which were inherently subjective. Thankfully, numismatist William Herbert Sheldon, Jr. created a numeric way to grade coins. He first presented the scale in 1949, and it was adopted by the collector and assessor community in the 1980s.
Descriptive Coin Grading with the Sheldon Scale
1 = Poor (P)
2 = Fair (FA)
3 = About Good (AG)
4–6 = Good (G)
8–10 = Very Good (VG)
12–15 = Fine (F)
20–35 = Very Fine (VF)
40–45 = Extremely Fine (XF)
50–59 = About Uncirculated (AU)
60–70 = Brilliant Uncirculated (BU)
Grades of 1–59 are for circulated coins, and 60–70 are for uncirculated coins only. Numeric grading is meant to indicate a coin’s physical excellence. High numbers don’t guarantee high monetary value. About Uncirculated coins are sometimes the ones to look for instead of BU coins. It means they were indeed in circulation but didn’t see much damage in the process. For a coin to be Brilliant Uncirculated, members of its batch must have been circulated, meaning there were enough produced for there to be extras. The likelihood of a coin being rare increases if it saw circulation.
Gem and Superb BU Coins
These are subcategories of BU Coins, and they’re reserved for coins that are lustrous, appear to be freshly minted, and have no visible scuff marks. The strike is above average. On the Sheldon Scale, Gem BU is usually considered to be 65 or 66, while Superb is 67–70.
While BU coins are of the highest grade, there’s one level above them. Proof coins were created without ever being intended for circulation. There’s extra attention to the strike details and finish on proof coins because they were made for the purpose of being added to a collection.
Whether you’re a veteran coin collector or you’re just getting interested in taking up the hobby, you’ll find a fantastic variety of high-quality coins at First National Bullion. We offer a huge selection of silver, platinum, and gold coins. San Diego collectors who are looking for the finest quality in precious metals should give us a call at 858-666-6570 to speak with one of our experts.
The statements made in this blog are opinions, and past performance is not indicative of future returns. Precious metals, like all investments, carry risk. Precious metals and coins may appreciate, depreciate, or stay the same in cash value depending on a variety of factors. First National Bullion does not guarantee, and its website and employees make no representation, that any metals for sale will appreciate sufficiently to earn the customers a profit. The decision to buy, sell, or borrow precious metals and which precious metals to purchase, borrow, or sell are made at the customer’s sole discretion.