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81354-1858-Half-Sovereign-OBV-Mood-May-2024
81354-1858-Half-Sovereign-REV-Mood-May-2024
COIN
The Ross Pratley 1858 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign
PRICE
$95,000
STATUS
Available now
QUALITY
FDC. In the finest state of preservation, with immaculate satin fields and full original mint bloom on both obverse and reverse, Gem Uncirculated.
PROVENANCE
Spink Australia Auction 25, lot 2364 • Spink Auctions March 1989, lot 1519, in the liquidation of the R. G and C. Pratley Collection • Noble Numismatics November 2007 Lot 1380 • Sale by private treaty to Melbourne Collection August 2014
COMMENTS
A great coin can develop a brand giving it a distinct identity that distinguishes it from its competitors. The brand offers clarity … you know what you are getting. The brand offers trust … again you know what you are getting. The development of the brand starts with an extraordinary quality coin. Coupled with an outstanding performance in the public domain. And then a great collector moves into the picture acquiring the coin, and the demand and the performance self-perpetuates. The Ross Pratley 1858 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign is a brand. It is an extraordinary coin, the finest of its year. And the finest of the entire Sydney Mint Half Sovereign series. Unmarked with full original mint bloom on both obverse and reverse, gem uncirculated or FDC. Its first auction appearance was in July 1988 when as lot 2364 it was acquired by Sydney dealer, Ross Pratley, for $10,200 on a pre-auction estimate of $4000. Its most recent auction appearance was in 2007, when as the front cover item of Nobles Sydney Auction catalogue, the Ross Pratley 1858 Half Sovereign sold for $93,200 on a pre-auction estimate of $50,000. Presented in the finest state of preservation, the technical shots shown below confirm the glorious state of the Ross Pratley 1858 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign.
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81354-1858-Half-Sovereign-REV-Mood-May-2024
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79674-81354-1858-Half-Sovereign-OBV-May-2024

1858 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign - Obverse
The Ross Pratley 1858 Half Sovereign was described by Spink Auctions in 1989 as a superb example, perhaps the best struck specimen of the entire date series with full mint bloom on both sides. Almost free of friction and no surface marks.

79674-81354-1858-Half-Sovereign-REV-May-2024

1858 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign - Reverse
The Ross Pratley 1858 Half Sovereign was described by Nobles Auction in 2007 as unmarked with full original mint bloom, gem uncirculated or FDC, the finest known for the year and the type. It is noted that in 1989 and again in 2007, the coin was a front cover auction catalogue feature item.


Four great Australian coin rarities that also have a brand.

48292-81354-Hastings-Deering-1852-AP-TII-May-2024

The Hastings-Deering
1852 Adelaide Pound
Gem Uncirculated.

81354-Gibbs-1813-Holey-Dollar-May-2024

The Gibbs
1813 Holey Dollar
Uncirculated.

81354-1813-Ford-D2-Dump-May-2024

The J J Ford
D/2 1813 Dump
Uncirculated.

81354-Quartermaster-1855-Half-Sovereign-May-2024

The Quartermaster
1855 Half Sovereign
About Uncirculated.


In 1851, the Sydney Morning Herald published an editorial championing the establishment of a branch of the Royal Mint in Sydney to buy gold at full price and strike it into sovereigns.

The plan for a branch of the Royal Mint received great support from the diggers. Solid opposition came from the banks and a prominent group of private individuals both of whom had become major buyers of gold on the fields at prices discounted well below the full London price. Profits were at stake! Both factions had earlier joined forces to quash a proposal for a Sydney Assay Office that would have also impacted negatively on their commercial interests.

While it is true that New South Wales had in 1851 formally petitioned the home office in London for a branch of the Royal Mint, the decision had already been made in the British Parliament to give the colonies greater autonomy and establish a branch mint to allow them to strike coins of the realm, the sovereign.  

The Sydney Mint would strike sovereigns and half sovereigns to exactly the weight and fineness levels at the Royal Mint but they would have their own design. This was to protect the international reputation of the imperial gold coins in the event that Sydney was unable to meet the exacting standards demanded of the coin.

On the 19 August 1853 Queen Victoria gave formal approval to establish Australia’s very first mint at or near Sydney in New South Wales. In the same year, the Royal Mint London prepared designs of Australia’s first gold coinage and manufactured the dies.

The sovereign and half sovereign obverse design was a filleted bust of Victoria, only slightly different to that used on British sovereigns. The obverse quickly fell out of favour and James Wyon was ordered to engrave a new obverse that would be uniquely Australian to easily distinguish the colonial sovereigns from their British counterparts. To this end, a new portrait was introduced in 1857 that featured Queen Victoria with a banksia wreath in her hair instead of the band.

The reverse design was based loosely around contemporary reverse designs of the British sixpence and shilling. Its strong point of difference to the British sovereigns was the inclusion of the words 'Australia' and 'Sydney Mint'.

The use of the word Australia, a fascination with historians. At the time the nation was operating as separate colonies. Australia did not operate under a single Government until Federation in 1901.

The first Deputy Master of the Sydney Mint was Captain Edward Wolstenholme Ward, a trained member of the Royal Engineers. (Photo shown at top.)

Ward arrived in the colony in October 1854 on the ship Calcutta, along with other members of the Royal Engineers, a sergeant, three corporals and twelve privates. The group was deposited on Circular Quay with the bales and boxes of Sydney's new mint, along with the dies.

The Sydney Mint was established in a wing of the 'Rum Hospital' in Macquarie Street, Sydney. The mint began receiving gold on 14 May 1855 and issued its first gold sovereign soon after on June 23.

In their infancy the Sydney Mint sovereigns and half sovereigns were legal tender only in the colony of New South Wales.

In January 1856, the British tested the quality of the colonial gold coins and the results showed that they had a higher intrinsic value than their British counterparts, primarily due to their 8.33% silver content. Once these facts became known, profiteers began melting them down.

The colonial gold coins also became legal tender in Tasmania and Western Australia in 1856. South Australia and Victoria were reticent to enshrine the Sydney Mint as Australia's official mint as each colony had independently requested their own and were miffed at missing out.

By 1857, the legal tender scope was widened to include all Australian colonies and Mauritius, Ceylon and Hong Kong. In 1868 the Sydney Mint Sovereigns and Half Sovereigns became legal tender throughout the British Empire.

The design of the Sydney Mint Half Sovereign lasted until 1866 and was the only time the word Australia appeared on our gold sovereigns. From 1871, Australia's half sovereigns took on a traditional British design.


Coinworks recommends


50976-Proof-1896-Half-Sovereign-Rev-June-2022
50976-Proof-1896-Half-Sovereign-Obv-June-2022
COIN
1896 Proof Half Sovereign struck as a Presentation Piece at the Melbourne Mint, and one of three known.
PRICE
$85,000
STATUS
AVAILABLE NOW
QUALITY
Gem frosted proof, FDC and extremely rare.
PROVENANCE
Sale by Private Treaty 1995 • Nobles Auction July 2017 Lot 1350.
COMMENTS
Collectors embrace perfection and they will find it in this gem frosted 1896 Proof Half Sovereign. Collectors embrace exclusivity, the rarer the better, and they will find it again in this 1896 Proof Half Sovereign. Only two other examples of this year are known. Collectors also applaud credentials as an acknowledgement of a coin's worth and this piece has such. It impressed the market when it made its first and only auction appearance in 2017 selling for more than double its pre-auction estimate, the strong bidding attributed to its superb quality and its extreme scarcity for an 1896 Proof Half Sovereign had not been seen on the market since 1998. The technical shots shown below confirm the glorious state of this 1896 Proof Half Sovereign.
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50976-Proof-1896-Half-Sovereign-Obv-June-2022
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50976-1896-Half-Sovereign-Rev-TECH-October-2022

1896 Proof Half Sovereign, Melbourne Mint. The Sydney Mint did not strike proofs in 1896. And the Perth Mint had not yet opened.

50976-1896-Half-Sovereign-Obv-TECH-October-2022

1896 Proof Half Sovereign, Melbourne Mint, featuring the Veiled Head portrait of Queen Victoria.

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 1896 Proof Half Sovereign has the lot!

The coin is extremely rare.

This 1896 Proof 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 an 1855 and an 1856 proof sovereign, sold for record auction prices. And again in Zurich at the Sincona Auction in 2023.

Supreme proof quality.

In 2017, Noble Auctions described this coin as 'Gem Frosted Proof, FDC and excessively rare'. And so have we.

This 1896 Proof Half Sovereign is a masterpiece of coining skills.


80067-81331-1852-Adelaide-Pound-CHUNC-OBV-MOOD-May-2024
80067-81331-1852-Adelaide-Pound-CHUNC-REV-MOOD-May-2024
COIN
1852 Adelaide Pound struck using the second reverse die featuring a crenelated inner border (Type II)
PRICE
$95,000
STATUS
AVAILABLE NOW
QUALITY
Brilliant Uncirculated and extremely rare as such
PROVENANCE
Currency World, Sydney, November 2001
COMMENTS
This 1852 Adelaide Pound was struck at the Government Assay Office Adelaide using the second of two prepared reverse dies. That the coin attracts a high-quality ranking of Brilliant Uncirculated is an acknowledgement of the strike. And the glorious state of the fields. It is a brilliant example of the nation's first gold coin and is extremely rare at this quality level. Both obverse and reverse fields are lustrous, highly reflective. But it is the strike that is so remarkable, presenting design elements that are seldom seen. Beautiful edge denticles, all the way around. A strong legend, 'GOVERNMENT ASSAY OFFICE ADELAIDE', also all the way around. It is important to note that most Adelaide Pounds just don’t look like this coin with the majority showing extreme weakness in the edges and the legend to the point that the edges, in some areas, are non-existent. The accolades continue with this coin for the crown is sharply defined. The cross on the orb at the top of the crown complete. The pleats in the cloth (on which the two fleur-de-lis rest) are defined as are the jewels in the band of the crown. Collectors love rarity. The rarer the better. And collectors love perfection, or as close to perfection as possible. And they will find both in this 1852 Adelaide Pound Type II. The technical shots, shown below, affirm our assessment of this wonderful coin.
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80067-81331-1852-Adelaide-Pound-CHUNC-REV-MOOD-May-2024
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The Government Assay Office Adelaide was effectively Australia's first mint, be it unofficial. It was opened in 1852, the original purpose to assay gold nuggets brought from the Victorian goldfields and to re-shape them into ingots.

Nine months later, following agitation from Adelaide’s business community, legislation was passed that authorised the Assay Office to strike gold coins.

Whereas the casting of ingots required no minting expertise, precision was suddenly required in the striking of currency, minting coins to a defined weight and a uniform design.

History records that disaster struck during the early stages of the minting of the 1852 Adelaide Pound. Die-maker and engraver Joshua Payne later confirmed that staff had struggled to find the correct pressure levels to exert on the dies to execute a strong overall design.

In the early stages of production, pressure was applied to the edges to ensure that the denticles and legend were strong. The upside to this decision is that Adelaide Pounds struck during the first production run have almost picture-perfect edges and beautiful strong denticles.

The downside however was two-fold. With pressure exerted on the edges, the force applied to the central part of the design was reduced, producing coins with weak definition in the crown and in the ONE POUND area of the reverse. And the ultimate disaster, the pressure on the edges cracked the reverse die.

Relaxing the pressure on the dies in the second production run of Adelaide Pounds lengthened the die usage but created its own shortcomings. Once the pressure was reduced on the edges, the perfection that was achieved in the denticles and legend in the first run of coins was simply not achievable.

Adelaide Pounds from the second production run notoriously have weakness in the edges and weakness in the legend, most particularly in the Assay Office area. And this is noted in about nine out of every ten examples. But, the crown design will invariably be well executed with flattened areas mainly due to usage. (Flattened areas may also reflect die usage and be due to a weak strike.)

So in summary ... Adelaide Pounds from the first production run were struck using a reverse die with a beaded inner circle and typically have strong edges but a weakly executed crown. Perhaps forty examples survive today. We refer to the coins as Type I Adelaide Pounds.

Adelaide Pounds from the second production run were struck using a reverse die with a crenelated inner border (thereby differentiating them from those in the first production run) and typically have weak edges, a weak legend but a strong crown. Perhaps two hundred examples survive today. We refer to the coins as Type II Adelaide Pounds.

The photographs of this 1852 Adelaide Pound confirm that the coin has a beautiful balance of strong edge denticles, strong legend and a brilliantly struck crown.


80067-81331-d-1852-Adelaide-Pound-CHUNC-OBV-TECH-May-2024

1852 Adelaide Pound Type II Brilliant Uncirculated

The strike has been superbly executed, the coin displaying full design detail with strong edge denticles that are complete, all the way around. The legend 'Government Assay Office Adelaide' also is strong all the way around. The crown is highly detailed, the cross on the orb at the top of the crown is complete, the two fleur-de-lis, the pleats in the cloth all well defined as are the jewels in the band of the crown.

80067-81331-d-1852-Adelaide-Pound-CHUNC-REV-TECH-May-2024

1852 Adelaide Pound Type II Brilliant Uncirculated

The reverse features a crenelated inner border, affirming that this Adelaide Pound was struck using the second reverse die, the first die having cracked. The reverse is superbly struck with rims all the way around and is highly lustrous.


The discovery of gold in 1851 is one of the most extraordinary chapters in Australian history, transforming the economy and society and marking the beginnings of a modern multi-cultural Australia. It also led to the creation of the nation’s first gold coin, the 1852 Adelaide Pound.

Word of the discovery of gold spread like wildfire across the country and overseas. First was the rush to Ophir near Bathurst in early 1851 and the even greater rush to Ballarat in August of the same year.

Then in quick succession came the rich finds throughout central Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory and finally the bonanza in Western Australia.

No colony was immune from the dramatic effects of the discovery of gold. 

Those that were rich in gold. And those, such as the colony of South Australia, that was devoid of the precious metal. Its economy collapsed due to the mass exit of manpower lured to the Victorian gold fields.

Adelaide lost almost half its male population within the first three months of the first big gold strike near Ballarat. Also gone its cash resources. About two-thirds of the available coin travelled out of the state.

As the two main pillars of national activity, labour and capital, literally walked out, prices plummeted, property plunged, mining scrip nosedived, and Adelaide took on the air of a ghost town, with row after row of tenantless houses.

The cash-strapped banks pressed their debtors for cash payments, but as most debtors were merchants with their capital tied up, disaster beckoned.

By late 1851, genuine panic gripped those who had stayed behind as the total and complete insolvency of Adelaide looked real.

Out of desperation the Government offered a reward of one thousand Pounds for the discovery of a gold field in South Australia.

None was found. 

South Australia’s problems were further compounded because there was no method available to convert the gold nuggets the diggers had brought back from Victoria into a form that could be used for monetary transactions.

Calls were made for the establishment of a Government mint and the issuing of a coinage, but this was viewed as being in direct violation of the Royal Prerogative. Coining was beyond the powers and privileges of any local authority.

On 9 January 1852, over 130 leading businessmen and a further 166 merchants met with Lieutenant Governor Sir Henry Young and pressured him to start up a mint to convert the raw gold into coin. The intention was that the mint would purchase gold from the Victorian fields at a higher price than paid in Melbourne.

There are some doubts as to who suggested an Assay Office and stamped bullion. What is known is that the establishment of a similar office had been introduced into the legislature of New South Wales in 1851. It was defeated mainly due to the opposition of the banks.

Although Young realised that only Royal approval could initiate a move to establish a mint, he was also aware that the survival of the colony was at stake.

He found a loophole in the legislation. While the Governors were not allowed to assent in her majesty’s name to any bill affecting the currency of the colony, an accompanying paragraph that stated … “unless urgent necessity exists requiring such to be brought into immediate operation”. The “urgent necessity” clause paved the way for the South Australian Legislative Council to pass the 1852 Bullion Act. 

A special session of the Legislative Council was convened on the 28 January 1852.

An enactment was proposed that allowed the Assaying of gold into ingots; the Council seeking to deflect Royal disapproval by striking gold ingots rather than sovereigns.

The ingots were intended to form a currency that would back the banknote issues of the banks as if they were gold coin. And be used by the banks to increase their note circulation based on the amount of assayed gold deposited. 

The Act was as daring, as it was contentious, in that it made the banknotes of the three South Australian banks a Legal Tender, under specified conditions. 

It drew condemnation from the eastern states. Melbourne’s Argus condemned the Act as dangerous, radically unsound and interfering with the natural laws of commerce. But these protests were motivated by self-interest, as South Australia posed a real threat to the Victorian economy by re-directing capital and labour away from the Victorian gold fields.

The Bullion Act No 1 of 1852 has a record unique in Australian history. A special session of Parliament was convened to consider it. Parliament met at noon on the 28 January 1852. The Bill was read and promptly passed three readings and was then forwarded to the Lieutenant Governor and immediately received his assent.

