Certified Proof Coin Case Label

How to Read the Label on a Certified Proof Coin


Written by John Rothans

Jun 14, 2018

You may already know how powerful certified proof coins can be when held for a long time. What you may not know, however, is what all the information on the coin's plastic slab means. There are numbers, letters, abbreviations, dates, and more. Understanding this printed information equips you with the knowledge you need to properly diversify your portfolio and maximize your financial security, as it helps to summarize the numismatic potential of the enclosed coin.

Certified Proof Coin Labels

Every certified coin undergoes an extensive evaluation process by an independent coin grading service, most notably, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Coins certified by PCGS have a unique label that allows you to quickly verify a coin’s authenticity and quality. In this example, we'll look at a PGCS label seen on a certified Proof Gold American Eagle Coin from U.S. Money Reserve’s exclusive Reagan Legacy Signature Series.

Proof Gold American Eagle Coin Label – Obverse

The obverse, or front, of the Proof Gold American Eagle Coin grabs your attention, right from the start. At the center of the coin’s design is Lady Liberty’s full-length figure, her face framed by windswept hair and stamped with a fearless gaze. Her stance is unwavering, as she raises a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left. The Capitol building sits in the left background. The coin’s design is beautiful, but what can we learn from the information surrounding it on the coin case?


This is a custom PCGS coin case label. The label, as a whole, gives you an overview of the coin. The label in this example designates the coin as part of the Reagan Legacy Signature Series. This series features private populations of Gold American Eagles in only the highest grades available from PCGS. These Gold American Eagles are available in finite quantities and cannot be found anywhere else.


As we previously mentioned, PCGS stands for Professional Coin Grading Service, the independent coin grading service that evaluates the coin's physical condition. Other coin grading services include The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), Independent Coin Graders (ICG), and ANACS.


The enduring legacy of one of our country’s most iconic presidents lives on with each coin label hand signed by Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael Reagan. Thanks to Ronald Reagan, physical gold is within reach for so many Americans. The first U.S. gold coin in 51 years was struck in 1984 during Reagan’s time in office. A year later, Reagan signed the signed the Gold Bullion Act of 1985 and further changed American gold ownership forever. This legislation launched the American Eagle Gold Coin Program, a program that has since become one of the most successful U.S. Mint coin programs.

Michael Reagan’s signature isn’t a print or an image; it’s his real, hand-penned signature. This feature is exclusive to U.S. Money Reserve's Proof Gold American Eagle Coins.

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Proof Gold American Eagle Coin Label – Reverse

Now let’s look at the reverse, or back, of the Proof Gold American Eagle Coin case! The coin's reverse features a family of bald eagles clutching olive branches, honoring family and America. What can the slab tell us?


This is the year the coin was minted, followed by a dash and an initial indicating the location of the minting facility where the coin was produced. Gold American Eagles were first minted in 1986, after the signing of the Gold Bullion Act of 1985, at the U.S. Mint West Point Facility in New York.

The coin in our example shows: 1986-W. That means it was minted in 1986 at the West Point Mint (W). Other United States mint marks include P (Philadelphia), D (Denver), and S (San Francisco).


This is the face value of a legal tender coin. The Gold American Eagle pictured here carries a symbolic legal tender value of $50. The actual price of a Certified Proof Gold American Eagle Coin is based on several factors not limited to just the spot price of gold plus manufacturing and distribution costs. The actual price also takes into account the coin’s availability and condition.


Pay attention to this area! It includes the coin's official details including its finish, grade, and other designations, if applicable. Our example reads: PCGS PR70DCAM

The area begins with the grading service's abbreviation, PCGS. Next is the coin's finish, PR, which stands for proof finish. Then there's the coin's grade, 70. A grade of 70 is reserved for museum-quality condition, the highest grade available.

The next few letters aren't applicable to all certified proof coin labels, but you may see them where applicable. DCAM stands for deep cameo style. Proof coins that have both reverse and obverse designs that are highly frosted and contrast strongly with highly reflective fields are described as DCAM. (Don't know a coin field from a relief? A legend from an edge? Check out parts of a coin.)

Proof fields that are highly reflective but not frosted, or, only frosted on one side are given a CAM designation. PCGS will not assign a DCAM or CAM designation to a proof coin if the fields are not highly reflective.

You may also see other PCGS designations in this area. For instance, all Mint State and Proof copper coins carry one of three color ratings:

  • Red (RD)
  • Red & Brown (RB)
  • Brown (BN)

Some Mint State silver and nickel coins carry strike information. Certain portions of the design contain all of the original detail engraved into the dies. As the die wears, though, these portions of the design become flattened and are never struck onto the coin. Coins with the same design can have varying degrees of detail due to the use of older dies or weak striking pressure. PCGS recognizes five strike designations:

  • Full Steps (FS) on Jefferson Nickels
  • Full Bands (FB) on Mercury and Roosevelt Dimes
  • Full Head (FH) on Standing Liberty Quarters, Type 1 and 2
  • Full Bell Lines (FBL) on Franklin Halves


Under the coin's official details, you'll see the coin's official name: Gold Eagle.


This certified Gold American Eagle Coin is part of an official PCGS private population from our exclusive Reagan Legacy Signature Series. This elite series makes up a very small percentage of the total mintage, which means only a select few are in existence with this recognized label.


After the coin is inspected, graded, and sonically sealed inside an impact-resistant case, the coin barcode, serial number, and label are issued. The PCGS serial number allows you to verify the authenticity and quality of any certified coin evaluated by PCGS experts. The barcode is used for internal purposes at PCGS. If you have a certified coin readily available, go ahead and give it a try. Enter in the coin's serial number online at PCGS.com to quickly verify its authenticity and quality.

How to Use Your Coin Label Knowledge

So, how do you go about using all of this great information? Here are a few ideas:

  • Get to know your current coin portfolio. Enter in the coin's unique serial number at PCGS.com or download the PCGS Cert Verification App to your smartphone. You can use the app to scan or enter the coin's 7- or 8-digit serial number.
  • Work toward owning a proof set. A certified proof set is made up of all denominations from one year of issue in the same high grade.
    • An example of a proof set would be if you owned 1 oz., 1/2 oz., 1/4 oz., and 1/10 oz. Gold American Eagle Coins, minted in 1986, each with a grade of PR-69.
  • Then, build a proof date run. A date run consists of all denominations from every year of issue in the same high grade. It's one of the best ways to go about buying certified proof coins and building your portfolio.
    • An example of a date run would be if you owned every denomination of Gold American Eagle Coins from each year (1986-2018), all with a grade of PR-69.

Owning a date run of any gold series is an achievement. The Reagan Legacy Signature Series, with its signature distinction, is the premier gold owner's asset. Call 1-844-307-1589 to learn more about the Proof Gold American Eagle Reagan Legacy Signature Series today!


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