Proof Like Sets

 Very probably the use of the term proof-like is not one of the happiest that could be imagined. It has unfortunately been a source of trouble, not to the experienced collector, but certainly it can be something of a vexation to the novice until he becomes familiar with its exact meaning.

Mint Reports never make use of the term; it is one that is strictly confined to collectors. Instead, the Mint refers to the dollars in the sets and the singles as uncirculated. This ought to satisfy everybody, but unfortunately it does not. It is a further unlucky fact that the great majority of other countries find no use for such a term. For example, it is without meaning in the United States. At the same time, the Mint description is perfectly accurate and in no wise short of the truth. The trouble largely arises from the fact that two different kinds of uncirculated dollars have to be considered.

Dollars that are proof-like (and this includes the singles of like sort) are generally sold only to dealers and collectors. They are struck under exactly the same pressure as the other dollars and from highly polished dies which gives them a brilliant mirror-like finish. Genuine proofs, later to be considered, are struck slowly and under much heavier pressure in order to bring out all possible fineness of detail. However, the proof-likes are handled with great care, just as if they were proofs, and they are without scratches or blemishes of any kind. It is not intended that they shall ever be circulated. In common with bona fide proofs, they are struck largely to satisfy the needs of collectors. This is the first type of uncirculated dollars referred to by the Mint. Unless singles, they are put up in cardboard holders covered with cellophane.

The second type of uncirculated dollars are put in cloth bags of 100 each and they may also be purchased but only through banks. Being handled the way they are, they generally acquire a fair number of scratches and abrasions and are not to be confused with the proof-likes. It is true that a small number escape this treatment in almost perfect condition. However, this is not the usual story.

Collectors are being accurate enough when they speak of the first described dollars as being proof-like. That is exactly what they are; they look like proofs although they are not so in fact. Gem uncirculated, another term used now and then means coins as nearly free of scratches as they can he obtained. If my description is good enough to help the novice, then I shall be more than amply repaid.  

1957 Proof Like Set

 Why are genuine proof sets not put out by the Mint? More than a few requests have been made that such action be taken. In this case at least, the Mint seriously deserves more consideration than probably has been given and has justly protested that it is out of the question at this time. If so, then why?

One thing to keep in mind is the fact that the Royal Canadian Mint is not quite as large as some people seem to imagine. Quite definitely it is in no condition at present to turn out large numbers of proofs. If sufficient facilities should be provided, and sufficient money spent for the purpose, then no doubt it could be done. As it is, the Mint is doing the best it can and as it surely is unreasonable to expect the impossible, this brings us back to the proof-likes.

Since the Mint is not set up to produce large numbers of proofs, and as they are both time consuming and troublesome, proof-likes are the best answer to the present situation. They require less time, they are unquestionably beautiful coins, and they entail a smaller expense of production. Personally, I am well enough pleased with them even though I must admit that many others may not be. You would have a hard time convincing me that the proofs of the United States are any great improvement over the proof-likes of Canada.

Any number of things must be taken into consideration. The Mint capacity is not too great, therefore it is impossible at the present time to fill all the orders that come in. It is well to keep in mind the fact that the Mint makes a very modest charge for the sets and any dealer can assure you that he is making no fortune by the sale of them. As far as the Mint is concerned, the proof-like sets are probably more or less of a headache. When incoming orders have been filled to what is regarded as a reasonable extent, production of the sets comes to an end. This causes disappointment to many, but there is no way by which it can be avoided. Those who want sets from the Mint do well to get their orders in at the earliest possible moment in the current calendar year.

Pressure on the comparatively small number of sets is heavy and is increasing. Canadians not only want them, but they are also wanted by many in the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. And although the last three named want them in no great number, they are factors which must be considered. Many collectors order the sets largely for the sake of the proof-like dollars.

It is evident Canadian sets are strictly limited in number and for the reasons that have already been given. Citizens of the United States may order 10,000 proof sets from the Philadelphia mint and expect to get their orders filled. Indeed, I heard of one instance, where 50,000 sets were requested by one person. By way of contrast, Canada limits her total output to what is considered reasonable capacity, and further limits the number to four that may be sold to a single person. This is an enlightened policy because it gives more people a chance to get them.

Until very recently, one continual bone of contention has been the failure of the Mint to give the figures of the sets and the proof-like singles that are minted. True enough, the figures were in the sundry persons item, but left much to the imagination. To the great pleasure of many of us, this unsatisfactory situation has been ended. As it is, we now have the 1958 figures and the others will be given in the Mint Reports from now on. Proof-like sets of 1958 number 18,259 and the singles 14,978 and 1959 31,577 and 13,583 respectively.

Present proof-like sets, as issued by the Mint in the familiar cardboard holders, began in 1951. Before this time, and during the years 1949 and 1950, dollar purchases were made directly from the Mint by interested persons, but the dollars so purchased were brilliant uncirculated, not the proof-likes of the present time. Before 1949, dealers and collectors who wanted the dollars had to purchase them from the banks.

Their number being so limited, Canadian sets are most excellent things to have. The initial cost is low and the increase in value rises rapidly with the years. This is naturally true because they are popular and not too many will be found offered for sale.

We may take it for granted that the 1960 set figure represents the highest so far. It can be estimated at 64,097 Proof Sets and 18,631 single dollars. Those for other years are much lower and it may seriously be doubted that the average would be as much as 10,000. Even a cursory glance at the sundry persons item list makes this supposition appear reasonable. The future of the sets is your guess as well as mine, but I am convinced that it is bright. As no one can buy them in large numbers, speculation is, therefore, held to a low level, a thing very much in their favor.

Before closing the subject of the sets, mention should be made of those of 1953 which show the "no shoulder straps" obverse variant. Sets of this kind appear not too common and they are unique in the fact that all the coins in them show the same variation, a thing true of them alone. It is possible to pick up all the coins individually, but it is naturally much better to have them in a proof-like set.


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The entire contents of "Canadian Silver Dollars" are ęCopyright 1961. Permission is granted to non-profit organizations and to individuals for their personal use, to copy any of the material contained herein, on the condition that such copies are not to be sold or otherwise used for profit, and that Patrick Glassford is shown as the source of such information or material.
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