One of the best ways to invest in the rare coin market is to purchase Proof Issue coins. Coins certified by NGC and PCGS as PR or PF strikes, especially Proof Gold, are one of the most sought after segments of the market and are fantastic acquisitions for any collection. Because of exceptional rarity, spectacular beauty, extreme numismatic significance and enduring popularity, any of the coins that Monaco has hand-selected as superior specimens from the marketplace will represent a great addition to any collection. Learn more below about the advantages and details of Proof Issues, or browse our following list of inventory for sale.
Featured Proof Coins
United States proof coins are among the rarest and most beautiful coins produced by the U.S. Mint. Unlike “business strike” coins made for general circulation, proof coinage is specifically created as presentation and collector pieces.
Once a person has seen a proof coin, other coins seem to pale in comparison. One can become quickly spoiled when collecting proof coins because all other coins look much less appealing.
“While more modern proof coins are quite common, those minted prior to 1930 are quite scarce. Proof coins are minted with the collector in mind, so quality and aesthetics are paramount. Early proof coins minted prior to 1870 can be excessively rare with survival rates from unique to as few as a dozen or so extant. Building a pre-1870 proof set is a challenge and is considered a major numismatic achievement”
Vice President, Monaco Rare Coins
What Is A Proof Coin?
A proof coin is specially made in a way that causes a difference in the coin’s appearance and qualifies that coin as a “proof” specimen.
Foremost, proof coins are made for collectors, special occasions or other numismatic purposes. They are not coins intended for general circulation.
The background surface or field areas of proof coins are highly-polished, shiny and mirror-like. In fact, when you stand back and look at a proof, you’ll see your reflection on its surface.
When you look at proof coins, you’ll notice the foreground and background areas sharply contrast; that’s intended. When the bold, sharp details on a proof are viewed, the effects are spectacular.
Why Were Proof Coins Made?
The concept of proof coins goes back to early minting of U.S. coins. Special care and extra time was taken to prepare the coin dies in what can be described as a very basic quality assurance program. These prototype “proof” coins were studied for problems so any needed adjustments could be made prior to mass minting. The first minted coins from the initial minting checks were often kept as souvenirs.
Because these proof coins were unique, some were kept by mint employees, while others were given to special mint visitors, politicians and pioneering collectors who were wealthy and could buy or get special access to them. These coins were generally referred to as “specimen” coins because no designation, standardized process or any other official program was in place like there is today in making present-day proof coins.
Eventually the popularity of these specimens spread and the demand for them increased. The mint started to specifically make coins for the intent of appeasing collectors and the beginning of official U.S. Mint proof coinage began.
The United States has been producing proof coins since at least 1817. When coin collecting became popular in the U.S. in the late 1850s, most early collectors confined their acquisitions to purchasing examples of these specially made proof coins from the mint.
The real explosion in demand for proofs occurred in the early 1900s. Mintage numbers went up from just a few thousand in the 1930s to tens of thousands and then eventually hundreds of thousands in the 1950s.
How Are Proof Coins Made?
A proof coin is made with a specially polished and treated die that produces a shiny appearance. The background (field) design of the coin die is polished, resulting in a mirror-like look on the coin it strikes. This gives the finished coin a frosted look on the raised parts of the design, with a mirror like finish on the background. This contrasting finish is called “cameo,” which is quite rare on some older coins.
Proof coins are hand-fed in the coining press and struck several times to bring out the details. By striking it more than once, the metal is forced into all the crevices of the die, thereby giving a very fine detail to the image on the coin. This fine detail does not appear on some business strike coins.
These specially struck proof coins are inspected individually for quality and carefully handled with gloves. They never touch another coin and are carefully packaged to showcase and preserve their exceptional finish.
Proof Coins Price Premium
Just like other coins, the price scale of a proof coin has many factors. However, you’ll often notice that proof coins are more expensive than other uncirculated coins made for collectors and they’re almost always worth more than business strike or circulated coins.
That’s to be expected considering they’re made specifically for collectors. They usually have lower mintage rates and more time and effort is needed to produce them. Proof coins are usually found in higher grades, and as with most rare coins, the higher the grade the more expensive the coin.
