Proof of Prosperity
Apart from the limited quantities issued, the major difference between modern collectible coins and the normal circulation coins is quality. Modern collectible coins differ from all the rest, as a convertible roadster from the cart. Thanks to the proof coinage.
Historically, the definition of "proof" referred to the coins minted with the first strikes of brand new hand dies. Thus dies were checked for defects, hence the name. Due to the virgin condition and special pre-treatment of dies such coins were of much higher quality than usual coins intended for circulation. The main external characteristic feature was the visible contrast between the field and the relief of the coin. Such coins were minted in small quantities and usually were given as gifts to members of the royal family, who would present them to their minions and to foreign diplomats.
British Broad (golden coin worth 20 silver shillings) from 1656 is considered the first known proof coin, but it was still far away from modern proof coinage quality. Only in the XVIII century England after the mechanization of the minting process and the invention of a special ring to hold the coin blanks technology of "proof" coinage reached quality level which can be compared to the modern one. The ring allowed to strike the same coin twice in order to achieve perfect image details. But still these coins were issued only as a limited run not supposed for circulation, they were mostly used for promotional and gift purposes.
The situation changed in the second half of the XIX century, when miscellaneous commemorative coins started to appear in large quantities - for example, to celebrate the coronation of the monarchs or to commemorate some other significant events and dates. Production of sets of coins of different denominations in proof quality for collecting purposes was launched in the United States and some other countries. Collecting modern coins not as a means of payment, but as works of art started to gain popularity.
The Golden age for proof coinage of collectible coins started at the end of the twentieth century. The development of technology has allowed to manufacture dies with previously unreachable level of detail, and the use of new alloys, as well as materials quite exotic for coinage (precious stones, enamel, crystals, holograms, etc.) allowed the mints to create real masterpieces. The masterpieces affordable not only for kings, but to all lovers of beauty. By the way, apart from the undoubted aesthetic appeal of such numismatical masterpieces , there is another, less conspicuous, but no less important advantage. They do not grow old, do not go out of fashion and do not lose their value over the years - quite the contrary. Perhaps this is why modern collectible coins have become a real fashion trend. For some, this is an ideal opportunity to make an original and memorable gift to a friend, for someone - a perfect hobby that combines the aesthetic pleasure and exquisite entertainment. And the last but not least, for the less romantic and more pragmatic persons it is a good investment, because the prices of many modern collectible proof-quality coins have already managed to grow several times – the level ancient coins and collectible coins in uncirculated quality can never reach .
If you're still hesitating about what reason for purchasing a coin suits you most, make it simple. Just select a masterpiece to your liking. Time will tell the rest.