It was one of the quickest pieces of legislation on record, with the whole proceedings taking less than two hours. 

Thirteen days after the passing of the Act, on 10 February 1852, the Government Assay office was opened. Its activities were supported by a state government initiative to provide armed escorts to bring back the gold from the Victorian diggings. Within a week 600 gold coins (known today as the 1852 Adelaide Pound) had been delivered to the South Australian Banking Company, 100 of which were sent to London. 

The Bullion Act had a lifetime of only twelve months. By the time the legislative amendments were passed to enact the production of gold coins, the Act had less than three months to run. As a consequence, only a small number of Adelaide Pounds were struck (24,768) and very few actually circulated. 

When it was discovered that the intrinsic value of the gold contained in each piece exceeded its nominal value, the vast majority were promptly exported to London and melted down. That goes a long way towards explaining why so few Adelaide Pounds survive today (approximately 250) and why the highest-quality examples command such high prices. 


1852-Adelaide-Pound-Cracked-Die-Rev-July-2020
1852-Adelaide-Pound-Cracked-Die-Obv-July-2020
COIN
The extremely rare 1852 Adelaide One Pound struck in the first production run (Type I Adelaide Pound).
PRICE
$450,000
STATUS
AVAILABLE NOW
QUALITY
Uncirculated, lustrous surfaces on both obverse and reverse, one of only three known at this supreme quality level.
PROVENANCE
Barrie Winsor Collection • The Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins.
COMMENTS
Numismatics can verge on the miraculous when considered in the context of coins such as this stunningly beautiful 1852 Adelaide One Pound. The strike is remarkable, the edges particularly strong as is the crown and the reverse lettering. And that’s a miracle given the chaos that we know occurred during the first production run of coins at the Adelaide Assay Office. The fields are lustrous, the coin brilliantly preserved, also a miracle. It is hard to fathom how a coin that was intended for circulation can survive in this state. Plucked off the production line is the only possible answer. The facts relating to this coin are as follows. This 1852 Adelaide Pound was struck in the very first production run of the nation’s first gold coin and we know this because the coin was struck with the beaded reverse die. We refer to it as the Type I Adelaide Pound. Today there are about forty examples out of the first run available to collectors and of those, only three examples are known at this quality level and they are ... this coin from the Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins, the Nobleman One Pound and the Mortimer Hammel One Pound. The technical shots confirm the glorious state of this coin.
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1852-Adelaide-Pound-Cracked-Die-Obv-July-2020
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29758-1852-Adelaide-Pound-Rev-TECH-April-2024

Uncirculated 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I, one of three known at this supreme quality level.  We comment on the strength in the edges and denticles and lettering. And the fabulous fields.

29758-1852-Adelaide-Pound-Obv-TECH-April-2024

Uncirculated 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I, one of three known at this supreme quality level. Exceptional strength in the edges, legend and the crown. And lustrous fields.


28935-62677-Nobleman-1852-Adelaide-Pound-May-2024

Nobleman Type 1  Adelaide Pound
Sold 2023

28935-Hammel-1852-Adelaide-Pound-May-2024

Hammel Type I Adelaide Pound 
Sold 2019

29758-Madrid-1852-Adelaide-Pound-May-2024

Madrid Type I Adelaide Pound
  Available now

In our experience, there are only three known examples in the upper quality levels.

• The Madrid Collection 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I is an Uncirculated and lustrous example from the Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins with strong definition in the edges and the crown (available here).

• The Nobleman 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I exists in a superb mint state.

• The Mortimer Hammel 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I is a lustrous Brilliant Uncirculated example.


Australia’s first gold coin, a One Pound, was struck on 23 September 1852 at the Government Assay Office in Adelaide, South Australia. The first production run of Adelaide Pounds, used an obverse die with a crown and a reverse die with a simple, elegant beaded inner circle. (Shown above)

During the first run, pressure was applied to the edges to ensure that the denticles and the legend were strong. About fifty coins were produced before a crack developed in the die, forcing an interruption to production and the hasty preparation of a replacement die.

Feeling the strain to resume production, Joshua Payne opted for a simpler version of the reverse die, the legend and value in plain lettering. He also changed the design of the inner border, duplicating that already in place on the crown side.

Production was resumed with the second die and a further 24,000-plus coins minted, referred to as the Type II One Pounds.

By using two different dies, Joshua Payne clearly distinguished between those coins struck in the modest first run. And those from the more substantial second run.

And in so doing created a rarity of the highest order. The Gold One Pound struck during the very first production run of the nation's first gold coin, better known as the Type I Adelaide One Pound.

What we know today is that less than forty Type I Adelaide One Pounds are in collector’s hands.

And perhaps six times that figure of the Type II examples. Both rare. But the Type I One Pound excruciatingly rare. And this example, one of the finest of them all.

The enormity of this offer cannot be overstated.

This coin was never given kid gloves treatment during the production process. It was struck in what can only be described as a factory, hammered out and hurled down an assembly line, more than likely into a barrel or bucket.

How this coin survived the production process, and more than one hundred and seventy years later still be in a pristine original state is impossible to fathom.

This is a unique opportunity to acquire an inspiring example of Australia's very first gold coin, offered at a spectacular quality level.


80059-Header-1924-1926-Proof-Threepences-April-2024
80059-Header-1924-1926-Proof-Threepences-April-2024
COIN
1924 Proof Threepence and 1926 Proof Threepence, struck as Coins of Record during the reign of George V
PRICE
Available individually or $20,000 for the pair.
STATUS
AVAILABLE NOW
QUALITY
Superb FDC 1924 Proof Threepence, fully brillliant reverse with magnificent colours • 1926 Proof Threepence fully brilliant reverse with again, magnificent colours.
PROVENANCE
1924 Proof Threepence, Noble Auction July 2001 Lot 1335 • 1926 Proof Threepence, Noble Auction July 2001 Lot 1440
COMMENTS
The Royal Australian Mint is today a mass producer of coinage whether it be manufacturing circulating currency for Treasury. Or creating proof coinage to sell to collectors. The mint in Canberra is not geared to striking just a handful of proof coins, particularly one as diminutive as a threepence. As Australians we are fortunate that our pre-decimal mints bothered to preserve our coining heritage for future generations and create proof examples of our circulating currency. Struck as Coins of Record, this 1924 Proof Threepence and 1926 Proof Threepence are glorious examples of our early mint’s proof coining skills, both coins fully brilliant emanating magnificent colours. The coins have superb detail, in the emu's feathers, ADVANCE AUSTRALIA, and the date. Under the eye glass, both coins show heavy striations reflecting careful preparation of the dies. They are amazing pieces of Australia’s numismatic history and in their own way, mini-works of art. The coins are extremely rare, and we note this is the only 1924 Proof Threepence we have sold. And indeed, the only 1926 Proof Threepence sold. Check out the technical shots below. They are brilliant!
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80059-Header-1924-1926-Proof-Threepences-April-2024
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80059-b-1924-Proof-Threepence-REV-TECH-April-2024

1924 Proof Threepence, brilliant reverse fields

80059-b-1924-Proof-Threepence-OBV-TECH-April-2024

1924 Proof Threepence, featuring the portrait of King George V (1910 - 1936).


80059-b-1926-Proof-Threepence-REV-TECH-April-2024

1926 Proof Threepence, brilliant reverse fields, and magnificent tone. 

80059-b-1926-Proof-Threepence-OBV-TECH-April-2024

1926 Proof Threepence, featuring the portrait of King George V (1910 - 1936).


This 1924 Proof Threepence and 1926 Proof Threepence were not struck for collectors as part of any mass-marketing sales campaign. They were struck for the mint's archives and the privileged few. Because it was a specially arranged striking of presentation pieces, only a handful were struck.

Technically, we refer to them as 'Coins of Record'. Australian Pre-decimal Coins that were struck as proofs - but not destined for collectors.

The term, COIN OF RECORD, is to a large extent self-explanatory. It is a coin that has been minted to put on record a date. Or to record a design.

What is not self-explanatory is that Coins of Record were struck to PROOF quality as presentation pieces. And were struck in the most minute numbers satisfying the requirements of the mint rather than the wants of collectors.

Forget the notion of striking ten thousand proofs as collectors are accustomed to today. Let's talk about striking a total of ten coins ... or in the case of this coin a lot less!

For today’s collectors the Coins of Record offer a wonderful link to the past and are extremely rare, two reasons that make them so popular.

There was no commercial angle in the production of Coins of Record. The mints were not out to make money from the exercise. Quite the reverse, striking a proof coin in our pre-decimal era was a very labour intensive (and hence costly) exercise that would have dented the mints annual budget quite considerably. The prime reason why so few coins were struck.

In the striking of a proof coin, the mint’s intention was to create a single masterpiece, coining perfection. Perfection in the dies. Wire brushed so that they are razor sharp. Perfection in the design, highly detailed, expertly crafted. Perfection in the fields, achieved by hand selecting unblemished blanks, polished to create a mirror shine. Perfection in the edges to encase the design … exactly what a ‘picture frame does to a canvass’.

 

A proof is an artistic interpretation of a coin that was intended for circulation. A proof coin is meant to be impactful, have the ‘wow’ factor and exhibit qualities that are clearly visible to the naked eye. A proof coin was never intended to be used in every-day use, tucked away in a purse. Or popped into a pocket.

So, what happened to these Coins of Record? Where did they go? And if they were struck by the mints for their own use, how did they get into collector's hands?

In the main, Coins of Record ended up in the mint’s own archives, preserving its history for future generations. Any coins that were surplus to requirements may also have been sent to a museum or public institution.

Coins of Record were also put on display at public Exhibitions. The two known examples of the Proof 1866 Sovereign and Proof 1866 Half Sovereign were especially struck to exhibit as ‘products of New South Wales’ as part of the Colonial Mints display at the International Colonial Exhibition of 1866 and the International Exposition in Paris, 1867. They were discovered in London in the early 1970s.

It is noted that many of the overseas mints have over time sold off Coins of Record that they considered excess to their requirements allowing them to come into collector's hands. The Royal Mint South Africa sold off several Australian gold proofs in the 1990s.

It is also noted that influential collectors, and those that moved in the same circles as the Deputy Master, did occasionally receive a proof coin. Most likely in exchange for a coin of the same face value, so that the mint's 'books' would be balanced.

 

 


83036-1953-Proof-Penny-Rev-June-2024
83036-1953-Proof-Penny-Obv-June-2024
COIN
1953 Proof Penny struck as a Coin of Record at the Perth Mint, depicting the effigy of the new Queen Elizabeth II
PRICE
$40,000
STATUS
AVAILABLE NOW
QUALITY
FDC
PROVENANCE
Australian Coin Auctions 19 February 2013, Lot 925
COMMENTS
There are some coins that will never be forgotten. The state in which they are presented is so impactful and so vastly different from all others, they leave a lasting impression. And so it is with this 1953 Perth Mint Proof Penny, acquired by us in 2013. The coin is truly spectacular. A molten proof copper coin, the reverse with complete original brilliance. And brilliant glossy surfaces with magnificent iridescent toning on the obverse. Solid striations are evident under the glass and reflect careful preparation of the dies resulting in a beautiful strike. Proof copper aficionados please note, the surfaces are impeccable, blemish-free. History buffs also please note, the obverse depicts the effigy of the late queen, Elizabeth II, the first year her portrait appeared on Australia’s coinage.
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83036-1953-Proof-Penny-Obv-June-2024
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In an article published in the Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia 2005, renowned numismatist Paul Holland contends that the Perth Mint proofs seemed to have been created for unaided vision, the point here being that a collector would not need an eye-glass to take in their beauty.

When you look at this 1953 Proof Penny you can't help but feel that Holland was spot-on with his assessment.

He also contends that the 1951-PL proofs from the Royal Mint London came to be viewed as the best possible model for what Perth Mint bronze proofs should look like for the PL copper proofs, as a general rule, are stunning. Visually impactful.

The rarity of the 1953 Proof Penny was confirmed in 1995 in an article published in the NAA journal (Volume 8) by John Sharples, the then Curator of Australia’s Numismatic Archives.

He examined the distribution of proof coins recorded in Perth Mint communications and records over the period 1940 – 1954. He found evidence that twenty proof pennies were struck at the Perth Mint in 1953.

He noted that two private collectors (most likely Syd Hagley and Ray Jewell) received examples of the pre-1955 proof coins, such was the influence of these collectors.

The balance of the mintage, however, was destined for the mint's own archives with the majority sent to Public Collections and Numismatic Societies.

The official list authorised to receive Perth proofs were the Australian War Memorial, Royal Mint London, British Museum, Royal Mint Melbourne, Japan Mint, National Gallery SA, Art Gallery WA, National Gallery Victoria, Victorian Numismatic Society, South Australian Numismatic Society and the Australian Numismatic Society.

That the bulk of the mintage was gifted to institutions is the very reason why they are so rare in today's collector market. We might sight a Proof 1953 Penny on the market every three to four years. One as spectacular as this is a once-in-a-lifetime buying opportunity.

Apart from its extreme rarity, we offer four sound reasons why this 1953 Proof Penny is a must-have for today's collector.

1. Brilliantly preserved proof coins of the Perth Mint are unrivalled for quality.

The coins not only display superb levels of detail in their design, but qualities and colours that are unmatched by those of the Melbourne Mint. Each coin is a work of art, as individual, and as beautiful, as an opal. This 1953 Proof Penny looks like molten copper. It is magnificent.

2. Proof coins have a wonderful connection to the past.

They are the story tellers, defining an era, or a year, like no other coin. Proofs can also define an occasion. And a monarch. And they tend to have a connection to a prominent person, either a dignitary, a Mint Master or an influential collector. The 1953 Proof Penny was the first to depict the effigy of the new Queen Elizabeth II.

3. Collectors are all but guaranteed that the market will never be flooded with examples.

The Perth Mint Proof Record Pieces is a sector of the rare coin market that offers financial stability and has been the hunting ground of investors for decades. The sector also has strength because it has widespread support amongst the Australian dealer market.

4. The Perth Mint is still operating.

That the Perth Mint is a leading coin producer makes their pre-decimal proofs historical. But also vibrantly current. So the ‘Perth Mint’ message always remains strong, underpinning future interest.


History of the Perth Mint

The discovery of vast gold fields in Coolgardie in 1892 and Kalgoorlie in 1893 triggered a Gold Rush in Western Australia and convinced the British Government to authorise the opening of a mint in Perth.

It was the third branch of the Royal Mint London opened in Australia following the establishment of the Sydney Mint in 1855 and the Melbourne Mint in 1872.

The Perth Mint was established in 1899 and remained a gold producing mint from the year of its opening until 1931 when Australia struck its last sovereign.

For nine years, the coining presses at the Perth Mint ground to a halt. Then early in November 1940, the Australian Government requested Perth to undertake the coining of Australia’s bronze pennies and halfpennies.

The Melbourne Mint had been called upon to do munitions work during World War II and assistance was sought from the Perth Mint to meet Australia’s currency requirements.

The Perth Mint continued to strike copper coins until 1964, when two years later Australia converted to decimal currency.

Established as a branch of the Royal Mint London, the Perth Mint adopted the practices of its master and struck proofs of those coins being struck for circulation.

In accordance with minting traditions the Perth Mint struck proof record pieces of those coins being struck for circulation. There was no hint of commercialism in the production of these pieces.

Posterity, the preservation of Australia’s coining heritage … that and a passion for numismatics were the driving forces behind their striking. The collector market per se was denied access to the coins.

When the Perth Mint struck a proof penny, its intention was to create a single, copper masterpiece. Coining perfection. Perfection in the dies. Wire brushed so that they were razor sharp. Perfection in the design, highly detailed, expertly crafted. Perfection in the fields, achieved by hand selecting unblemished blanks, polished to create a mirror shine.

Perfection in the edges to encase the design … exactly what a picture frame does to a canvas. A proof coin was never intended to be used in every-day use, tucked away in a purse. Or popped into a pocket.

Proof coins were struck to be preserved in the mint's archives as a record of Australia’s coining history, time-capsuled for future generations. Proof coins were also used to showcase a mint’s coining skills, to display at major worldwide Exhibitions or sent to other mint’s and public institutions.

The rarity of the Perth Mint proofs was confirmed in 1995 in an article published in the NAA journal (Volume 8) by John Sharples, the then Curator of Australia’s Numismatic Archives. He examined the distribution of proof coins recorded in Perth Mint communications and records over the period 1940 – 1954. He noted that two private collectors (most likely Syd Hagley and Ray Jewell) received examples of the pre-1955 proof coins, such was the influence of these collectors.

The balance of the mintage, however, was destined for the mint's own archives with the majority sent to Public Collections and Numismatic Societies. The official list authorised to receive Perth proofs were the Australian War Memorial, Royal Mint London, British Museum, Royal Mint Melbourne, Japan Mint, National Gallery SA, Art Gallery WA, National Gallery Victoria, Victorian Numismatic Society, South Australian Numismatic Society and the Australian Numismatic Society.

