Seven Half Sovereigns, ex Quartermaster Collection


Quartermaster Half Sovereign Collection October 2018
Seven Half Sovereigns, ex Quartermaster Collection
COIN
Seven Half Sovereigns, ex Quartermaster Collection
QUALITY
As detailed below.
PROVENANCE
The famed Quartermaster Collection
PRICE
See individual coins.
COMMENTS
These seven coins present quality that is clearly visible to the naked eye. Was it the name Quartermaster? Or was it a recognition the minute we laid eyes on these seven coins that they were exceptional for quality. In the case of this collection of seven half sovereigns it was both.
STATUS
Available now
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The Collection of Half Sovereign Coins.

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1864 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign Unc obv with Arabic 1 October 2018

 

Coin: 1864 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign

Quality: Uncirculated

Price: $34,000

This is a cameo-perfect example of the 1864 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign. Strong edges, smooth fields and an intricate design.

The coin was struck at the nation’s first mint, the Sydney Mint, and depicts the classically Australian Sydney Mint reverse design.

The reverse design ran from 1855 until 1870 and has confounded historians with the use of the word 'AUSTRALIA'. The colonies did not unite under the banner Australia until Federation in 1901. Furthermore, it is the only time the word 'AUSTRALIA' would appear on our half sovereigns.

The obverse design features a young Queen Victoria wearing a sprig of Australia's native flower, the banksia, in her hair. We refer to it as the Type II portrait design and it ran from 1857 until 1866.

It is statement of fact that Uncirculated quality Sydney Mint Half Sovereigns are extremely rare.

 

1864 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign Unc rev with Arabic 1 October 2018

So let's quantify the term 'rare'.

We can count on the fingers of two hands the number of Sydney Mint Half Sovereigns we have sold in choice quality.

And in making this comment, we are not just talking about the year '1864'. We are referring to the entire Type II portrait design era of 1857 up to and including 1866.

This 1864 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign is a great rarity. We note that in a forty-plus year career we have sold only one other of the same date and in the same quality.

1864 - and what a year it was. The most populated colony, Victoria, had an estimated population of 598,003, with N.S.W. coming in second recording 390,230 inhabitants. The least populated colony was Queensland with 73,578 inhabitants. Tasmania was already showing itself to be a colony rich in produce with the first trout and salmon hatched at New Norfolk, Tasmania, from imported eggs. Foxes were liberated in Victoria by the Melbourne Hunt Club. Australia’s first cook book was published and while it included many traditional recipes, local ingredients also featured. Dishes such as ‘slippery bob’ – battered kangaroo brains fried in emu fat.

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1871 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign YH Shield Brilliant Unc obv

Coin: 1871 Half Sovereign, Sydney Mint

Quality: Brilliant Uncirculated

Price : $45,000

This 1871 Half Sovereign was struck at the Sydney Mint and introduced a brand-new obverse and reverse design for Australia’s half sovereign series.

The Sydney Mint was Australia's only operating mint. The Melbourne Mint no coming on board until one year later in 1872.

The Australian flavour that earmarked our first half sovereigns (1855 to 1870) was replaced with British inspired, design elements.

For the obverse, the sprig of banksia was eliminated.

Instead, a young Queen Victoria was depicted wearing a traditional braid in her hair. This new obverse design was launched in 1871 and continued until 1887.

The reverse presented a traditional British Shield design created by Jean Baptiste Merlen.

The Shield reverse design continued until 1893.

 

1871 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign YH Shield Brilliant Unc rev

Both Australia's oldest Auction House, Australian Coin Auctions (A.C.A.) and respected numismatist Barrie Winsor were in complete agreement on this coin's superb state. And its extreme rarity.

A.C.A. gave it the ultimate 'thumbs up' by placing this coin as the sole feature item gracing the front cover of their Catalogue of the famous Reserve Bank of Australia (R.B.A.) Auction conducted in 2005.

Barrie Winsor, also gave it 'the nod' when he acquired the coin at the R.B.A. Auction on behalf of the even more famous Quartermaster Collection.

In more than twenty years of trading, Winsor had not seen finer.

1871 - and what a year it was. Victoria continued to maintain its edge over N.S.W for population with 730,198 inhabitants. N.S.W. recorded 502,998. Queensland had forged ahead to 120,104 inhabitants but boasted the production of 3,494,000 kg of cotton. South Australia became the first colony to allow a man to marry his deceased wife's sister and that venerated institution, the R.S.P.C.A. was established in Melbourne.

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1880 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign YH Shield Choice Unc obv

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Coin: 1880 Half Sovereign, Sydney Mint

Quality: Choice Uncirculated

Price: $ 47,000

This 1880 Half Sovereign was struck at the Sydney Mint and depicts the Young Head portrait designed by William Wyon and the Shield design created by Jean Baptiste Merlen.

From 1871 until 1879, the Sydney Mint enjoyed robust half sovereign production issuing more than 1 million coins.

A new decade dawned and in 1880, the Sydney Mint experienced a dramatic drop in half sovereign production, issuing only 80,000 coins.

 

 

 

1880 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign YH Shield Choice Unc rev

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That's a bonus for collectors.

The affect today is that in any condition, the 1880 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign is a rare coin.

But it is excruciatingly rare in the Choice Uncirculated quality offered here.

1880 - and what a year it was. The Chinese found gold at the Margaret River, Northern Territory in 1880, encouraging massive migration. Who hasn't eaten a 'Cherry Ripe' or a 'Freddo Frog'. We pay respects to Macpherson Robertson, founder of the MacRobertson confectionery company, that began making confectionery in Fitzroy, Melbourne in 1880.

