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Proof Coins
 
 
In addition to coins struck for circulation, the U.S. Mint also strikes Proof versions
of most coins.  Proof coins are special editions that are made exclusively for
collectors and as presentation pieces.  They are struck using a different process
than regular-issue coins, so Proof coins have a different appearance.  Due to the
extra care and the personal attention needed to create each coin, Proofs are always
struck in limited numbers.  Proofs are the highest quality coins struck by the U.S.
Mint.
 
In preparation for striking a Proof coin, the coin dies are carefully selected for
their perfection, and they are highly polished and cleaned before any coin is
struck.  They are also cleaned after every 15-20 strikes, and they are replaced
frequently to ensure the highest quality impressions.  The coin blanks are
also meticulously polished and are hand-fed into the coinage press.  Each blank
is struck at least twice under high pressure (regular-issue coins are struck just
once at normal pressure), thereby bringing out the three-dimensional details o
f the design and creating a mirror-like background. 
 
When the finished Proof coin is removed from the coinage press, it is individually inspected.  If any flaws or imperfections are found, the coin is rejected and will
not be sold to the public.  At no time during the minting process is a Proof coin
touched by bare hands;  it is handled only by gloves or tongs.  Finally, the
finished Proof coin is carefully placed in a special holder that is sonically sealed
to preserve its quality and condition. 
 
 
Prior to 1968, Proof coins were always made at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. 
Starting in 1968, however, the San Francisco Mint took over the production of all
Proof coins except some commemoratives and bullion coins.  The West Point Mint
has struck some commemorative Proof coins since 1984, all Silver and Gold Proof
bullion coins since 1994, and all Platinum Proof bullion coins since 1997.  The
Denver Mint also struck a Proof version of the 1994 Olympic Games $10 gold commemorative coin, and the Philadelphia Mint continues to strike some commemorative Proof coins when the need arises.