What is a BU Coin?

While they were originally intended for use in making transactions, BU (collectors abbreviate the term) coins were stored or reserved from the time they first left the mint and have not been heavily handled.  Even if the coin is several decades old, it will have retained its shine as if it was recently struck and its design will remain in sharp relief.


Examine a handful of pocket change. More than likely, a few of the coins will appear grey and dull, perhaps even damaged or scratched. This is the normal condition of many circulated coins, handled by countless people, shoved into wallets and purses, jammed into vending machines and exposed to the elements.

As a coin loses its luster, it can also lose its appeal to collectors. As details of the design get rubbed away, the circulated coin also loses some of the Precious Metal content that originally ensured its value.

Over the years, coin appraisers and collectors have developed coin grading standards, including:

  • Basal State or Poor (PO)
  • Fair (Fr)
  • About or Almost Good (AG)
  • Good (G)
  • Very Good (VG)
  • Fine (F)
  • Very Fine (VF)
  • Extremely Fine (EF)
  • Almost or About Uncirculated (AU)
  • Uncirculated (Unc)
  • Brilliant Uncirculated (BU)

These grades correspond with the numerical Sheldon Coin Grading Scale, a 70-point grading scale.

Brilliant Uncirculated coins would generally rank between 60 and 70 on the scale. Gem Brilliant Uncirculated coins are among the most perfect condition and would generally rank between 65 and 70 on the scale.

A buyer should expect the highest quality from a certified Brilliant Uncirculated coin. But because these coins were originally intended for circulation, many BU coins are not necessarily rare. It is rather their excellent condition that sets them apart and increases their value for collectors.


These coins are unmatched in their brilliance. In fact, regardless of their age, they will appear newly minted, retaining their entire original luster and every aspect of their detailed design.

Almost Uncirculated

Almost Uncirculated coins refer to coins that have a small amount of wear on its highest points that is usually seen on coins that have had minimal circulation. This does not necessarily mean that the value of the coin is low in value. To the untrained eye, it may not be apparent that a coin is Almost Uncirculated or not. In many European countries, the AU designation also stands for About Uncirculated, but the condition of the coin is the same as Almost Uncirculated.

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