The Royal Mint London began supplying official cased sets of specimen and proof coinage in 1887 to commemorate special events and the striking of new designs.
Melbourne, as a branch of the Royal Mint London followed traditions with the issuing of the 1916 Presentation Set.
The four coins of florin, shilling, sixpence and threepence were struck to specimen quality, and featured the ‘M’ (for Melbourne) mint mark below the date 1916. The four coins were housed in a handsome royal blue case.
A close examination of the coins in this set confirm that:
- The Specimen Florin is beautifully struck, with superb detail in all its design elements. With even matte surfaces and superb pale peach toning, the coin shows the classic striations associated with this controlled striking.
- The Specimen Shilling is superbly struck and beautifully toned and again the coin shows strong striations reflecting meticulous die preparation.
- The Specimen Sixpence has beautifully mirrored fields and is very well struck.
- The Specimen Threepence also shows magnificent brilliance and again, is well struck.
While records show that 60 sets were produced, only 16 were sold, collectors charged 6/- for a cased set.
A further 25 sets out of the original mintage were presented to dignitaries and politicians with the precise fate of the remaining sets unknown.
What we do know is that many of the cases have been lost and many of the sets have been broken up and sold as individual coins. We also know that others were accidentally used as circulating coins, their value irreparably reduced through wear.
Over the past 35 years we have sighted only seven complete cased sets on the open market. And this is the only set with supporting documentation that validates its origins. Furthermore it is the finest.
It is pieces of the calibre of this 1916 Presentation Set that has cemented Coinworks reputation for handling the very best quality and the most significant of Australian coin rarities.
The value of currency in recording great moments in time is clearly shown in this distinguished piece of Australiana.
From a national perspective, the year 1916 was a significant one.
Australia continued to suffer casualties in the battles of World War I with the Battle of Fromelles a standout disaster. The 25th April was officially named and observed as ‘ANZAC’ day. The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (the forerunner of the RSL) was founded.
And in a nationalistic expression of our financial independence the Labor Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Billy Hughes commissioned the Melbourne Mint to strike the nation’s Commonwealth silver coinage.
The decision coincided with increased silver production at Broken Hill.