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What Is A “Proof” Coin?

If you are new to numismatics, it is very important to do your research before you dive in head first. For me, the first thing I learned was what the difference is between a proof coin and a mint state coin. You could say, “one is shiny and the other isn’t”, but we all know that there is a little more to it than that.

Here is a little information on what a proof coin is and how they are made:


Proof coinage means special early samples of a coin issue, historically made for checking the dies and for archival purposes, but nowadays often struck in greater numbers specially for coin collectors (numismatists). Nearly all countries have issued proof coinage. (Wikipedia)

In order to prepare to strike a proof coin a polishing of the die usually occurs. Proof coins usually have much sharper rims and designs compared to mint state coins, along with the fields of the coins being much smoother. Modern proof coins usually have raised, almost frosted images because of the chemicals that are placed on the die before the coin being struck, with the field of the coin having an almost mirrored background, almost polished in a sense.

The term “proof” has nothing to do with the coin but refers to how the coin was made. Most proof coins are struck more than one time under very high pressure to give it that very detailed look with a very full strike.

Proof coins are also handled differently than mint state coins. Once being struck, they are handled individually rather than being thrown in a pile full of coins. They are handled much more carefully, and intended to be a “collector” coin. That being said, it is much easier to receive a higher grade on a proof coin from a third party grading company like NGC or PCGS.


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