Some people prefer collecting old and rare coins that originate from circulation. Others specialize in collecting error coins, while there are also people who only prefer flawlessly minted proof coins, particularly made for collectors.
Unlike regular coins, proof coins are not intended for circulation. However, that wasn’t always the case. Whilst today, these proof coins are produced purely for collecting purposes, back in the day they were produced as pre-samples of particular coins that would be presented to the Ministry of Finance or the Royal Mint. After these institutions approve them, the coin design is ready for minting and circulation.
The proof coins were then retained for archival purposes. Those examples are nowadays highly collectible pieces due to the mirror-like finish, rarity, and historical value. Therefore, as a result of increased demand for perfect coins among collectors, the Mints have issued numerous limited-edition proof coin sets.
It is no secret that the popularity of proof coins has risen dramatically in recent years, but how did that affect their value? In line with this, we decided to write a complete article to answer that frequently asked question – what’s the proof coin sets value?
Let’s find out if you have that rare historical set that has been known to fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars!
How Are Proof Coins Produced?
As you already know proof coins are of the finest quality. The fact is that they are extremely valued and sought-after amongst collectors due to their rarity, so the effort induced in the production process is huge.
We ain’t joking when we say these coins are flawless, the intense level of craftsmanship as well as attention to detail needed for crafting such a perfect coin is high! This is the main reason why the mintage volume of these coins is always limited and small.
There is a significant difference between crafting regular strike coins and proof strike coins. A regular coins are exposed and struck only once under normal pressure in combination with a high speed.
On the other hand, proof coins are struck at least two times and this can even go up to six times. The pressure is lower as well as speed in order to keep all the fine details intact, and produce exceptionally sharp and clear design. When the coin is struck multiple times it is left with a brilliant shine that cannot be achieved any other way.
However, this process begins way before the minting. First, before the blank coin is struck, it is manually polished to remove any unwanted particles that can harm the further process. Just then it proceeds to the striking.
After the coin is struck, it is thoroughly inspected for the slightest faults or imperfections. This is a key step in the minting process of proof coins. Minting dies are air-cleaned and polished between each coin.
The manufacturing guidelines are so rigorous for proof coins that no more than 50 can be struck on one machine within the same hour! Also, coin dies are allowed to strike a few hundred coins before each must undergo a maintenance service, including chemical treatment.
Having been produced and handled under these specific guidelines it is no surprise the coins are flawless. In the end, the coins are packed in a protective casing to maintain their condition.
How to recognize a proof coin from a regular coin?
Luckily for you, recognizing a proof coin from a regular circulation coin is relatively easy. The real trouble is knowing how to distinguish them from other uncirculated coins. However, this can be done as well when you are familiar with their characteristics.
Here is the list of some key differences that you need to keep in mind:
- Detailed, sharp design – As we mentioned, due to the fact these coins undergo multiple strikes, they typically feature enhanced and detailed designs with brilliant shine.
- Material – Keep in mind that in some cases, proof coins are minted in regular clad composition and/or planchet made from precious metals such as silver or gold.
- Weight – In case the proof coins are minted on silver or gold, these coins are heavier than regular strike coins.
- Finish – Even though all uncirculated coins have a shine, proof coins have an even more shimmery finish. Thanks to the unique striking process they have a mirror-like field paired with frosted features in the foreground which makes the shine more pronounced.
- Rarity – Logically, there are always fewer proof coins minted than uncirculated coins. Proof coins are less common and more sought after by numismatics which will highly reflect on the price.
Why Are Proof Coin Sets Valuable?
Proof coins are the highest quality coins ever produced, worldwide which is one of the main reasons why they are so special and valuable collectible items. In terms of craftsmanship and attention to detail, these coins are true miniature pieces of art. Their immaculate design and finish make them particularly attractive to collectors, which is why they are ready to pay large amounts of money to get them.
Besides this, numerous factors play an important role as well, such as age and rarity. If we talk about old proof coin sets (pre-1970), considering these were originally produced as prototypes, there are only a very few proof coin sets made so they tend to hold a higher value.
Proof coin sets made pre-twentieth century are even rarer and also have a historical value which is what gives them prestige status. Also, some designs are unique and rare, so naturally more sought after than others.
The U.S. Coin Proof Sets You Should Consider Buying
The US Mint began producing proof coins somewhere in the early 1800s. These were special coins manufactured with extra care and sold to collectors at the Mint’s offices in Philadelphia. What you need to know is that not every coin intended for circulation had its proof variety back in the day.
