How Can I Identify a Proof Coin?

Ever wanted to know how to identify a proof coin? Get up-to-date information and reliable answers to your bullion and precious metals related questions here at ModernCoinMart's Complete Bullion Resource Center.

Proof coins are among the finest minted coins the U.S. Mint offers, both for the quality of strike and overall eye appeal. The term “proof” refers to the manufacturing process, not necessarily a coin’s condition (more on that below). Proof coins have mirror-like backgrounds with sharp details due to being struck in sharp relief with sculpted foregrounds

Identifying differences between an actual Proof coin vs. a Prooflike coin can be intimidating. After all, some Prooflike coins may appear as or more brilliant than actual Proof coins. Unlike Prooflike coins, Proof coins are struck at least twice to ensure the finest detail in the design. One detail to look for in a Proof coin is its squared-off rims, a staple of most Proof coins. 

Though Prooflike coins can have mirror-like surfaces and above-average detail, this is usually the result of them being struck by new or repolished dies. That’s where their similarities end. When graded by the PCGS, you can look for a “PL” designation to identify a Prooflike coin. Historically, “PL” was only used on qualifying Morgan Dollars, but since July 1, 2019, they have used the “PL” designation on all qualifying U.S. and World coins.

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