Proof silver coins are among the highest quality coins of any issue. Renowned for their masterful craftsmanship and stunning detail, these beautiful works of art are prized by coin collectors and precious metal collectors alike. Proof silver coins are considered excellent purchases for long-term investment, as they tend to hold their resale value better than most collectible coins.
Proof vs. Uncirculated
Proof silver coins typically contain the same amount of silver as their non-proof counterparts. For example, the one ounce Silver American Eagle contains 1 troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver whether it is a proof example or not.
A common misconception is that proof coins are coins issued for circulation that have not been handled, leaving them in the same state in which they left the mint. However, this actually describes an uncirculated coins. Uncirculated coins are free from the types of wear coins usually experienced from frequent handling, but they are otherwise no different than coins used for commerce.
Modern proof coins, on the other hand, are actually entirely distinct from “business strike” coins meant for circulation. They are struck from different dies, and are meant strictly as collectors items and for investment purposes. A newly minted proof coin is also uncirculated, but it is typically worth more than an uncirculated business-strike coin.
Sold by the mint, typically at a premium cost above the face value of the coin and above the price charged for non-proof coins of the same issue, these limited strike coins are highly collectible due to their rarity and beauty.
History and Appearance
The first proof coins are believed to have been minted around 1819. These coins differed little in appearance from their business-strike counterparts. Initially, proof coins were those created as “prototypes” to test a new set of dies. In other words, they represent the first coins minted of a particular issue. In some cases, they were sent into circulation, while in other cases they were purchased by coin collectors.
Proof Silver American Eagles are some of the most popular proof silver coins ever minted. Prized by coin collectors and bullion investors alike, this coin was introduced in 1986. The proof version is the top quality Silver American Eagle produced. It is made in a special minting process in which polished coin blanks are turned into American Eagle coins using specialized dies. Gloves, lint free material, and other measures minimize the risk of blemishes.
The finished coin features a softly frosted – yet highly detailed – image on a mirror-like background. This appearance is characteristic of many (though not all) proof silver coins. A frosted design on a mirror-finish background is often called a “cameo.” By striking the coin two or more times with the coin die, the coin is given a very finely detailed image, which is not found on most non-proof coins.
Because of their high collectibility, many proof coins are sent in for grading an authentication by coin grading companies. Proof coins are typically given the grade PR or PF, instead of MS (mint state). Proof coins that are also uncirculated are graded PR60 to PR70, depending on the coin’s appearance. If the proof coin has received wear through cleaning or handling since its purchase, it can be graded lower than PR60. To maintain the value of your proof silver coin, avoid handling it after it is received from the mint.