This 1887 Sovereign features the Young Head portrait of Queen Victoria. Presented in Uncirculated quality with proof-like surfaces. Under the glass, there is a hint of the kiss-curl in front of the ear.
The first thing to note about this coin is the superb edges. Then take in the intricate design set against a background of proof-like fields.
The 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign featuring a filleted bust of Queen Victoria designed by James Wyon. The coin is the nation's first sovereign and the first coin of the realm minted at an overseas branch of the Royal Mint London. The portrait only ran for two years, 1855 and 1856.
The 1855 Sydney Mint Sovereign reverse designed by L. C. Wyon was based loosely around contemporary reverse designs of the British Sixpence and Shilling. Its strong point of difference to the British coins, the inclusion of the words 'AUSTRALIA' AND 'SYDNEY MINT'. The design lasted until 1870.
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.
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.
A premium quality 1813 Holey Dollar, the former property of renowned collectors, Jewell, Ahbe and Osborne.
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. As the photos reveal, the strike detail and the finish of the coins is unsurpassed by any other proofs out of the George V era.
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.
Brilliant Proof 1935 Penny and equally brilliant and matching, Proof 1935 Halfpenny.
Natural attrition has taken its toll on the original mintage with many of the pairs broken up and individual coins sold-off.
We would expect to sight a Proof 1935 Penny (or 1935 Halfpenny) on the open market, perhaps once every year.
Coins of this calibre can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a keen collector.
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.
Uncirculated 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I, one of three known at this supreme quality level.
Uncirculated 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I, one of three known at this supreme quality level.
1924 Proof Florin reverse
1924 Proof Florin obverse
1924 Proof Shilling reverse
1924 Proof Shilling obverse
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.
This is an extremely rare, high quality 1813 Dump.
1. Superior quality, in the top eight per cent
The 1813 Dump circulated widely in the colony, the extreme wear on most Dumps evidence of its extensive use. The average quality Dump is graded at Fine to Good Fine, with this coin five to six grades higher at About Extremely Fine.
We rate it in the top eight per cent of surviving examples. The coin has obviously been cherished for it has been brilliantly preserved with beautiful pale charcoal toning and highly reflective fields.
2. A coin to enjoy and show around
Struck with the A/1 dies, the crown is classically well-centred. The design details are chunky, strongly three-dimensional ... and by this we are referring to the crown with its fleur-de-lis and pearls, the legend New South Wales, the date 1813 and on the reverse, the value Fifteen Pence.
3. Henshall's claim to fame - the elusive 'H'
William Henshall declared his involvement in the creation of the Dump by inserting an 'H' into some (but not all) of the dies used during its striking. Its presence is highly prized whenever it is appears.
This Dump clearly shows the ‘H’ for Henshall between the 'FIFTEEN' and the 'PENCE' on the reverse.
4. Oblique milling
Notice the oblique milling around the edge. It is fully evident. (The edge milling was used as deterrent against clipping whereby the unscrupulous shaved off slivers of silver, reducing the silver content of the Dump. And making a small profit on the side.)
5. The 'dot' above the '3'
This Dump shows a 'dot' above the '3' in the date '1813'. This is almost certainly due to a pit in the die and only occurs in those coins struck with the type A/1 dies. And even then it is identified in very few type A/1 examples.
6. Evidence of the original Spanish Dollar design, an aspect that really counts
While the Holey Dollar clearly shows that it is one coin struck from another, in a less obvious way so too can the Dump. The design detail of the original Spanish Dollar from which this Dump was created is evident on the reverse. We refer to it as the under-type and it is not always present. Its existence re-affirms the origins of the Dump and is highly prized.
The under-type is particularly strong on this 1813 Dump and surrounds the words 'FIFTEEN PENCE'.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie enlisted the services of emancipated convict, William Henshall, to cut a hole in 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars, creating two coins out of one.
