May 252012

Officially, it’s a Perth Mint coin that doesn’t exist.

We’re talking about a 1918 half sovereign. And yet, here’s an example in our historic coin and medal collection.Bizarrely, several more of these exceptionally scarce gold coins came to light more than 50 years after their supposed manufacture – discovered in a gold bracelet, possibly fabricated in India.

Half sovereigns were made in Perth in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1915, 1919 and 1920 for a total of 735,000. In 1918, according to the Annual Report, Perth made 3,812,884 sovereigns and ‘no’ half sovereigns. So how can the coin’s existence be explained?

Our historic records confirm that the coins were actually made in 1919 and 1920 using 1918 dies.

By this time, of course, the half sovereign was represented locally by the ten shilling note. It’s logical to deduce, therefore, they were made expressly for export.

Interpreting the records as best we can, the coins left for the United States, handled by the Gold Producers Association, a company exempt from international gold trade restrictions imposed during World War I.

Ultimately, it seems, America re-exported the Australian-made coins to India, where the Bombay Mint had recently closed.

Because so much time has elapsed, it’s a remote possibility that anymore 1918 ‘P’ half sovereigns will be discovered. Any that do, of course, will cause an instant numismatic sensation!


  4 Responses to “It would cause a sensation if any more of these Perth gold coins were found”

  1. i have a 1918 half sovereign which just sits locked away,i try to find things out about it and just keep hitting dead ends so any info would be of a great help

    • Hi Ian

      The Gold Half Sovereign by Michael Marsh is a book you may want to track down for general information.

      Specifically on the 1918-P half sovereign, a good starting point is the Museum of Victoria.

      You may find it most enlightening, however, to discuss your particular example with a expert coin dealer who will be able to give you an idea of its value.

      Kind regards

      Blog Team

  2. I have a 1918 -P and hadn’t realised its importance. I bought it for £60, 5 years ago from a san francisco estate auction (online) and now its in the UK with me. If anyone has an idea of who buys this sort of thing I would love to sell it.

  3. Hi Simon, Sounds like you picked up a bargain. Just make sure it’s indeed a half sovereign and not a full sovereign. A half sovereign has the diameter of an Australian five cent piece. Full sovereigns are bigger.


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