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

Proof 1893 Half Sovereign depicting the Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria.
Proof 1893 Half Sovereign depicting the Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria.
A brilliant and flawless FDC
Nobles Auction July 2005, Private Collection NSW
This Proof Half Sovereign was struck at the Melbourne Mint in 1893. It is exceedingly rare. Only one other quality example has surfaced over the last century. Expertly crafted from 22 carat gold, the coin exudes luxury and wealth a dichotomy to the economic and social horrors of the year in which it was struck. And the city in which it was struck. For Australia in 1893 was experiencing a depression that lasted longer than anywhere else in the world and Melbourne was its epicentre. This Proof 1893 Half Sovereign is an enduring symbol of our past.
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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 presentation pieces to PROOF QUALITY.

The coin on offer is one such presentation piece, a Proof 1893 Half Sovereign struck at the Melbourne Mint.

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.

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 one other quality proof Half sovereign of this date has appeared over the last century.

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