The Dump, the small disc that fell out of the centre of the holed silver dollar, was then over stamped with the date 1813, a crown, New South Wales and the value of fifteen pence.
The buyer that pursues a top-quality Dump will find the task extremely challenging. It can be years before a premium quality example comes onto the market.
The Dump circulated widely in the colony, the extreme wear on most Dumps evidence that they saw considerable use. So, while the Dump may seem the diminutive partner of the Holey Dollar, the reality is "top quality" Dumps have authority.
So let's define the words "top quality" and establish the levels that are rarely seen.
Every circulated 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. For the 1813 Colonial Dump that point is Good Very Fine. (This coin.)
The chart below clearly shows that securing a Colonial Dump in a quality level of Good Very Fine or better is a difficult task. We would sight an About Extremely Fine on the open market perhaps once or twice every year.
The proofs of George V are one of the rarest of Australia's proof gold sector.
While circulating sovereign production was prolific during the George V period (1911 to 1931), it is on record that the mints were absolutely miserly in the production of proof coinage.
Proof coins were struck in only six of those twenty-one years, 1911, 1914, 1920, 1929, 1930 and 1931. The known examples of each year is either one or two with that dated 1914 never having been sighted. Do the math. Collectors looking for a George V proof sovereign have a total buying pool of about ten coins. We might see one example every five years.
• 1911 - known by one example struck at the Melbourne Mint, last appearing at auction in 1985. Sydney and Perth did not strike proofs in 1911.
• 1914 - said to have been struck at the Sydney Mint but has never been sighted. Melbourne and Perth did not strike proofs in 1914.
• 1920 - known by one example struck at the Sydney Mint, valued today in excess of one million dollars. Melbourne and Perth did not strike proofs in 1920.
• 1929 - known by two examples struck at the Melbourne Mint. One example last seen on the market in 1998, another coin known to exist. The Perth Mint did not strike proofs in 1929. Sydney Mint was closed.
• 1930 - known by two examples struck at the Melbourne Mint, this coin. And another slightly impaired example that appeared at auction in 1988. The Perth Mint did not strike proofs in 1930.
• 1931 - the Melbourne Mint and the Perth Mint produced proof coins in 1931. Two of each are known.
Exquisite 1930 Proof Sovereign, the reverse designed by Benedetto Pistrucci.
Exquisite 1930 Proof Sovereign featuring the portrait of King George V.
The 1930 Proof Sovereign, a key-date and stunningly beautiful.
The obverse portrait also designed by Sir E B MacKennall.
There is a 'wish-list' of key indicators that collectors look for in a top coin • Rarity • An important date • Widespread appeal • Supreme quality. And this 1930 Proof Sovereign has the lot!
An important date. It is an acknowledged fact that collectors pursue key dates, those years that stand out from the rest. And the year '1930' is important .
The rare coin market operates under the principles of supply and demand - limited supply overwhelmed by strong demand. So, maintaining (and strengthening) continuity of demand underpins the market and its price potential.
An important date is a natural draw card that drives demand. It is clear that the main force that drives demand for the 1930 Penny is the date.
Extreme rarity. Known by two examples struck at the Melbourne Mint, this piece and another slightly impaired example that appeared at auction in 1988. The Sydney Mint had closed. The Perth Mint did not strike proofs in 1930.
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 2021 in Zurich, Heritage Auctions in the US in 2022 and again at Sincona in 2023.
Supreme quality. This coin is exquisite as the photographs attest.
For the buyer contemplating a Square Penny purchase, three considerations should be foremost.
The first is the quality. The Square Pennies were test pieces and were not struck under the heady controls of a proof striking. It is also noted that as the coins were passed to the public for opinions and comments, many have been mishandled.
Our comments are as follows.
As described above, this coin is superb for quality. In fact, we checked back through our records and can confirm that we have only ever sold five Choice Uncirculated Type 11s in more than 40-plus years of trading and this coin is one of the five.
