While we would certainly apply the term “readily available” to coins such as the 1930 Penny, our experience regarding the availability of Veiled Head Proof Half Sovereigns tells a vastly different story.
The coins are incredibly difficult to procure, very rarely offered.
The Veiled Head era of Queen Victoria embraces nine years, 1893 to 1901 inclusive.
Three Australian mints were operating during this period, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, the latter opening its doors in 1899.
The Sydney Mint was a very poor contributor to our proof gold coining history, striking proofs in only the first year of the Veiled head era, 1893. No other proofs were struck at the Sydney Mint between 1894 and 1901.
As the Perth Mint only came on board in 1899, which was the latter part of the Veiled Head era, their contribution to this sector of the market was always going to be slim. The Perth Mint struck one – and one only - proof half sovereign in the year of its opening (this unique and very important piece was sold by Coinworks in 2017 for $500,000). The Perth Mint struck two proof half sovereigns in 1901, and again only one example is held in private hands. The other is held in the British Museum.
We have done our research checking auction records and our own private treaty sales and have knowledge of sixteen Veiled Head Melbourne Mint Proof Half Sovereigns.
That figure immediately becomes fifteen once you give consideration to quality for the 1895 Proof Half Sovereign is noted as being “nearly FDC” with slight nicks in the obverse fields.
Fifteen is a minuscule number given that we are not talking 15 of each year but 15 coins that cover the entire spectrum of dates in Queen Victoria’s nine-year reign of 1893 to 1901.
And how many Australian coin collectors are out there? We estimate 1,000,000-plus.