That proof coins were struck during our pre-decimal era may surprise some readers. But it has to be said that proof coins are not just a product of the decimal years. The Perth Mint was striking gold proofs of our pre-decimal coinage in the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth century when the mint expanded its repertoire by striking copper proofs as well as gold proofs.
The intention was then, as it is today, to create limited mintage issues struck to the highest quality standards. But with two very glaring differences.
So you join excellent company when you acquire a Perth Mint pre-decimal proof coin. The Royal Mint London, the British Museum, the Royal Mint Melbourne, Japan Mint, National Gallery SA, Art Gallery WA and the Australian War Memorial were just some of the institutions to receive an example of the Perth Mint proofs.
For today’s buyers, the opportunities for purchase of copper proofs is limited by the minuscule numbers struck. During the 1940s, less than twenty pennies were struck each year at the Perth Mint. (Compare this to the tens of thousands of proofs that are produced today from our issuing authorities.)
And, if you are a quality focused buyer, the pool of available examples is even further reduced.
For just because a coin has the word proof attached it doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. The value of a proof coin is as much to do with its state of preservation – how well it’s been cared for in the intervening years - as it is with the clarity and precision of the original striking. Is it spotty? Edge bumps? Harsh and unattractive toning? Scratched? Gouges? Traces of original brilliance?
This means that there are poor quality proofs, mediocre proofs, great proofs – and those you simply can’t take your eyes off because they are truly spectacular.
The availability of a pre-decimal proof coin – of any year - is an opportunity. If you happen to be offered one of exceptional rarity and quality, such as this 1948 Proof Penny, then the opportunity is even more profound.