What Is a Proof Set of Coins?

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What Is a Proof Set of Coins?

A wide variety of different types and sets of coins are available, and are popular with many different collectors and investors. Some collect coins due to their rarity or age, and collectable coins often contain value far above their precious metal content and face value.

Bullion coins are also often collected, and are also highly popular with those looking to invest in bullion, which can offer some protection from inflation and other currency fluctuations. Proof coins are early samples of a new coin issue.

They were historically made to check dies and other production elements, and for archival purposes. Many countries now issue a large number of proof coin sets for collectors, and a wide range can be found on eBay.

Proof Coin Characteristics

There are a number of key characteristics which differentiate proof coin sets from other types of coin.

The most familiar and common definition of a proof coin is one where the flat parts of the face have been polished to an almost mirror shine. This is often achieved with the use of diamond powder.

The shine of the flat parts often contrast with a matt finish on the raised detail, which is achieved through the use of sandblasting the die, and striking the image with a hardened steel punch. Sometimes, coins are produced with all matt, or all polished finishes, and this can vary between different sets.

Proof coins are also often double struck, at much lower speeds than non-proof coins. This means that the markings on these coins are of a higher quality, and much more defined.

Proof coins are often struck by hand, and individually inspected, ensuring that they all reach the high quality required of proof coins.

A great deal of the value and desirability of proof coins comes from this high quality finish, making them a good choice for those who intend to keep their coins safely stored or displayed.

Proof Coin Sets

Proof coin sets are a popular way of collecting proof coins, and those made for new issues of currency are popular and widely available. These sets are often sold in their original packaging, and include a selection of different denominations of the currency, such as pennies, twenty pence and fifty pence coins, and pound coins, though the currency will of course vary depending on the country of origin. Many different countries produce proof sets of coins, and popular sets include those from the Britain and the United States.

Another popular type of proof coin sets are those of commemorative proof coins. These coins were made specially to celebrate significant historical events, such as jubilees, coronations, anniversaries and Olympic Games. These coins are often highly desirable, and can be quite difficult to obtain depending on their popularity, and how many of the coins were produced. These coins often feature special designs struck into the coins relating to the events they commemorate.

Proof Bullion Coins

Bullion is investment grade precious metal, often available in the form of bars and ingots. Bullion coins are a highly popular type of bullion, among those buying bullion as an investment, and collectors. Bullion coins are different from bars and ingots in that they can have a value which is beyond that of the precious metal contained, being affected by the desirability and rarity of the coin. Proof bullion coins possess the same high quality characteristics of other types of proof coin, as well as being made of precious metal such as gold or silver, making them a highly desirable type of bullion.  Proof bullion coins will often be made out of one of a number of precious metals.

Silver Bullion Coins

Silver is one of the most popular and widely available types of precious metal used in all kinds of bullion, including ingots and coins. Due to the fact that silver is often less valuable than gold or platinum, silver is sometimes overlooked by those looking for an investment, but is a popular choice due to its wider availability and less expensive cost than gold. Silver can also take a great degree of polish, meaning the metal can be polished to a good shine, making silver proof coins one of the most attractive types of bullion coin to collectors.

Gold Bullion Coins

Gold is one of the most popularly used precious metals in coins and bullion of various types. Gold is often preferred by investors, due to its price position between the more affordable silver and the very rare, highly valuable platinum. Gold has been used in bullion coins throughout history, and many gold proof coins are available. An example of a popular type of gold bullion coin that continues to be produced is the British gold sovereign.

Platinum Bullion Coins

Platinum coins are among the rarest and most valuable type of bullion. Platinum can often bear an appearance that is similar to silver; with platinum having a white-silver colour. Platinum coins are rare, difficult to obtain and highly valuable. Proof platinum coins can often be among the most highly desirable of proof coins, among both investors and collectors.

Bullion Grades

All types of coin and bullion can be divided into bullion grades. These grades categorise coins, bars and ingots and other bullion into different grades based on the amount of wear that is visible on the item. This can be particularly relevant for bullion coins, as it can be important for coins to have discernible markings. Proof coins are not to be found in the lower grades of bullion.

Bullion and coins can be graded as almost good, good and very good. These grades will show a considerable amount of wear, and coins at this grade are rarely considered proof. For a coin to reach the very good category, the raised markings around the edge of the coin, known as ‘rims’, need to be intact.

Fine and very fine coins and bullion show some signs of wear, though are largely intact.

The majority of proof coins fall into the uncirculated grades, which show little if any sign of wear. Any proof coins below this are often considered undesirable, as the pristine quality of proof coins is one of their key characteristics. Choice and perfect uncirculated coins are the very highest grade, and perfect uncirculated proof coins are the most desirable.


In bullion coins, the fineness of the metal can be a key element to consider. The fineness of a metal is a key indicator of the value of a particular item made of precious metal. In all cases, .999 is considered to mean purity, with the highest fineness of many bullion items ranging between .995 to .999.


The fineness of gold is measured in carats, or ‘karats’, often abbreviated to ct or kt. Many different countries have different standardisations of what carat means, but in the UK carats range from 9 to 24, with 24 carat gold being the purest available. Around 21 carat gold is the most common type of gold used in bullion coins, and is a popular carat for investors and collectors.


Different fineness levels of silver are often referred to as different types of silver. Coin silver is the most popular type of silver for use in coin, and generally ranges from .800 to .900, with 10 to 20% of the coin made up of other metals. Britannia silver is that which has a fineness of .958, and is an alloy with another metal, often copper, and this kind of silver is often used in the Silver Britannia bullion coins originating in Britain.

How to Buy a Proof Set of Coins on eBay

Proof coins are popular among collectors and investors, and a wide range of sets and individual proof coins can be found on eBay. Proof coins can be found in the Collectables & Antiques section, under Coins. Bullion coins can also be found under the Bullion/Bars category. Items can be arranged by a number of categories, including price, condition, distance to seller, region of origin and the type of metal. The Auction and Buy it Now buying options are also available, offering flexibility in how proof coins can be purchased.

Key information about coins, such as what coins are contained in a set and the type of coin they are, are often prominently displayed in the item listing. This makes it easy to quickly establish if an item meets any specific requirements. Further and more detailed information can be accessed on the item page, including information about the seller such as item reviews and feedback ratings. This helps to ensure that a purchase can be made with confidence. If any further information is required, it is also possible to ask the seller a question regarding the item on this page.

If a specific set of proof coins or individual coin is required, it may be easier and more effective to make use of the search function available at the top of every page. Searches can be made to return results from within specific categories or to cover the entire site. Further information about getting the most out of the search function is available on the Search Tips page.


Proof coin sets and individual proof coins are a popular choice among both collectors, and those investing into bullion. A variety of different proof coins are available, including bullion coins made of different precious metals, sets of newly issued coins and commemorative coins.. It is easy to find a proof coin on eBay.

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