What is a PROOF coin?
A PROOF coin will have a mirrored-like reflective appearance. Originally, proofs were intended as pre-production samples. A printer would produce a small number of "proof" copies for checking and approval, and a mint would produce proofs for approval by the mint master, the monarch, and for other purposes. These “Proof” coins were the first off the press, and had a mirrored-lied reflective appearance. As production continued, the dyes on the press would wear and the coins had less and less mirrored-like reflection, eventually having none at all (what is called an uncirculated or business strike). When coin collecting began to become popular, about the late 60’s, early 70’s, and with the advanced technology, a larger number of proofs were specifically made for sale to collectors.
What does UNCIRCULATED mean?
The word UNCIRCULATED means the coin has not been in circulation. Never used as ordinary change. However, uncirculated coins often have bagmarks, edge knocks and other small scuffs and imperfections. Uncirculated "specimen" coins issued specially for collectors are often more carefully produced and handled, so they may be better than ordinary coins mass produced for circulation.
What does it mean to have a coin graded?
There are a variety of company’s that grade the quality of coins. NGC and PCGS are the oldest and most well known, but there are many other grading companies as well. For more information on how you can grade your coins, here are a handful of recognized companies: