There has been a lot of chatter on forums and blogs as to whether the 2013-W American Silver Eagle Enhanced Uncirculated bullion coin is truly an uncirculated coin or is it a proof coin. Although an official coin collecting "governing body" does not exist, according to the ANA definition of proof, "Proof refers to a manufacturing process which results in a special surface or finish on coins made for collectors... Carefully prepared dies, sharp in all features, are made... Specially prepared planchets are fed into low-speed coining presses... carefully struck more than once to accentuate details." From what I witnessed at the West Point Mint facility last week, this coin really fulfills the definition of proof.
When I asked the U.S. Mint officials why the coin is considered an "uncirculated" and not a "proof" coin, the mint responded with the following statement:
Most of our premium coins, both uncirculated and proof, are struck multiple times on specially prepared dies. Therefore, using the number of strikes is not always an indicator of what is proof and what is uncirculated. The horsehair brush automated process creates a reflective surface of artwork elements but cannot achieve a smoothness of the felt pad. The felt pad cannot polish relief and is generally used to polish the field of a proof die, resulting in a mirror like finish. The auto polishing with a horsehair brush results in a brilliant uncirculated finish. The dies then go through a laser frosting process to achieve a heavy laser frost or a light laser frost in areas as described above.
What do you think? Is this a proof coin or an uncirculated coin? Vote in the poll below or leave a comment to share with all of us.
Image © 2013 James Bucki. All rights reserved.