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Australian Gold Coinage

Posted on: Jun, 06/10/2018

To the Australian sovereign collector, the adoption of the Small Head portrait of King George V doesn’t appear to have been urgently required - it does not correspond with any major anniversary of George V’s reign.

 

I have not been able to locate any significant discussion of this obverse type anywhere to date, and have compiled the following information from the resources available to me. Be advised that it is a work in progress, and will be amended and added to as more information comes to hand.

Although many sovereigns with the Large Head portrait of King George V do not have fine details of the reverse design fully struck up, that is more to do with dies wearing through mass production than any significant inherent design fault...

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Posted on: Jun, 06/12/2017

Although a mint was not established in Victoria until 1872, as early as the 1850s the Victorian Government and business community lobbied the various decision makers in London for the first overseas branch of the Royal Mint to be located in Melbourne. Although historians have recorded rivalry between New South Wales and Victoria before this issue arose, the location of Australia’s first official mint was a further cause for competition between the two colonies for several decades.

In some respects, the Victorians were perhaps justified in believing that Melbourne would have been a far more appropriate location than Sydney – the volume of gold exported from the Victorian goldfields between 1851 and 1865 was close to five times that exported from New South Wales.[i]...

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Posted on: Aug, 08/03/2016

The 1856 Sydney half sovereign with the Type 2 reverse (HST256R2) was for several years unique within the Australian gold coin series - no other circulating Australian half sovereign was known with this exact reverse design.

The 1861 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign With the Type 2 Reverse

That all changed in April 2012 however, when an eagle-eyed numismatist spotted an 1861 Sydney half sovereign that had the same reverse design.

The 1856 Sydney half sovereign with the Type 2 reverse is extremely rare in any condition - research as at July 2016 indicates that possibly around 12 unique examples are...

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Posted on: Oct, 10/13/2015

The document I’m referring to isn’t specifically about “Australian” sovereigns, but was written on the British sovereigns featuring Joseph Edgar Boehm’s  “Jubilee” portrait of Queen Victoria, stuck by the Royal Mint between 1887 and 1893. The brochure is called “The Jubilee Head Gold Sovereign”, and has been written by David Iverson and Stephen Hill. (Click that link to read it online.)

As the mints located in Australia at that time (Sydney and Melbourne) were branches of the Royal Mint (and were not “Australian” mints per se), they are also covered by this document. If you haven’t already guessed it, the document was...

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Posted on: Sep, 09/24/2014

The 1852 Adelaide Ingots are counted among Australia’s most historic numismatic items - they were the very first items produced by the Adelaide Assay Office following the discovery of gold at Mount Alexander (in Victoria) in November 1851. 

These enigmatic slabs of gold are incredibly rare - just 2 exist in private hands anywhere in the world.

According to a noted authority on the Adelaide Assay Office, James Hunt-Deacon, “The introduction of the Bullion Act and the subsequent coinage … was a masterly stroke of legislature, and played no small part in averting economic catastrophe and laying the foundation for a stabilized currency.[1]

Electrotypes Are Widely Regarded As...

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Posted on: Sep, 09/12/2014

The 1852 Adelaide Pound is Australia’s first gold coin, minted in response to problems caused by the discovery of gold at Mount Alexander (Victoria) in November 1851.

It is one of Australia’s rarest and most coveted coins, and is seldom seen on the collector market. The story surrounding its conception, production and withdrawal has several threads that have been shown to have enduring appeal – the perseverance and foresight of George Tinline; the leadership of Sir Henry Young; the ingenuity of the Assay Office staff and the enterprise of all those that flocked to the goldfields are all stories that strike a chord with Australians in the 21st century.

Imminent and Immediate Peril

A definitive description of the woeful state of the South Australian economy prior to...

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Posted on: Aug, 08/06/2014

The 1926 Sydney sovereign is something of an enigma to many numismatists: published information on it is almost as rare as the coin itself.

Although the official gold sovereign mintage for Sydney in 1926 is 131,050, many senior numismatists believe that 131,000 were shipped to London as payment against debts incurred by the Australian Government in World War I. It is thought that these coins were melted down immediately upon arrival in London, and the incredible rarity of this coin certainly appears to bear that theory out.

The Last Sydney Mint Sovereigns Were Struck on August 11th, 1926

Although the last gold deposits at the Sydney Mint were made on June 30th 1926, the last sovereigns were not actually struck until August 11th.

In a description of events...

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Posted on: Aug, 08/06/2014

The 1887 Melbourne Shield is the last of the enigmatic rare dates that are among the Australian Shield sovereign series. It is one of the few Australian sovereigns that are rarer than their equivalent half sovereign, and is also one of the rarest coins ever struck by the Melbourne Mint.

It has long had a strong appeal to date collectors of Australian sovereigns, if only for its rarity alone.

It’s not yet clear what the true cause of this coin’s rarity is, however there are a few factors that may have played a role in restricting the number of coins that were struck, and further that restricted the number of coins that remain available to collectors today:

...

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Posted on: Aug, 08/06/2014

Scarce 1886 Melbourne Shield Sovereign

Sovereign collectors the world over have long known Queen Victoria Shield reverse sovereigns to be very scarce, the 1886 Melbourne is the rarest Shield of them all.

Dedicated collectors of the Australian gold series who were active back in the 1970’s will readily tell you that the 1886 M Shield was one of the keys to the entire Australian series.

Interestingly, the vast majority of, if not all shield sovereigns struck in Australia were exported to India. The background to this nuance of distribution provides an insight into world trade in the 19th century. The British East India Company was actively involved in the China-India trade during this period, some of the products traded included: British cotton; Indian textiles; opium...

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Posted on: Aug, 08/06/2014

Before the Melbourne Mint's very first coins were struck during the official opening ceremony by the Governor of Victoria, Sir John Manners-Sutton, on June 12th 1872, the early months of the Melbourne Mint were fraught with difficulty. Prime among the problems the Royal Mint staff faced was the complete loss of a vital batch of dies in a shipwreck off the coast of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in November, 1871.

While making his initial preparations for the establishment of the Melbourne Mint, the Royal Engineer in charge, Colonel Fred Ward, requested that dies dated 1870 and 1871 be provided. Ward's request for dies dated 1870 was declined, and he was provided only with dies dated 1871....

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