The second consideration is the design type. The style of the kookaburra and the style of lettering is critical to assessing the rarity of the coin for while all Square Pennies are rare, some designs are far rarer than others.
Our comments are as follows.
The Melbourne Mint tested two different kookaburra designs in 1921, one featuring a sleek kookaburra sitting on a twig, known as the Type 11. The other a plump bird resting on a branch, known as the Type 12.
The Type 11 Square Pennies are extremely scarce. You would be lucky to sight one coin at auction annually. So if there is a choice between the two, the Type 11 wins hands down every time.
The third consideration is the price. Given its quality assignation of Choice Uncirculated and its rarity, the 1921 Type 11 Square Penny is priced to market at $35,000.
Our comments are as follows.
The Type 11 Kookaburra Penny is being offered at the same price as a circulated 1930 Penny and is far, far scarcer.
In our view, this 1921 Square Penny is the perfect starting point for the buyer keen to acquire a Kookaburra Penny. Optimum quality, extreme rarity but at a price that is attractive.
That currency reflects the mood of a nation – and the agenda of a Government - is never more evident than with the Square Penny and Halfpenny series and its mooted introduction in 1919.
The proposed change was pure politics. With some saying it was the rumblings of a republican movement way ahead of its time, the Labor Government wanting to break away from the traditional British designs of Australia’s then copper penny and halfpenny.
A wave of nationalism was sweeping the country post World War I and the Government saw advantage in tapping into the mood of the nation and introducing a uniquely Australian style into our currency by depicting a laughing kookaburra on our coinage.
Tests commenced at the Melbourne Mint in 1919 and continued until 1921 with the test pieces ultimately passed to dignitaries and Government officials to assess their reaction.
The extreme scarcity of choice quality Square Pennies is connected to the fact that the coins were test pieces and were not struck to the exacting standards of proof coining.
Given to dignitaries to assess their reaction, there was no packaging and we know that not every dignitary was a collector and would have handled them with care. Some of the coins must have been tucked into a fob pocket for they have circulated. Others could have rattled around a top desk drawer. Or passed around to colleagues … introducing multi possibilities of mishandling.
Public reaction to the introduction of the square coinage was poor. There was widespread public resistance to change, while the elderly rejected the small size of the coins. However, the final decision not to proceed seems to have been based mainly on another consideration – the large number of vending machines then in operation requiring a circular coin.
The kookaburra coins never went into production and Australia lost a great opportunity to go its own way.
But with only the 200 prototypes to show as evidence of the Government’s grand scheme, Australian coinage gained another wonderful coin rarity.
This 1870 Sydney Mint Proof Sovereign is the only known example of an important date, '1870' the final year that Australia issued sovereigns with the Sydney Mint design.
There are no recorded examples in public institutions, museums and Government archives, both in Australia and overseas. And this includes the Museum of Victoria, the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra, the British Museum and the Royal Mint London, all of which have extensive holdings of Australia’s heritage coins.
The Royal Mint still has the proof dies. And a pair of strikings in tin of the obverse and reverse bearing the legend MODEL/E. They are held at the Royal Mint, Wales
During a posting in London in the 1970s Barrie Winsor established a provenance that dated back to 1873. He also recalls being offered the coin in 1976 by Judith Spiers of Spink for £4000. (Sadly he recalls, he had to decline the offer.)
Our photos have done justice to the coin. It is magnificent.
When the editor of the industry magazine, the Australian Coin Review saw the photos he indicated that the coin would go on the front cover of their forthcoming November issue.
This gesture has not come at our request. It was simply an acknowledgement by our industry peers that this 1870 Sydney Mint Proof Sovereign represents the very best the Australian rare coin market can offer.
The classic Sydney Mint reverse designed by Chief Engraver of the Royal Mint London, L C Wyon. 'SYDNEY MINT' at top as a curved legend, 'AUSTRALIA' at centre beneath a crown surrounded by a bowed wreath, 'ONE SOVEREIGN' at bottom as a curved legend with plain edge.
