Coins of England and Great Britain

('Coins of the UK')

by Tony Clayton

Proof Sets

Decimal Gold Coins <<-- : -->> Fractional Farthings

Values of Proof Sets
Pictures of Decimal proof sets

Pre-Decimal Proof Sets

Proof coins are ones struck with greater pressure than the usual circulation issues, using specially polished dies and carefully prepared blanks. In some cases more than one strike is made to ensure that the metal flows fully into the design.

As a result such coins are usually very clear, with sharp edges resulting from the high pressures involved.

Strictly speaking proof coins are those which have exactly the same design as issued coins. If the design differs then the piece should be called a Pattern.

The production of individual proof coins has a long history, and in some cases they are really very early strikes using polished blanks used for presentation purposes.

The first proof set is that of George II in 1746, with four coins, the crown, halfcrown, shilling and sixpence, in a wedge-shaped case.

Boxed proof sets really started on a regular basis during the reign of George IV, and continued whenever there was a major design change such as on the accession of a new monarch.

That issued by George IV came out in 1826 when a change in design took place. Only about 150 sets were issued, so they are quite valuable.

William IV issued a set in 1831 soon after his accession, as did Victoria in 1839. Further sets were issued by her in 1853 (inclusing the Gothic Crown), 1887 and 1893, while a set of the bronze denominations was issued in 1877.

Edward VII issued a matt proof set in 1902 which did not include the bronze coinage. Just over 7000 were issued without the gold 5 and 2 coins, while a further 8000 were issued including them. George V issued sets in 1911 on his accession and also in 1927 when the design of the silver coins was changed.

George VI struck two sets on his accession in 1937 - the set with just the four base metal coins are rarer than the full set (which includes them!). Sets were also issued in 1950 and 1951.

During the Coronation Year of Elizabeth II a proof set was issued in a maroon leatherette case, but no more were issued until the change to decimal coinage in 1971. A few years after the event a 'Last of the Lsd' Proof Set dated 1970 was issued. Interestingly the halfpenny and halfcrown had both been demonetised by 1970.

Over and above the main proof sets mentioned above, it was an occasional practice for a specially made proof set of other years to be given to visiting dignitaries. It is from one of these sources that unusual coins such as the proof 1952 penny came into existence.

Decimal Proof Sets

Proof Sets have been issued every year since 1971, which means that all denominations can be obtained in Proof except for 5p, 10p and 50p coins dated prior to 1971. However, certain commemorative pieces not announced until later in the year are not found in the Year Proof Sets.

In 2012 a silver proof set was issued with the parts of the Royal Shield highlighted in gold.

From 2013 the price has increased dramatically, and a subsiduary set with just the commemorative versions has also been issued.

From 1982 Year sets of Uncirculated Circulation Quality coins have been issued in card folders. For certain years and denominations these are the only source of circulation standard coins. The coins in them are of higher quality than those actually issued in bulk for general circulation, and in a very few examples show a significant design difference.


See my Main Coins Index page for acknowledgements


Decimal Gold Coins <<-- : -->> Fractional Farthings
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Values of Proof Sets.
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Coins of The UK - Proof Sets
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v20 4th March 2015
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