British Coin Proof Set Buying Guide

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British Coin Proof Set Buying Guide

The Royal British Mint releases Coin Proof Sets each year, all varying in design and material, Coin Proof Sets are highly collectable items. However finding and buying them on the internet can be difficult for the collector.

Whether looking to replace a missing coin from a collection, or aiming to track down a particular year, with the help of this guide, finding the right British Coin Proof Set on eBay will be a breeze.

What Are British Coin Proof Sets?

Coin Proof Sets were traditionally made when there was a change in design in a coin; this was often done when a new monarch came to the throne. Modern Proof Coins are not ever intended for circulation and are finished to a much higher quality and finish than coins in circulation. Proof coins are made using specially designed dies and are struck twice in the die so as to impact as much detail as possible onto the surface of the coin.

The coins can be treated with different chemicals to induce high mirror shines or even a ‘frosted’ appearance. Proof coin sets are a fantastic way to own rare coin designs finished to a high standard. Each coin is carefully prepared by hand, the craftsmanship that goes into Coin Proof Sets places their value much higher than the value of the money it represents. The Royal Mint may also only release a certain number of Proof Coin Sets each year which increases their value significantly

Coin Proof Sets can vary in design greatly, but generally they have the design of the coins in circulation of that particular year, for example the year 1998. Coin Proofs can also be a range of designs to commemorate a particular event in the British history, such as the 2012 Olympics or the Queen’s Jubilee. Full Coin Proof Sets have been produced every year since 1971. Prior to this the sets have been produced in history but it has been since 1971 one that new proofs come out every year.

Terminology for Coins Collectors

Before going any further it is important to cover some of the common terms used in dealing with coins:

  • Numismatics- the study and collection of monetary items like coins, bills and medals.
  • Coin Grade- this is the amount of wear a coin gets when in circulation. A coin with a low grade will mean it is worn and detail is lost, whereas a coin with a high grade will not have been handled as much.
  • Circulated coin- a coin that has been made for use and circulation over a number of years, it is rare it will be seen as a collector’s item.
  • Uncirculated coin- a coin which has not been used for monetary use. Coin Proof Sets will never be intended for circulation.
  • Toning- this describes a change in colour on parts of the coin; this depends on how it has been handled and what chemicals it has been exposed to.

Advantages to Buying British Coin Proof Sets on eBay

Buying British Coin Proof Sets on eBay has numerous advantages:

Rare Coin Proof Sets can be found on eBay at a more affordable rate than on other websites.

eBay hosts many professional and specialist stores who stock only the best British Coin Proof Sets.

Coin Proof Sets are easy to find thanks to eBay’s advanced search options.

Buyers can view a seller’s feedback and decide if they want to purchase a British Coin Proof Set based on feedback left by other buyers.

How to Buy British Coin Proof Sets on eBay

Buying a British Coin Proof Set on eBay is a simple matter once the buyer understands how to search for listings on eBay. The following options are the three main ways to search for items on eBay:

  • Categories
  • Keyword search
  • Advanced search

To begin looking at British Coin Proof Sets using categories, navigate to the home page and find the Coins portal and select the Coins subcategory. From there the buyer can browse some of the suggested categories or refine the search more by selecting specific types of Proof sets..

Next the buyer will need to select the ’British’ Coin category ensure that the buyer can find correct country of origin. The buyer simply has to select ‘Proof Sets/Coins to complete the basic search for British Coin Proof Set. From there the buyer can browse a huge range of listings, and they can also narrow down the search based on elements such as postage or distance to the buyer.

The buyer can select which year/decade the Coin Proof Set is from, such as Pre-1970 for rarer Coin Proof Sets or more as recently as the 2000’s for up to date Coin Proof Sets.

This method of searching is ideal for general browsing which allows a new buyer to find an interesting variety of British Coin Proof Sets. The previous options are ideal for general browsing but keyword search is perfect for buyers who know exactly what they are after. If the buyer is for example searching for a 2005 Coin Proof £2, then they will have to go to the eBay homepage and enter 2005 Coin Proof £2 to see what listings match the search term.

Coin Proof Sets coins will come in varying conditions, from older coins to coins that have been minted very recently. The condition of the item can be used or new, but as with older coins proof sets they are more likely to have been opened and handled over the years. More recent Coin Proof Sets may come with protective covering which keeps the coin in perfect condition.  

The last option to search for listings is the advanced word search. eBay’s Advanced Search allows the buyer to search for very specific search terms. The buyer can search for specific item numbers as well as sellers. There is also the option to search for words in orders such as ‘all words, any order’ or ‘exact words, exact order’ to help find the listing the buyer is after. The buyer can also choose which category to search for, so in this case the buyer could select the ‘Coins’ category to refine the search.

When the buyer has searched the listings and found what they may wish to purchase, there are several aspects to consider such as bidding and postage.

The postage will vary greatly due to the weight of the Coin Proof Set. Smaller sets of coins can be posted and will be reasonably priced, but if buying several coins proof sets a courier service might be advisable. Is this type of service is not offered, the buyer can always send a message to the seller to request a courier service.

One the buyer has found the perfect British Coin Proof Set they want; they have two main options in which to buy the item:

  • Bidding
  • Buy it Now

Bidding is eBay’s most common way of buying items and it works the same as auction, the buyers will enter values to outbid other buyer until the time runs out on the item. It is vital to consider when bidding, the buyer is entering a legally binding agreement between the buyer and seller. ‘Buy it now’ options are great ways of securing an item without the worry of losing out on a bid. Once the desired Coin Proof Set has been bought the payment process can start. PayPal is the most common and secure way of purchasing items through eBay, it is quick and easy for the buyer.

Handling and Storing British Coin Proof Sets

Due to the nature of proof coins being finished to a very high standard, they require careful handling so as to prevent any damage or marks occurring. Coin Proof Sets will often come in display cases and it is advised the buyer handles the coin as little as possible. Follow these steps to ensure that proof coins remain in perfect condition:

  • Place a clean, soft towel down on a flat surface to cushion its fall in case the coin is dropped.
  • When handling the coin, make sure hands are very clean and always wear 100% cotton gloves.
  • Handle the coin with the thumb and forefinger and pick the coin up by its edges.
  • Coin proof surfaces are quite fragile so avoid letting dust settle on it as dust can erode its surface if wiped off.
  • If transferring coins from packaging have everything ready at hand so that the coin spends the least time exposed to the open environment.


Collecting coins is a rewarding and involving hobby which the buyer can enjoy for many years to come. British Proof coins offer the exquisite craftsmanship along with the value of the metal the coin has been cast in. A Coin Proof Set can vary in how many coins it has depending on the year, but owning a set from any year will be a crown jewel in any buyer’s coin collection.

With the expansion of the internet over the last few years, buying such precious goods as British Coin Proof Sets can seem risky, but with eBay the buyer can purchase their dream Coin Proof Set in total confidence thanks to eBay.

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