That the bulk of the mintage was gifted to institutions is the very reason why they are so rare in today's collector market.


78772-1930-Penny-Rev-February-2024
78772-1930-Penny-Obv-February-2024
COIN
1930 Penny with a complete central diamond and six crisp pearls.
PRICE
$45,000
STATUS
Available now
QUALITY
Very Fine
PROVENANCE
Private Collection NSW
COMMENTS
This is an impressive 1930 Penny, in the top 10 per cent of surviving examples, with a grading of Very Fine. It is a classy coin. The important details such as the upper and lower scrolls, the legend and the date ‘1930’ are all prominent. And the edges, which we also consider important, are solid. Flip the coin, over and the monarch's crown shows four sides of the central diamond and six plump pearls. The oval to the left of the central diamond is almost complete. Moreover, the toning is a consistent and a handsome chocolate brown, the fields glossy and highly reflective. Technical shots are shown below in the 'Learn More' section.
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78772-1930-Penny-Obv-February-2024
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78772-b-1930-Penny-REV-TECH-April-2024

1930 Penny, Very Fine, Reverse 

78772-1930-Penny-OBV-TECH-April-2024

1930 Penny, Very Fine, Obverse

Examining a 1930 Penny is a three-point process.

Step 1 is to look at the coin in the flesh using just the naked eye.

A truly great coin will always look good to the unaided eye. And this coin is a beauty!

The reverse has strong definition in the upper and lower scrolls. The fields are highly reflective with even, handsome chestnut brown toning. The edges are solid.

The inner beading is intact, the legend 'COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA' and date '1930' are powerful.

Moving the obverse through the light you see the complete lower band of the crown. You also observe the strong design details of the monarch's robes and the minimal wear to the king's eyebrow and moustache. We also comment on the highly reflective obverse fields, the handsome chocolate brown toning and the solid edges.

Step 2 is to take up a magnifying glass and examine the coin in detail.

The eye glass re-confirms what we have seen to the naked eye ... and much, much more.

This coin has four sides of the central diamond and six crisp pearls. The oval to the left of the central diamond is almost intact.

Step 3 is to re-visit the coin with the naked eye just to make sure that you have taken everything in.

The final assessment of this 1930 Penny confirms that it is a great coin and passes our three-point assessment with flying colours.

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Four reasons why collectors love the 1930 Penny.

Reason 1. One of the prime reasons for the popularity of the 1930 Penny is its financial reliability. It is a solid coin. And this genuinely counts.

Reason 2. In fact, we would go one step further and say that over the long term the 1930 Penny has probably been one of our most consistent and trustworthy numismatic performers.

Reason 3. The 1930 Penny is as Australian as you can get. Struck during the Great Depression, the 1930 Penny is the nation’s glamour coin and is unrivalled for popularity, enjoying a constant stream of demand unmatched by any other numismatic rarity.

Reason 4. The coin is an industry phenomenon, for in a market that is quality focused it is interesting to note that the 1930 Penny is keenly sought irrespective of its quality ranking. And growth over the mid to long term has been significant across all quality levels.

Well circulated (Fine) 1930 Pennies were selling for £50 in the 1950s. A decade later, by decimal changeover, the coins were fetching £255 ($510). By 1988, Australia's Bicentenary, a Fine 1930 Penny had reached $6000. The turn of the century saw 1930 Penny prices move to a minimum of $13,000. Twenty years later prices have more than doubled.

And with a 100th anniversary just six years away, the push to acquire Australia’s favourite Penny is really on.

 

If you want to acquire a 1930 Penny, buy one that stands out from the rest. And this coin certainly does that.

And it stands out not just because of its technical grading which is in the grey section of the pie chart below. But because it has miraculously escaped harsh treatment during its time in circulation. And that’s a total fluke!

1930 Penny Pie Chart September 2019
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79664-79674-79895-1855-HALF-Sovereign-OBV-MOOD-March-2024
79664-79674-79895-1855-HALF-Sovereign-REV-MOOD-March-2024
COIN
The Quartermaster 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign, the jewel in the crown of the Sydney Mint Half Sovereign series
PRICE
$295,000
STATUS
SOLD 23/4/2024
QUALITY
About Uncirculated, the finest by far of the forty known examples
PROVENANCE
William L S Barrett, Canada • Sale by Private Treaty to Robert Jaggard, Sydney • Sale by Private Treaty to J Lawton • Sale by Private Treaty to Tom Hadley Quartermaster Collection • Sale by Private Treaty to H.A.G Collection
COMMENTS
This 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign is from the esteemed Quartermaster Collection and is one of the great coins of Australian numismatics. It is the very finest example of the nation’s first half sovereign. The ultimate quality ranking of the finest. And the ultimate historical standing as the first half sovereign produced at the Sydney Mint, the nation's first mint. The earliest recorded owner was Canadian coin dealer, William Barrett, who acquired the piece in the 1970s. But it was the exchange in the 1980s, to Sydney gold coin dealer, Robert Jaggard, that was for Australian collectors, the most momentous. The jewel in the crown of the Sydney Mint Half Sovereign series was brought home to its country of origin. And its city of origin. Barrie Winsor and Tom Hadley were acutely aware that, when it came to acquiring an 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign for the Quartermaster Collection, there really was only one option. This coin. And so, they played a waiting game.
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79664-79674-79895-1855-HALF-Sovereign-REV-MOOD-March-2024
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The Quartermaster 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign commands attention and commands respect.

It is an elite coin, with the same numismatic clout as the Nobleman 1852 Adelaide One Pound. The Hastings-Deering Type II 1852 Adelaide One Pound. The Gibbs 1813 Holey Dollar and the J J Ford D/2 1813 Dump. (Shown here)

These five grand colonial rarities are showpiece examples of our founding coins and are the best of the best, standing head and shoulders above all others.

They are unchallenged for quality.

(Top left J J Ford D/2 1813 Dump • Top right Hastings-Deering Type II Adelaide One Pound • Bottom left Nobleman Adelaide One Pound • Bottom right Gibbs 1813 Holey Dollar)

79895-Quadrant-April-2024

79664-50-SOV-HSOV-March-2024.jpg

Now, it is a fact that the first year of a new currency is the most sought after by collectors.

And that poses an immediate problem for collectors targeting the 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign. The problem being, there is not many coins to choose from.

The prime reason for its scarcity is that the original mintage was 21,000, making it Australia’s rarest circulating gold coin.

Out of the original mintage, less than forty examples are available to collectors today. So, irrespective of a quality preference, finding just one coin available for sale is challenging.

And it is even more challenging to find an 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign in top condition, one that is problem free and visually appealing.

As the Half Sovereign was a low denomination coin, and circulated widely in the colony, most examples are found today well-worn and virtually denuded of detail. Many are damaged with scratches, spade or metal detector marks. A number are noted as having been holed to wear on a necklace. Some have also been mounted as a jewellery item.

It is a fact that most of the 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereigns that have come onto the market over the last century have been defined by their shortcomings, their extensive wear and the resultant obliteration of the design. Or they have been defined by their defects. The gouges that have occurred in the fields when the coin has hit the metal detector. Or been dug up by a spade.

In our view there are three high quality 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereigns available to collectors and they are:

• The Quartermaster 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign, quality  About Uncirculated and the finest example by far. (This coin.)

• The Barrie Winsor 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign, second finest known, quality of Extremely Fine.

• The Roy Brook 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign, third finest known, quality of Good Very Fine.

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79664-79674-mobile-1855-HALF-Sovereign-OBV-TECH-March-2024.jpg

Visually this 1885 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign is powerful. The reverse fields are mirror-like with beautiful old-gold tone through the design detail. Note the strength in the hairline across the forehead and the detail in the hair. Also note the edges.

79664-79674-Mobile-1855-HALF-Sovereign-REV-TECH-March-2024.jpg

An amazing 1855 Sydney Mint Half Sovereign, the fleur de lis in the crown. left and right, well shaped and the pleats in the cloth detailed. The cross on the orb is complete. The obverse fields also are highly reflective, the old-gold tone through the legend. The edges are strong and undamaged, framing the coin. 


In 1851, the Sydney Morning Herald published an editorial championing the establishment of a branch of the Royal Mint in Sydney to buy gold at full price and strike it into sovereigns.

The plan for a branch of the Royal Mint received great support from the diggers. Solid opposition came from the banks and a prominent group of private individuals both of whom had become major buyers of gold on the fields at prices discounted well below the full London price. Profits were at stake! Both factions had earlier joined forces to quash a proposal for a Sydney Assay Office that would have also impacted negatively on their commercial interests.

While it is true that New South Wales had in 1851 formally petitioned the home office in London for a branch of the Royal Mint, the decision had already been made in the British Parliament to give the colonies greater autonomy and establish a branch mint to allow them to strike coins of the realm, the sovereign.  

The Sydney Mint would strike sovereigns and half sovereigns to exactly the weight and fineness levels at the Royal Mint but they would have their own design. This was to protect the international reputation of the imperial gold coins in the event that Sydney was unable to meet the exacting standards demanded of the coin.

On the 19 August 1853 Queen Victoria gave formal approval to establish Australia’s very first mint at or near Sydney in New South Wales. In the same year, the Royal Mint London prepared designs of Australia’s first gold coinage and manufactured the dies.

The sovereign and half sovereign obverse design was a filleted bust of Victoria, only slightly different to that used on British sovereigns. The obverse quickly fell out of favour and James Wyon was ordered to engrave a new obverse that would be uniquely Australian to easily distinguish the colonial sovereigns from their British counterparts. To this end, a new portrait was introduced in 1857 that featured Queen Victoria with a banksia wreath in her hair instead of the band.

The reverse design was based loosely around contemporary reverse designs of the British sixpence and shilling. Its strong point of difference to the British sovereigns was the inclusion of the words 'Australia' and 'Sydney Mint'.

The use of the word Australia, a fascination with historians. At the time the nation was operating as separate colonies. Australia did not operate under a single Government until Federation in 1901.

The first Deputy Master of the Sydney Mint was Captain Edward Wolstenholme Ward, a trained member of the Royal Engineers. (Photo shown at top.)

Ward arrived in the colony in October 1854 on the ship Calcutta, along with other members of the Royal Engineers, a sergeant, three corporals and twelve privates. The group was deposited on Circular Quay with the bales and boxes of Sydney's new mint, along with the dies.

The Sydney Mint was established in a wing of the 'Rum Hospital' in Macquarie Street, Sydney. The mint began receiving gold on 14 May 1855 and issued its first gold sovereign soon after on June 23.

In their infancy the Sydney Mint sovereigns and half sovereigns were legal tender only in the colony of New South Wales.

In January 1856, the British tested the quality of the colonial gold coins and the results showed that they had a higher intrinsic value than their British counterparts, primarily due to their 8.33% silver content. Once these facts became known, profiteers began melting them down.

The colonial gold coins also became legal tender in Tasmania and Western Australia in 1856. South Australia and Victoria were reticent to enshrine the Sydney Mint as Australia's official mint as each colony had independently requested their own and were miffed at missing out.

By 1857, the legal tender scope was widened to include all Australian colonies and Mauritius, Ceylon and Hong Kong. In 1868 the Sydney Mint Sovereigns and Half Sovereigns became legal tender throughout the British Empire.

The design of the Sydney Mint Half Sovereign lasted until 1866 and was the only time the word Australia appeared on our gold sovereigns. From 1871, Australia's half sovereigns took on a traditional British design.

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80349-Header-1919-1921-Kooka-Date-Set-April-2024
80349-Header-1919-1921-Kooka-Date-Set-April-2024
COIN
A Three-Coin Set of Kookaburra Square Pennies dated 1919, 1920 and 1921
PRICE
$120,000 for the set of three coins as shown below.
STATUS
SOLD 12/4/2024
QUALITY
Choice Uncirculated
COMMENTS
This set is a unique opportunity for one buyer. The set is captivating, each coin individually sensational and handpicked for quality. And yet each coin is different, in their obverse and reverse designs and their toning, which ultimately reflects the diversity of the series. The set of three coins is highly historical and tells the story of the Kookaburra Square Penny. A three-year program conducted at the Melbourne Mint that started in 1919, continued into 1920, and finished in 1921, the aim to produce a uniquely Australian coin.
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80349-Header-1919-1921-Kooka-Date-Set-April-2024
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Australia entered a new era post world war I. A carefree population keen to lessen the ties with Great Britain, establish a strong national identity and forge its own way.

Consideration was given to introducing a new currency, the Kookaburra Square Penny, a unique Australian coin that featured our native bird. It was one of the instruments the Government believed would give us a greater awareness, and appreciation, of all things Australian.

To maximise impact, a new shape was planned with the move from circular to square. And bronze was to be discarded and a new metal taken up, that of cupro-nickel.

The Kookaburra Pennies that remain today are relics of our past, their engaging shape and design stirring up strong collector sentiment. And with such limited numbers available, collector thirst is also driven by their extreme rarity.

Acquiring a single 1919 Kookaburra Square Penny will test a collector's resolve. The waiting time might be several years. A collector will have to stay committed to the task to acquire a 1920 Kookaburra Square Penny for they are extremely rare. The wait may even be longer.

And that's not to make light of the effort required to procure a top quality 1921 Kookaburra Penny.


80349-1919-Kooka-Penny-SQ-T3-OBV-April-2024

• 1919 Kookaburra Square Penny Type 3.
• Offered in this set at $40,000.
• Proof-like surfaces and stunning toning.

80349-1919-Kooka-Penny-SQ-T3-REV-April-2024

• 1919 Kookaburra Square Penny Type 3.
• A collector can expect a waiting time of one to two years for a 1919 Kookaburra Penny to come onto the market. 


80349-1920-Kooka-Penny-SQ-T7-OBV-April-2024

• 1920 Kookaburra Square Penny Type 7.
• Offered in this set at $50,000.
• Brilliant surfaces and a highly detailed design.

80349-1920-Kooka-Penny-SQ-T7-REV-April-2024

• 1920 Kookaburra Square Penny Type 7.
• The year 1920 is regarded as the glamour year of the entire series.


80349-1921-Kooka-Penny-SQ-T11-OBV-April-2024

• 1921 Kookaburra Square Penny Type 11.
• Offered in this set at $30,000.
• Brilliant surfaces and handsome toning.

80349-1921-Kooka-Penny-SQ-T11-REV-April-2024

• 1921 Kookaburra Square Penny Type 11.
• The rarer of the two design types dated 1921.

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Proof-1952-Penny-Rev-37408-March-2021
Proof-1952-Penny-Obv-37408-March-2021
COIN
Proof 1952 Penny struck as a Coin of Record at the Perth Mint
PRICE
$40,000
STATUS
AVAILABLE NOW
QUALITY
FDC and a brilliant, full original mint red
PROVENANCE
Nobles Auction April 2013, lot 1472
COMMENTS
When this 1952 Proof Penny first appeared on the market at Nobles Auction in 2013, it was described as ‘one of the finest known’. We have handled the three top 1952 Perth Mint proof pennies, and can unequivocally state that this coin is the absolute finest. It is Perth Mint proof coining at its best. An extraordinary coin • dazzling • molten copper • super-reflective fields that are as smooth as glass • polished edges • pristine denticles. This is spectacular quality and rarely seen in Perth Mint proofs of any date. The coin certainly impressed the crowd when it appeared in 2013 at Noble's Auction. Solid bidding took the price from its pre-sale estimate of $20,000 to a final knockdown of $34,000, seventy per cent over the anticipated sale price. While we might sight a Proof 1952 Penny on the market every three to four years this coin, as the finest of its year, is a once in a lifetime buying opportunity. Check out the technical shots below ... this coin is stunning!
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Proof-1952-Penny-Obv-37408-March-2021
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37408-b-1952-Proof-Penny-REV-TECH-April-2024
37408-b-1952-Proof-Penny-OBV-TECH-April-2024

In an article published in the Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia 2005, renowned numismatist Paul Holland contends that the Perth Mint proofs seemed to have been created for unaided vision, the point here being that a collector would not need an eye-glass to take in their beauty.

He also contends that the 1951-PL proofs from the Royal Mint London came to be viewed as the best possible model for what Perth Mint bronze proofs should look like for the PL copper proofs, as a general rule, are stunning. Visually impactful.

When you look at this Proof 1952 Penny you can't help but feel that Holland was spot-on with his assessment.

The rarity of the Proof 1952 Penny was confirmed in 1995 in an article published in the NAA journal (Volume 8) by John Sharples, the then Curator of Australia’s Numismatic Archives.

He examined the distribution of proof coins recorded in Perth Mint communications and records over the period 1940 – 1954. He found evidence that fifteen proof pennies were struck at the Perth Mint in 1952.

