The Series of Collector Proof coins, 1955 to 1963, struck at the Melbourne and Perth Mints.
It is a fact that the Mint in Canberra (and also the Mint in Perth) is today a prolific producer of proof coins specifically designed and marketed to collectors on a commercial basis to generate profits.
Consider that in the year 2010, the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra produced more than 17,000 Proof Sets. And that’s just one product out of hundreds.
It is a natural assumption that Australia’s pre-decimal proofs were struck on a similar basis. The reality is that this is far from the truth.
In 1955 Treasury bowed to collector and dealer pressure and sanctioned the striking of proof coins as part of an on-going commercial venture.
The ‘collector’ proof coin series, launched in 1955 to the delight of the collecting public came to a conclusion in 1963, just prior to decimal currency changeover.
Government intervened in just one aspect of the program - only those coins being struck for circulation were to be issued as proofs.
The Melbourne Mint was striking both silver and copper coins for Treasury which meant that it could strike both silver and copper proof coins. (Florin, shilling, sixpence, threepence, penny and halfpenny).
For the Perth Mint, operating as a copper producing mint, this meant the striking of penny and halfpenny proofs only.
The coins were released annually with an official issue price of face value plus a premium of one shilling per coin … mintages averaged around the 1,500 mark.
Each piece was minted to exacting standards – from the selection and polishing of blanks, the preparation of dies and ultimately the actual striking. The result is a coin that is pleasing to the eye, well struck with strong designs and superb smooth background fields.
It is an important series in our currency heritage for it represents Australia’s very first annual proof coining program: the pre-cursor to the series introduced by the Royal Australian Mint in 1966.
The demand for premium quality examples in this series has far outstripped supplies, underpinning considerable growth.
The complete set (of 54 coins) in perfect quality was selling for $50,000 in 2006. Today it is worth $100,000.
One of the greatest advantages of this series is that the coins can be acquired progressively one year at a time.