What is a Proof Coin? How to Tell a Proof Coin?

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Written By Natasha Jones
I'm Natasha Jones, an avid collector of coins, stamps, and paper money. My passion drives me to seek unique finds, from antique shops to international exchanges. I enjoy connecting with fellow collectors through forums and meet-ups, sharing discoveries and insights. Collecting, for me, is about preserving history and building a community around this shared interest.

Proof coins are some of the most sought-after items in the coin-collecting world.

Nowadays, many collectors specialize in collecting proof coins, but we must know what they are before collecting them.

This article will discuss proof coins and how to tell them apart from other coins!

What is a Proof Coin?


A proof coin is a coin that has been struck twice with special dies.

The first strike is called the normal strike, and the second is proof.

Both strikes are made on polished dies to produce mirror-like surfaces and sharper images than ordinary coins.

Proof coins are usually issued by government mints for sale to collectors or investors and are made in limited quantities compared to regular circulating coins.

As such, they tend to be more expensive than the same denomination of circulated currency, but they’re also worth more!

How is a Proof Coin Made?

A proof coin is a specially created coin that has been struck multiple times at least once in a special press to ensure it’s perfect.

A proof coin is made from a specially prepared coin die and planchet, or blank metal disk from which coins are made.

First, the obverse (front) and reverse (back) dies for the coins are polished to have mirror-like surfaces.

Then, each dies side is etched with acid to create an image on its surface.

Next, the molten lead mixed with antimony to give it hardness and durability is poured into the recesses of both sides’ images on their respective dies.

This process creates raised areas known as fields. Afterward, planchets are placed on both sides before being struck between them according to specifications set by NGC specialists who ensure proper weight distribution during production.

Hence, there aren’t any heavy spots where one side may be heavier than another if those were not evenly distributed when casting them together initially!

How to Tell if a Coin is a Proof?

If you want to tell if a coin is proof, here are some things to look for:

  • The edge of the coin. Every dime, quarter, half-dollar, and dollar minted since 1965 has reeded edges if you see that on your coin, it’s not proof!
  • The date. Proof coins always have an “S” mint mark somewhere on them (it looks like an “O”). If there isn’t one, the coin can’t be considered proof!
  • Country of origin. U.S.-minted coins will have “USA” stamped on them in addition to their value and year of mintage; foreign coins will say where they were minted (e.g., “Australia”). Ensure that the country is part of any given set—then add it up!
  • Design/artistry level quality control issues like scratches or unevenness should also be considered when deciding whether something qualifies as either type (i).

Proof Coins vs. Regular Coins


The proof coin process is very different from the regular coin manufacture. Instead of simply stamping and striking the coin, it is treated with a special lacquer to give it a mirror-like finish.

This special treatment gives it extra luster and makes it more attractive than the standard bullion coin.

The lacquer also makes them more durable and resistant to scratches, which means they can preserve their value for longer periods than standard coins.

In addition, because proof coins are made using this method, they are worth significantly more than other bullion products (usually by as much as 100%).

Proof Coins vs. Uncirculated Coins

uncirculated vs proof american gold eagle differences

Proof coins have a mirror-like finish, which means it looks like you can see your reflection on their surface.

In contrast, uncirculated coins are duller with less detail. You don’t want to mistake one for the other because they have very different values!

Proof coins are also made of precious metals like silver or gold, while uncirculated coins are made of base metals like nickel or copper.

This means that proof coins are precious, whereas uncirculated ones aren’t nearly as expensive (they don’t contain as much precious metal).

Are Proof Coins Valuable?

While proof coins are valued at a premium, even compared to other precious metals, their value depends on the coin itself.

For example, if you compare two proof coins of equal weight and size but different denominations, you will find that they usually have different values.

This is because some coins are rarer and may be worth more in the marketplace than the average proof coin.

However, most experts agree that any proof coin will cost more than its uncirculated counterpart.

And while there’s no guarantee that you’ll make money by purchasing and selling these items yourself—just like with any investment—you can rest assured knowing that your collection is one-of-a-kind!

Before you go…

As you can see, there is more to a proof coin than its appearance. Proof coins are made to be beautiful, unique, and valuable. They’re collector items that people love to own because they’re perfect copies of the real thing—and with their high quality, these coins are worth collecting!

Check out my next article: “2018 US Mint Silver Reverse Proof Set – Do You Need This in Your Collection?

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