One of the difficulties with online auctions of Royal Hawaiian Mint (RHM) coins is the lack of information being provided by the seller. This results (at least for me) in looking for visual hints in the image provided and checking the RHM database. This is where deductive reasoning kicks in….This method is not set in stone, but provide subtle hints.
For this example I’m looking at a individual 1994 Kalakaua 1/10 ounce gold (proof mintage 950 and uncirculated mintage 140)
Question 1: Is the coin proof or brilliant uncirculated (BU)?
Question 2. Was the coin sold as a proof set?
Question 3. Is the coin for auction in its original RHM box for a single coin?
Question 4. Can you visually see a different between the proof and BU? (need to search an image of proof and BU of the same coins)
Answer 1: Not sure (don’t trust the auction description).
Answer 2: Yes. If the coin was sold as part of a limited proof set, its is highly unlikely it would have NOT been sold as an individual proof. Check the RHM database carefully.
Answer 3: Yes. Original individual RHM box provides the hint its highly likely a BU coin. Need additional proof (no pun intended)
Answer 4: Yes. I located a proof image and compared it to the auction image. I found two differences
In comparing the images, I made a discovery (there is a “with RHM” and “without RHM” obverse die varieties of the 1994 Kalakaua 1/10 oz gold).
I checked my intact 1994 Kalakaua proof set and inspected the 1/10 ounce coin. No RHM is present.
The BU coin has RHM hallmark.
The BU coin’s field lacks “true” mirror fields.
I now own a BU coin with a population of 140 and in original RHM box
As for the spots on my new coin, NCS conservation service can remove those spots.