There is a 'wish-list' of key indicators that collectors look for in numismatic investment, they being rarity, widespread appeal and supreme proof quality. And this Proof 1896 Half Sovereign has the lot!
The coin is extremely rare. This Proof 1896 Half Sovereign was acquired by private treaty in 1995 and made its first auction appearance in 2017. Only two other examples are known and both were offered at auction in the 1980s. One of the two re-appeared at auction in 1988: the other in 1998. Neither have been sighted since.
Such sporadic offerings reflect the rarity of Australia’s pre-decimal proof gold half sovereigns; an area of the Australian coin market that is acknowledged as its rarest and its most prestigious.
Widespread appeal. Proof coins are prestigious. They inspire respect and admiration. Ask collectors why they pursue proof coins over circulating currency and the prestige of owning a proof coin is most likely at the top of their list. It's the euphoria that comes with owning something that very few other people can ever possess.
Proof coins are by definition, extremely rare and their scarcity is a natural draw card. In some respect, proof coin collectors are playing it smart because the inherent rarity of proof coinage provides a level of assurance that the market will never be inundated with examples, protecting their investment.
The rarity of Australia's proof sovereigns and half sovereigns is acknowledged worldwide and has instigated a strong reaction from buyers at several recent overseas auctions.
The Sincona Auction held in Zurich, November 2021, was a watershed moment for collectors of Australian proof gold sovereigns and proof gold half sovereigns. Two veiled head proof sovereigns, 1898 and 1901, sold for an equivalent of $100,000 and $190,000, the latter a rarer Perth Mint striking. While some collectors shook their heads in disbelief, we were elated that the coins are now commanding the respect - and the prices - that they deserve.
The momentum continued at Heritage Auctions in April 2022 where two pairs of Australian proof sovereigns and half sovereigns, the first dated 1855 and the second, 1856, sold for record auction prices.
Supreme proof quality. In 2017, Noble Auctions described this coin as 'Gem Frosted Proof, FDC and excessively rare'. And so have we. This Proof 1896 Half Sovereign is a masterpiece of coining skills.