Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign struck at the Royal Mint London with a grained edge

Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign struck at the Royal Mint London with a grained edge
Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign struck at the Royal Mint London with a grained edge
Flawless FDC
Sold by Sotheby's London, 1903, as part of the famous John G. Murdoch Collection. Sold by Sothebys London, 1922, as part of the equally famous Nobleman (Baron La Renotiere Ferrari) Collection. Max Stern Melbourne, 1969 (where it was offered privately to Barrie Winsor). Sold by Spink Australia July 1985 for $32,000, the coin's first and only appearance at an Australian Auction.
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Proof coins are numismatic works of art. They are the story tellers that define a year or an era like no other coin. Proof coins can also denote an occasion. And they tend to have a connection to a prominent person or an influential collector. The more potent the story associated with the coin, the more influential the coin. These words may well have been written for this Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign. The year '1855' is one of the most compelling in the nation’s monetary history for in that year Australia opened its first mint located in Sydney and struck its first official gold coinage, the sovereign. Even more compelling. The coin is extremely rare. Only three Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereigns are known. None are held in public institutions, both here and overseas. And this coin is the finest of the three privately held examples.
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Proof sovereigns have a wonderful connection to the past. They are the story tellers defining an era or a year like no other coin. And they tend to have a connection to a prominent person or an influential collector.

This statement may well have been written for this Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign, the former property of John G. Murdoch and Baron La Renotiere Ferrari (Nobleman).

A new chapter in Australia's monetary history began in 1855 with the establishment of the Sydney Mint. It was Australia's first mint and the very first overseas branch of the Royal Mint London.

In terms of minting expertise and design skills, the British mint did all the heavy lifting to ensure that the Sydney Mint would open its doors in 1855.

Two years ahead of the colonial opening the Royal Mint London had finalised designs and created the dies.

Minting protocols were followed and a minute number of presentation pieces were struck to proof quality testing the dies. This Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign was one such piece.

Only three Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereigns are known ... the surprising point here is that none are held in museums either here or overseas. Every known example is held by a private collector.

Collecting Australian gold coins.

The magnetism of gold is as strong as it has ever been. Gold is still to this day viewed as a storage of wealth and gold is vigorously traded and possessed. Gold jewellery. Gold bullion. And of course. Gold coins.

Now, when it comes to collecting vintage gold coins, collectors have two distinct options.

They can acquire coins that were struck for circulation: coins that were meant to be used. Or they can collect coins that were struck as Coins of Record to PROOF QUALITY.

Such as this Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign.

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

General date (non-key date), average circulating gold sovereigns, 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 coin that was struck for circulation, particularly one in premium quality, can be a journey in time that involves many months, if not years.

The task of acquiring gold proofs of our nineteenth and twentieth century coinage is far more challenging. The pathway to proof coinage for buyers can involve many years, if not decades.

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

And the reasons?

  • Proof gold coins were NOT struck every year.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

This Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign is a golden opportunity and for just one buyer.


Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign struck with a brilliant mirror finish featuring a grained edge. Designed by Leonard Charles Wyon featuring Queen Victoria with a wreath of banksia in her hair.


Proof 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign reverse 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 ‘ONE SOVEREIGN’.

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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.


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