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Collectors divide on beauty of proofs

Collector opinions seem to be split roughly right down the middle when it comes to comparing reverse proofs to regular proofs.

The ongoing sale of the 2018 San Francisco Silver Reverse Proof Set prompted me to ask readers about them.

Results of our online poll show 43 percent think reverse proofs are less beautiful than regular proofs.

Obviously, then, 57 percent think they aren’t.

I have received emailed comments from buyers of the new reverse proof set.

They are divided, too.

Here are two, one from each side of the question.

"To be honest, the reverse silver proof sets are a disappointment to me.

"Maybe because I’m used to the mirror-like background and the frosted detailed images.

"Having the detailed images super shiny on the somewhat frosted background doesn’t do it for me.

"Hopefully, the low mintage of 200,000 will keep their value up to at least what I paid for them, $54.95."

My thanks go to Bill Zearfoss for sharing his opinion.

On the other side of the fence come these comments:

“No, I think it is the opposite.

“I just received my San Francisco Mint 50th Anniversary Reverse Proof Set, and the portraits on the coins really pop.

“At the end of the day, aren’t the design elements more important than the fields?”

Thanks go to Peter Glassman for taking the other side.

A reverse proof coin has a mirror-like finish on the high points and frosting on the fields.

A regular proof has frosting on the high points and a mirror-like field.

In a yes-and-no question, we cannot ask if some collectors love each style of proof set equally.

Favoring both proof styles actually could be the largest group of collectors, but we will not be able to compare Mint sales results as evidence.

The 200,000 cap on the mintage of the reverse proof, if it is reached, will cut the test short.

The regular silver proof set is already at nearly 207,000 and will continue to rise in the months to come.

The regular silver proof set of 2017 has a sales figure of 349,329.

The 2016 regular silver proof set number is 389,849.

Can the 2018 regular silver proof set get close to either of those figures of the last two years?

It is possible, but we will not know for another year or 18 months, as the Mint keeps the order window open for longer and longer periods.

But as the emails show, both sides of the proof comparison have articulate supporters.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."