Just like the Mint State grading scale of MS-60 to MS-70, proof coin grades range from Proof-60 to Proof-70; however, grading can extend below Proof-60. For example, a Proof-50 grade coin could have a touch of wear on the high points of the coin. Like uncirculated coins, proofs can also experience toning, tarnish or darkening.
Aside from the unique beauty of proofs, coin collectors always love when their after-market values improve over time. The rare proof coins can command huge premiums. And many proof coins, after a very short time, have doubled, tripled or more in price.
Proof Coin Collecting
The exceptional coin detail, combined with their aesthetic appeal, makes proof coins extremely popular with collectors, so they are always in demand even at high price premiums.
Collectors of proof coins can pick a denomination to collect or assemble type sets of different denominations in proof condition. Proof collecting can be a bit challenging without the right connections.
When sets are built with well-matched coins, they become very desirable and can sell for a premium over the prices for the individual coins.
Many collectors collect proof coins by type; Copper Cents, Silver Nickels, Silver Dimes, Silver Dollars and Gold Dollars. Here is a sampling of a few coin types graded in proof condition:
1859 PR65 Indian Cent
This is a one year type and also the first regular issue proof Indian Head Cent design. Original mintage was about 800 coins struck. However, only about half the mintage has survived throughout the years. In Proof 65 condition they are considered very scarce with possibly 60 examples available.
1880 PR67 Cameo Shield Nickel
The proof nickels of 1880 are now considerably easier to find than the circulation strikes. As a business strike, this date has the lowest mintage by far, thus some pressure exists from the date collecting community, where collectors are willing to accept a nice proof example in place of a rare business strike.
1851 PR65 CAM Seated Silver Dollar Restrike
The 1851 Restrike Silver Dollar is a very scarce coin and all of these restrikes were struck in proof condition. The restrikes can easily be identified since they show the date centered in the area from the Seated Liberty figure to the bottom rim. This 1851 restrike proof dollar is the sole finest PCGS-certified cameo example of this important proof-only issue. Survival estimates are only 40 to 60 coins.
1859 PR64 Ultra Cameo Gold $20 Double Eagle
1859 Liberty Head Double Eagle $20 Gold coins are quite scarce. According to mint records, only 80 proof Liberty Double Eagles were struck in 1859, all for inclusion in the gold proof sets of that year. It was just the second year of the mint’s commercial proof set program. Because of low interest at the time, most were melted. NGC and PCGS have combined to certify a total of seven coins. This includes at least one which is impaired and two others which are housed in museum collections.
Proof U.S. Gold Coins
These coins are the caviar of numismatics and usually purchased on a coin-by-coin basis. Very few collectors in the last 50 years have even attempted collecting the complete series of proof U.S. gold coins struck from 1858 to 1915.
The survival rate of proof United States gold coinage often determines the rarity of many issues. For the most part, proof gold coins have small mintage figures. Most issues had fewer than 100 coins struck and nearly all of the pre-1880 issues have mintages of 50 or less.
There are additional factors that have reduced the surviving population of proof gold coins from their original mintage figures, from hoarding to mint melting.
Proof gold coins are extremely attractive for their rarity. Many rare coin advisors suggest that serious collectors or investors purchase one or two “great” coins when building a collection. Proof United States gold coins are the epitome of “great” when it comes to American numismatics!
Proof Gold Collector Spotlight
One proof gold collector, Ed Trompeter, set out to build the world’s greatest collection of proof gold coins, focusing on spectacular quality and absolute completeness. He quietly assembled what many consider the world’s finest collection of United States proof gold coins, which are among the rarest and most beautiful coins ever produced in this country. He miraculously assembled a complete set of regular production proof gold, including coins from 1858 through 1915.
Later in life, the ailing collector knew his heirs wouldn’t know what to do with the 600 unblemished gold pieces that could bring up to $20 million to his family. He auctioned a portion of his collection just before his death in 1992, and the rest was sold in the summer of 1998 and distributed back into the numismatic community.