Proofs are minted especially for collectors. Each year the Royal Canadian Mint releases gold proof coins featuring everything from Canada’s wildlife, the seminal maple leaf, to important events in Canada’s history.
Collectable coins offer less precious metal for your dollar than bullion, but are minted in far newer quantities, offer unique, diverse artwork as well as emphasize premium presentation by including clamshell cases.
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A coin that is struck using a special, high-quality minting die so that its impressions and imprinting is in pristine condition is called a proof coin. Such types of coins are made especially for collectors. Many of the proof coins minted before the twentieth century were distinguished from the regular coins by their polished and high detailed surfaces; however, modern proof coins usually are made using mirror-like fields. The main reason why such proof coins are not seen in circulation is because they are especially made for collectors and are sold at rates which are higher than the face value of the coin.
Normally when printing a coin, two die are used; one die is used for the front design and the other is used for the back design of the coin. However, in the case of minting a proof coin, the dies first need to be polished and then treated using special chemicals so that the finished coin can have a more frosted appearance. Also, when minting such proof coins, the dies used strike the coins twice instead of the usual one time used for regular coins. This is mainly done so that the plain metal is forced into all the visible crevices of the dies giving the finished coin a much sharper image. This results in the coin getting a very fine detailed image. Such proof coins can be distinguished from regular circulated coins by their much sharper designs and rims, along with the much smoother fields.
Grading of proofs is very similar to grading Mint State coins. Here, the grades are preceded by PF and have the same numeric values starting from 60 to 70. An uncirculated proof would be graded as PF-60 while a PF-70 would be graded a perfect proof.