Mail Bag – What is a Satin Finish Coin?

Welcome to the Mail Bag, a somewhat regular feature here on USCoinNews that highlights a question or a comment from a reader of the site. Today’s question comes from Marcus. They write asking what the difference is between a regular coin finish and a satin finish. They write…

Hi,

I’m curious to know what a satin finish coin is exactly. I see them referred to in red book but I cannot find a good explanation of it. I assume it is how the coin looks. Do you know about them?

Thanks,

Marcus

Marcus, you are correct in that the term Satin Finish refers to the finish of the coin. It can also be sometimes referred to as a matte finish but be careful with that term as it applies to proof coins. Satin is for uncirculated coins.

From 2005 to 2010, the United States Mint has used a special satin finish for coins included in the annual Uncirculated sets. They applied this softer finish to these coins to effectively set them apart from those coins found in circulation. It was a great idea but didn’t stick around very long given the Mint had to do a fair amount of work to make the finish separate from circulation strikes.

Take a look at the example below. The Kennedy Half Dollar on the Left is a 2009-P from a Uncirculated Set. Note it is softer, less brilliant than the Kennedy on the right. That is a 2019-D from an Uncirculated Set. When you see the two finishes side-by-side, it is very easy to see the difference.

Satin and Regular Finish Kennedy Half Dollar
Satin and Regular Finish Kennedy Half Dollar

Another common question related to satin finish coins are if they bring a premium. In general terms, no. All of these coins came from Uncirculated sets and they were bountiful in numbers during the time of their production.

Thanks for your questions Marcus!

For those of you who have coin collecting related questions, use the form on the About page to send it to me to potentially appear here in the Mail Bag.

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