The year 1887 is an important one in the nation’s currency history. It was the year that Queen Victoria celebrated her golden jubilee. To mark the occasion Australia’s half sovereigns were struck depicting a Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria: the design featured from 1887 to 1893.
Given the importance of the design change, wealthy businessman and collector John G Murdoch financed the striking of a limited number of proof collector pieces at the Melbourne Mint, believed three.
This 1887 Proof Half Sovereign is one of the three and, to our knowledge, is the only proof example out of that original mintage to appear on the open market over the last fifty years.
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 collector coins struck to the highest quality standards. But with two very glaring differences. The mintages more than a century ago were minuscule. And their striking was sporadic.
For today’s buyers, the opportunities for purchase of proof gold is obviously limited by the minuscule numbers struck. And the irregularity of the issues. But there is another consideration. Great coins tend to be held.
The owner of the Madrid Collection held onto his gold proofs for more than twenty years. And this coin was held in the Spalding family for a similar length of time.
The availability of a gold pre-decimal proof coin – of any year - is an opportunity. If you happen to be offered one of exceptional rarity, such as this coin, then the opportunity is even more profound.