The reverse design ran from 1855 until 1870 and has confounded historians with the use of the word 'AUSTRALIA'. The colonies did not unite under the banner 'Australia' until Federation in 1901. Furthermore, it was the only era that the word 'AUSTRALIA' appeared on our half sovereigns.
The obverse design features a young Queen Victoria wearing a sprig of Australia's native flower, the banksia, in her hair. We refer to it as the Type II portrait design and it ran from 1857 until 1866.
It is statement of fact that Uncirculated quality Sydney Mint Half Sovereigns are extremely rare.
So let's quantify the term 'rare'.
We can count on the fingers of two hands the number of Sydney Mint Half Sovereigns we have sold in choice quality.
And in making this comment, we are not just talking about the year '1864'. We are referring to the entire Sydney Mint era of 1855 up to and including 1866.
This 1864 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign is a great rarity. We note that in a forty-plus year career we have sold only one other of the same date and in the same quality.
1864 - and what a year it was. The most populated colony, Victoria, had an estimated population of 598,003, with N.S.W. coming in second recording 390,230 inhabitants. The least populated colony was Queensland with 73,578 inhabitants. Tasmania was already showing itself to be a colony rich in produce with the first trout and salmon hatched at New Norfolk, Tasmania, from imported eggs. Foxes were liberated in Victoria by the Melbourne Hunt Club. Australia’s first cook book was published and while it included many traditional recipes, local ingredients were also featured. Dishes such as ‘slippery bob’. Battered kangaroo brains fried in emu fat.