He noted that two private collectors (most likely Syd Hagley and Ray Jewell) received examples of the pre-1955 proof coins, such was the influence of these collectors.

The balance of the mintage, however, was destined for the mint's own archives with the majority sent to Public Collections and Numismatic Societies.

The official list authorised to receive Perth proofs were the Australian War Memorial, Royal Mint London, British Museum, Royal Mint Melbourne, Japan Mint, National Gallery SA, Art Gallery WA, National Gallery Victoria, Victorian Numismatic Society, South Australian Numismatic Society and the Australian Numismatic Society.

That the bulk of the mintage was gifted to institutions is the very reason why they are so rare in today's collector market. We might sight a Proof 1952 Penny on the market every three to four years. One as spectacular as this is a once-in-a-lifetime buying opportunity.

Apart from its extreme rarity, we offer four sound reasons why this Proof 1952 Penny is a must-have for today's collector.

1. Brilliantly preserved proof coins of the Perth Mint are unrivalled for quality.

The coins not only display superb levels of detail in their design, but qualities and colours that are unmatched by those of the Melbourne Mint. Each coin is a work of art, as individual, and as beautiful, as an opal. This Proof 1952 Penny looks like molten copper. It is magnificent.

2. Proof coins have a wonderful connection to the past.

They are the story tellers, defining an era, or a year, like no other coin. Proofs can also define an occasion. And a monarch. And they tend to have a connection to a prominent person, either a dignitary, a Mint Master or an influential collector. The Proof 1952 Penny is the last proof penny struck with the portrait of George VI.

3. Collectors are all but guaranteed that the market will never be flooded with examples.

The Perth Mint Proof Record Pieces is a sector of the rare coin market that offers financial stability and has been the hunting ground of investors for decades. The sector also has strength because it has widespread support amongst the Australian dealer market.

4. The Perth Mint is still operating.

That the Perth Mint is a leading coin producer makes their pre-decimal proofs historical. But also vibrantly current. So the ‘Perth Mint’ message always remains strong, underpinning future interest.

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History of the Perth Mint

The discovery of vast gold fields in Coolgardie in 1892 and Kalgoorlie in 1893 triggered a Gold Rush in Western Australia and convinced the British Government to authorise the opening of a mint in Perth.

It was the third branch of the Royal Mint London opened in Australia following the establishment of the Sydney Mint in 1855 and the Melbourne Mint in 1872.

The Perth Mint was established in 1899 and remained a gold producing mint from the year of its opening until 1931 when Australia struck its last sovereign.

For nine years, the coining presses at the Perth Mint ground to a halt. Then early in November 1940, the Australian Government requested Perth to undertake the coining of Australia’s bronze pennies and halfpennies.

The Melbourne Mint had been called upon to do munitions work during World War II and assistance was sought from the Perth Mint to meet Australia’s currency requirements.

The Perth Mint continued to strike copper coins until 1964, when two years later Australia converted to decimal currency.

Established as a branch of the Royal Mint London, the Perth Mint adopted the practices of its master and struck proofs of those coins being struck for circulation.

In accordance with minting traditions the Perth Mint struck proof record pieces of those coins being struck for circulation. There was no hint of commercialism in the production of these pieces.

Posterity, the preservation of Australia’s coining heritage … that and a passion for numismatics were the driving forces behind their striking. The collector market per se was denied access to the coins.

When the Perth Mint struck a proof penny, its intention was to create a single, copper masterpiece. Coining perfection. Perfection in the dies. Wire brushed so that they were razor sharp. Perfection in the design, highly detailed, expertly crafted. Perfection in the fields, achieved by hand selecting unblemished blanks, polished to create a mirror shine.

Perfection in the edges to encase the design … exactly what a picture frame does to a canvas. A proof coin was never intended to be used in every-day use, tucked away in a purse. Or popped into a pocket.

Proof coins were struck to be preserved in the mint's archives as a record of Australia’s coining history, time-capsuled for future generations. Proof coins were also used to showcase a mint’s coining skills, to display at major worldwide Exhibitions or sent to other mint’s and public institutions.

The rarity of the Perth Mint proofs was confirmed in 1995 in an article published in the NAA journal (Volume 8) by John Sharples, the then Curator of Australia’s Numismatic Archives. He examined the distribution of proof coins recorded in Perth Mint communications and records over the period 1940 – 1954. He noted that two private collectors (most likely Syd Hagley and Ray Jewell) received examples of the pre-1955 proof coins, such was the influence of these collectors.

The balance of the mintage, however, was destined for the mint's own archives with the majority sent to Public Collections and Numismatic Societies. The official list authorised to receive Perth proofs were the Australian War Memorial, Royal Mint London, British Museum, Royal Mint Melbourne, Japan Mint, National Gallery SA, Art Gallery WA, National Gallery Victoria, Victorian Numismatic Society, South Australian Numismatic Society and the Australian Numismatic Society.

That the bulk of the mintage was gifted to institutions is the very reason why they are so rare in today's collector market.


79664-79674-79896-1855-Sovereign-OBV-MOOD-March-2024
79664-79674-79896-1855-Sovereign-REV-MOOD-March-2024
COIN
1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign, one of the very finest, a stunning example of the nation's first sovereign.
PRICE
$135,000
STATUS
SOLD 2/4/2024
QUALITY
Choice Uncirculated, a quality assignation that extends to the fields and the strike.
PROVENANCE
Sale by Private Treaty to H.A.G Collection 2009.
COMMENTS
This coin is a prize. It is one of the finest examples of the nation’s first sovereign, the 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign, offered in a quality of Choice Uncirculated. To our knowledge, only four other examples are known at this quality level, including the famous Quartermaster coin. And there are none finer. It is hard to fathom how a coin that was intended for circulation can survive in this state. Plucked off the production line is a possible answer. The fields are magnificent, brilliant and highly reflective. The design detail is obvious, even to the naked eye. Under the eye glass the coin continues to shine for the crown is well struck, the cross on the orb at the top of the crown is complete, the fleur de lis on left and right are precise as are the pleats in the cloth. And so is ‘AUSTRALIA’ below the crown. And the hairline at the top of Victoria’s forehead is well struck and untouched. Whether you are a collector or a dealer, you never forget the moment you lay eyes on a truly great coin. For us it was 2009, when we sighted this quite extraordinary 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign.
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79664-79674-79896-1855-Sovereign-REV-MOOD-March-2024
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For collectors looking to obtain just one gold sovereign, the nation’s very first sovereign, the 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign is the obvious choice.

The coin is an enduring symbol of the Sydney Mint’s role in transforming Australia’s first major mineral resource into the lifeblood of a nation.

Our respect for the 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign is well documented. It is the nation’s first official gold coin and in the upper quality levels is extremely rare, a rarity that far outweighs demand.

The 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign is sought by the collector that is targeting important / key dates.

The very first year of our official gold currency is an important date in Australia’s numismatic and financial history.

The 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign also appeals to the sovereign collector. And given the scarcity of the '55 sovereign in the upper quality levels, it also appeals to the investor.

79664-79674-1855-mobile-Sovereign-OBV-TECH-March-2024.jpg

1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign obverse
designed by James Wyon. Note the hairline across the forehead and the fine detail in the hair.

79664-79674-mobile-1855-Sovereign-REV-TECH-March-2024.jpg

1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign reverse
designed by Leonard Charles Wyon. Note the detail in the crown, the cross on the top of the orb and the strength of AUSTRALIA. 


1855 Sydney Mint Sov Pie Chart

 

Every circulating coin has a grading level at which serious rarity kicks in.

That is the point at which the balance between acquiring a coin as a collectible - and as an investment - shifts more towards the latter.

The pie chart shown here clearly shows that well circulated examples of the 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign (in a quality range of Poor to Good Very Fine) are reasonably readily available.

The chart also shows that 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereigns in a quality range of Good Extremely Fine to Choice Uncirculated are exceptionally scarce.


In 1851, the Sydney Morning Herald published an editorial championing the establishment of a branch of the Royal Mint in Sydney to buy gold at full price and strike it into sovereigns.

The plan for a branch of the Royal Mint received great support from the diggers. Solid opposition came from the banks and a prominent group of private individuals both of whom had become major buyers of gold on the fields at prices discounted well below the full London price. Profits were at stake! Both factions had earlier joined forces to quash a proposal for a Sydney Assay Office that would have also impacted negatively on their commercial interests.

While it is true that New South Wales had in 1851 formally petitioned the home office in London for a branch of the Royal Mint, the decision had already been made in the British Parliament to give the colonies greater autonomy and establish a branch mint to allow them to strike coins of the realm, the sovereign.  

The Sydney Mint would strike sovereigns to exactly the weight and fineness levels at the Royal Mint but they would have their own design. This was to protect the international reputation of the imperial sovereign in the event that Sydney was unable to meet the exacting standards demanded of the coin.

On the 19 August 1853 Queen Victoria gave formal approval to establish Australia’s very first mint at or near Sydney in New South Wales. In the same year, the Royal Mint London prepared designs of Australia’s first gold coinage and manufactured the dies.

The sovereign obverse design was a filleted bust of Victoria, only slightly different to that used on British sovereigns. The obverse quickly fell out of favour and James Wyon was ordered to engrave a new obverse that would be uniquely Australian to easily distinguish the colonial sovereigns from their British counterparts. To this end, a new portrait was introduced in 1857 that featured Queen Victoria with a banksia wreath in her hair instead of the band.

The reverse design was based loosely around contemporary reverse designs of the British sixpence and shilling. Its strong point of difference to the British sovereigns was the inclusion of the words 'Australia' and 'Sydney Mint'.

The use of the word Australia, a fascination with historians. At the time the nation was operating as separate colonies. Australia did not operate under a single Government until Federation in 1901.

The first Deputy Master of the Sydney Mint was Captain Edward Wolstenholme Ward, a trained member of the Royal Engineers. (Photo shown at top.)

Ward arrived in the colony in October 1854 on the ship Calcutta, along with other members of the Royal Engineers, a sergeant, three corporals and twelve privates. The group was deposited on Circular Quay with the bales and boxes of Sydney's new mint, along with the dies.

The Sydney Mint was established in a wing of the 'Rum Hospital' in Macquarie Street, Sydney. The mint began receiving gold on 14 May 1855 and issued its first gold sovereign soon after on June 23.

In their infancy the Sydney Mint sovereigns were legal tender only in the colony of New South Wales.

In January 1856, the British tested the quality of the colonial sovereigns and the results showed that they had a higher intrinsic value than their British counterparts, primarily due to their 8.33% silver content. Once these facts became known, profiteers began melting them down.

The colonial sovereigns also became legal tender in Tasmania and Western Australia in 1856. South Australia and Victoria were reticent to enshrine the Sydney Mint as Australia's official mint as each colony had independently requested their own and were miffed at missing out.

By 1857, the legal tender scope was widened to include all Australian colonies and Mauritius, Ceylon and Hong Kong.

In 1868 the Sydney Mint Sovereigns and Half Sovereigns became legal tender throughout the British Empire.

The design of the Sydney Mint sovereign lasted until 1870 and was the only time the word Australia appeared on our gold sovereigns. From 1871, Australia's sovereigns took on a traditional British design.

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78790-1939-Proof-Shilling-Rev-February-2024
78790-1939-Proof-Shilling-Obv-February-2024
Coins, Shilling
COIN
Unique 1939 Proof Shilling struck as a Coin of Record at the Melbourne Mint
PRICE
$35,000
STATUS
SOLD 28/3/2024
QUALITY
FDC, fully brilliant reverse and peripheral brilliance on the obverse.
PROVENANCE
Spink Auctions March 1982 lot 739 • Spink Auctions April 1986 lot 1220 • Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins
COMMENTS
This 1939 Proof Shilling is unique. The coin was struck at the Melbourne Mint as a Coin of Record and no other examples are known. The owner of the Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins used his emotions when he acquired the piece for it represented his birth year. He also used his acumen, and knowledge of the rare coin market, for the coin is unique and the silver proofs out of this George VI era are inordinately scarce. Having been a collector for more than thirty years, he recognised the investment potential that extreme rarity holds.
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78790-1939-Proof-Shilling-Obv-February-2024
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The owner of the Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins was a collector for more than thirty years, with great knowledge of the nation's proof coinage.

While he was in part driven by emotions seeking out his birth year when he acquired this 1939 Proof Shilling, he was astute and recognised the investment potential that a unique coin holds.

He was also aware of the extreme rarity of this sector of the market, that the availability of a Coin of Record out of this George VI era, particularly one struck in silver, was an opportunity not to be passed on. 

The year 1939 was a turning point in Australia’s proof coining history. And for the Melbourne Mint.

World War II commenced late in the year (September) and the mint’s priorities took a drastic U-turn, allocating its resources to supporting the war effort.

During 1939, the mint’s proof coin production, both proofs struck for collectors and proofs struck as Coins of Record and retained in the mint’s archives, were modest.

Forty halfpennies were minted to sell to collectors, believed to fulfill an order placed by dealer Henry George Williams.

Only a handful of pennies and even less of the shillings (this 1939 Proof Shilling but one of them), were struck as Coins of Record to store in archives.

Melbourne-Mint-SF-October-2019

Proof coining at the Melbourne Mint ‘fell off a cliff’ from 1939 onwards, the war taking its toll.

The mint ceased striking proofs to sell to collectors. (A resumption of commercial proof coining did not occur until 1955.)

Even proofs that were to be retained within minting circles were curtailed. Coins of Record of the nation's silver coins were not struck in 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944.

During the mid 1940s the Government faced a new challenge from rapidly escalating silver prices. As a nation still striking its coins in sterling silver, the impact was enormous. The Melbourne Mint became heavily involved in experimenting with new metals for Government and production of Coins of Record was minimal.

In 1945 records at the Melbourne Mint reveal that two proof examples of the 1945 Florin and 1945 Shilling were retained as the last silver florins and shillings struck in sterling silver. There are none in private hands.

In 1946 the Melbourne Mint struck four pattern florins in cupro-nickel, experimenting with new alloys. One of the '46 florins is now in private hands. It was offered at Spink Auctions in 1988 and is now held with a Coinworks client.

A decision was finally made in 1946 to strike all of Australia's circulating currency in a reduced silver quarternary alloy of 50% silver, 40% copper, 5% nickel, 5% zinc.

Proofs were struck in 1947, in the new alloy. Two examples of the Proof 1947 Florin are held in private hands and one of the threepence.

The next Coin of Record of the nation's silver currency was produced seven years later in 1954, under a new monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.


This 1939 Proof Shilling was not struck for collectors as part of any mass-marketing sales campaign. The coin was struck for the mint's archives and the privileged few. Because it was a specially arranged striking of presentation pieces, only a handful were struck. Technically, we refer to it as a 'Coin of Record'.

The term, COIN OF RECORD, is to a large extent self-explanatory. It is a coin that has been minted to put on record a date. Or to record a design.

What is not self-explanatory is that Coins of Record were struck to PROOF quality as presentation pieces. And were struck in the most minute numbers satisfying the requirements of the mint rather than the wants of collectors.

Forget the notion of striking ten thousand proofs as collectors are accustomed to today. Let's talk about striking a total of ten coins ... or in the case of this coin a lot less!

For today’s collectors the Coins of Record offer a wonderful link to the past and are extremely rare, two reasons that make them so popular.

There was no commercial angle in the production of Coins of Record. The mints were not out to make money from the exercise. Quite the reverse, striking a proof coin in our pre-decimal era was a very labour intensive (and hence costly) exercise that would have dented the mints annual budget quite considerably. The prime reason why so few coins were struck.

In the striking of a proof coin, the mint’s intention was to create a single masterpiece, coining perfection. Perfection in the dies. Wire brushed so that they are razor sharp. Perfection in the design, highly detailed, expertly crafted. Perfection in the fields, achieved by hand selecting unblemished blanks, polished to create a mirror shine. Perfection in the edges to encase the design … exactly what a ‘picture frame does to a canvass’.

 

A proof is an artistic interpretation of a coin that was intended for circulation. A proof coin is meant to be impactful, have the ‘wow’ factor and exhibit qualities that are clearly visible to the naked eye. A proof coin was never intended to be used in every-day use, tucked away in a purse. Or popped into a pocket.

So, what happened to these Coins of Record? Where did they go? And if they were struck by the mints for their own use, how did they get into collector's hands?

In the main, Coins of Record ended up in the mint’s own archives, preserving its history for future generations. Any coins that were surplus to requirements may also have been sent to a museum or public institution.

Coins of Record were also put on display at public Exhibitions. The two known examples of the Proof 1866 Sovereign and Proof 1866 Half Sovereign were especially struck to exhibit as ‘products of New South Wales’ as part of the Colonial Mints display at the International Colonial Exhibition of 1866 and the International Exposition in Paris, 1867. They were discovered in London in the early 1970s.

