What’s the difference between Proof, Brilliant Uncirculated and Bullion coins?


My name is Gordon Summers, I’m the Chief Engraver and I’ve been at The Royal Mint for about 20 years. At The Royal Mint we produce three types of finish for commemorative coins Bullion, Brilliant Uncirculated and our highest quality finish, Proof. These are processes which have been refined and developed over a thousand years or more at The Royal Mint. Our focus really is to produce the highest quality coin, no matter what the finish is, we always put a great deal of craftsmanship and skill and knowledge into every design and into every coin. It’s difficult really to understand the level of care that goes into our process, it’s a lengthy process for whichever final coin finish we produce. We take as much time and consideration on the design and development stage for Bullion, Brilliant Uncirculated and Proof coins but where it diverges really is the quality of the finish on the final coin. Bullion is all about producing lots of coins efficiently. The Brilliant Uncirculated part is really, it’s a higher quality than our circulation, given an extra finish and more handling in terms of polishing and finishing. And then right at the peak of our quality is the Proof coin. Where we spend a lot of time both on the tools and in the striking to make sure that they produce the highest quality coin that we could possibly do. I’m Tony Milsom, I’m a Master Tools Maker and I’ve been working at The Royal Mint now for 18 years. No matter what the final finish is it’s our job to ensure the dies are sharp and accurate to make the finish on the coin as close to the original design as possible. For the Proof finish, we’ll spend more time on the tools than for other finishes often working in a deeper relief to allow extra material for the additional polishing of Proof dies. I’m just sharpening up the edges of the material you see how the edge is just a little rounded? Well this is where we just give it a little tap tap to bring it back perfectly sharp. After every stage of the tooling, I would inspect the tool itself making sure that the quality standard was maintained Our Master Tools are of the highest quality standard no matter what the final finish might be. My name is David Woodward, I am the Senior Die Polisher I’ve been at The Royal Mint for 38 years. We polish the dies that we use to strike the coins to ensure the highest quality of finish on the final coins For the Bullion coins, the dies are finished by a polishing machine. The Brilliant Uncirculated and Proof dies are hand finished. We use six grades of diamond paste and different woods, from Cherries to Balsa to give the dies a perfect mirror finish. The Proof finish has an extra stage. The mirror finish is protected using tape, we use fine sand and glass bead blasters on the surface to add the frosting effect. It can take several hours to finish each Proof die which will then create three to four hundred coins before having to be re-polished. My name is Paul Barrington, I’m a Setter at The Royal Mint and I’ve been working here for 11 years. Both Brilliant Uncirculated and Bullion coins are machine-fed Bullion coins are struck once and we produce up to 250 an hour. Brilliant Uncirculated coins are struck twice and are regularly checked so we only produce around 100 an hour For Proof coins, each blank is picked up individually and hand-placed into the press. We clean the dies with air before each strike to ensure maximum detail. They’ll be struck up to six times using less pressure to preserve the fine detail of the artwork. With the extra care and attention we’ll only produce around 50 Proof coins an hour. The Proof coin is able to provide more detail, clearer relief and a finer smoother surface, making the very best of the original design. Every coin is checked when they come off the press to make sure that everything is perfect the line-up, the diameter and the quality of the coin If you’re interested in buying gold coins just for the value of the gold then we would recommend you go for the Bullion. If you want something that is of a higher quality but available really to more people: the Brilliant Uncirculated. But if your focus is to have the highest quality the most craftsmanship certainly the Proof coin would be the one to go to.

28 thoughts on “What’s the difference between Proof, Brilliant Uncirculated and Bullion coins?

  1. I love the Silver Proof Britannias. How come most of the proofs I see coming to us in the US have some sorts of Problems. Dings, Scratches and Milk spotting. A Friend of mine returned some proofs and his replacement coins were in worse condition than the originals. definitely makes me want to skip these coins. just a big concern I am having.

  2. the proof sovereign coin is my most favorite coin in the world St.George slaying the Dragon is the most beautiful picture and of course the queen the Finish is perfect. cheers from the US.

  3. Please send your employees to the US Mint so they can provide some training to the US Mint employee's. 🙂

  4. What was the exact minting procedure for the recent 2017 Struck on the Day Anniversary Sovereign ? And also the2017 (not sold in any set) Quintuplet Sovereign ? please include handling, number of strikes and frosting, polishing of die and blank please. I am trying to understand why NGC is grading these coins as MS DPL and just can't get my head around t. Thank you.

  5. The difference between BU and Proof is very tiny on some sovereigns I own. Bullion next to a BU or Proof looks very weak in comparison but they are two different things. I'll be showing this comparison soon on my channel.

  6. Thank you for this most informative video. My 3× great-grandfather, Peter Filatreu Cross (1815-1862) was an assistant engraver at the US Mint in Philadelphia in the 1840s and 1850s. ~Bill Stephens

  7. So the difference between Proof and the Average Silver coin is Quality? The % and weight of Value Silver Is the same Right?

  8. Amazing!  I wasn't aware of all the extensive labor at the level of "perfection" that goes into the coins, especially the Proofs.
    Great job; great video.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *