A Look at the Australian Gold Sovereign

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Australa has long been amoung the largest gold-producing nations in the world. This fact is reflected in the level of international demand for our gold coins, many numismatists regard gold sovereigns as the core of the Australian numismatic collector market.

The production of sovereigns is closely connected with Australia's history of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and sovereigns from this period represent the first Australian coins to form an extensive and cohesive series. Collectors are attracted to the range of collecting opportunities in the soverein market: they may collect by date, mint, portrait or reverse type. They may choose to collect coins priced at little more than their precious metal value or to specialise only in coins of the highest quality. This diversity is reassuring to investors seeking security through sound levels of underlying demand.

The Adelaid Pound Type II Minted by the Adelaide Assay Office in 1852

This coin was struck from the new die created because of the failure of the first "cracked" die. The coin differs from the Type I having a crenellated inner circle on the reverse. Although it is estimated that approximately 25,000 coins were struck, only a small number were issued and those were immediately withdrawn from circulation for two reasons. Firstly, the coins were discovered to have more than one pounds worth of gold and silver, and secondly, Royal assent was not forthcoming and the coins had to be melted. There is estimated to be less than a few hundred examples known today and the coin is considered Rare in any condition and Very Rare in high quality.

Queen Victoria Type I Portrait Sydney Mint Reverse " The First Australian Sovereigns" 1855 & 1856

The 1855 Gold Sovereign

The implementation of Queen Victoria's Order in Council of 1853 to establish a branch of the Royal Mint in Sydney occurred in 1855, and the Mint also started to produce Australia's first sovereigns the same year. The sovereign's design was completely different from the designs of the current English sovereigns with totally new and unique Australian features. The obverse design was only to last two years adding to the rarity and importance of the coin. It is estimated that there are only a few hundred examples known in Very Fine condition or better and this coin is considered of similar rarity to the Adelaid Pound Type II.

The 1856 Gold Sovereign

The 1856 Sovereign is considered no less RARE than the 1855, with similar attributes and rarity factors. Being the second coin of a two year only type it is sought after by those wishing to complete the pair of these unique type Sovereigns.

Queen Victoria Type II Portrait Sydney Mint Reverse Gold Sovereign 1857-1870

From 1857 the obverse portrait of Queen Victoria was changed to an even more "Australian" design depicting Queen Victoria's hairstyle with a wreath of native banksia. This design was completely different from any British designed coinage, and with the reverse design remaining unchanged from 1855-56 Type I Sovereigns, the coin became higly prized and sought after. The fact that the coin was also alloyed with silver rather than copper also enhanced its popularity. The coins minted between 1857 and 1864 are mostly considered the scarcest and rarest dated whilst those from 1866 to 1870 are the more desirable in higher grades. The Sydney Mint did not produce a sovereign during 1869.

Queen Victoria Young Head "Shield" Reverse Gold Sovereign 1871-1887

The Shield Reverse Young Head Sovereign was minted concurrently with the St George Reverse Sovereigns by both the Sydney and Melbourn Mints. The coin was primarily minted to satisfy the Indian market where the slaying of a dragon reverse did not endear itself to the Indian population. Although mintage figures are combined, it is estimated that around 25-30% of coins minted during this period were of the shield design. The thicker hair style was produced up until the early 1880's when a thinner hair style predominated. No coins were minted in 1876.

Queen Victoria Young Head "St. George" Reverse Gold Sovereign 1871-1887

On of the most popular seriesof Australian coins. Minted by the Sydney and Melbourne Mints concurrently with the Shild Reverse. Until the discoverey of the Douro shipwreck all the early pre-1881 dates were extremely difficult to obtain and even today coins in high grades are considered Very Scarce to Rare and appear to be undervalued compared with other types of coins on the market. As with the Shield Reverse types, the coins were struck with thick hairstyle prior to 1881 after which the thinner hairstyle predominates.

Queen Victoria Jubilee Head "St. George" Reverse Gold Sovereign 1887-1893

Minted first in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria's 50 years of reign. The Sovereign style lasted until 1893 when it was replaced by the more mature Veiled head style. The coin was only minted for severn years and is therefore a very popular coin for both type collectors and date/mint collectors as the entire series consists of only 14 coins. The rarest date is the first minted 1887 Sydney, however several of the dates are much scarcer than the price indicates and certainly most appear undervalued in uncirculated and choice uncirculated grades.

Queen Victoria Veiled Head "St. George" Reverse Gold Sovereign 1893-1901

Queen Victoria Veiled Head St. George Reverse Sovereigns were minted between 1893 and 1901 until Queen Victoria's death. The coin is most conspicuos, from an Australian point of view, in that the coin type was the first produced by the Perth Mint in 1899. As with the Jubilee Heads, many of the dates and mintmarks are very difficult to obtain in high grades i.e uncirculated-Choice Uncirculated, and many appear undervalued for their rarity.

King Edward VII "St. George" Reverse Gold Sovereign 1902-1910

The King Edward VII Sovereigns minted between 1902-1910 are much maligned in the Sovereign series. Containing no outstanding rare dates, the series is very affordable, yet many of the coins are extremly difficult to obtain in high grades, Uncirculated and particularly Choice Uncirculated, and their price is certainly not representative of their rarity. Every date in the series has three mints, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and it is quite a challenge to obtain the complete set of 27 coins in Uncirculated condition.

King George V "St. George" Reverse Gold Sovereign 1911-1931

The King George V series can be broken up into two parts regarding relative rerity. Coins minted between 1911 and 1919 are mostly common and have premiums over their gold value in Uncirculated condition only whilst most of the coins minted between 1920 and 1931 have a rarity factor ranging from Very Scarce to Extremely Rare. This is mainly due to the fact that many mintages were re-melted when not required and hence mintage figures are irrelevant and numbers in existance become the rarity criteria. Although many of the more common dates sell for only about 25% above their gold content value in Uncirculated condition these coins represent good value for money, whilst the Scarce to Rare items now appear to be undervalued compared to other sectors of the coin and banknote market

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