It is noted that many of the overseas mints have over time sold off Coins of Record that they considered excess to their requirements allowing them to come into collector's hands. The Royal Mint South Africa sold off several Australian gold proofs in the 1990s.

It is also noted that influential collectors, and those that moved in the same circles as the Deputy Master, did occasionally receive a proof coin. Most likely in exchange for a coin of the same face value, so that the mint's 'books' would be balanced.


80096-1855-Sovereign-EF-GEF-OBV-MOOD-March-2024
80096-1855-Sovereign-EF-GEF-REV-MOOD-March-2024
COIN
1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign, a quality example of Australia's very first sovereign
PRICE
$22,500
STATUS
AVAILABLE NOW
QUALITY
Extremely Fine / Good Extremely Fine
PROVENANCE
Sale by Private Treaty to H.A.G. Collection
COMMENTS
For collectors looking to obtain just one gold sovereign, the nation’s very first sovereign, the 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign is the obvious choice. The coin is Australia’s first official gold currency minted at the Sydney Mint, the nation’s very first mint. Given its history, the coin will always be in demand, today and into the future. And this example is impressive and extremely rare at this quality level. In the flesh, the coin sparkles under the light. And the edges are solid. The design detail is obvious, even to the naked eye. Under the eye glass the coin continues to shine for the crown is well struck, the fleur de lis on left and right are precise as are the pleats in the cloth. So is ‘AUSTRALIA’ below the crown. And the hairline at the top of Victoria’s forehead is well struck with just a whisper touch to the design high points. The technical shots confirm the coin's impressive state.
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80096-1855-Sovereign-EF-GEF-REV-MOOD-March-2024
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The 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign is an Australian rare coin that has timeless appeal.

It is Australia’s first official gold currency and was produced at the Sydney Mint, the nation's first mint. As it so happens, the Sydney Mint also was the first overseas branch of the Royal Mint London.

The coin is a highlight of our financial history and for collectors, a highlight of our numismatic history.

So why would you buy an 1855 Sovereign?

Gold is Australia’s most popular collecting metal and for collectors looking to obtain just one gold sovereign, the nation’s very first sovereign, the 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign is the obvious choice.

Our respect for the 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign is well documented. It is the nation’s first official gold coin and in the upper quality levels is extremely rare, a rarity that far outweighs demand. So, it appeals to the investor. The coin is also held as a family heirloom to pass on to future generations.


80096-1855-Sovereign-EF-GEF-OBV-TECH-March-2024

This 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign is a stunner in the flesh with an obverse that reflects the light, a strong date and minimal marks in the fields.

80096-1855-Sovereign-EF-GEF-REV-TECH-March-2024

Very impressive, 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign with a lustrous reverse and strength in the crown and in the word 'AUSTRALIA'.

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The 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign has pride of place in every Australian sovereign collection. It is the nation’s first gold sovereign minted at the Sydney Mint, the nation’s very first mint, and brings to any collection a wonderful and everlasting history.

In 1851, the Sydney Morning Herald published an editorial championing the establishment of a branch of the Royal Mint in Sydney to buy gold at full price and strike it into sovereigns.

The plan for a branch of the Royal Mint received great support from the diggers. Solid opposition came from the banks and a prominent group of private individuals both of whom had become major buyers of gold on the fields at prices discounted well below the full London price. Profits were at stake! Both factions had earlier joined forces to quash a proposal for a Sydney Assay Office that would have also impacted negatively on their commercial interests.

While it is true that New South Wales had in 1851 formally petitioned the home office in London for a branch of the Royal Mint, the decision had already been made in the British Parliament to give the colonies greater autonomy and establish a branch mint to allow them to strike coins of the realm, the sovereign.  

The Sydney Mint would strike sovereigns to exactly the weight and fineness levels at the Royal Mint but they would have their own design. This was to protect the international reputation of the imperial sovereign in the event that Sydney was unable to meet the exacting standards demanded of the coin.

On the 19 August 1853 Queen Victoria gave formal approval to establish Australia’s very first mint at or near Sydney in New South Wales. In the same year, the Royal Mint London prepared designs of Australia’s first gold coinage and manufactured the dies.

The sovereign obverse design was a filleted bust of Victoria, only slightly different to that used on British sovereigns. The obverse quickly fell out of favour and James Wyon was ordered to engrave a new obverse that would be uniquely Australian to easily distinguish the colonial sovereigns from their British counterparts. To this end, a new portrait was introduced in 1857 that featured Queen Victoria with a banksia wreath in her hair instead of the band.

The reverse design was based loosely around contemporary reverse designs of the British sixpence and shilling. Its strong point of difference to the British sovereigns was the inclusion of the words 'Australia' and 'Sydney Mint'.

The use of the word Australia, a fascination with historians. At the time the nation was operating as separate colonies. Australia did not operate under a single Government until Federation in 1901.

The first Deputy Master of the Sydney Mint was Captain Edward Wolstenholme Ward, a trained member of the Royal Engineers. (Photo shown at top.)

Ward arrived in the colony in October 1854 on the ship Calcutta, along with other members of the Royal Engineers, a sergeant, three corporals and twelve privates. The group was deposited on Circular Quay with the bales and boxes of Sydney's new mint, along with the dies.

The Sydney Mint was established in a wing of the 'Rum Hospital' in Macquarie Street, Sydney. The mint began receiving gold on 14 May 1855 and issued its first gold sovereign soon after on June 23.

In their infancy the Sydney Mint sovereigns were legal tender only in the colony of New South Wales.

In January 1856, the British tested the quality of the colonial sovereigns and the results showed that they had a higher intrinsic value than their British counterparts, primarily due to their 8.33% silver content. Once these facts became known, profiteers began melting them down.

The colonial sovereigns also became legal tender in Tasmania and Western Australia in 1856. South Australia and Victoria were reticent to enshrine the Sydney Mint as Australia's official mint as each colony had independently requested their own and were miffed at missing out.

By 1857, the legal tender scope was widened to include all Australian colonies and Mauritius, Ceylon and Hong Kong.

In 1868 the Sydney Mint Sovereigns and Half Sovereigns became legal tender throughout the British Empire.

The design of the Sydney Mint sovereign lasted until 1870 and was the only time the word Australia appeared on our gold sovereigns. From 1871, Australia's sovereigns took on a traditional British design.


1855-Sydney-Mint-Sovereign-Bar-Chart-July-2020

Every circulating coin has a grading level at which serious rarity kicks in.

That is the point at which the balance between acquiring a coin as a collectible - and as an investment - shifts more towards the latter.

The chart shown here clearly shows that well circulated examples of the 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign (in a quality range of Poor to Good Very Fine) are reasonably readily available.

The chart also shows that 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereigns in a quality range of Extremely Fine to Choice Uncirculated are exceptionally scarce.


78785-1939-Proof-Halfpenny-Rev-February-2024
78785-1939-Proof-Halfpenny-Obv-February-2024
Coins, Halfpenny
COIN
1939 Proof Halfpenny Melbourne Mint
STATUS
$17,500
QUALITY
Superb FDC with full copper brilliance on both obverse and reverse and surfaces that reflect stunning colours
PROVENANCE
Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins
COMMENTS
Mystery surrounds the striking of the 1939 Proof Halfpenny. So, what do we know about the coin? The 1939 Proof Halfpenny was struck at the Melbourne Mint and the mintage was believed to be 100, in line with those proofs struck in the previous year. As this was a commercial exercise, the mint was not gifting the coins, but selling them at a one shilling premium over face value. We also know that with the outbreak of war the Melbourne Mint allocated its resources to supporting the war effort rather than fostering its commercial sales. Records show that none were sold. The minuscule sightings confirm that a small number were sold, the most likely buyer New Zealand dealer Henry Williams, the person responsible for financing the proofs of 1934 and 1935. Throughout history, extraordinary events have impacted on currency creating what we refer to as numismatic stars. And this 1939 Proof Halfpenny is one such star. A key element of the series of proofs struck between 1916 and 1953, it also is one of the rarest. We estimate you would sight one such example on the market every four to five years. And one as glorious as this coin, once or twice a decade.
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78785-1939-Proof-Halfpenny-Obv-February-2024
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The Melbourne Mint commenced striking Australia’s Commonwealth coins for Treasury in 1916.  

And so, we ask … how many proofs did the mint strike for collectors in 1916?

Given that the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra is today striking circulating coins for Treasury and proof coins of its circulating currency for collectors, it is a natural assumption that the Melbourne Mint would have been doing the same and on an annual basis.

Answer. There were no proof coins struck for collectors in 1916.

The Melbourne Mint’s first proof issue, created with the intention of selling to collectors, occurred in 1927. That's eleven years after the mint began striking Australia’s Commonwealth currency. The coin was, the now famous, Proof Canberra Florin.

The mint would again, seven years later, strike proofs. This time a set of six proof coins of each of the denominations from the halfpenny through to the florin. The 1934 Six Coin Proof Set.

That’s two issues over eighteen years.

This sporadic approach to striking proofs for collectors was consistent with the mint’s policy of striking circulating coins for Treasury. And not catering to the whims of collectors.

Collectors would again be offered a taste of proof coining in 1935, 1937 and 1938 and 1939, the very last year of proof coining in this era of ad-hoc proof strikes.

And it is noted that not every denomination was offered to collectors in each of these years.

The chart below documents those proof issues that were struck by the Melbourne Mint between 1916 and 1953.

The mintages are based on mint records, including records of sales.

1927 proof florin only, suggested mintage 400

1934 – every denomination from proof halfpenny through to proof florin, suggested mintage 50

• 1935 – proof penny and proof halfpenny only, suggested mintage 125

• 1937 – proof crown only, suggested mintage 100

• 1938 – every denomination including the proof crown, suggested mintage 68 proof sets & 52 proof crowns

• 1939 – proof halfpenny only, suggested mintage 40

The details above highlight the extreme rarity of the 1939 Proof Halfpenny.


76693-1813-1805-Holey-Dollar-Mexico-Mint-OBV-December-2023
76693-1813-1805-Holey-Dollar-Mexico-Mint-REV-December-2023
COIN
1813 Holey Dollar struck from an 1805 Mexico Mint Spanish Silver Dollar
PRICE
$265,000
STATUS
Available now
QUALITY
Good Very Fine with counter-stamps Extremely Fine, this is an impactful coin with lustrous glossy fields.
PROVENANCE
Ray Jewell Collection • Kreisberg-Schulman Auction New York 1966 • John Ahbe Collection sold Spink-Stern Auction Melbourne November 1975 • Osborne Collection sold Nobles Auction July 1993 • Officially documented in the pictorial record, 'The Holey Dollars of New South Wales' on page 51 as reference 1805/7.
COMMENTS
This is a Holey Dollar for the serious collector. It is a prized piece. A coin that you, and your family, will treasure and be eager to show around. And if you don't want to show the coin around, then you can at the very least show the book in which it was officially photographed and recorded, 'The Holey Dollars of NSW' by Messrs Noble and Mira, page 51. This Holey Dollar has glorious detail in the counter stamps 'New South Wales' and '1813', the application of which by William Henshall defined it as our very first Australian coin. This Holey Dollar also has glorious detail in the original Spanish Dollar and is one of the few surviving examples to show the complete monarch’s eye and nose. Knowing its former owner, Ray Jewell, and his preference for quality we have no doubt the aesthetics were the prime reason Jewell acquired the piece, for the eye and the nose were almost always obliterated by William Henshall when he punched out the hole. In the top fifteen per cent quality-wise, the technical shots re-affirm the quality and eye appeal of this fabulous Holey Dollar.
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76693-1813-1805-Holey-Dollar-Mexico-Mint-REV-December-2023
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And while we have given considerable attention to Ray Jewell, let's not forget that renowned collectors Ahbe and Osborne were also former owners of this piece.

When William Henshall created this Holey Dollar in 1813, he grabbed an 1805 Spanish Silver Dollar that had been struck at the Mexico Mint.

If William Henshall had been a numismatist he would have acknowledged that the 1805 Spanish Silver Dollar that he was about to deface showed minimal signs of wear. Given that he was holding the world's greatest trading coin, that in itself was a miracle.

Committed to the task of creating holey dollars from silver dollars, he cut a hole in the dollar and continued the minting process by over-stamping the inner circular edge of the hole with the words New South Wales, the date 1813 and the value of five shillings, thereby creating this 1813 Holey Dollar.

The original 1805 Spanish Silver Dollar used to create this Holey Dollar is graded in the premium quality level of Good Very Fine indicating that it underwent slight circulation before the hole was cut into it in 1813.

The extent of usage of the Holey Dollar after it was released into circulation is evidenced by the wear to the counter-stamps, the over-stamping around the inner circular edge … New South Wales, 1813 and Five Shillings.

The counter-stamps of this Holey Dollar are graded in the premium quality levels of Extremely Fine indicating that as a Holey Dollar this coin also underwent minimal circulation.

The Holey Dollar is one of Australia’s most desirable coins.

The status of the Holey Dollar as Australia’s first coin ensures that it will never be forgotten and, as time passes, its historical value can only increase.

Talk to those fortunate enough to own one, either private collectors or institutions such as Macquarie Bank, National Museum of Australia and the Mitchell Library, and they will tell you that the Holey Dollar is viewed as the jewel in their collection. And that statement is made irrespective of the quality.

The coin is rare. And the coin is steeped in history. And yet it is refreshingly current. The ingenuity of Governor Lachlan Macquarie in creating our first coin is reflected in the naming of the Macquarie Bank and the bank’s ultimate adoption of the Holey Dollar as its logo.

The pleasure of owning a Holey Dollar is indefinable. The pleasure is heightened when you open one of the leading Holey Dollar reference books, "The Holey Dollars of New South Wales" and see the coin featured and photographed on page 51. A copy of the book will accompany the sale.

76693-1813-1805-Holey-Dollar-Mexico-Mint-OBV-TECH-December-2023

This Holey Dollar is impactful, the monarch's eye and nose totally visible, an aspect of the design that was almost always obliterated by mint master William Henshall when he smashed out the hole.

76693-1813-1805-Holey-Dollar-Mexico-Mint-REV-TECH-December-2023

A premium quality 1813 Holey Dollar, the former property of renowned collectors, Jewell, Ahbe and Osborne. 

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50381-1921-SQ-Halfpenny-Rev-Mood-June-2022
50381-1921-SQ-Halfpenny-Obv-Mood-June-2022
COIN
1921 Kookaburra Square Halfpenny, one of the Commonwealth's great coin rarities
PRICE
$100,000
STATUS
SOLD 18/2/2024
QUALITY
Choice Uncirculated with lustrous fields under soft antique toning
PROVENANCE
Jaggards, Roxburys Auction 2015
COMMENTS
This is an outstanding coin rarity. In superb quality. The Kookaburra Square Halfpenny is one of the great Commonwealth coin rarities and has been so acknowledged since Australian Auction records began in the 1950s. And this example, dated 1921, is offered in the optimum quality of Choice Uncirculated. Every series has its highlights, the show-stoppers, the scene stealers. And in the case of the Kookaburra Square Coin series, the Halfpenny commands attention. The reason is simply due to its inordinate scarcity. Whereas approximately two hundred Kookaburra Pennies are available to collectors, of varying dates, designs and prices. A minuscule twelve Kookaburra Halfpennies are available to the same buying audience. It’s these numbers that have made the Square Halfpenny one of Australia’s most elusive and sought-after coin rarities. In demand from collectors of the kookaburra coin series. And in demand from buyers with a pure investment focus. The technical shots re-affirm our glowing assessment of the coin.
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50381-1921-SQ-Halfpenny-Obv-Mood-June-2022
Learn More

50381-1921-SQ-Halfpenny-Rev-TECH-June-2022

The Kookaburra Halfpenny, one of twelve examples known to collectors and this coin brilliantly struck, with lustrous satin fields and very soft antique toning.

50381-1921-SQ-Halfpenny-Obv-TECH-June-2022

The 1921 Square Halfpenny obverse featuring an uncrowned King George V. The legend and portrait both highly detailed.

When the Kookaburra Square Penny and Halfpenny were created, Australians were recovering from the war and determined to lessen the ties with Great Britain. The mood even filtered through to our coinage!

The Government planned to introduce a square penny and halfpenny with our native bird on the reverse. And the monarch minus his crown on the obverse!

Provocative and contentious but uniquely Australian.

Australia entered a modern age post World War I. For many Australians, it was a time for breaking out socially, of questioning and changing old values and behaviour and enjoying the good life. It was a time of great change. People forgot the old and embraced the new in an attempt to leave the hardship and struggles of the war behind them.

New technology was being created, like toasters and cars, things that today we take for granted. The fashion world was exploding, great changes were embraced in styles of dress. Australians were identifying with their own culture, keen to lessen the emotional and cultural ties with Great Britain.

