## TIPS ON COLLECTING PROOF COINS

Proof coins are made with carefully cleaned planchets and highly-polished coinage dies. They are individually struck at least two times, unlike business strike coins made for general circulation.

Proofs represent the very best quality of the process of coin manufacture. But proof is not a grade, but rather a method of producing high quality coins or medals.

Proof coins are graded like any other coins, with numerical grading designations; but with the addition of the word "proof" along with the grade, such as Proof-65, Proof AU-58, Proof EF-45, etc.

Proof coins that have somehow been circulated are often referred to as 'impaired proofs." As a result, you may sometimes see a well-circulated coin described in a sale catalog as, "About fine condition, probably an impaired proof."

When a coin is heavily worn, it is sometimes difficult to determine with certainty if it was a proof striking.Business strike coins that minted early in a die's useful life are sometimes so nicely struck they can look prooflike.

When one encounters a beautifully struck coin that has some wear, it can be a dilemma deciding whether or not the coin is really a proof or just an exceptionally nice business strike.

Proof coins have usually been made specifically for sale to collectors, but some have been produced as presentation pieces to government officials or foreign dignitaries.

**Proof Characteristics**

The rim of a coin is the slightly raised border around the outermost limits of a coin's field. The field is the flat surface on obverse and reverse. The rim surrounds the fields if the coin is normally struck.

The rim is often is often incorrectly referred to as the edge of a coin, mostly by beginners. The edge is actually the circular curved surface that runs perpendicular to the fields around the outside border of a coin. An edge may be plain and smooth, reeded, or lettered in either incuse or raised fashion.

Proof coins often have high rims that result from the planchet metal being pressed against the die collar when the coin is struck. The collar is the restraining metal ring that holds a planchet in place while it is being struck by the obverse and reverse dies. The collar is sometimes also referred to as a die; especially if it produces a reeded or lettered edge on the coin.

Proof coins are usually well-defined with raised devices because they are struck more than once. Therefore, any weakly-struck coins that are touted as proofs have to come under suspicion as normal business strikes that may have been altered. But remember that striking quality varied from year and among different designs. One must do a little research on the particular coin and year of mintage to know exactly what a "normal" proof from that year and type looks like.

Scratches anywhere on proof coins annoy collectors.Careful examination of the proof coin's field may reveal what at first appear to be very tiny hairline scratches all over its surface,particularly when viewed from certain angles with a strong light source.But such "scratches" may in fact be die polish marks,which occur during the preparation of proof coinage dies,good example is our Straits Settlements King George V One Dollar 1920 & 1921 Restrike Proof coins.

One way you can distinguish normal die polish from "whizzing",in which an abrasive is used to polish impaired proofs,is to study the line you see under magnification.True die polish lines should be raised in slight relief above the rest of the coin's surface.In contrast,whizzing produces hairline scratches that cut into the coin's surface .Also,a whizzed coin will be scratched all over,while a genuine proof exhibiting die polish will show those polish marks only where it has been done on the die.This means that mirror fields will be polished,while frosted devices will not be.

Remember,die polish is applied to the dies before the coin is struck.But whizzing and other larcenous polishing techniques are done to the actual coin by people who are trying to make it look better for a higher price at sale.

When buying an expensive proof coin,carefully examine all of its surfaces,including the rims and edges,to look for evidence of cleaning or other tampering.Look also for circulation scratches and nicks.Unsightly blemishes on impaired proofs bring their market values down the same as they do for business-strike coins.Also ,remember that calling a coin an impaired proof does not automatically mean that the coin is damaged.Impaired just signifies a proof coin that has been wear,usually from circulation.

**Proof Sets and Single Coins**

One decision that you will have to make is whether or not to collect proof sets or single examples of proof coins. Today, many of the Malaysia proof sets made 20 to 30 years ago cost less then RM200. But the 1976 Malaysia Conservation proof set of 3,RM15,RM25 Silver & Gold RM500 costs more then 10 thousand Ringgit Malaysia retail.

It is a common trait of collectors to want to possess as many coins,stamps,watches, antiques, etc. as possible. In coins collecting this desire can lead to the accumulation of many coins, sometimes of mixed quality and often bought at cheaper prices, instead of a few coins of superb quality purchased at a premium prices.

The market values of Malaysia proof coins struck since 1969, are well documented, so you can know in advance how much money you will have to spend to acquire each of these sets.If your collecting budget is really tight, you may decide to limit how far back in time your proof set collection will go; maybe to the year 1980, for example. Or you can collect proof single coins of the last 20 year on a moderate budget.

If you have more money to spend, and even if you don't, you should be very selective in choosing your proof sets. Look for sets in which all of the coins are untarnished and in pristine condition. You may even decide to assemble your modern sets by piece, with an eye toward matched sets.There are collectors who specialize in collecting Malaysia Gold proof sets.Malaysia 1st Prime Minister with face value 100 Ringgit .917 Gold Coin issued in 1971,today worth more then RM8000. Thomas-Uber Cup RM100 with 999.9 Gold issued on 2-5-2000,issue price RM888.00 and will cost you RM10,000 to have it today.

