Proof coins are the Rolls Royce of coinage, struck to the highest possible standard available to the mint at the time. Proof coins are struck with specially prepared dies and very high pressure, perhaps even with several strikes, to ensure the superior quality. Since George IV (1820-30) proof coins have been issued in the United Kingdom to show the splendour of the coinage, often commemorating a new reign or coinage.
The concept of using coins for special occasions as so called presentation pieces (proofs included) are about as old as coinage itself. The Emperors of Rome used to present coins to friends and dignitaries. Today they can mark the birth of a newborn, show love for someone, or just be a token of appreciation. Rest assured that this ancient form of giving is as appreciated today as it ever was.