Many people start a coin collection with coins they see every day, or with coins they got when traveling to other countries. As your collection grows, you may want to collect special coins made just for collecting. These coins can be made of different metals, such as gold and silver, or have different finishes than a circulating coin.
You may even want to focus your collection around different themes:
Coins made for collecting have different finishes than circulating coins. The finish is how the surface of the coin looks. The three main finishes are circulating, uncirculated, and proof.
Coins with a circulating finish are used every day as money. The coins “circulate” among people and businesses. They get small scratches from rubbing against each other and get dull from use.
Think about it like a foul ball that you caught at a baseball game. The ball was used for a game so it might have some scratches or marks on it, or it might look new.
Coins with an uncirculated finish are meant to be collected. These coins won’t be used in daily life, so they don’t get scratches.
These coins are like a baseball you get from the store that is still in its packaging. There are no scratches or marks on it. The ball is still shiny and new.
A proof finish is a special finish for collectible coins. Proof coins look different from circulating and uncirculated coins. Their backgrounds are smooth and shiny like a mirror. The raised parts of the designs look “frosted” to stand out from the background.
Proof coins are like a baseball that has been dipped in gold – you would keep that ball in a trophy case and could never play with it because it is so special!