Proof Gold coinage offers a unique combination of breathtaking beauty and ultimate rarity, and no other numismatic investment sector boasts a better record of long-term returns.
Proof Gold is at the same time one of the most profitable and the most elusive sectors of the rare coin market. As an entire category, Proof Gold is the scarcest group of classic American coins. It receives extensive attention (i.e. demand) from the most advanced collectors due to its rarity and aesthetic beauty. Because of this, prices for certain Proof Gold coins easily run into the six figures, although there are several pleasing and scarce issues available for just several thousand dollars. Nevertheless, the historic price levels for Proof Gold coinage have put it out of reach for average investors and collectors and have earned it the title "caviar of numismatics." Proof Gold coins were struck in the United States between 1820 and 1915, but were not marketed to collectors until 1858. Therefore, mintages before that year were extremely small and survivors are very difficult to come by.
One aspect of proof coinage that sets it apart from business strike issues is the extreme care used in the production process (made possible by tiny mintages). Each proof issue was struck multiple times (as opposed to just once for most business strike coins) on carefully prepared, highly polished planchets. This process may not sound difficult, but each coin minted by this painstaking process represents an actual attempt by the Philadelphia Mint's most skilled engravers and pressmen to create a flawless, perfect coin. In many instances, they came very close. However, because gold is the softest of all coinage metals, the surfaces of all Proof Gold coins are extremely fragile and subject to damage or wear. This fragility, combined with the low original mintages, makes pristine examples of Proof Gold coins among the rarest and most valuable coins in existence.
Proof Gold is the most challenging sector for coin collectors and investors due to the scarcity of every issue. Even the wealthiest enthusiasts often endure years of waiting and are still met with disappointment after trying to locate and acquire the coins that they need. Unlike business strike coins, all Proof Gold issues were rare the day that they left the Philadelphia Mint. Usually, mintage figures were in the range of only 50 examples. Some issues had larger production runs and others much smaller mintages. However, out of an original mintage of 50 coins, customarily only about half survive today, and an even smaller portion of the survivors are actually investment-grade specimens. Because the market for Proof Gold is so thin, even small increases in demand can result in significant price increases. If the idea of owning a historical work of art that perhaps no other collector or investor could ever own appeals to you, then you might just fall in love with the mystique of owning Proof Gold.