The following article will dive deeper into the specifics of both proof and uncirculated coins. Proof coins and Uncirculated coins are both popular among buyers of gold and silver, but for a few different reasons. Proofs are almost always going to demand a premium when compared to raw Uncirculated coins, but they also carry a better presentation, quality, and a higher degree of scarcity.
Uncirculated coins are the most cost effective way to invest in gold or silver. The bulk of the cost of these coins is comprised by the value of the silver content itself. With Proof coins, and especially silver Proofs, much of the cost will be found in the mark up. If you are investing with the intent of profiting from the increase in the price of gold and silver, buying raw coins would make the most sense.
Purpose and Utility
The biggest asset of Proof coins is found in their collectability. These coins generally carry an exceptionally high quality presentation. Where raw coins are kept loosely in sleeves or tubes, Proofs are usually encased and often times kept in a case and/or folder. Aside from a certificate assuring authenticity, Proof coins also display in an exceptional manner. While any new coin should have its own amount of shine and glitter, the twice struck characteristics of Proof coins give them an increased amount of glimmer and luster.
Proof coins are traditionally gifts, presents and keepsakes. Many Proof coin buyers will distribute their coins for birthdays, to commemorate special events, or to build an annual collection. Since they are of such high quality, gold and silver Proof coins are one of the most in-demand collectibles in the entire market. While Proof coins do cost more than Uncirculated coins, their premium is not so significant that the majority of the value is found in the mark-up. Gold and silver Proofs offer a sound mixture of investment and collectability.
Visual Appearance and Production
Regular coins are struck once, giving them a clean and complete finish. Proof coins, on the other hand, are struck twice. The difference in the production process is a more defined, intricate and shinier appearance in Proof coins. The attractive and appealing nature of Proof coins is one of the primary reasons as to why they are so popular.
Mintages and Scarcity
In terms of comparative scarcity, using American Silver Eagles as a reference point, Proofs are usually produced in quantities that are roughly 5-20% of that of their Uncirculated counterparts. Since raw coins tend to be the primary medium for investors, bulk sales of Proof coins are not as common.
The value of Proof coins is almost always going to be more significant than that of a similar uncirculated, non-proof coin (when discounting other numismatic coins, such as key dates, errors, etc.). The relative mark-up is larger in silver Proof coins than it is in gold Proof coins. In silver, most Proofs will have a mark-up that comprises a sizable percentage of the overall cost. With gold, however, the added expense in Proof editions is much more minimal when compared to the total cost of the coin.