Creating a new, totally Australian coinage was a part of the deal which is why the Government floated the idea of the Kookaburra Penny envisaging a coin that would be unique to Australia.

The Government's plan was to discard the British-styled penny and halfpenny and to create a coin with a typically Australian design featuring the nation's native bird, the kookaburra.

To maximise impact, a new shape was planned with the move from circular to square. And bronze was to be discarded and a new metal taken up, that of cupro-nickel.

Tests began at the Melbourne Mint in 1919 and continued for three years, ending in 1921.

Today there are about two hundred kookaburra pennies held by private collectors. And about twelve kookaburra halfpennies.

enquire now

49559-1916-Specimen-Set-REV-Mood-May-2022
COIN
1916 Presentation Set in an original velvet-lined case of issue.
PRICE
$75,000
STATUS
Available now
QUALITY
Specimen quality, the coins perfectly matched with stunning cobalt-blue, steel-grey, purple and gold colours
PROVENANCE
Monetarium Singapore Auction Number 1, 18 April 2008 Lot 54
COMMENTS
The 1916 Presentation Set is a national treasure, lauded by collectors for its supreme historical importance. And its overwhelming rarity. Produced in 1916 at the Melbourne Mint it is a four-coin set of florin, shilling, sixpence and threepence specially struck to the highest quality standards and housed in a velvet-lined blue case. It was a big deal at the time. A numismatic celebration that guaranteed collectors would remember the year the Melbourne Mint began striking Australia’s silver coinage. And it’s a big deal today. A momentous date commemorated by a highly sought after presentation, only seven original cased sets have been sighted at auction over the last half century. The technical shots shown below confirm that this is a beautifully matched specimen set of florin, shilling, sixpence and threepence, the toning absolutely spectacular with stunning cobalt-blue, steel grey, purple and gold colours. The front-cover item of Monetarium Singapore's inaugural auction in 2008, this sublime 1916 Presentation Set is available now.
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The Melbourne Mint was Australia’s longest serving mint to Government and the community, striking its first coin in 1872 and its last in 1964.

Two dates are integral to the mint's long history and to the nation’s numismatic heritage.

The most significant is its opening year, 1872, when the mint struck its first sovereign. The second most significant date is 1916 when the Melbourne Mint switched metals and commenced striking silver coins for the newly formed Commonwealth of Australia.

Sadly, for collectors, the mint failed to produce any presentation pieces for its opening in 1872.

That numismatic shortcoming was addressed in 1916. The Deputy Master of the Melbourne Mint authorised the production of sixty cased Presentation Sets, some of which were sold to collectors with others gifted to dignitaries.

Natural attrition has taken its toll on the original mintage and only seven cased presentation sets have been observed at auction over the last half-century.

Each coin in this 1916 Presentation Set has been carefully examined and we make the following comments.

1916 Specimen Florin - Beautifully struck, with superb detail in all design elements. Smooth surfaces and highly reflective with stunning colours on both obverse and reverse, the coin exhibits the classic striations associated with this controlled specimen striking.

1916 Specimen Shilling - Highly reflective, superbly struck and beautiful antique toning. The reverse reveals multiple striations (raised parallel lines) across the fields; with those between the scroll and date and behind the emu strongly evident. Precise edge denticles and high rim.

1916 Specimen Sixpence - Proof-like with beautifully mirrored fields. Very well struck, the denticles on the reverse rim are unusually strong. Beautifully mirrored fields on the obverse with microscopic striations confirming careful preparation of the dies.

1916 Specimen Threepence - A full brilliant mirror finish with handsome blue and pink toning. The coin is extremely well struck, noticeable in the strength of strike in the star, shield and scroll. Strong striations confirm careful preparation of the dies at the Melbourne Mint.


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49559-1916-PDP-Set-TECH-OBV-May-2024

Early in November 1915 the Melbourne Mint was formally instructed to commence preparations for the striking of the Commonwealth's silver coinage. The silver was sourced locally from the Broken Hill mines. (Prior to 1915, the nation's silver coinage had been minted overseas at the Royal Mint London and the Heaton Mint in Birmingham.)

Towards the end of November 1915, dies for the set of four denominations were sent from London.

Six weeks after the dies were shipped, the Governor of Victoria Sir Arthur Stanley K.C.M.G, struck the first circulating 1916 shilling. It was logical that the Melbourne Mint would begin striking silver coinage with the shilling denomination given its similar physical size to their familiar sovereign.

The florin was struck almost immediately after, sixpences by the middle of 1916 with the threepences finally in December. More than 11.5 million silver coins were released into circulation that year.

The Melbourne Mint's inaugural striking of Australia's Commonwealth coins was a momentous occasion in minting circles. The Deputy Master of the Melbourne Mint therefore decided to create a Presentation Set. (A Presentation Set records an important moment or event in a nation's history by way of its coinage.)

Each presentation set was comprised of the four silver coins of florin, shilling, sixpence and threepence struck to specimen quality and featured the Melbourne mint mark ‘M’ below the date 1916.

The four coins were housed in a handsome, velvet-lined royal blue case that had been locally sourced.

The availability of the four-coin specimen presentation set was confirmed in November 1916 when Le Souëf recorded an entry of sixty specimen sets in the Mint Museums’ cash accounts with a face value of £11 5/-.

While records show that 60 sets were produced, sixteen were sold, collectors charged 6/- for a cased set. A further 25 sets out of the original mintage were presented to dignitaries and politicians with the precise fate of the remaining sets unknown.

What we do know is that many of the cases have been lost and many of the sets have been broken up and sold as individual coins. We also know that others were accidentally used as circulating coins, their value irreparably reduced through wear.

Over the past 50 years we have sighted only seven sets housed in their original case of issue. The case is a stamp of authority indicating that the coins are presented today as they were originally intended more than a century ago.

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78777-1933-Proof-Shilling-Rev-February-2024
78777-1933-Proof-Shilling-Obv-February-2024
Shilling, Coins
COIN
Unique 1933 Proof Shilling, a proof striking of Australia's rarest circulating shilling
PRICE
$75,000
STATUS
SOLD 5/3/2024
QUALITY
FDC with stunning mirror fields, beautiful golden colours around the periphery. Heavy striations on both obverse and reverse reflect careful die preparation.
PROVENANCE
Barrie Winsor Collection, 2003 • Private Collection Sydney.
COMMENTS
The Proof 1930 Penny • The Proof 1923 Halfpenny • The Proof 1933 Shilling. These three proof coins all share a common thread. They are proofs of rare date circulating currency and are extremely rare, very prestigious, highly sought after and highly valued. The 1930 Penny, Australia’s rarest circulating penny. The 1923 Halfpenny, the nation’s rarest circulating halfpenny. And the 1933 Shilling Australia’s rarest circulating shilling, the mintage a trifling 220,000 coins, the limited numbers due to the Depression. This 1933 Proof Shilling was struck as a presentation piece at the Melbourne Mint and is one of the truly great coins of Australian numismatics, a proof striking of Australia’s rarest circulating shilling. Enhancing its greatness, the coin is the only example available to collectors. And that's a powerful combination. The ultimate standing and the ultimate rarity.
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78777-1933-Proof-Shilling-Obv-February-2024
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This 1933 Proof Shilling was not struck for collectors as part of any mass-marketing sales campaign. The coin was struck for the mint's archives and the privileged few. Because it was a specially arranged striking of presentation pieces, only a handful were struck.

Technically, we refer to it as a 'Coin of Record'.

The term, COIN OF RECORD, is to a large extent self-explanatory. It is a coin that has been minted to put on record a date. Or to record a design.

What is not self-explanatory is that Coins of Record were struck to PROOF quality as presentation pieces. And were struck in the most minute numbers satisfying the requirements of the mint rather than the wants of collectors.

Forget the notion of striking ten thousand proofs as collectors are accustomed to today. Let's talk about striking a total of ten coins ... or in the case of this coin a lot less!

For today’s collectors the Coins of Record offer a wonderful link to the past and are extremely rare, two reasons that make them so popular.

There was no commercial angle in the production of Coins of Record. The mints were not out to make money from the exercise. Quite the reverse, striking a proof coin in our pre-decimal era was a very labour intensive (and hence costly) exercise that would have dented the mints annual budget quite considerably. The prime reason why so few coins were struck.

In the striking of a proof coin, the mint’s intention was to create a single masterpiece, coining perfection. Perfection in the dies. Wire brushed so that they are razor sharp. Perfection in the design, highly detailed, expertly crafted. Perfection in the fields, achieved by hand selecting unblemished blanks, polished to create a mirror shine. Perfection in the edges to encase the design … exactly what a ‘picture frame does to a canvass’.

A proof is an artistic interpretation of a coin that was intended for circulation. A proof coin is meant to be impactful, have the ‘wow’ factor and exhibit qualities that are clearly visible to the naked eye. A proof coin was never intended to be used in every-day use, tucked away in a purse. Or popped into a pocket.

So, what happened to these Coins of Record? Where did they go? And if they were struck by the mints for their own use, how did they get into collector's hands?

In the main, Coins of Record ended up in the mint’s own archives, preserving its history for future generations. Any coins that were surplus to requirements may also have been sent to a museum or public institution.

Coins of Record were also put on display at public Exhibitions. The two known examples of the Proof 1866 Sovereign and Proof 1866 Half Sovereign were especially struck to exhibit as ‘products of New South Wales’ as part of the Colonial Mints display at the International Colonial Exhibition of 1866 and the International Exposition in Paris, 1867. They were discovered in London in the early 1970s.

It is noted that many of the overseas mints have over time sold off Coins of Record that they considered excess to their requirements allowing them to come into collector's hands. The Royal Mint South Africa sold off several Australian gold proofs in the 1990s.

It is also noted that influential collectors, and those that moved in the same circles as the Deputy Master, did occasionally receive a proof coin. Most likely in exchange for a coin of the same face value, so that the mint's 'books' would be balanced.

 

 


79860-Header-1803-Holey-Dollar-REV-OBV-MOOD-March-2024
79860-Header-1803-Holey-Dollar-REV-OBV-MOOD-March-2024
COIN
1813 Holey Dollar struck on an 1803 Mexico Mint Charles IIII Spanish Silver Dollar
PRICE
$185,000
STATUS
Sold 20/3/2024
QUALITY
Original coin a high quality Good Very Fine, toned to a soft gun-metal blue grey, the surfaces smooth • Counterstamps a premium quality Extremely Fine and showing original silver lustre, the 'H' for Henshall as well formed as we have seen.
PROVENANCE
Sale by private treaty Barrie Winsor to Downies Coins 1999 • Johnson Family Collection • Private Collection Sydney
COMMENTS
We like the quality of this Holey Dollar. Beautifully toned, the coin has fabulous eye appeal and glossy, lustrous surfaces. And we like the quality of the counter stamps. A top quality Extremely Fine, with original silver lustre, the 'H' for Henshall between the two twigs of leaves as well formed as we have seen. We also like the placement of the counter stamps, that 'New South Wales' and 'Five Shillings' are at the top of the coin, as they were always intended. Last, but by no means least, we like its price point. When it comes to buying a Holey Dollar, the price point of between $100,000 and $200,000 offers extreme value for your investment dollars. The buyer is taking up a coin that, to the naked eye looks relatively untouched and that has all its design details intact. (In comparison to those Holey Dollars priced below $100,000 that show obvious design wear and/or possible defects from usage.) The technical shots shown below confirm our glowing assessment of the coin.
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79860-Header-1803-Holey-Dollar-REV-OBV-MOOD-March-2024
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The fundamentals of this Holey Dollar.

When Mint Master William Henshall created this Holey Dollar, he grabbed a Spanish Silver Dollar that had been struck at the Mexico Mint in 1803. The dollar depicted the legend and portrait of King Charles IV. The coin was one of 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars imported by Lachlan Macquarie to use as the basis of the colony's first currency.

Armed with a punch, Henshall cut a hole in the dollar. He then placed the holed coin into a simple drop hammer system which held two dies.

One die contained the elements ‘New South Wales’ and ‘1813’. The other die contained the denomination of ‘Five Shillings’, a double twig of leaves and an ‘H’ discretely placed at the juncture of the twigs, Henshall determined to leave his mark. The design elements on the two dies are known as the counter-stamps.

Using gravitational force, the design elements of the dies were stamped onto both sides of the holed silver dollar around the inner circular edge of the hole. And it is at this point – and this point only – that the ‘holed’ silver dollar became the 1813 New South Wales Five Shillings. Better known as the 1813 Holey Dollar.


79860-1803-Holey-Dollar-OBV-TECH-March-2024.jpg

Original coin a high quality Good Very Fine, toned to a soft gun-metal blue grey, the surfaces lustrous and smooth.

79860-1803-Holey-Dollar-REV-TECH-March-2024.jpg

The Mexico Mint mark 'M' and a circle above it, shown clearly in the legend. A lovely coin with high quality Extremely Fine counterstamps.


We like the quality and eye appeal of this Holey Dollar. The design of the original silver dollar is highly detailed. So too, the counter stamps.

The original Spanish silver dollar is uniformly toned a glorious, soft gun-metal  blue grey. The surfaces are smooth. Look closely and you see that the coin has original silver lustre.

With a quality level of Good Very Fine, it is a high calibre Holey Dollar and an exception to those most commonly found. (See chart below.) The extensive use of the Spanish Silver Dollar as an international trading coin meant  that most of the coins imported by Macquarie were well worn.

What we also know about this Holey Dollar is that after it was created by William Henshall it underwent minimal circulation for the counter stamps New South Wales, 1813 and Five Shillings are of an exceptional nature: the lettering highlighted by original lustre and beautiful toning. The technical grading of the counter stamps is Extremely Fine.

Consider that after delivering this Holey Dollar to  the Deputy Commissary Generalʼs Office in 1814 along with the 39,909 other Holey Dollars,  it was barely used. And then, after the Holey Dollars were officially demonitised in 1829, this coin survived the recall, and the eventual melting pot. It is simply miraculous.

The Holey Dollar is one of Australia's most desirable coins. Talk to those fortunate enough to own one and they will tell you that the coin is the jewel in their collection. And that statement is made irrespective of the quality level.

A Holey Dollar can resemble a washer if it is well circulated. Or it can reach the heady quality heights  of the Gibbs Uncirculated Holey Dollar. Or it can be at a quality level somewhere in between. No matter the quality, the pleasure of ownership is immeasurable.

Once you move from the well circulated Fine and Good Fine quality levels up to the Very Fine and Good Very Fine echelons, and then further up again to the Extremely Fine levels the differences in quality at each level are noticeable and are clearly visible to the naked eye. It is the detail in the hair, the robes and the overall state of the fields.

The price of this coin reflects its outstanding quality attributes.

Holey-dollar-chart-March-2020
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41110-1935-Proof-Penny-Rev-February-2024
41110-1935-Proof-Penny-Obv-February-2024
COIN
Proof 1935 Penny struck at the Melbourne Mint
PRICE
$25,000
STATUS
SOLD 7/3/2024
QUALITY
A stunning FDC with full copper brilliance and one of the finest we have handled
PROVENANCE
Sold by private treaty to a Shepparton Collector, 2002
COMMENTS
A Trans-Tasman connection was alive and kicking when New Zealander, Henry George Williams, financed the striking of a small number of Proof Pennies in 1935 at the Melbourne Mint. In so doing, Williams unwittingly created an Australian 'numismatic star'. The term 'numismatic star' falls well short in describing this particular Proof 1935 Penny. It is a NUMISMATIC SUPER-STAR for the coin has glass-like surfaces and original copper brilliance on both reverse and obverse. Heavy striations reflect zealous preparation of the dies resulting in a superb strike. This coin was sold to the vendor in 2002. It is Melbourne Mint proof coining at its best and offers quality that is seldom seen. A collector will wait decades to acquire proofs of this calibre.
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41110-1935-Proof-Penny-Obv-February-2024
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The pride and satisfaction associated with owning a special coin is markedly enhanced with knowledge of both the people associated with its production and previous owners through whose hands it has passed.

New Zealand numismatist, Henry George Williams played a key role in persuading the Melbourne Mint to issue proof coins on a commercial basis in 1935.

Williams was captivated by the golden-eye appeal achieved by the Melbourne Mint with their proof coppers and ordered 126 pennies and 126 halfpennies. Williams sold the majority of pairs into the advanced collector markets in the U.K. and the U.S, the very reason why the coins are so scarce in the Australian market.

That Williams did not request the minting of any proof silver coins in 1935 reflected his personal preference and his insight into the market, that demand for the bronze coins far outweighed that for the silver.

Historical letters confirm that the proofs of 1935 were struck from especially hardened blanks, and were struck twice with fresh dies in the presses. The lack of bag marks is consistent with the coins being made effectively by hand.

Natural attrition has taken its toll on the original mintage with many of the coins poorly handled or accidentally filtering their way into circulation.

