1896 Proof Half Sovereign Melbourne Mint

1896 Proof Half Sovereign rev FROSTED B&B October 2017
1896 Proof Half Sovereign obv FROSTED B&B October 2017
1896 Proof Half Sovereign Melbourne Mint
1896 Proof Half Sovereign Melbourne Mint
Superb FDC
Private Collection Melbourne
This 1896 Proof Half Sovereign was struck at the Melbourne Mint and is extremely rare. It was acquired by private treaty in 1995 and has only recently surfaced. Only two other examples are known and both were offered at auction in the 1980s. One of the two re-appeared at auction in 1998: the other has never been sighted since. Such sporadic offerings reflect the rarity of Australia’s pre-decimal proof gold sovereigns and half sovereigns; an area of the Australian coin market that is acknowledged as its rarest and its most prestigious.
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1896 Proof Half Sovereign obv FROSTED B&B October 2017
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It is a statement of fact that proof gold, irrespective of the sector, is extremely rare and buying opportunities will always be thin on the ground.

But there is another consideration. Great coins tend to be held. This coin for instance. It was acquired by private treaty in 1995 and has only recently surfaced. The owner of the Madrid Collection held onto his gold proofs for more than twenty years. The Spalding family similarly. So too Tom Hadley in the formation of the Quartermaster Collection.

The availability of a gold proof sovereign and proof half sovereign - of any year - is an opportunity. If you happen to be offered one of exceptional rarity then the opportunity is even more profound.

In the striking of a proof coin, the Melbourne Mint’s intention was to create a single masterpiece, coining perfection. Perfection in the dies. Wire brushed so that they were razor sharp. Perfection in the design, highly detailed, expertly crafted. Perfection in the fields, achieved by hand selecting unblemished blanks, polished to create a mirror shine. Perfection in the edges to encase the design … exactly what a ‘picture frame does to a canvass’.

And nothing has changed.

Coining perfection is still the prime goal of the Royal Australian and the Perth Mint. Only the processes have changed, modernised so that instead of one or two coins being struck, thousands can be commercially produced.


In the striking of proof coins, the Melbourne Mint was not commercially motivated.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Australian mints (Melbourne, Sydney and Perth) crafted gold proofs as representative examples of those sovereigns and half sovereigns they were striking for circulation.

The coins were struck to be preserved in government archives as a record of Australia’s coining history, time-capsuled for future generations.

Given that proof coining was also a very labour intensive process and time consuming, minimal numbers of proofs were struck.  Less than ten was the norm.

A far cry from today's decimal coin market.

This coin exemplifies all that is good about the Australian rare coin industry. This coin is history. This coin is perfection. This coin is exclusive. And this coin has the potential for capital growth.

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