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Re: "OMG.. Eye Candy!! Matte Proofs..."

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Regarding confusion in this post on sandblast proof gold on PCGS' forum:



There were two versions of gold proofs made for collectors from 1908-1916: sandblast and satin. There is no such thing as a "Roman" proof except in the imagination of Wally Breen who invented the term because he did not do the research to learn what the mint really did. Unfortunately, this error is perpetuated by copycat work in the "CoinWeek" column quoted extensively.


Satin proof – made on a medal press using new dies. Defect-free planchets, no special pre- or post-strike treatment. Satin surface is that of the new dies.


Sandblast proof – made on a medal press using new dies. Defect-free planchets, no special pre-strike treatment. Coin was sandblasted individually after striking. (NOT while it was still warm – temperature of the coin made no difference.)


Sandblasted surface was very delicate and every slight post-sandblasting mark was obvious. There are minor differences from year to year and within years because this was a manual process. Also, the surfaces of new dies changed subtly as they were used.


For details, so to Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908.



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In a response made ATS, someone claimed (and possibly attributed it to you...) that the coins were sandblasted when the order was being packaged (paraphrased). This would make sense to me given the very delicate nature of the finish, and also that they would not want to have the sandblasting process going on in the machine room with the presses! But I have always heard they were sandblasted right after striking. Curious what your research showed on this.

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I have only had one U.S. sand blasted Proof, which was part of the my dealer inventory. I sold this piece for $28,000 back in the 1990s. I was sorry, but I could not afford to keep it. When I first saw one of these coins at a New York City coin show when I was in my early twenties, I thought that they were counterfeits. :D




This one I do own. It is a 1902 British two pounds. It was issued as part of a set that celebrated the coronation of King Edward VII. It cost me a lot less. ;)




Some collectors find these coins to be unattractive because they have no brightness or luster.

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"Because RWB still loves you."

--- funny! :)


The whole satin & sandblast proof mess started because the new gold designs were not evenly basined which meant that mirror proofs could not be made. (Same for the 1916 silver designs.) In order to produce something special for coin collectors, the engraving department decided to finish coins using a medal finishing process: sandblasting. This was fine for high relief medals, but produced a very flat surface on low relief coins, and this tended to suppress detail on a coin. (The abrasive of choice was emery. This created sharp pits in a gold coin’s surface, which sparkled gently under strong light.) The Philadelphia Mint superintendent, Adam Joyce, did not like sandblasting coins because it made them too different from normal pieces to allow leftovers to be put into circulation. Hundreds of extra 1908 gold proofs were melted and that created additional bookkeeping headaches.


Gold collectors were not fond of sandblast proofs and so the mint shifted to satin – which was nothing more than omitting the sandblasting. Collectors again objected because the coins were not distinctly different from normal circulation strikes except in detail and absence of “luster.” William Woodin worked out a return to sandblast with Assistant Treasurer Andrew in late 1910.


Sandblast coins were the product of manual operations and took too much time to apply to the 1916 silver coins. Thus, the new mint director approved Joyce’s suggestion to discontinue all special coins for collectors.


(Sandblasted commemoratives are known along with some 1921 and 1922 Peace dollars. These were samples made for official review and approval, and not issued for collectors. Some ended up as souvenirs for Philadelphia Mint and Mint HQ officials.)


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I personally find them very attractive. They show off the design features of the coin better than any other finish because they have no inherent "flash" that moves your attention away from the design. I find a similar attractiveness to VEDS coins, as they have not yet seen the die wear that results in strong presentation of luster. I suppose this is similar to satin finish proofs, which I also find attractive. I have a 1950 Lincoln Cent in Satin Proof that is absolutely marvelous.

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