The difference between proofs and most standard coins or rounds happens primarily in the creation process. Proof blanks are specially treated, polished and cleaned to give them a mirror-like appearance. Compared to a regular blank that is typically struck once by the die to create the image, proof blanks are struck at least twice by special dies to give a more defined and attractive appearance. Extreme details can become more noticeable, and its aesthetic appearance is substantially better. Proofs cost more to make, are more scarce in quantities made, and will sell for more – sometimes significantly more. As a result, uncirculated coins and rounds are a more cost effective way to invest in silver, while proofs are very popular with collectors.
Characteristics of a proof:
1) The field or background has a shiny, mirror-like appearance
2) The device or design of the proof has a frostier appearance
3) The details of a proof are typically sharper than the equivalent uncirculated coin or round
Take a look at the difference between a round and a proof of the same design:
A coin or round may sometimes be referred to as “proof like” in appearance. This generally means the field will have that shiny mirrored look, although the coin or round will not typically carry the higher premium of a proof.
Reverse proofs are almost like looking at a camera film’s negatives. Instead of the proof’s field being shiny and the device looking frosty, a reverse proof has a shiny device and a frosty field.
ANTIQUE FINISH ROUNDS
A round with an antique finish has a more unique, older look. They will typically cost at least as much as a proof if not more due to the extra work required during the antiquing process.
Here’s another extremely well crafted round with high relief and an antique finish. Although it can’t be seen in the picture below, the relief on the Knights Templar round actually rises above the rim.