1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign - a highly lustrous obverse with a strong date and minimal marks in the fields.
The 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign has pride of place in every Australian sovereign collection. It is the nation’s first gold sovereign minted at the Sydney Mint, the nation’s very first mint, and brings to any collection a wonderful and everlasting history.
But, there is so much more to the 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign than its historical place. In the quality level offered here the coin also offers exceptional rarity.
In the twenty years that Coinworks has been in business, you can count on the fingers of two hands the number of 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereigns that we have sold at Good Extremely Fine.
This is a clear affirmation of the coin’s limited availability in the upper quality echelons.
Every circulated coin has a grading level at which serious rarity kicks in. That is the point at which the balance between acquiring a coin as a collectible - and as an investment - shifts more towards the latter.
The bar chart below clearly shows that rarity really cuts in at the ‘About Extremely Fine’ quality level.
And that as the quality gets higher, from Good Extremely Fine, About Uncirculated up to Uncirculated (and better), the availability of examples rapidly diminishes.
The 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign has widespread appeal.
1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign - a highly lustrous reverse, with strength in the crown and the word 'AUSTRALIA'.
On the 19 August 1853 Queen Victoria gave approval to establish Australia’s very first mint at or near Sydney in New South Wales.
Captain Edward Wolstenholme Ward, a sergeant, three corporals and 12 privates of the Royal Engineers were deposited on Circular Quay with the bales and boxes of Sydney new mint many months later.
Ward and his men brought with them, along with the bits of machinery and pre-fabricated building, the dies of the first Sydney Mint Sovereigns, patterns of which had been struck at the Royal Mint in 1853.
The final blue print was for one coining press, worked by animal power, capable of producing five million sovereigns per year: the whole lot, buildings included, to cost no more than £10,000. But when the Legislative Council learnt about the donkey engine another £10,000 was added to the budget for steam power.
The mint was set up in a building of Sydney’s Rum Hospital taking in its first gold in May 1855 and turning out its first sovereign one month later.
It was decided that, as the coin would only be legal tender in the colonies, a design specifically attributed to the Sydney Mint should be produced. Designs of Australia’s first gold coinage were prepared in 1853 at the Royal Mint London. The Royal Mint also manufactured the dies.
The reverse design incorporated the words Australia and Sydney Mint, the inclusion of the word Australia, a point of fascination with historians. At the time the nation was operating as separate colonies. Australia did not operate under a single Government until Federation in 1901.
In their infancy the Sydney Mint sovereigns were legal tender only in the colony of New South Wales. In 1857, the legal scope was widened to include all Australian colonies and Mauritius, Ceylon and Hong Kong. In 1868 the Sydney Mint Sovereigns became legal tender throughout the British Empire.
The design of Australia's first sovereigns - referred to as the Sydney Mint design - lasted until 1870 and was the only time the word Australia appeared on our gold sovereigns.
From 1871, Australia's sovereigns and half sovereigns took on a traditional British design.