Proof 1893 Half Sovereign depicting the Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria. One of three known.

Proof 1893 Half Sovereign depicting the Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria. One of three known.
Proof 1893 Half Sovereign depicting the Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria. One of three known.
Sold June 2021
A brilliant FDC
Nobles Auction July 2005, Private Collection New South Wales
This Proof Half Sovereign was struck at the Melbourne Mint in 1893 and is exceedingly rare. Only two other examples have surfaced over the last century. At its first and only auction appearance in 2005, the coin sold for $56,000 on a pre-auction estimate of $30,000. Testimony to the scarcity of coins in this sector of the market, another proof half sovereign of this date and design has not surfaced since.
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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, 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.

The coin on offer is a Coin of Record, a Proof 1893 Half Sovereign struck at the Melbourne Mint with the Jubilee design. (The year 1893 noted as the last of the Jubilee design.)

The term, COIN OF RECORD, is to a large extent self-explanatory. It is a coin that has been minted to put on record a date. Or to record a design.

What is not self-explanatory is that Coins of Record were always struck to proof quality as presentation pieces. And were struck in the most minute numbers satisfying the requirements of the mint rather than the wants of collectors.

Forget the notion of striking one thousand proofs, as collectors are accustomed to today. Let's talk about striking ten coins ... or maybe less!

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 pre-decimal 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?

  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.

This Proof 1893 Half Sovereign is a golden opportunity and for just one buyer. Only two other Proof Half sovereigns of this date and design have appeared over the last century.

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