Australian Pre-Decimal Proofs
Proofs, patterns and trials go back to the earliest of coins but very few of these coins where struck, mainly for official purposes, making them extremely rare and valuable. The Australian Pre-Decimal Proof coin series can be automatically split up between two distinct different series, those struck between 1955 to 1963 and those Extremely Rare issues struck prior to 1955.

In 1957 the Melbourne Mint had a lot of unsold and broken sets still in stock and officials at the mint were considering abandoning the series altogether when a dealer , Ray Jewell, promised to buy all unsold stock at the end of each year. This was enough to convince the mint to continue. In the following years the series gathered momentum as reflected in the increased mintages.
Year

Melbourne

Mintage
Year

Perth

Mintage

1955 Melbourne Proof Set
1955 1d, 1/-, 6d, 3d 1200 1955 1d, 1/2d 301

1956 1d, 2/-, 1/-, 6d, 3d 1500 1956 1d 417

1957 Melbourne Proof Set
1957 2/-, 1/-, 6d, 3d 1256 1957 1d 1112


1958 Perth Proof Penny
1958 1d, 2/-, 1/-, 6d, 3d 1506 1958 1d 1028

1959 1d, 1/2d, 2/-, 1/-, 6d, 3d 1506 1959 1d 1030

1960 Melbourne Proof Set

1980 Perth Mint Proofs
1960 2/-, 1/-, 6d, 3d 1509 1960 1d, 1/2d 1030
1961 2/-, 1/-, 6d, 3d 1506 1961 1d, 1/2d 1040

1962 Perth Proof Set
1962 2/-, 1/-, 6d, 3d 2106 1962 1d, 1/2d 1064

1963 Melbourne Proof Set
1963 2/-, 1/-, 6d, 3d 5042 1963 1d, 1/2d 1100

Australian Proof coins struck prior to 1955 were not struck for commercial purposes but only to be kept as a premium example for the Mints Museum collection or a foreign countries Museum or alternatively specially struck in order to use for a presentation to VIP's. As a result Australian Pre 1955 Proofs are extremely rare with as few as 2-3 pieces and in most cases up to a maximum of 10 pieces available to private collectors worldwide. Pre 1955 Proof Gold issues were struck at the Sydney, Melbourne or Perth branches of the British Royal Mint, the Silver and Copper issues were struck at the Melbourne or Perth branches.
The second distinct area of Australian Pre-Decimal Proofs are those struck between 1955 and 1963 at both the Melbourne and Perth Mints. These where sold loose at 2 Shillings plus face value. All these were issued as sets as well as individual coins and presented in a cellophane packet for Perth Mint and in grease proof paper for the Melbourne Mint which has enabled many uneducated collectors to open and handle the pieces. From 1960 the Melbourne sets were sold in sealed plastic packages and 2 years later introduced a black plastic box with no protection around the coins, thus to obtain perfect FDC coins, particularly copper ones, is difficult and quite deceiving in terms of their overall rarity. Although the mintage figures for the 1955-1963 Proofs is between 301 to 5042 of each piece, this is tiny when compared to a 1988 modern day Proof Set with a mintage of 101,000. With the many impaired coins out there perfect FDC coins represent good growth potential at affordable price points.
The Perth Mint only produced bronze pennies and half pennies and often lightly lacquered these coins, as a result of this they can often be found in BU condition. The Melbourne Mint produced all the silver issue and some of the bronze issues. Compared to modern proof coins, the earlier versions look rather crude. These coins come from a generation of craftsmen who saw each coin as a miniature work of art.
Some knowledge is required to separate them from normal circulation coins as some of the earlier issues were struck with normal polished dies. One of the difficulties associated with identifying these coins comes from the way they were stored for sale. They were kept loose in a metal drawer, with a layer of felt, so the coins moved every time the drawer was opened and closed for each purchaser, causing some light friction marks and scratches on the high points.




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