The 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign is the nation’s very first half sovereign. And less than 50 examples are known today and let’s be clear on this point. That’s not fifty at each quality level. That’s fifty across all quality levels. (To put this figure into perspective, the industry estimates that 1500 to 2000 1930 Pennies, across all quality levels, are known.)
The scarcity of the ‘1855’ simply is tied to its mintage. The year 1855 was the first year of operation of the Sydney Mint and a minuscule number of half sovereigns were struck, 21,000. By comparison, the following year the mint struck 478,000 half sovereigns.
That the majority of examples are found well used is simply tied to the fact that the half sovereign was the ‘work horse’ of the colony, used in every day transactions, as distinct from the sovereign that tended to be hoarded in banks.
The scarcity and the extensive use, of the 1855 Half Sovereign was evidenced at the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Auction in 2005 when the bank liquidated its holding of gold coins that had been accumulated between 1929 and 1976.
Over a 47 year time frame, the RBA had only accumulated seven 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereigns, all of which were well circulated, many of them damaged. Only one out of the seven showed any design detail at about Fine, with the remaining coins even further down the scale, virtually denuded of any significant design.
This is a superb example of Australia’s very first half sovereign with beautiful old gold tone and strong edges that have an almost ‘picture frame’ effect on the coin and minimal marks in the field.
For the collector seeking to fill the hole in his Australian half sovereign collection. Or the investor seeking to acquire a great Australian rarity, this is an unparalleled opportunity.
On the 9 th August 1853 Queen Victoria approved an Order in Council prepared by the British Government to establish Australia’s very first mint at or near Sydney, in New South Wales. The mint was located in the southern wing of the city’s Rum Hospital constructed during Lachlan Macquarie’s term as Governor of the penal colony. As the coins produced at the Sydney Mint coins would be legal tender only in the colonies, a uniquely Australian design was allowed.
The full name of the mint, Sydney Mint, was incorporated into the legend: going against all known protocols at the time. Furthermore the coins were inscribed with the national name, Australia, even though the country was at that stage operating as separate colonies. Australia did not operate under a single Government until Federation in 1901.