What is a Reverse Proof Coin and Reverse Proof Finish?

Reverse Proofs are becoming exceedingly popular these days thanks to the positive reception from the global precious metals market. A reverse proof coin is a coin that features an inverted proof finish, i.e. a mirrored design device on a frosted surface. If this definition just created more questions than it answered, let's explore further!

What are Proof Coins? What is a Proof Finish?

Proof coins, like the Proof American Silver Eagle coin by the US Mint, are usually early samples of a coin issue. Historically, they used to be struck for simply checking the dies and for archival purposes. Nowadays, mints are issuing proof coins in greater numbers due to their popularity among both collectors and investors.

Today, proof coinage is defined by its method of manufacture. Proof coins have certain qualities that distinguish them from their BU (Brilliant Uncirculated) counterparts:

  • More often than not, a small and limited mintage;
  • The use of a more precise and careful striking process to impart detailed designs and a reflective finish.

To be more precise, a proof coin has a mirror finish surface and a frosted design. The designs have a glazed, frosty look about them. On the other hand, the surfaces of the coins are polished to mirror-like perfection. This is often called a proof finish.

These coins feature more detailed designs due to higher pressure from the dies and aren't intended for circulation. Mints are extremely careful during the production of these coins. As a result, they usually display much more design detail and polish.

What is Reverse Proof Finish?

As you might have guessed by now, an inverted proof finish is called a reverse proof finish. This indicates a mirrored design that sits atop a frosted surface.

The rising popularity of this finish has prompted mints from across the globe to launch reverse-proof variants of coins from various popular coin series.

What Does a Proof and Reverse Proof Coin Look Like?

Hopefully, this will help you visualize it more. The first coin is a "regular" Proof Silver Eagle. The second coin is a "reverse" Proof Silver Eagle coin.

Proof Silver Coin
Proof Silver Coins Example


"Reverse" Proof Silver Coin
Reverse Proof Silver Eagle Coin



          Are reverse-proof coins more valuable?

Reverse-proof coins are valued around the spot price of their precious metal. For instance, a silver reverse proof coin has its value based on the silver spot price. However, the extra effort put into the mirror-like polish finish, the lower mintage, and the increased appeal to a coin collector might translate to higher premiums than regular BU coins.

          What is the difference between proof and reverse proof coins?

As we have mentioned before, reverse proof coins have an “inverted” proof finish. Contrary to a regular proof coin, a reverse proof coin has a frosty field, while the raised devices are mirror-like.

          What is an enhanced reverse proof coin?

An enhanced reverse proof coin set portrays the same frosted background, but the extra mirror-like polish is applied to specific parts of the design. This selective polishing helps bring life to the design and greatly enhances its visual.

          What was the first-ever reverse proof coin in the U.S.?

In the United States, the first reverse proof coin produced was the American Silver Eagle in 2006. The U.S. Mint produced this uncirculated coin to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this popular series. The coin was only produced in the West Point branch bearing the “W” mintmark. This first commemorative silver reverse proof set is, to this day, highly sought-after by collectors.

          What other U.S. coins were struck in a reverse proof finish?

With the popularity of the Reverse Proof American Silver Eagle coin from 2006, the U.S. Mint has produced a number of other coins in reverse proof finish for collectors. The list includes America The Beautiful Quarter coins, American Gold Buffalo coins, Kennedy Half Dollar silver coins, Roosevelt Dime Silver coin, the Lincoln Penny, the Jefferson Nickel, and many others.

          Are reverse proof coins legal tender?

Reverse-proof coins produced by the U.S. Mint are legal tender within the United States. Keep in mind, though, that if it is platinum, gold, or even a silver coin, it is worth much more than its face value. 

SD Bullion

If you are considering starting a coin collection, SD Bullion has you covered. We offer a variety of platinum, gold, and silver coin options in both proof and BU (Brilliant Uncirculated) conditions. Our staff is available to help you with any questions you might have. You can reach us over the phone at 1(800)294-8732 or through our live web chat feature. We are available via email as well at sales@sdbullion.com.

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James Anderson
James Anderson
Senior Market Analyst & Content

A bullion buyer years before the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, James Anderson is a grounded precious metals researcher, content creator, and physical investment grade bullion professional. He has authored several Gold & Silver Guides and has been featured on the History Channel, Zero Hedge, Gold-Eagle, Silver Seek, Value Walk and many more. You can pick up Jame's most recent, comprehensive 200+ Page book here at SD Bullion.

Given that repressed commodity values are now near 100-year low level valuations versus large US stocks, James remains convinced investors and savers should buy and maintain a prudent physical bullion position now, before more unfunded promises debase away in the coming decades...