How to Identify a Silver Dollar Proof

By Brian Adler
A 2004 Silver Eagle proof.

Silver dollars are American coins worth one dollar (face value). Proof coins are produced specifically for collectors, and are not introduced into general circulation. Silver dollar proofs, like all proof coins, feature finer detail than ordinary coins. They are made using a special minting process.

Look for fine detailing on the surface of the silver dollar. In modern proofs, the background area (also known as the "field") will have a mirror-like appearance.

Look closely at the images (also known as "devices") on the silver dollar. On old coins, images are especially detailed. On modern silver dollars, devices have a frosted appearance.

Observe the contrast between the field and the devices. On modern proofs, the difference will be striking. The look of the frosted devices against the mirror-like field is referred to as a "cameo." Coin dealers label these coins "CAM." Coins with stronger contrast are called "DCAM," or "deep cameo."

Determine if the edges of the devices are clearly marked. Proof coins are struck twice by the dies that produce them, which ensures precise detail.

Look for a carrying case. Since 1986, the United States Mint has issued silver dollar proofs encased in a sealed capsule within a plush velvet display box. These coins come with a certificate of authenticity.

About the Author

Brian Adler has been writing articles on history, politics, religion, art, architecture and antiques since 2002. His writing has been published with Demand Studios, as well as in an online magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Columbia University.