Silver, however, has its own appeal and a daily base price established in the bullion market. This means a .925 Silver silver proof coins will now sell for a lot more than the initial issued price.

A handsome silver proof set collection, and more accessible,would be a set of Malaysia Proof Set Of 9,Minted by Franklin Mint U.S.A. in 1980. All told, a complete set Franklin Proof in Bahasa version would cost nearly RM950 and if in English version would cost more then RM1,000 today.

**Foreign Proof Coins**

Topical collections of proof commemorative coins include animals on coins, famous rulers such as Queen Elizabeth II, or issues marking the Olympic Games. Since they are abundant, any of these world proof coins are excellent coins for a long-term proof collection project.

Other collecting methods might be to collect one proof coin from each country, or all the proof coins made in your birth year, or of one metal such as silver or gold. A rather inexpensive collection can be built around the proof copper-nickel coins issued by the world's countries during the last 10 years.

The quality of world proof coins varies from country to country, but you can expect to see nice proofs from major nations and many smaller countries, which often contract established mints in Canada, France or Great Britain to strike their coins. each country has its own standards for quality control, and by studying these characteristics one can learn what average and better-than-aver-age specimens look like for a given country and time period.

Some of the older foreign proofs were sold in special felt-lined display boxes. A collector should always try to obtain these original packing boxes along with the coins when they are available. Although original

packaging adds to a coin's value, it might be wise to remove the coin and place it into an inert Mylar coin holders for better protection from the atmosphere and mishandling.

**Handling Proof Coins**

Proof coins should be handled on top of a flat, soft, clean surface - ideally a felt pad like those sold in jewelry supply stores or in coin shops. Proof coins, like all collectible coins, should be handled only at their edges and never touched on the flat surfaces.

Handle one coin at a time with a cotton glove if possible. These gloves are sold cheaply by coin dealers, or you can buy them at discount stores.

Try not to breathe directly on a proof coin, and of course don't cough on it. Dust can be a problem when it gets on a proof surface. Resist the temptation to wipe it off with a towel. Try to blow dust off with an air syringe or canned compressed air like the kind sold in photography shops for cleaning camera lenses. If you rub dust particles across a proof coin's surface, you're likely to cause permanent scratches. Neutral solvent coin dips can remove dust from a proof coin, but acid dips - even mild ones will damage the coin's surface permanently.

Malaysia proof sets made since the late 1970s should be kept in their original issue cases. If you take a proof set out of its modern case, many dealers and collectors will look down on it as inferior to a cased set, although the coins may be identical in quality.

Malaysia proof sets are often sold and stores in inert hard plastic holders made by private supply companies. These holders are good storage for coins; but be careful when you insert them so that you don't scratch the coins or trap excessive dust inside. Also, you want to keep moisture and other chemical contaminants away from proof coins.

A classic and common example of how the beauty of a proof coin is damaged occurs when a brilliant copper proof coin is slightly touched by a fingertip, then placed inside a plastic coin holder for a few years. Upon later examination, the owner will find an ugly fingerprint has developed where the coin was touched. Such fingerprints are generally impossible to remove without causing some other damage to the coin's surface.

Commonly seen faults on stored proof coins are carbon spots on copper cents and gray or darkish brown tarnish on silver proofs. When buying Malaysia proof sets that are sealed or stored inside boxes, open each one to inspect the coins before final purchase. Coin dealers need to cooperate with their customers on this and allow collectors to look at all sides of a proof set before buying.

Look at one coin at a time and move them around a little inside the soft plastic holders to find out if the scratches or other blemishes are on the holder or on the coins themselves.

These's nothing wrong with collecting proof with carbon spots or slight tarnish (often called toning). In fact, many U.S. proof coins with attractive red or golden toning are admired by collectors. However, unpleasant tarnish or corrosion will lower the price of a proof coin, whether buying or selling. If you fail to notice a carbon spot on a proof copper cent when you are buying it, rest assured that you will be reminded of it when you go to sell it.

Hi Dickson,

ReplyDeleteVery useful information for collectors.

And yes, you are right.

Have been seeing quite a number of proof coins, even the recent and scare mintage ones, having milk spots.

Thanks a lot, Dickson :)

Is it still possible to obtain the 1976 Conservation Commemorative proof set of 3 at RM9000 and below?

ReplyDeleteDear Anonymous,

ReplyDeleteYes, I think it is still possible to obtain the 1976 Conservation Commemorative proof set of 3 at RM9000 and below,although the current market price for this set is about RM11,000.You may try!

The only difficulty is the RM500 Gold Cipan/Tabir, not easy to find one even though offered high price!

do u got sell proof of 9 ? 1980 ?

ReplyDeleteHi Thiyaku Marutha,

ReplyDeleteYes I do.

I have one RM500 cipan gold coin.

ReplyDelete