Those familiar with investing in precious metals have likely come across the term “proof” before, both in relation to sovereign minted coins and privately minted rounds. You may have noticed that proof coins and rounds look different and cost more than your standard BU coins and rounds. That’s because a lot of time and care are taken to make proof rounds, and they are manufactured with the interests of collectors and numismatists in mind.
What is a Proof Silver Round?
A proof silver round is a piece of intricately crafted silver that’s designed for investors and collectors. They are distinguishable by their shiny appearance and are often specialty versions of BU silver rounds. Because of the minting process, a proof round will have a polished mirror-like field, a frosted design, and exquisite detail. Since they are made to be collected and not circulated, they should not show signs of wear. Proof silver rounds are sometimes described as having a “cameo” effect because of their frosted detailing, which is a product of the technological advances made in the 1970s. The phrase cameo is the reason you will sometimes see descriptive designations of “CAM” or “DCAM” for deep cameo.
How are They Made?
Proof silver rounds require an involved minting process. Improved technology and techniques have allowed mints to create superior proof finishes with each strike. The blanks that are turned into proof rounds are first hand polished and cleaned with soft rags; they are never touched with bare skin. Then they are hand fed into presses, one at a time, that are fitted with specially polished dies that are sometimes acid treated or sandblasted. Only high quality dies are used, and they go through a special polishing process. Dies are also re-cleaned after several uses. Each blank is struck at least twice using a higher pressure setting to ensure that all design details have been formed.
Many mints produce limited runs of proof silver rounds. Because they are made with such care and produced in smaller mintages, you’ll often find that proof rounds come in special packaging. This may include a plastic capsule, a special coin box, and/or a certificate of authenticity. Additionally, some runs of proof rounds are serialized with a unique edge number.
When Were Proof Rounds First Developed?
The beginnings of proof coins and rounds emerged centuries ago. Early coin minting involved spending extra time to polish dies as a type of very basic quality assurance for the minting of regular coinage. The “prototype” coins made this way were studied for any issues that needed adjusting before mass minting. The first batch of minted coins were often kept by employees as souvenirs since they were typically of a higher quality than other coins. Others were given to special visitors, politicians, and noteworthy people. These coins are now referred to as “specimen” coins because there was no standardized minting process.
The uniqueness of specimen coins eventually led to a growth in their popularity and a rise in demand. Mints began developing processes for making coins and rounds specifically to appeal to collectors, which led to modern proof rounds.
Demand for proof coins and rounds shot up in the early 1900s. Mintage numbers in the 1930s were just a few thousand, and they jumped to hundreds of thousands by the 1950s. Now, many mints produce millions of proof coins and rounds each year. Yet this mintage number generally remains quite a bit lower than the number of BU coins and rounds produced.
What is a Graded Proof Silver Round?
The term proof is simply used to describe the manufacturing process of a silver round. Its condition is determined by its grade, if it is given one. There are organizations, like the NGC and PCGS, that grade coins and rounds based on a 70 point scale, 70 being a perfect grade. After grading, rounds are sonically sealed into plastic holders to preserve their graded condition. For proof coins and rounds, you may see a “PR” or “PF” before their grade on the slab’s label. PF70 coins and rounds are more common today than they were in past years, but they still are highly desireable to collectors.
The Value of a Proof Round
Proof rounds are often produced in limited mintages and, as you’ve just read, extra care and labor are invested into the manufacturing process. This additional effort means that they carry a higher premium than BU rounds. Proof rounds are the among the highest quality on the market, and many collectors recognize the value of these speciality products.
You may also find that graded proof rounds come with a higher premium than their ungraded counterparts. This is because each graded round requires a personal, hands-on examination in order to determine its condition. And rounds with a higher grade will obviously be worth more due to their quality.
Proof Silver Rounds at Provident
Provident Metals is proud to offer an assortment of proof silver rounds, many of which come from our originally designed series. Fans of mythology might enjoy the 12 Labors of Hercules series or the Nordic Creatures series. The pop culture uprising of the dead led us to create the Zombucks series for all of you post-apocalyptic junkies. Our most recent series, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, will be released in proof form in the coming weeks as well.
We invite you to browse our selection of proof silver rounds, giving you many options to boost the value of your precious metals collection. Which Provident original series of proof rounds is your favorite?