1889 Proof Sovereign struck as a Coin of Record at the Melbourne Mint and one of two known.

1889 Proof Sovereign struck as a Coin of Record at the Melbourne Mint and one of two known.
1889 Proof Sovereign struck as a Coin of Record at the Melbourne Mint and one of two known.
SOLD 28/10/2023
FDC, brilliant and flawless
Spink Auctions Sydney March 1988, Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins
There was an explosion in real estate prices in Melbourne in 1889. And land speculation on a grand scale. Melbourne was booming. So too were the coining presses at the Melbourne Mint, records indicating that the mint churned out 2.7 million sovereigns. To create a permanent and everlasting record of its achievements, the Melbourne Mint struck the 1889 Proof Sovereign as a Coin of Record. True to form, only two examples have been sighted over the past sixty years, this coin last publicly offered in March 1988 at the now famous Bicentennial Spink Auction. Noted as being brilliant and flawless, the coin sold for $9000 on a pre-auction estimate of $6000. Only one other example has surfaced over the last century and that was in March 1985, a pattern of long-term holding so typical of this area of the market.
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The magnetism of gold is as strong as it has ever been. Gold jewellery. Gold bullion. Gold coins. Gold is still to this day viewed as a storage of wealth and gold is vigorously traded and possessed.

When it comes to collecting vintage gold coins, a collector has two distinct options.

The first option is to acquire coins that were struck for circulation and meant to be used. The second option is to acquire coins that were struck as presentation pieces to PROOF QUALITY.

The coin on offer is one such presentation piece, an 1889 Proof Sovereign struck at the Melbourne Mint featuring the Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria.

That proof coins were struck in the nineteenth century may surprise some readers. But it has to be said that the striking of proof coins in Australia is not a modern day phenomenon. Nor a product of the decimal era. The nation’s mints were striking proofs of our pre-decimal coinage in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the intention was then, as it is today, to create limited mintage coins struck to the highest standards of quality.

Each option, circulating coinage or proof coinage, presents the buyer with a vastly different sized pool of specimens from which to choose.

Average circulating gold sovereigns that are not made special by their date are available in the thousands if not the tens of thousands. Once the collector sets parameters on quality and dates, the pool of specimens narrows and it is true that acquiring a key date gold sovereign that was struck for circulation, particularly if you are looking for one that is in premium quality, can be a journey in time that involves many months, if not years.


And acquiring a gold proof? How difficult is that?

The pathway to acquiring a proof sovereign can involve many years, if not decades. And this is definitely true of proof sovereigns struck with the Jubilee portrait.

Consider that this coin last appeared at auction in 1988. And the only other known example has not been sighted since 1985.

Rarity is the key word when discussing proof gold. And it is a statement of fact that proof gold is extremely rare and buying opportunities will always be thin on the ground.

And the reasons?

  1. Proof gold coins were NOT struck every year.
  2. And of those dates that were struck as proofs, only one, or perhaps two up to a maximum of three made their way out into the collector market.
  3. Natural attrition has taken its toll on coins out of the original mintages with some of them filtering their way into circulation or being mishandled and thus having their quality marred. So suddenly one, two or three proofs becomes even less.
  4. Great coins tend to be held. The owner of the Madrid Collection held onto his gold proofs for more than twenty years. The Spalding family similarly. So too, Tom Hadley of Quartermaster fame.

This 1889 Proof Sovereign is a golden opportunity and for just one buyer. Only one other proof sovereign of this date has appeared over the last century.


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PO Box 1060 Hawksburn Victoria Australia 3142

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