How to Buy Proof Sets of Coins on eBay

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How to Buy Proof Sets of Coins on eBay

Proof coins are those that are produced as early samples of coins that are to be used in circulation as legal tender. Coins of this nature are of a high collectability as they are used as legal tender and are in extremely good condition.

The reason for their condition is that they are struck at least twice during the minting process. This allows for a higher level of detail than other coins that are produced. Proof coins are also treated with a specially made and treated dye. Because of this dye, proof coins can be identified by their mirror-like and frosted appearance, which is often known as a ‘cameo’ finish.

Sets of proof coins are the grouping of proof coins that have all be produced for the intension of circulation from the same year.

This guide will embellish on the proof sets of coins available and the things that should be considered before a purchase is completed. eBay continues to be the leading player for proof sets of coins on the Internet, as they offer a fine selection at affordable prices.

Categories of Proof Sets of Coins

Collectors often buy proof sets of coins in certain categories to add value to their overall collection. By having a high number of proof sets from one category, the collection as a whole becomes much more valuable if they were ever to be sold. There are several categories that the collection of proof sets of coins can be divided into.

By Year

Governments release proof sets of coins as a collection of the newest coins going into circulation that year. The likes of the United Kingdom release a newly minted proof set of coins almost every year. Due to the fact that they release them so often, the price that they can be purchased for is not particularly high in comparison to proof sets from other countries that release proof sets a lot more sparingly.

However, the further back the year of the proof set goes, the more valuable it will be. For example, a proof set of coins from 1970 will be worth a lot more to collectors and owners than a proof set from 2010, especially if they are in good condition.

An exception to this rule is if a country has released limited edition proof sets of coins to celebrate a particular event or the introduction of a new type of coin. Limited edition proof sets are of a high value regardless of the year of their minting.

By Country

The buying of proof sets of coins can be done by buying from one country only. Collecting from one specific proof set category is often part of the experience for buyers. In this case, buying proof sets of coins from only one country can enhance the value of a collection. This shows a certain degree of discipline as well as expertise in the collection of proof sets of coins. A number of countries release proof sets of coins. The most widely represented countries that release proof sets of coins on eBay include:

  • Britain: Britain releases proof sets of coins near on every single year. They also manufactured limited edition sets to celebrate major events that occur. A popular proof set of coins from the United Kingdom that can be found on eBay is one that celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and these proof sets are of high value.
  • Australia: There are a number of proof sets of coins on eBay that are collections of Australian coins. Some of these may feature coins that were uncirculated so they can be of a high value. Australian proof sets of coins that feature regularly on eBay are those from the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s due to their high collectability.
  • United States: The United States often release proof sets of coins that can be collected. They feature both coins intended for circulation and those that were manufactured without the intention of ever being released. Proof sets from the United States are commonly sets of the same coin. For example, a popular proof set from the United States that is collected and can be found on eBay is the ’50 State’ set of 5 quarters.
  • South Africa: Proof sets of coins from South Africa, when kept in mint condition, are of an extremely high value. Proof sets of coins from the 1920’s to the 1950’s are considered to be some of the most valuable and investment worthy amongst collectors. 

By Metal

Proof sets of coins can also be categorised and purchased by coins made of only one metal. For example, there are proof sets of coins that only feature gold coins and those that will only feature silver coins. These proof sets tend to be worth a lot both in terms of money and in collectable value.

The United Kingdom release a limited amount of proof sets of coins that are solely made from silver, whereas there are also proof sets of coins available from South Africa that feature the 1 Rand and the 2 Rand gold coins.

Collections of this nature are worth a lot due to their exclusivity.

By Coin

Often countries will release proof sets of just one type of coin. This is a popular exercise in the United States as they release limited edition proof sets for quarters regularly. However, collections that feature just one type of coin are rare, so if looking to purchase a proof set such as this, it is best to be well read on the proof set so as to find a reasonable deal.

Condition and Grading

Proof sets of coins have a specific grading system by which their condition is measured. Whilst it is specialised as it caters exclusively to proof coins, it is also matched up to a more widely used scale for measuring the condition of coins. This is known as the Sheldon Scale. The two most common grading given to proof sets of coins are as follows:




This is the highest grading that a proof coin can get. It is in perfect condition and there are no signs of wear or toning. Coins of this nature are extremely valuable but if one it may be difficult to find older coins in this condition.


Whilst this is still a tremendously high grade of coin, the coin will still show minor signs of wear or deficiency. These slight signs of damage can occur in the striking process, especially in older coins, so they still have a high worth.

There are proof sets of coins available at lower grades. Coins graded at PR60 and over feature regularly on eBay’s listings and reasonable prices can be found. However, a proof set of coins with a grading less than this, in terms of collectability and overall investment, may not be worth all that much.

Buying Proof Sets of Coins Online

There are many ways of purchasing proof sets of coins. They can be purchased on specialist coin trading websites that offer recommended retail prices. These prices can used to enable a buyer to find a better deal elsewhere. Use and compare the prices on a variety of different online proof set retailers to reach an understanding of the average price paid for a certain proof set.

Also use these sites as a means of gauging the condition that some proof sets of coins can come in as well as the different prices paid for different conditions. There are online retailers who cater for specific metals or provide proof sets of coins from certain countries.

It may be worth visiting the Frequently Asked Questions section of these websites to find out more about specific types of proof sets.

What is more, there are articles and blog posts available to read online that all discuss the art of buying and owning proof sets of coins. They cover the different conditions that coins come in as well as recommending proof sets and the prices that should be paid for them.

Once a degree of knowledge of the world of proof sets of coins has been gained, online auction sites such as eBay offer affordable prices on a variety of sets.

Buying Proof Sets of Coins on eBay

When buying proof sets of coins on eBay, there are a number of things to look out for to make sure that the transaction is a fair one for both the buyer and the seller.

Be sure to thoroughly read the product description of a desired proof set so as to ensure that the seller is both personable and more importantly, informed about the product. The seller should also provide clear images of both the proof set and a certificate that shows the authenticity of the proof set. The product description and the images should match up in terms of the condition, year and material of the proof set. If any doubts arise, it is best to contact the seller directly before making a Bid.

To make the search for a proof set of coins easier, it may be a good idea to click on the Coins category and navigate the way to proof sets from there. By using the keyword search bar and the filter tabs available, the search can be accurate and specific to the buyer’s needs.

Before a transaction is finalised, take note of the seller’s transaction history and comment feedback so as to gain an understanding of the thoughts of other buyers.

It is also worth noting that some sellers of proof sets of coins may only offer the Buy It Now option.

Finding an eBay seller who has sold proof sets of coins before and has plenty of positive feedback is recommended. It may be an idea to visit the Buying Tips page if one is a first time buyer.


The buying of proof sets of coins takes a lot of concentration and knowledge of the subject to ensure that a good deal is made.

It is worth remembering that a valuable set of proof coins is only as good as its condition. Do not expect proof sets of coins from the likes of the 1920’s and 1930’s to be in prime condition as there is a natural wear that occurs to coins. Also be aware that it is the norm to pay more for limited edition proof sets of coins, regardless of their year.

eBay offers the opportunity for great deals to be found. This opportunity, twinned with an informed and well-read buyer, can go a long way to helping collections of proof sets of coins flourish in terms of quantity as well as quality.

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