In addition to the millions of Braided Hair Cents struck for circulation, proofs were also struck in extremely limited quantities (Buy on eBay). The sale of these pieces was not regulated until 1857 when 200 proofs were produced, representing the largest number of proof strikings for both the type and denomination. The earlier years of the series have mintages as low as 20 pieces, with an even smaller number of survivors.
No proofs are known to exist for the first year of series in 1839, as collectors usually bought their new coins early in the year when the old type was still in use. Proofs are also unknown for the year 1851, supposedly due to lack of demand.
All Proof Braided Hair Cents are rare and especially so with original red coloration. Two dates stand apart as exceptionally rare. The 1852 proof issue is represented by only three known examples. The finest known piece graded PCGS PR-65 Red sold for $105,750 in 2015. The 1853 proof issue is represented by only a single known example graded PCGS PR-64 Brown, which sold for $28,200 in 2014.
Proof Braided Hair Large Cent Mintages