PROOF 1855 SYDNEY MINT HALF SOVEREIGN
This Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign was struck in 1853 at the Royal Mint London, as part of the preparations for striking the nation's first official gold currency.
The coin was struck with a brilliant mirror finish and features a grained edge.
Three proof specimens are held in private collections, this being the finest. Two proof specimens are held in public institutions, the British Museum and the Museum of Victoria, the latter, however, has circulated.
Not available individually. Available only as a pair, the two coins offered at $525,000.
A flawless mint state, this coin is the finest of three known examples. An example is held in the Quartermaster collection which we have scrutinised. A third example was offered at auction in March 1985. A confirmed proof, but with a quality grading of Good Fine, the vendor had kept it as a pocket piece.
The obverse was designed by Leonard Charles Wyon and features Queen Victoria with a wreath of banksia leaves in her hair, a knotted braid curving under her ear terminating into a bun at the nape of her neck.
The reverse was designed by Leonard Charles Wyon and features the word ‘AUSTRALIA’ at centre, a crown above and a laurel wreath tied with a bow above the words ‘HALF SOVEREIGN’.
This coin made its first public appearance at an Australian auction in November 1981. The provenance in the auction catalogue indicated that the coin was originally held as part of the J. G. Murdoch Collection, sold by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge in 1903.
Acquired by foremost U.S. collector Virgil Brand, the coin was later sold to aviation pioneer Captain Vivian Hewitt. The last name publicly attached to this coin is New York collector, John L. Ahbe.
Coinworks sold this Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign by private treaty to a Sydney collector in 1999.
In 1851, New South Wales petitioned for a branch mint of the Royal Mint London. Royal consent was finally given in August 1853 to establish a mint in Sydney. Captain Edward Wolstenholme Ward, a sergeant, three corporals and twelve privates of the Royal Engineers were deposited on Circular Quay with the bales and boxes of Sydney's new mint, many months later. Ward and his men brought with them, along with the bits of machinery and prefabricated building, the dies of the first Sydney Mint Sovereigns, patterns of which had been struck at the Royal Mint in 1853. The mint was set up in a building of Sydney’s Rum Hospital receiving its first gold bullion on May 14, 1855 and striking its first sovereign on June 23, a bit over a month later. The Sydney Mint continued striking sovereigns for over seventy-one years.
Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign - obverse
Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign - reverse