mint proof coinIf you’ve entered the coin collecting world, you’ve probably heard the term “proof coin” thrown around here and there. Many people have never even heard of proof coins, so when the term comes up, they have plenty of questions. We’ve tried to answer some of these questions for both seasoned coin collectors and newcomers alike.

Q: What is a proof coin?

A: Before editors send their books to the press, they’ll first send out a proof copy to make sure everything appears correctly before it is immortalized in print. Proof coins were very similar in their original state. The mint would send out proof coins to test the dyes and ensure that everything was right on the coin before sending it into circulation. Now, proof coins are made specifically for collectors. They are struck using a high quality minting process, including special polishes and dies. They are known for their mirrored, high quality surface.  

Q: What’s the difference between a proof coin and an uncirculated coin?

A: The difference between proof and uncirculated coins is found largely in the way they’re made. A proof coin uses high quality dyes and finishes. An uncirculated coin is just like a regular coin without having entered circulation in commerce. It also means that the coin is closer to perfect than other coins. It is made the same way a normal coin meant for circulation is made, but with more care and handling to ensure that there are as few imperfections as possible.

Q: Are there different types of proof coins?

A: Yes. Not all proof coins use the same finishes and processes. Generally, the background parts of the coin are made with a mirror finish while the raised parts of the coin are given a matte finish. Some coins, however, are known as “reverse proof” coins, and they use an all matte finish.

Q: Is a proof coin or non-proof coin a better buy?

A: Collectors are often very particular about the kinds of coins they collect. Some collect all proof coins, others only uncirculated and non-proof coins. If you’re collecting the coins for visual purposes, you should make your decision based on what you like. If you’re looking to make profit off of the coins, note that proof coins generally go for a higher price than non proof coins, though this is entirely dependent on the market. Overall, your best option would be to buy the coins you like the most.