These two top images are a comparison of the edges of a 1909 VDB matte proof (left) next to a 1909 VDB business strike (right) coin. At left they are pressed together. At right they are free standing.
The edge of a matte proof will always be flatter, smoother, and more reflective then its more rounded business strike counterpart. A matte proof will stand alone on its edge very easily. Further,
the inside and outside edges of the rim, as seen in the images below with the matte proof on the left and the business strike on the right in each image, will be sharper and crisper. A matte proof will have its
inside edge drop off more steeply and therefore the coin will exhibit less of an inside curved dish than a business strike. A matte proof may also have a slight fin on the far outside of the rim around the coin.
In general a matte proof coin will have the following surface and edge characteristics to help differentiate it from its business strike counterpart:
• More detail in the image and design elements.
• A surface matte appearance resulting from the blasting of the die surface. Wear and toning may result in this surface being lost.
• Flatter, smoother, and more reflective rims.
• Sharper and crisper edges on the outside and inside of the rim.
• Less dishing of the coin than for a business strike.
To be absolutely confident when authenticating a matte proof coin you must examine the die characteristics for that year as described below on the obverse and reverse for the 1909 VDB matte proof.
There is only one set of dies for this year and many die artifacts are the same as for the 1909. At right is a die scratch from the
back of lincoln's coat underneath the TY of LIBERTY. There is also reportedly a die scratch from the right bottom of the R to the top left
of the T but I could not find it here as I also could not on the 1909. As you can see the toning on this coin makes the die scratches difficult to spot.
The first three images are for all die states.
There are numerous die scratches in front of and below Lincoln's nose.
There is a die scratch from the top right of the R to the U in TRUST.
For the late die state there is a die scratch through the top of the U in TRUST.
For all die states there is a die chip to the right of the U in UNUM. A die chip from the rim at 9 o'clock could not be found.
Again, for all die states there is a die scratch from the P to the L in PLURIBUS.
For late die states there is a die scratch through the second dot to the B in VDB.
A die scratch through the top right of the U in UNUM for late die states.
Subsequent to the publication of Kevin Flynn's authoritative book
he authenticated a coin as a 1909 VDB Matte Proof which did not have any of the die characteristics shown above. He theorized that this coin was minted as part of a later batch struck in
December of 1909. This batch still exhibits the sandblasted matte surface appearance and broad rims and sharp edges resulting from the use of a coining press exerting great pressure but
is less detailed and sharp from the use of an older die that had been well used.
For the Obverse the following die characteristics were noted:
- Heavy die scratch from left bottom of N of IN to center of N
- Several vertical die scratches above IN GOD
- Several small die scratches between GO of GOD
- Several small die scratches in field below second T of TRUST
- Heavy die scratch from left bottom of T of LIBERTY through the R
For the Reverse the following die characteristics were noted:
- Die scratch from M of UNUM left into the field above E of ONE
- Horizontal die scratch in field to the right of the C of CENT
- Die scratch from the center of E to the N of CENT
- Die scratch through the middle of UN of UNITED
- Small over large TE of UNITED
- Die scratch through the lower TAT of STATES
- Die chip next to the rim at 3 o'clock
Lastly, I have run across a quick way to wean out some 1909 VDB business strikes that can appear to be Matte Proofs. For true 1909 VDB Matte Proofs the dot between the
D and the B of VDB on the bottom of the reverse is centered between those two letters. On a business strike coin the dot is normally left much closer to the D. Now please
note that there can be a centered dot on a 1909 VDB business strike but there will not be a left positioned dot on a true 1909 VDB Matte Proof. So this is not a definitive
test for authentication.