Letter B


Commonly seen during times of supply shortage or disruption, backwardation is a market condition where the current stock price is higher than the future contract price.


These are chemicals that prevent the formation of bacteria. They are typically used as an additive to coatings and corrosion inhibitors.


A $1,000 face-value bag of coins.

Bag Marks

The abrasions which coins receive through contact with one another. Most coins were thrown into bags soon after minting and shipped everywhere in the country. The coins banged against one another and usually received a considerable number of abrasions. The presence of abrasions does not mean that a coin has been circulated, as all business strikes have some bag marks. Bag marks are a very important consideration in the grading of coins.

Bank Wire

An electronic transfer of funds through the Federal Reserve System from one financial institution to another.


Metal molded into a bar shape.

Base Metal

Non-precious metal that serves as a base for gold-filled, gold-plated, silver-plated, or any non-precious metal covered by a precious metal.

Base Price

Silver-metal value of one dollar in coin, based on the face value and weight of the coin.

Basining (of Dies)

The process of polishing the field of the die before its use in the coining process. Most prooflike dollars are the result of this process, which is done infrequently and, as a result, are more valuable.


The difference (variation) between the spot price of a deliverable and the relative price of the futures with the shortest duration until maturity.


One who believes prices will move lower.


The price offered to buy a particular coin.

Blank or Blank Planchet

A piece of metal intended for coinage, but not struck.

Boiler Room

A room where a group of fast-talking salesman phone the unsophisticated in an effort to peddle coins.


Within the raised rim of a coin was formerly a protective ornamentation either of radial lines or beads. See Denticles.

Branch Mint

Subordinate mints in locales other than Philadelphia. Branch mints are presently operating in Denver, San Francisco and West Point. They formerly operated in New Orleans; Carson City, Nevada; and the two “gold mints” at Charlotte, North Carolina; and Dahlonega, Georgia.


Untoned. Without tarnish or oxidation and with original cartwheel (i.e., frosty) or proof like luster. A copper coin is usually referred to as brilliant if it has full original red. A silver, nickel or gold coin is usually described as brilliant if it has no toning or oxidation (although it may have some spots or light toning hues about the periphery), and its original luster is more or less intact.

Brilliant Proof

A particular kind of proof coin which boasts a full mirror surface in the fields. See Proof and Matte Proof.

Brilliant Uncirculated (BU)

Literally, not circulated, with mint luster. A coin which is still in Mint State condition. See Uncirculated, Mint state.

British Sovereign

British Gold sovereigns have been struck since 1489. Sovereigns are typically struck for each new monarch and are made from a variety of metals and weights.


A brokerage firm that acts as an agent for a customer and charges the customer a commission for its fees.

Buffalo Nickel

U.S. 5 cent coins designed by James Earle Fraser, minted for circulation from 1913-1938. This coin was the basis of the popular Buffalo Silver Round.

Buffalo Round

A replica of the design used on U.S. 5 cent coins minted from 1913-1938.

Bull (Bull Market)

The belief that the market (and prices) will continue to rise. Opposite of a Bear Market.


Precious metal in negotiable or tradable shape, such as a wafer, bar, or ingot; or sometimes as coins or jewelry.

Bullion Coin

Coin that has little numismatic value but is purchased for its precious metal content. The Canadian Maple Leaf and the Mexican 50 Pesos are two examples.

Bullion Precious Metals

These include gold, silver, platinum and palladium. Bullion trading is based on the intrinsic metal value. Typically, presented as bars, ingots, coins and rounds.


Polishing process that consists of placing blank planchets in a rotating drum with thousands of small metal balls.

Business Strike

Manufacturing used to mint coins for everyday use. See Proof Method for coins manufactured for collectors.


Usually found on the obverse side of a coin (front) this is the head, neck and shoulders of a person.

Buy/Sell Spreads

This is the difference between the buy and sell price of a commodity on the same day, at the same price and by the same buyer.