We would expect to sight a Proof 1935 Penny on the open market, perhaps once every year. A coin of this calibre will involve a wait of several years.


With on-line ordering and toll-free phone numbers, buying your favourite collector coin from the Royal Australian Mint has never been easier. Collectors in the nineteenth and twentieth century however were not afforded the same consideration from the operating mints.

The Sydney Mint opened in 1855 as a branch of the Royal Mint London and closed in 1926. Throughout its entire history, the mint did not strike proofs for collectors on a commercial basis. The Melbourne Mint, Australia’s second coining facility, opened in 1872. During its first forty-four years of operation, the mint did not strike coins for collectors on a commercial basis.

The Melbourne Mint’s first commercial foray for collectors occurred in 1916 when the mint especially created a presentation set to commemorate its inaugural striking of the Commonwealth’s silver coins.

Sadly, for collectors, the 1916 Presentation Set did not set a precedent for further coin issues. Government policy dictated that minting resources be applied to the striking of circulating coins for Treasury, rather than pandering to the whims of collectors through the regular issuing of proofs.

Over the next thirty-eight years, from 1916 to 1953, the Melbourne Mint played ‘cat and mouse’ with collectors by releasing only another seven proof and/or specimen issues. The issues were ad hoc. The mintages inconsistent.

The years in which the collector issues occurred were 1916, 1927, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1953. We refer to these eight issues as ‘The Collector Coins of the Melbourne Mint, 1916 to 1953’.

They were pivotal in changing Australia's coin collecting landscape in the twentieth century, the pre-cursor to the series taken up by the Royal Australian Mint in 1966.

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20091-1888-Proof-Sovereign-Rev-February-2024
20091-1888-Proof-Sovereign-Obv-February-2024
COIN
1888 Proof Sovereign struck at the Melbourne Mint as a Presentation Piece
PRICE
$125,000
STATUS
AVAILABLE NOW.
QUALITY
Superb FDC
PROVENANCE
Spink Auctions November 1981, Lot 995 • Spink Auctions July 1988, Lot 2312 • Philip Spalding Collection • Private Collection Perth
COMMENTS
Experience the power of luck and heritage with this 1888 St George & the Dragon Proof Sovereign. A symbol of prosperity, it holds the promise of a fortunate year ahead. • The coin features St George and the Dragon, particularly auspicious in this, the Year of the Dragon. • And was struck in 1888 at the Melbourne Mint, the date favored by fortune. Extremely rare, as one of two sighted at auction, and from the esteemed Philip Spalding Collection, this luxurious 1888 St George & the Dragon Proof Sovereign is available now. The technical shots provided reaffirm the glorious state of this coin.
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20091-1888-Proof-Sovereign-Obv-February-2024
Learn More

20091-1888-Proof-Sovereign-Rev-TECH-February-2024

The reverse features the very famous design of Saint George and the Dragon created by Italian gem and coin engraver Benedetto Pistrucci. 

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This 1888 Proof Sovereign features the Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria designed by Austrian medallist and sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm.


Gold has been a symbol of status and wealth throughout the ages and is presented here in one of its most prestigious forms.

A limited mintage gold proof coin. One of two sighted at auction.

And while Philip Spalding is remembered for his love of Holey Dollars. It must be said that he was a sophisticated collector on many levels, guided in his selections by Barrie Winsor. And this 1888 Proof Sovereign, featuring the Jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria, was one of his prized possessions.

A reverse of St George & the Dragon and an obverse Jubilee portrait.

Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee, the fiftieth anniversary of her accession, on 20 June 1887.

The Young Head portrait of Queen Victoria that was depicted on Australia’s sovereigns between 1871 and 1887 was replaced with a Jubilee portrait designed by Austrian medallist Joseph Edgar Boehm.

The Jubilee portrait continued uninterrupted on Australia's sovereigns from 1887 up to (and including) 1893 when Australia introduced Queen Victoria’s Veiled Head portrait.

Jubilee Proof Sovereigns are extremely rare.

When sizing up a coin and evaluating its potential for growth, a buyer needs to consider two aspects.

  1. The rarity of the coin itself.
  2. And the rarity of the sector of the market to which it belongs.

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. This coin a case in point!

 

 

So how does this Proof 1888 Sovereign stack up?

As detailed above, this Proof 1888 Sovereign is rare. One of two sighted at auction. And it is noted that Proof Sovereigns out of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee era (1887 to 1893) are amazingly limited in numbers as the text below reveals.

Sydney Mint Jubilee Proofs

  • The Sydney Mint struck proofs in the very first year of the design, 1887. Two examples have been sighted.
  • The Sydney Mint did NOT strike any proofs in the years 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891 and 1892.
  • The Sydney Mint struck proofs in the last year of the design, 1893. Only one example has been sighted.

Melbourne Mint Jubilee Proofs

  • The Melbourne Mint struck proofs in the first year of the design, 1887. The coin has never been sighted.
  • The Melbourne Mint struck proofs in 1888. Two examples have been sighted. This coin. And another example that was last sighted at auction in 1994.
  • The Melbourne Mint struck proofs in 1889. One example has been sighted, the last auction appearance occurring in 1988.
  • The Melbourne Mint is said to have struck proofs in 1890. They have never been sighted.
  • The Melbourne Mint did NOT strike any proofs in the years 1891 and 1892.
  • The Melbourne Mint struck Jubilee proofs in 1893, none of which have ever been sighted.

Aside from their extreme scarcity, proof gold coins are a delight to the eye, appealing to those who seek perfection in coining.

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78164-1813-1789-Holey-Dollar-Lima-Mint-OBV-December-2023
78164-1813-1789-Holey-Dollar-Lima-Mint-REV-December-2023
COIN
Unique 1813 Holey Dollar, created from a Lima Mint Spanish Silver Dollar struck in 1789 during the reign of Charles IV and featuring the portrait and legend of the deceased monarch, Charles III
PRICE
$550,000
STATUS
SOLD 23/2/2024
QUALITY
Original coin: A supreme quality Extremely Fine. Counter-stamps: A supreme quality Extremely Fine. As such, one of the finest.
PROVENANCE
Spink London privately from Andre de Cleremont 1989, Status International 2005, Mr Steven Sparkman • Exhibited at The Macquarie Bank, 2013 • The Royal Australian Mint Exhibition, 2019
COMMENTS
A monarch’s death necessitates a currency change. But when a monarch dies, and a new portrait is unavailable, resourceful Governments introduce ad hoc measures to maintain coin production. It is an environment that can spawn a great coin rarity, a numismatic star. And this Holey Dollar is one such star. The original Spanish Silver Dollar was issued in 1789 during the reign of Charles IV yet features the portrait and legend of his father, Charles III, who died in 1788. Three hundred Holey Dollars survive today and of those, only two have this extraordinary design detail. The first is a well circulated example, the silver dollar issued at the Mexico Mint. And the second is this coin, the silver dollar enjoying minimal circulation, originating at the Lima Mint in Peru. This Holey Dollar is defined by superb quality, the rare Lima Mint and an extraordinary design detail. This is an historic offering of an important Holey Dollar, a coin that is unique and that plays a pivotal role in Australia's Holey Dollar story. A coin that has also been the highlight of two exhibitions, at the Macquarie Bank in 2013 and the Royal Australian Mint Canberra in 2019.
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78164-1813-1789-Holey-Dollar-Lima-Mint-REV-December-2023
Learn More

The Holey Dollar is the nation’s first coinage, introduced by Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

It is the 'coin with the hole', cut from an imported Spanish Silver Dollar into a donut form. And over stamped around the inner edge of the hole with the date 1813 to signify its year of issue.

Forty thousand Spanish Silver Dollars were imported to create forty thousand Holey Dollars, the nation's first circulating currency.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie wasn’t fussy about the dollar's quality. Nor did he care about the date, the reigning monarch or the mint at which the dollars were struck.

Some dates were more represented than others. Some mints were also more represented than others, the Mexico Mint prolific in its silver coin production by comparison to the mints at Lima or Potosi that were modest producers.

Thirty-nine thousand, nine hundred and ten Holey Dollars were delivered to Governor Macquarie. Spoilage and the despatch of samples back to Britain accounting for the missing ninety coins.

Today, approximately one hundred and ninety four Holey Dollars are held in private hands.

Those one hundred and ninety four examples are classified into types based on the reigning monarch at the time AND the legend and portrait of the monarch depicted on the Spanish Silver Dollar. The monarchs cover the spectrum from Ferdinand VI, Charles III, Charles IV, Joseph Bonaparte and Ferdinand VII.

There are seven distinct types of Holey Dollars.

• twenty-four (or twelve per cent) were created from silver dollars that were struck during the reign of Charles III and feature his legend and portrait. We refer you to the purple text in the below chart.

• two (or one per cent) were created from silver dollars that were struck during the reign of Charles IV and that feature the legend and portrait of the deceased King Charles III. (This coin one of the two.) We refer you to the green text in the below chart.

• by comparison, seventy two per cent of the privately owned Holey Dollars were created from silver dollars struck during the reign of Charles IV and that depict his legend and portrait. We refer you to the orange text in the below chart.

The chart below details the seven types of Holey Dollars, and the protocols for their classification based on the legend and portrait of the ruling Spanish monarch. The availability to collectors of each type is also shown.

This Holey Dollar is one of the rarest types, with only two examples available to private collectors. 

types & availability

78164-1813-1789-Holey-Dollar-Lima-Mint-OBV-TECH-December-2023

Remarkable quality and an early date for with a quality grading of Extremely Fine, this is the finest Charles III Holey Dollar available to collectors.

If a Holey Dollar had been struck from a bright and shiny brand-new piece of silver, we would accept that some, maybe many, would survive today relatively unscathed.

The Holey Dollar, however, was struck from a Spanish Silver Dollar, a commodity that was far from shiny and brand-new. The coin was heavily traded worldwide with most well-used and worn.

And this Holey Dollar was created from a silver dollar that was issued in 1789.

The coin is in a miraculous state when you consider that the original silver dollar circulated twenty-four years before it was imported into the colony of New South Wales by Governor Lachlan Macquarie and plucked out of the barrel by his cohort William Henshall and defaced by cutting a hole in it.

More than two decades. Plenty of opportunities for wear. And plenty of opportunities for defects. None of which are evident. There is only a hint of wear to the high points.

Now, we have handled a Holey Dollar that was struck from a Potosi Mint 1807 Spanish Silver Dollar. Graded at Extremely Fine, it's an exciting coin because Holey Dollars at this quality level are extremely scarce, in the top seven per cent of known surviving examples.

But which coin is the more remarkable? An Extremely Fine Holey Dollar struck from an 1807 Spanish Silver Dollar that circulated six years before William Henshall got his hands on it. Or an Extremely Fine Holey Dollar struck from a Spanish Silver Dollar that was minted in 1789 and circulated twenty-four years before Henshall punched the hole into it. The answer is obvious.

78164-1813-1789-Holey-Dollar-Lima-Mint-REV-TECH-December-2023

The earlier the date of the Spanish Silver Dollar, the greater the period of circulation before it came into Henshall’s hands.

So, the earlier the date, the more remarkable the occurrence of finding a top-quality Holey Dollar.

The conundrum of this Holey Dollar is how the 1789 Spanish Silver Dollar escaped being used. How did it retain a pristine condition during the thirty-six years before it arrived in the colony and was grabbed out of a barrel by William Henshall?

In the eighteenth-century Spain ruled the world and the Spanish Silver Dollar dominated trade. It was an international currency and medium of exchange the world over. The reason why most Holey Dollars are found today well worn.

Holey-dollar-chart-March-2020

How a Spanish Silver Dollar became the 1813 Holey Dollar.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie etched his name into numismatic history forever when in 1812 he imported 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars to alleviate a currency crisis in the infant colony of New South Wales.

Macquarie’s order for Silver Dollars did not specify dates. Any date would do. He wasn’t concerned about the various mints at which they were struck. Nor was he fussy about the quality of the coins. The extensive use of the Spanish Silver Dollar as an international trading coin meant that most were well worn.

Concluding that the shipment of 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars would not suffice, Macquarie decided to cut a hole in the centre of each dollar, thereby creating two coins out of one, a ring dollar and a disc. It was an extension of a practice of ‘cutting’ coins into segments, widespread at the time.

Macquarie needed a man skilled in coin techniques to carry out his project. William Henshall acquired his skills as an engraver in Birmingham, where the major portion of his apprenticeship consisted of mastering the art of die sinking and die stamping for the shoe buckle and engraved button trades. He was apprehended in 1805 for forgery (forging Bank of England Dollars) and sentenced to the penal colony of New South Wales for seven years.

Enlisted by Lachlan Macquarie as the colony’s first mint master, Henshall commenced the coining process by cutting out a disc from each silver dollar using a hand-lever punch.

He then proceeded to re-stamp both sides of the holed dollar around the inner circular edge with the value of five shillings, the date 1813 and the issuing authority of New South Wales. 

Other design elements in this re-stamping process included a fleur de lis, a twig of two leaves and a tiny ‘H’ for Henshall.

The holed coins were officially known as ring, pierced or colonial dollars and although ‘holey’ was undoubtedly applied to them from the outset, the actual term ‘holey’ dollar did not appear in print until the 1820s. We refer to the coins today as the 1813 New South Wales Five Shillings (or Holey Dollar).

The silver disc that fell out of the hole wasn’t wasted. Henshall restamped the disc with a crown, the issuing authority of New South Wales and the lesser value of 15 pence and it became known as the Dump. The term ‘dump’ was applied officially right from the beginning; a name that continues to this day.

In creating two coins out of one, Macquarie effectively doubled the money supply. And increased their total worth by 25 per cent.

Anyone counterfeiting ring dollars or dumps were liable to a seven-year prison term; the same penalty applied for melting down the coins. Jewellers were said to be particularly suspect. To prevent export, masters of ships were required to enter into a bond of £200 not to carry the coin away.

Of the 40,000 silver dollars imported by Macquarie, records indicate that 39,910 of each coin were delivered to the Deputy Commissary General’s Office by January 1814 with several despatched back to Britain as specimens, the balance assumed spoiled during production.

The New South Wales colonial administration began recalling Holey Dollars and Dumps and replacing them with sterling coinage from 1822.

The Holey Dollar and Dump remained as currency within the colony until 1829. The colony had by then reverted to a standard based on sterling and a general order was issued by Governor Darling to withdraw and demonetise the dollars and dumps.

The recalled specie was eventually shipped off to the Royal Mint London, melted down and sold off to the Bank of England for £5044.

It is estimated that approximately 300 Holey Dollars exist today of which a third are held in public institutions with the balance owned by private collectors. 


72803-Dominica-Holey-Dollar-and-Dump-OBV-February-2024
72803-Dominica-Holey-Dollar-and-Dump-REV-February-2024
COIN
Extremely rare Holey Dollar, struck in the British Colony of Dominica
PRICE
$60,000
STATUS
Available now
QUALITY
Fine with lovely glossy surfaces
PROVENANCE
Howard. D. Gibbs Collection
COMMENTS
Had the craftsman that tooled out this Holey Dollar been a history buff he would have registered that the Spanish Silver Dollar that he was about to cut through, was quirky. And a great numismatic rarity. The Silver Dollar was struck in 1790, the legend confirming that Charles IV was the reigning Spanish monarch. But there is a twist to this coin! The portrait depicted the deceased monarch, Charles III, who had died two years earlier in 1788. And it is the twist that makes this Holey Dollar a coin of significance and a great numismatic rarity. We note the first formal record of ownership of this Holey Dollar is Howard D Gibbs. A great collector with a keen eye for rarity, he was a former owner of the world famous Madrid Holey Dollar and the only known example of an Uncirculated Holey Dollar. This Holey Dollar from the British colony of Dominica is supremely rare.
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72803-Dominica-Holey-Dollar-and-Dump-REV-February-2024
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This Holey Dollar was struck in 1813 on a 1790 Mexico Mint Spanish Silver Dollar, pierced from the reverse side with crenellations.

The pierced dollar was then counter stamped on the King’s head and on the reverse with a crowned 16 within a shaped indent. The monetary value was 16 bitts.

The original Spanish Dollar from which it was created features the legend of the reigning monarch Charles IV.

But the twist to this coin is that it features the portrait of the deceased monarch Charles III.

We refer to it as a 'Transitional' Holey Dollar and they are supremely rare.

Transitional Holey Dollars chronicle the limitations of communications in this era. And the challenges of the colonial mints wishing to maintain silver coin production. 

Eager to maintain production of silver coins to flow into Spanish coffers, a Royal decree granted the colonial mints the right to continue striking coins with the portrait of the deceased King Charles III.

The legend was however amended to acknowledge the new monarch Charles IV, thereby observing the currency protocols for the passing of a monarch..

By 1791, the mints had received the portrait of the new king; the official portrait of Charles IV appearing on the Spanish Silver Dollars for the first time in that year.