The obverse portrait also designed by L C Wyon featuring Queen Victoria wearing a wreath of banksia leaves, the queen’s braided hair drawn around and beneath her ear, extending to entwine with the bun at the back of her head.
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.
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 receiving gold on 14 May 1855 and issuing 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.
Also in 1856, the colonial sovereigns became legal tender in Tasmania and Western Australia. 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.
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.
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.
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 Dump had a value of 2 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.
Strong date, defined upper and lower scrolls, crisp and uniform inner beading and handsome chestnut toning. A 1930 Penny that you will be proud to show your family and friends.
One side of the central diamond and six pearls is just the start. Minimal wear to the eyebrow and moustache. Highly reflective fields and handsome chestnut toning.
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 definition in the upper and lower scrolls. The fields are highly reflective with even, handsome chestnut brown toning. And minimal marks in the fields.
The inner beading is crisp and intact, the legend 'COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA' and date '1930' are powerful.
Moving the obverse through the light you 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 and the handsome chestnut brown toning.
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 one side of the central diamond and six pearls.
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.
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 in times such as we have experienced in 2020 and even now in 2021 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 seven years away, the push to acquire Australia’s favourite Penny is really on.
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.
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.
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.
Four reasons why the Proof 1927 Canberra Florin is so popular.
1. Genuine rarity
While Melbourne Mint records show a mintage of 400, it is generally accepted that the issue did not sell-out and a significant number of proofs were re-melted after failing to find a home. According to respected author Greg McDonald, the actual figure could be as low as 150. The proofs were gifted to politicians and sold to the general public (without a case), thereby introducing the possibility of mishandling. So for the buyer that makes quality a priority, the waiting time for a really nice Proof 1927 Canberra Florin can be a minimum of two years. Perhaps even longer.
2. Historically important
The Proof Canberra is Australia's first commemorative coin, minted for one of the most significant events in Australia’s journey to nationhood. The opening of the nation’s first Parliamentary buildings in the national capital in 1927. The coin is distinguished by a unique obverse featuring an enlarged bust of King George V, designed by Sir Edgar Mackennal.
3. A design that resonates with all Australians
In an article published in the CAB Magazine, February 2007, author and respected numismatist Vince Verheyen declared the Proof 1927 Canberra Florin "arguably Australia's most attractive predecimal silver coin". We can only but agree. The reverse of 'Old Parliament House' was designed by George Kruger-Gray.
4. Value and appreciating value
Two things are clear when you analyse auction realisations of the Proof 1927 Canberra Florin over the past forty years. The first thing you notice is that the coin is extremely scarce. On average one pristine Proof Canberra Florin appears at auction every few years. The second thing we noticed was that the coin has enjoyed solid price growth. In the 1980s, a Proof 1927 Canberra Florin was selling for approximately $1000 - $1500 at auction. Two decades later, top quality Proof Canberra Florins are commanding in excess of $20,000.
What makes this Proof Canberra Florin so good?
Use the naked eye and move the coin through the light and allow the light to reflect off the fields.
• On both obverse and reverse this Proof 1927 Canberra Florin has superb highly reflective fields. It is as though you are looking at a mirror.
• On the obverse and reverse there is a just a hint of golden toning on the periphery. Magnificent!
• The edges are intact and solid.
• Under a magnifying glass we note, the striations, between the 'ONE' in the legend and the oval containing the date 1927, are strong. This tells us is that the dies were well prepared, brushed with a wire-brush to ensure they were sharp.
• Vertical striations on the obverse are similarly distinct and strong.
• Heavy striations equates to well brushed dies. Well brushed dies equates to a razor sharp, three dimensional coin design. And the three parliamentary steps are present!
• The fields are impressive. Amazing for a coin struck nearly a century ago. Our comment here is that this coin's former owners have always respected and cherished its quality for its state of preservation is remarkable.
This Proof 1927 Canberra Florin is an impressive coin.