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1882 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign YH Shield Brilliant Unc obv

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Coin: 1882 Half Sovereign, Sydney Mint

Quality: Choice Uncirculated

Price: $60,000

Dealers and collectors alike know the 'rare' dates in the Australian coin series and can reel them off at the drop of a hat. 

And the 1882 Half Sovereign struck at the Sydney Mint has always been regarded as an icon of the Australian Young Head Half Sovereign series. The coin is excruciatingly rare.

 

1882 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign YH Shield Brilliant Unc rev

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The mintage for that year was a mere 52,000 coins. A clear explanation on its rarity out in the market place.

Particularly when you consider that one year later, in 1883, the Sydney Mint issued 220,000 half sovereigns.

This coin was acquired from London coin company, Knightsbridge coins, one of the most widely connected numismatic dealers in the UK, U.S. and Europe. And a gold coin specialist.

Sold to Barrie Winsor, it was then acquired by the  Quartermaster Collection.

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1887 Melbourne Mint Half Sovereign YH Shield Choice Unc obv

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1887 Melbourne Mint Young Head Shield Half Sovereign

Choice Uncirculated

$72,000

Barrie Winsor had the privilege, and pleasure, of cataloguing the Reserve Bank of Australia inventory that was sold by Australian Coin Auctions in 2005.

Right from the outset he had this coin pegged as one of the absolute finest of one of the key coins in the Australian half sovereign series.

Winsor fought off serious bidding at the auction to acquire the coin for collector Tom Hadley for inclusion in the Quartermaster collection.  

 

1887 Melbourne Mint Half Sovereign YH Shield Choice Unc rev

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While the recorded half sovereign output from the Melbourne Mint in 1887 is 64,000, that figure includes two portraits and thus two different designs.

The first design featured the young head portrait of Queen Victoria, with the date ‘1887’ depicted on the obverse.

The industry acknowledges that only a minuscule number of young head half sovereigns were issued in 1887, the suggested mintage a mere 10,000. A clear explanation of its rarity out in the market place.

The second design featured on the Melbourne Mint's 1887 half sovereign issued was the Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria’s introduced to mark the fiftieth anniversary (Golden Jubilee) of her ascension to the British throne.

The 1887 Young Head Half Sovereign struck at the Melbourne Mint is rare in any quality. But it is excruciatingly rare in the Choice Uncirculated quality offered here.

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1887 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign Jubilee Head Choice Unc rev

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1887 Sydney Mint Jubilee Head Shield Half Sovereign

Choice Uncircualted

$5750

This superb Jubilee Half Sovereign reflects the Barrie Winsor touch. And the Quartermaster touch.

Choice Uncirculated it was acquired from the Reserve Bank of Australia auction held in 2005.

The coin has superb edges and brilliant fields.

 

1887 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign Jubilee Head Choice Unc obv

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1900 Melbourne Mint Half Sovereign Veilded Head Choice Unc rev

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1900 Melbourne Mint Veiled Head St. George Half Sovereign

Choice Uncirculated

$12,000

A superb 'turn-of-the-century' Veiled Head Half Sovereign from the Melbourne Mint.

 

1900 Melbourne Mint Half Sovereign Veilded Head Choice Unc obv

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The coin features the Queen Victoria designed by T. Brock and the reverse design of St. George & the Dragon by Benedetto Pistrucci.

Acquired from the Reserve Bank of Australia Auction held by Australian Coin Auctions in 2005.

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The history of the Quartermaster Coins.

No one could have envisaged in 1919 when the Australian Government directed the mint master of the Melbourne Mint to strike the Square Penny that the coin would one day become a world class rarity.

In 1919, the Labor Government proposed a currency change to incorporate Australia’s native bird - the kookaburra - into the nation’s coinage. The Government wanted to break away from British designs and introduce a uniquely Australian style into our currency.

The mooted change was politically motivated, the Government seeking favour with the electorate.

A wave of nationalism was sweeping Australia post World War I and the Government saw advantage in tapping into the mood of the nation. 

A kookaburra design and the depiction of the monarch without a crown were two of the elements of the new coinage that while highly contentious and provocative, the Government believed would now be accepted. 

Tests commenced at the Melbourne Mint in 1919 and continued until 1921 with the test pieces ultimately passed to dignitaries and Government officials to assess their reaction.

Four different square penny designs were tested in 1919 and we refer to them as the Type 3, 4, 5 and 6. Five were tested in 1920 and they are referenced as the Type 7, 8, 9, 10 and 13. Only two designs were tested in 1921 and we refer to them as the Type 11 and Type 12.

Only two different square halfpenny designs were tested in 1920 and 1921 and they are referenced the Type 1 and 2 respectively.

History indicates that over the three year period a total of 200 pieces, encompassing the various designs, were produced. And that’s not 200 of each. That’s a total pool of 200 coins.

Public reaction to the introduction of the square coinage was poor. There was widespread public resistance to change, while the elderly rejected the small size of the coins.

However, the final decision not to proceed seems to have been based mainly on another consideration – the large number of vending machines then in operation requiring a circular coin.

The impetus for change was further eroded when William Watt, the most influential advocate of the nickel kookaburras, suddenly resigned his position as Treasurer before the necessary regulations were in place.

The kookaburra coins never went into production and Australia lost a great opportunity to go its own way.

But with only the 200 prototypes to show as evidence of the Government’s grand scheme, Australian coinage gained another wonderful coin rarity.

Melbourne Mint image


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