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What is a Specimen Coin?

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / Wednesday, May 07, 2014 / Categories: Answers for the Avid Collector

Thanks for asking. Today a Specimen coin is many things to many people, but it mainly refers to a finish that can’t be reconciled with a Mint State or Proof status, at least in American numismatics. There are many Specimen coins now in existence, including the $10 million 1794 Specimen-66 PCGS-certified silver dollar we sold in January 2013, and other 18th and 19th-century coins have been designated Specimen by the third-party grading services. Classically, Specimen is the term used for a special manufacturing process employed in the United Kingdom, and especially by our friends to the north, Canada. Their history of Specimen coinage began in the first year of Canadian coinage, 1858, and continues to this day. There is a thin line between “Specimen” and “Proof” in many people’s eyes, but either way, some of the finest coins known today are listed as Specimens.