In addition to the bullion coins, the United States Mint produces American Gold Eagle Proof Coins (Buy on eBay) for collectors. These coins struck through a specialized mintage process and typically carry specific maximum authorized mintages. Proof Gold Eagles have been produced each year from 1986 to 2008 and carry premiums above the prices of their bullion counterparts.
Producing proof coins involves a special minting process during which coins are struck multiple times with specially prepared dies. The resulting coins exhibit sharp details and a cameo like appearance. The raised design elements appear frosted, while the background elements are mirrored. This gives the appearance of the design floating on liquid like fields.
Proof Gold Eagles are sold directly by the United States Mint to collectors, priced at a higher premium to gold value, as compared to the prices of regular bullion coins. The collector coins are typically placed within protective capsules within velvet lined presentation boxes with an official certificate of authenticity signed by the Director of the Mint.
In 1986, the US Mint only produced one ounce Proof Gold Eagles. In the following year, they also produced the one-half ounce proof coin, and sold a Two Coin Set. The following year, the remaining fractional weights were added to the product line up, along with a 4 Coin packaged set. Each year from 1988 to 2008, the US Mint sold the four individual options and the set. In 2009, all options for the Proof Gold Eagle were canceled, as the US Mint diverted incoming gold blanks to the production of bullion coins.
All one ounce Proof Gold Eagles have been produced at the West Point Mint. The fractional weight Proof Gold Eagles were initially produced at the Philadelphia Mint from 1987 to 1993. After that date, the fractional weight proof coins were struck at the West Point facility.