Ron Drzewucki

Ron Drzewucki

Ron Drzewucki has been a professional numismatist since 1984 and a member of Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) since 1995. He has for years been a dealer "known as having a superb eye for coins" and "has the experience and discriminating eye to make those important distinctions between grades", according to the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation's newsletter. Ron ran a successful company dealing in certified rare coins and modern coins before joining Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) in January of 2005.. Grading rare, silver, and gold vintage coins are Ron's specialty. Ron was with NGC for 7 years, and was a shareholder for 6 years before selling his shares in May, 2012.

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Proof vs. Mint State Coins

A lot of new coin collectors simply want to know the difference, and they ask “What exactly is the difference between U.S. Mint and Proof coins?”, or what does “Brilliant Uncirculated and Deep Cameo/Ultra Cameo mean”?

These are great questions and if you are asking them it probably means that you are on your way to becoming a great coin collector! Hopefully this article can help you to learn the key difference between these two types of coins.

Proof coins are easily distinguishable by looking at the background of the coin, because it looks like a mirror. It is finely polished and should have no blemishes. The raised part of the coin is matte which gives the coin an eye catching contrast.  When Proof coins are struck they are made with specially polished dies that give the resulting coin a mirror-like finish. The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) has termed this finish “Deep Cameo” or DCAM, and that is designated on the label when it is certified. The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) has called this finish “Ultra Cameo” or UC.

The U.S. Mint has an engraved stamp used for impressing a design upon a blank piece of metal to make a coin, otherwise known as a die. The dies are sandblasted or polished with diamond powder, struck at a slower speed, and struck twice.  Typically, proof coins are held to a higher standard because they are individually inspected and handled more carefully. Back before coin collecting became popular proofs were intended as samples. Proof coins were produced with such clarity that any imperfections with the press/strike became easily apparent. The mint-master could then check the proof coin as a way to make sure the coin was ready to mint. As a result, historically, only a small number of proof coins were originally produced. Now the U.S. Mint produces these fine specimens for collectors every year, and their quality is near perfect.

Now onto the Mint coins. Sometimes the term “Uncirculated” can become a little murky and mired in doubt, so for the sake of keeping everyone’s sanity we call them MintState coins. Even the United States Mint has provided three different definitions for this numismatic word – so don’t feel put out if you are confused by it! A mint state (brilliant uncirculated) coin has a matte, frosty finish. Its lustery finish is made the same way as circulating coins but with enhancements like slightly higher coining force, early strikes from dies, and special cleaning after stamping. According to the U. S. Mint “Uncirculated coins may vary to some degree because of blemishes, toning, or slight imperfections.” Therefore if you get a coin that is slightly imperfect this is totally normal. Sometimes the hunt for the perfect coin is the fun part! Or if you want the easy way you can visit our website where we only sell high grade Mint State certified coins hand picked by an expert coin grader and former NGC Finalizer, Ron Drzewucki.

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