Therefore, as time passed, coin collectors requested that each minting series have its own proof counterpart. So, in 1936 the US Mint started assembling proof coin sets of every minted coin variety. Also, they introduced collectors with an option where they could order these coins through the mail.
Little by little, the Mint started minting commemorative coins in both business and proof strike finishes. Now, a variety of sets that feature combinations of different denominations of commemorative coins, or different finishes, are available to collectors. Currently, you can place an order for your proof coin set at The United States Mint website.
What key dates and varieties you should look for?
In the headline below we listed proof sets that are most attractive to collectors. These sets in any condition, will always be worth slightly more than common proof sets, and their prices rise in upcoming years. However, keep in mind that these coins are frequently counterfeit so make sure you check their authenticity with a professional grading company of your choice.
Be extremely careful with proof sets minted between 1936 and 1951 since these weren’t packaged like the modern proof sets (in hard plastic cases). Proof coins from this period were shipped in paper envelopes so the acids in these envelopes could affect their condition.
Most Valuable Proof Coin Sets Worth Money
The US Mint Proof Coin Sets Grading
As we’ve mentioned, the US Mint proof coin sets value is always determined by the condition, grade, and variety of coins included. Coins in the US Mint proof set are graded on a scale from 1-70, where 70 represents a perfect uncirculated coin.
A most common type of proof coin is one that has a frosted appearance on the raised parts of the design, and a mirrored finish on the fields (areas without design). For instance, proof coins graded by NGC and PCGS feature PF or PR before the grade, like PF69 or PR70.
The contrast between the frosted design elements and mirrored fields is called a “cameo effect” and depending on the degree of intensity it can be classified as Cameo or Ultra Cameo. Also, sometimes you can come across strike characters such as BN, RB, or RD describing the specific types of proofs and you can learn more about them on this link.
Where Can You Trade Valuable Barber Quarters?
When it comes to trading proof coin sets a situation is a bit different from trading regular and single pieces of coins. First things first, there is a limited amount of proof sets available, and collectors do not trade them easily, so don’t expect abundant options on the coin market.
Secondly, we would like to remind you that proof sets are pretty valuable and, therefore very commonly targeted by counterfeiters, so we advise you to establish a network of reliable dealers that you’ll work with.
On the other hand, there are some limited amount of proof coin sets available on web platforms such as eBay, Etsy, and LiveAuctioneers. However, we recommend you explore these offers with utmost care to avoid buying fake coins, since unfortunately, fake coins can easily occur here.
The safest way to buy a proof coin set is to buy them on the official website of the US Mint, or in their certified offices.
What’s the deal with the 1965 uncirculated coin set?
As you all know, all coins minted pre-1965 were made with 90% silver. However, the Mint decided to switch the composition to clad variety due to the increasing cost and shortage of silver. Therefore, you won’t find a regular strike coin minted with the 1965 date, since during this year the US Mint made major preparations for the upcoming changes.
However, the mint did produce proof coin sets with the 1965 date. These proof coins are generally valued between $20 and $50, but they achieve much higher prices on auctions.
All coins in this set are struck on a specially-made proof finish, highly reflective, mirror-like planchet.
The interesting fact is that the Kennedy half dollar featured in the 1965 proof set, was the first year of issue for this coin, which was introduced to honor assassinated President John F. Kennedy. This makes the 1965 proof set more desirable to collectors.
What’s the difference between a Proof coin set and a Mint Set?
Undoubtedly, proof sets and mint sets are among the most popular collectible items. However, did you know that there is a difference between proof and mint sets?
Well, the proof set contains coins that are specially struck multiple times on polished blanks to acquire a mirror-like finish. On the other hand, mint sets feature regular strike coins that are uncirculated. Also, proof sets contain one specimen of each denomination, while, mint sets usually contain examples from different mints.
The US Mint has been issuing modern proof sets since 1936, while uncirculated mint sets have been issued since 1947.
Proof Coin Sets Are Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea But…
If you are not sure how you feel about collecting proof coin sets, there is one thing for certain, they have a lot to offer. Don’t forget that they are quite accessible from a financial point of view. Ultimately, the decision whether you’ll collect them or not only comes down to the value you see in them, and if that is worth doing it from your standpoint.
On the other hand, if you are looking at them as an investment, they probably aren’t the best option, unless you focus on key dates and rare sets. Moreover, those are going to cost you more in the start, so you do the math.
Hopefully, this article resolved at least one doubt you had about whether should you get involved in collecting proof coins set. We have high hopes that it will help you figure out if is this your kind of adventure or not.
In case you are already into collecting proof coin sets and you have some useful tips and information that we didn’t mention here, please do not hesitate to share it with us in the comment section below.
Good luck and happy hunting!