Proof gold has what it takes to interest buyers.
In 2018, proof gold emerged as one of the most fiercely contested areas of the rare coin market.
Prices paid at auction for proof sovereigns and proof half sovereigns surged by about 20 per cent, the consequence of infrequent availability and an expanding market thirsting for top quality rarities.
Now while it is true that gold is Australia’s most popular collecting metal, the key to the growth in proof gold has been its inordinate scarcity.
Buyers know that there is NEVER a chance that the market will be flooded with examples. The scarcity has simply given the market the confidence to buy.
This Proof 1899 Half Sovereign is a case in point. The coin is one of two examples recorded over the last half century.
Now for a bit of history.
This Proof 1899 Half Sovereign was struck at the Melbourne Mint and features the Veiled Head portrait of Queen Victoria.
The Veiled Head design was introduced in 1893 and continued uninterrupted until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.
Three Australian mints were operating during this period, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, the latter opening its doors in 1899.
Sydney Mint Veiled Head Proofs.
The Sydney Mint was a very poor contributor to our proof gold coining history, striking proofs in only the first year of the Veiled Head era, 1893. No other proofs were struck at the Sydney Mint between 1894 and 1901.
Perth Mint Veiled Head Proofs.
As the Perth Mint only came on board in 1899, which was the latter part of the Veiled Head era, their contribution to this sector of the market was always going to be slim.
The Perth Mint struck only one proof half sovereign in the year of its opening, a unique piece sold by Coinworks in 2017 for $500,000. The Perth Mint struck two proof half sovereigns in 1901, and again only one example is held in private hands. The other is held in the British Museum.
Melbourne Mint Veiled Head Proofs.
We researched auction records and our own private treaty sales and have confirmed the existence of seventeen Proof Veiled Head Melbourne Mint Half Sovereigns, many of which have not been sighted since the 1980s and 1990s.
That figure immediately becomes sixteen once you bring quality into the conversation for the Proof 1895 Half Sovereign is noted as being ‘nearly FDC’ with slight nicks in the obverse fields.
It is noted that these seventeen examples cover the entire spectrum of dates in Queen Victoria’s nine-year reign of 1893 to 1901. And are an accumulation of sightings observed over the last 50-plus years.
Now we know that seventeen Proof Veiled Head Sovereigns are never going to be slapped onto the table in one hit and offered for sale at the same time, so how often can a buyer realistically expect to see one such coin?
Our research confirms that you could realistically expect to sight a Melbourne Mint Proof Veiled Head Half Sovereign on the market every three to five years.
Now let's discuss the rarity and price potential of the Proof 1899 Half Sovereign.
When sizing up a coin and evaluating its potential for growth, a buyer should assess the coin on two levels.
1. The first is the rarity of the coin itself.
2. And the second, the rarity of the sector of the market to which it belongs. In the case of this coin, the Veiled Head era.
The adage, ‘less is best’ holds true in the rare coin industry for you don't want the market to be flooded with examples from the same sector.
The ideal ‘investment’ scenario occurs when the coin is rare. And the sector is occupied by very few other coins.
As detailed above, this Proof 1899 Half Sovereign is extremely rare, one of only two known.
And the Veiled Head sector is extremely scarce and is occupied by very few coins.
Which goes back to our opening statement that the key to the growth in demand for proof gold is its inordinate scarcity.
Buyers of proof gold know that there is NEVER a chance that the market will be flooded with examples.