Dominica is a Caribbean Island. First sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493, later colonized by the French in the 17th century and a British colony one century later.

Between 1642 and 1650, French missionary Raymond Breton became the first regular European visitor to the island.

In 1660, the French and English agreed that Dominica and St. Vincent should not be settled, but left to the Caribs as neutral territory.

But its natural resources attracted expeditions of English and French foresters, who began harvesting timber. 

In 1690, the French established their first permanent settlements. French woodcutters from Martinique and Guadeloupe began to set up timber camps to supply the French islands with wood and gradually become permanent settlers. 

In 1727, the first French commander, M. Le Grand, took charge of the island with a basic French government; Dominique formally became a colony of France, and the island was divided into districts or "quarters".

Already installed in Martinique and Guadeloupe and cultivating sugarcane, the French gradually developed plantations in Dominica for coffee. They imported so many African slaves to fill the labour demands that the population became predominantly African in ethnicity.

In 1761, during the Seven Years' War in Europe, a British expedition against Dominica led by Andrew Rollo conquered the island along with several other Caribbean islands. In 1763, France ceded the island to Great Britain under the Treaty of Paris.

The same year, the British established a legislative assembly, representing only European colonists. French remained the official language, but Antillean Creole was spoken by most of the population. In 1778 the French, with the active co-operation of the population, began the Invasion of Dominica, which was ended by the 1783 Treaty of Paris. French invasions in 1795 and 1805 ended in failure.


50962-Proof-1887-Half-Sovereign-Obv-June-2022
50962-Proof-1887-Half-Sovereign-Rev-June-2022
COIN
1887 Proof Half Sovereign struck at the Melbourne Mint and the only known example
PRICE
$95,000
STATUS
SOLD 9/2/2024
QUALITY
Superb FDC, brilliant and flawless
PROVENANCE
John G. Murdoch Collection Lot 625, sold by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge Auctioneers, 21 July 1903 • Spink Australia Auction November 1978 Lot 667 • Spink Australia Auction November 1981 Lot 1003 • Barrie Winsor sale by private treaty from the late Philip Spalding Collection.
COMMENTS
This 1887 Proof Half Sovereign is the only known example of what is, a very important year in Australia's coining heritage. It is a 'Coin of Record' and was struck at the Melbourne Mint as a presentation piece to record a new design featuring Queen Victoria's Jubilee portrait. The coin's first public appearance was in 1903 when it sold at Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, London as part of the famous John G. Murdoch Collection. Over the last century, no other examples have been sighted. The coin's extreme rarity is typical of this sector of the market and the very reason why they are so popular with collectors. And investors. Their scarcity simply gives people the reason - and the confidence - to buy.
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50962-Proof-1887-Half-Sovereign-Rev-June-2022
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There is a 'wish-list' of key indicators that collectors look for in numismatic investment, they being rarity, an important date, widespread appeal and supreme proof quality. And this 1887 Proof Half Sovereign has the lot!

An important date.

It is an acknowledged fact that collectors pursue the first year of a series over and above all other years out of an era. The first year is defining. The second is not.

And the year '1887' is the very first year of a new design. The 'Jubilee' portrait of Queen Victoria was introduced in 1887 to mark the monarch's Golden jubilee (1837 - 1887). The design lasted only six years and was replaced with the Veiled Head design, reflecting the monarch's mature years.

The coin is extremely rare.

This coin was first sighted in 1903 in the liquidation of the famous John G Murdoch Collection, Lot 625. No other example has ever been sighted.

Not only is the coin extremely rare, but this area of the market presents very few options for buyers.

While sovereigns were produced at the Melbourne Mint each year and in mammoth numbers, half sovereign production was sporadic, the Mint producing half sovereigns for circulation in only two years, 1887 and 1893. And the mintages were minuscule.

The buyer seeking a proof striking of the Melbourne Mint’s circulating Jubilee Half Sovereigns therefore has only two date options, 1887 or 1893.

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 an 1855 Proof Sovereign and 1856 Proof Sovereign sold for record auction prices. And again at Sincona in 2023.

Supreme proof quality.

In 1978 and again in 1981, Spink Auctions described this coin as brilliant and flawless. And so have we. This 1887 Proof Half Sovereign is a masterpiece of coining skills.

 


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 1887 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?

• Proof gold coins were NOT struck every year.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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 and collector Tom Hadley, of Quartermaster fame, held their proof coins for an even longer time-frame.

This Proof 1887 Half Sovereign is a golden opportunity and for just one buyer. No other proof half sovereigns of this date have appeared over the last century.

 


65602-1887-Young-Head-Sovereign-MM-OBV-December-2023
65602-1887-Young-Head-Sovereign-MM-REV-December-2023
COIN
1887 Young Head Shield Sovereign Melbourne Mint, the last year of the Queen Victoria Young Head Sovereign Series and a world class rarity.
PRICE
$37,500
STATUS
SOLD 17/3/2024
QUALITY
Brilliant Uncirculated with proof-like mirror fields and the tell-tale kiss-curl in front of the ear.
PROVENANCE
Robert Jaggard 1989 • Paul Terry • Sale by private treaty 1992 Monetarium to Tom Hadley, Quartermaster Collection (Lot 73)
COMMENTS
A coin that has a pedigree that includes Australia’s greatest gold coin collectors Bob Jaggard, Paul Terry and Tom Hadley will never disappoint. This 1887 Sovereign, a case in point. It is a rare date sovereign and it is the finest known. In Australia’s history, the year 1887 is unique in that it presented the Deputy Master of the Melbourne Mint with two distinctly different reverse designs, St George and the Dragon or Shield. And as Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee mid-1887, there were options of two distinctly different obverse designs, the Young Head or Jubilee portrait. With so many options, and no requirement to strike equal numbers of each, it was inevitable that a super-rarity would emerge. And it has in the form of this coin, the 1887 Shield Sovereign featuring the Young Head portrait of Queen Victoria. Extremely rare across all quality levels and this example the very finest at Brilliant Uncirculated. The technical shots, shown below, confirm its glorious state.
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65602-1887-Young-Head-Sovereign-MM-REV-December-2023
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65602-49059-1887-Shield-Sovereign-OBV-TECH-February-2024

This 1887 Sovereign features the Young Head portrait of Queen Victoria. Presented in Brilliant Uncirculated with proof-like mirror surfaces. Under the glass, we observe the kiss-curl in front of the ear.

65602-49059-1887-Shield-Sovereign-REV-TECH-February-2024

The mintmark 'M' rests at the base of the shield indicating that the sovereign was struck at the Melbourne Mint. Superb edges and proof-like mirror fields.

There are some key indicators that collectors look out for when making a numismatic purchase. And all of this is weighed up against the price.

The date is critical. The more important the date, the better. How rare is the coin for the rarer the better. And finally, what about its quality?

This Brilliant Uncirculated 1887 Sovereign has the lot!

An important date.

The Queen Victoria Young Head portrait appeared on Australia's sovereigns between 1871 and 1887. Likewise the Shield design, 1871 to 1887.

The importance of this coin is clear. It marks the end of the era that produced Australia's Young Head Shield Sovereigns.

It is an acknowledged fact that collectors prefer the first and last year of a series over and above all others. The first year and the last year are defining. Those in between are not.

How rare is the coin?

Throughout Australia’s history, upheavals and extraordinary events have impacted on mintages and created numismatic super-stars. Think 1930 Penny. Think 1920 Florin. And think 1887 Shield Sovereign.

The Melbourne Mint was awash with options in the striking of its sovereigns in 1887 with two reverse designs available to them, that of St George and the Dragon and the Shield. And two obverse designs depicting Queen Victoria, the Young Head portrait and the Jubilee portrait, introduced in mid-1887.

It was inevitable that amidst the chaos a numismatic super-star would emerge.

And it has in the form of this coin, the 1887 Sovereign featuring the Young Head portrait of Queen Victoria and the Shield reverse. it is one of the key dates of the series and a world class rarity.

History confirms the extreme rarity of the Melbourne Mint's 1887 Young Head Shield Sovereign (1887M).

Noble Numismatics is Australia’s largest Auction House holding three auctions annually each comprised of about 3000 lots.

Their auctions provide a plethora of invaluable information on prices realised and importantly, the frequency of sightings ... how often a coin can realistically be expected to appear on the market.

We note that:

• Only three Uncirculated 1887M Young Head Shield Sovereigns have been offered at Nobles over the last ten years!

• The most recent sale was in 2019 for $21,500. The pre-auction estimate was $12,500. And the coin on offer here is the finest and is far superior.

• Confirming the rarity of the 1887M across all quality levels, on average just one 1887 Melbourne Mint Young Head Shield Sovereign is offered at Nobles annually.


71423-Proof-1956-Penny-Rev-July-2023
71423-Proof-1956-Penny-Obv-July-2023
COIN
Proof 1956 Penny struck at the Perth Mint and featuring the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
PRICE
$22,000
STATUS
Available now
QUALITY
Full blazing copper, a superb Gem FDC
PROVENANCE
The Collection of Kevin Tierney
COMMENTS
This Proof 1956 Penny is intensely beautiful. The strike is highly detailed, the coin brilliantly preserved showing full copper brilliance. A Perth Mint copper proof out of this era, and in such a heady quality, could only have come from one source. Melbourne Collector Kevin Tierney. Kevin is an expert on Australian proof coinage, a passionate and very knowledgeable collector. He acquired his proofs in America, in the 1980s, while he was residing overseas. Australian coins bought in the US? Now, while that may come as a surprise to many readers, it is a further endorsement on the quality of these coins. The Perth Mint had developed a large export market for its early commercial proofs, US collectors its prime target. And it is acknowledged that the quality of those coins sold into the US were far superior to those sold locally.
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71423-Proof-1956-Penny-Obv-July-2023
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There are some key indicators that collectors look out for when making a numismatic purchase. And all of this is weighed up against the price.

How rare is the coin for the rarer the better. The date is critical. The more important the date, the better. And consideration will now be given to the effigy. George V? George VI or Elizabeth II? How popular is this area of the market. In a supply and demand market, popularity is important. And finally, what about its quality?

This pair of Proof 1956 Penny has the lot!

An important date. The second lowest mintage of the series.

For collectors, the year 1955 is a key date. And a rare date. It was the first year the Perth Mint kicked off a program to strike proofs in 'commercial quantities' and sell to collectors. Similar to what the Royal Australian Mint does today with its annual proof coining program. The mintage of the first year, 1955, was 301.

The second year of the series, 1956,  also comes in for an inordinate level of attention for it too is a rare date. The Perth Mint struck only 417 coins!

After two years the series really took off and mintages increased to around the 1000 level making the 1955 and 1956 coins the pick of the lot.

The coins were sold for a premium of two shillings above face value, the face value paid to Treasury and the premium went to the mint. Government placed only one restriction on the Perth Mint. They could only produce proof examples of those coins they were minting for circulation. For the Perth Mint that meant striking proof coppers only.

The series continued for another eight years, ceasing in 1963 just prior to decimal changeover.

An important effigy. The events of the past week, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, has highlighted the role of coinage in charting the course of history.

This Proof 1955 Penny and Proof 1955 Halfpenny were struck with the effigy of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Extremely rare. That the Perth Mint was permitted to strike 'commercial quantities' of proof coins may have some readers thinking 50,000? 10,000? Perhaps 5000?

The mintage of the Proof 1956 Penny was 417 coins only.

Natural attrition has taken it toll on the original mintage for the coins were not encased in fancy packaging but housed only in small cellophane holders and despatched to collectors in an envelope. Many of the coins have filtered their way into circulation. Others severely damaged through mishandling making an already small mintage even smaller.

Supreme proof quality. There is a perception amongst collectors new to the market that all proofs are created equal. And therefore should be valued the same. The notion is that because a coin is struck to proof quality it has to be good. Those perceptions are incorrect.

Evidence suggests that those proofs that made their way to the US market in the 1950s and 1960s were superior in quality to those released to the local market.

Correct handling and storage is also a critical issue to preserving the value of proof coins. And these coins have been brilliantly preserved.

In an article published in the Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia 2005, renowned numismatist Paul Holland contends that the Perth Mint proofs were created for unaided vision, the point here that a collector would not need an eye-glass to take in their beauty. Looking at this Proof 1956 Penny, you can only but agree!

He contends that the Perth Mint modeled their bronze proofs on the Royal Mint London’s 1951-PL proofs, for they, as a general rule, are stunning. Visually impactful. He also comments that the Perth Mint went the extra yards with their production and ground the rims by hand to ensure they were high and squared-off.

A popular series. The series of Perth Mint Proof Coins struck between 1955 and 1963 is an important series in our numismatic history: a catalyst for the introduction of the proof coining program introduced by the Royal Australian Mint, Canberra in 1966.

It also is an affordable one, making it one of the most popular collecting series in the Australian coin market.

That the Perth Mint is today a leading coin producer makes their pre-decimal proofs historical. But also vibrantly current. So the ‘Perth Mint’ message always remains strong, underpinning future interest.

And the fact that these coins bears the effigy of the late Queen, Elizabeth II, will be a huge boost to their popularity.

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72701-1861-Sydney-Mint-Sovereign-Obv-August-2023
72701-1861-Sydney-Mint-Sovereign-Rev-August-2023
COIN
1861 Sydney Mint Sovereign
PRICE
$19,500
STATUS
Available now
QUALITY
Choice Uncirculated
PROVENANCE
Private Collection Melbourne
COMMENTS
They say, ‘first impressions are lasting’ and this is certainly the case with this 1861 Sydney Mint Sovereign. Visually impactful with superb intact edges and reflective proof-like surfaces. And under the eye-glass the coin continues to shine for it has been well struck, the design highly detailed. Given that this coin was minted more than one and a half centuries ago in the factory-like conditions of the nation’s first mint makes it more remarkable. And, it has been brilliantly preserved. The coin was presented to us painstakingly wrapped up into a minute parcel in tissue paper and had been hidden away for decades. There is still original lustre! This is a rare date Sydney Mint Type II sovereign offered in the ultimate quality of Choice Uncirculated. It is a stand-alone investment piece. It also is the perfect option for the collector seeking to complete a portrait set of Australia’s sovereigns 1855 to 1931. For more information on this coin, including technical shots … READ MORE.
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72701-1861-Sydney-Mint-Sovereign-Rev-August-2023
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10289-72701-1861-Sydney-Mint-Sovereign-rev-TECH-August-2023
10289-72701-1861-Sydney-Mint-Sovereign-obv-TECH-August-2023

Australia’s gold coinage history began in 1855 with the introduction of the Sydney Mint design. It was a style that rejected the protocols of London, imparting a uniquely Australian flavour into the nation’s first official gold coinage.

For the first, and only time, the word AUSTRALIA appeared on the reverse of our sovereigns.

A young portrait of Queen Victoria appeared on the obverse with a braid in her hair. This design, known as the Type I design, appeared in only the years 1855 and 1856.

The Australian flavour of the nation’s gold coinage was strengthened in 1857 when the design was altered to incorporate a sprig of Australia’s native flower, the banksia, in the Queen’s hair. This is referred to as the Type II portrait design and it ran from 1857 until 1870 inclusive.

This 1861 Sydney Mint Sovereign features the Type II portrait design.

If we consider for a moment the Type II design (1857 – 1870) we see that year 1865 is a defining point. Those coins struck between 1857 and 1865 inclusive are extremely rare in choice quality. Those struck in 1866 and after, up until 1870, are relatively readily available, even in choice quality

Our experiences affirm this statement.

We can count on the fingers of two hands the number of Sydney Mint Sovereigns that we have sold that were struck between 1857 and 1865 and that were in Choice Uncirculated, a reflection of their extremely limited availability at this quality level. 

So what is a portrait set? And why would this coin make a good choice for a Portrait Set?

Answer. The quality.

A complete sovereign collection is comprised of nearly 200 coins and that’s overwhelming for even the most financial of collectors. And potentially frustrating given the time that it would take to complete. That’s why so many collectors take the short cut of completing a portrait set. The sense of completeness is definitely there. And the financial burden is substantially reduced.

The Australian Sovereign series ran from 1855 to 1931 and during this time eight different portraits were used, five of Queen Victoria, one of Edward VII and two of George V.

So a complete portrait set of Australian sovereigns involves only eight coins.

1. Queen Victoria Sydney Mint Type 1 (1855 – 1856)

2. Queen Victoria Sydney Mint Type 2 (1857 – 1870)

3. Queen Victoria Young Head (1871 – 1887)

4. Queen Victoria Jubilee (1887 – 1893)

5. Queen Victoria Veiled Head (1893 – 1901)

6. King Edward VII (1902 – 1910)

7. King George V Large Head (1911 – 1928)

8. King George V Small Head (1929 – 1931)

The acquisition of this 1861 Sovereign takes care of the Type II portrait design, crossing one element off the above list, in the superb quality level of Choice Uncirculated.


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