Jul 052016
 

Half sovereigns were produced by all three colonial branches of the Royal Mint opened in Australia during the 19th century. The very first issue, dated 1855, and the very last issue, dated 1918, represent two of the most valuable and sought-after gold coins in the history of Australian-made coinage.

In its inaugural year, the Sydney Mint struck just 21,000 half sovereigns. Each coin bore the distinctive ‘colonial’ reverse featuring St Edward’s crown, a laurel wreath and the word AUSTRALIA.

But few of these 1855 Sydney-made coins have survived in good condition, which fuels enormous interest on the rare occasions one comes to market.

By the time half sovereigns were struck in Perth, the Australian branch mints had permission to strike Imperial versions identical to those made in London – with the addition of distinguishing mintmarks.

The ultimate half sovereign year-date is the subject of much investigation. Records suggest The Perth Mint did not strike half sovereigns during 1918, but used dies of that year to strike 113,572 coins in 1919 and a further 106,416 in 1920.

Given 10 shilling notes had recently replaced half sovereigns, it’s likely they were struck for export where the majority was melted down. Evidence of surviving 1918 dates did not come to light until the 1970s and today it is estimated that between 200 and 300 pieces may have escaped destruction.

Australia Half Sovereign 2016 Gold Proof Coin

This modern 22-carat gold tribute embodies the spirit of Australia’s 1855 ‘S’ and 1918 ‘P’ half sovereigns. Struck by The Perth Mint in stunning proof quality to traditional specifications, its reverse combines key historical design elements first seen on Sydney coins of 1855 with a ‘P’ mintmark.

In keeping with the extreme rarity of its historic antecedents, no more than 1,500 of these coins will be released, each in a beautiful timber case befitting its significance as a reflection of Australia’s long association with half sovereign production.

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Jul 052016
 
Star_Trek_nx-01-coin

TM & © 2016 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved

Enterprise NX-01 is the culmination of 32 years of research and development that puts humanity within reach of thousands of inhabited worlds. Under the command of Captain Jonathan Archer, it explores the Milky Way Galaxy during the early days of interstellar travel.

For your chance to win this superb release from our official Star Trek: Enterprise coin series, use the following clue to help unscramble these letters.

Clue: Enterprise NX-01 power sources

WIPING-FEARS-EVEN

How to enter: Email your answer to anagram@perthmint.com.au marking your reply ‘July 2016 Anagram Competition’ in the subject line. Please include your name, address and telephone number. Entries close on 2 August 2016. Eligible entrants will be included in the free draw and the winner will be notified by telephone or email. Terms and conditions.

See us on Facebook and Twitter for notification of anagrams and other great coin competitions.

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June 2016 anagram competition winner: Congratulations Susan Rayner of Australian Capital Territory for the correct answer of ‘Starfleet Captain’.

 
Jul 052016
 

Today marks the availability of 11 brand new coin releases from The Perth Mint.

Eagerly anticipated, the iconic Australia Koala 2016 Gold Proof Issue comprises four stunning coins weighing 2oz, 1oz, 1/4oz and 1/10oz. Extremely limited, the two larger coins are struck in remarkable high relief format.

Other famous Australian animal coins this month include a high relief version of the 2016 Australian Kangaroo made from 1oz of pure silver, and a high relief version of the 2016 Australian Wedge-tailed Eagle made from 2oz of pure gold.

Fans celebrating the 50th anniversary of sci-fi classic Star Trek will be delighted with fantastic new collectables featuring coloured representations of Kirk, Spock and Enterprise from The Original Series.

The third release from the cuddly Cubs series features the Snow Leopard, a beautiful animal superbly adapted for life in Asia’s highest mountains.

There’s another chance to acquire an Australia Half Sovereign with the release of our second annual gold tribute to the historic 1855 Sydney-made original.

And finally this month we have another release from the popular Famous Ships that Never Sailed series, portraying HMS Thunderchild from H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds.

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Jul 012016
 

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The first day of fighting on 1 July 1916 was the most costly in the history of the British army. By mid-November, when the bloody First World War battle had run its course, more than 1 million men from both sides had been killed or wounded.


The Battle of the Somme refers to a series of battles that took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916, during the First World War, in which more than 1 million men from both sides of No Man’s Land were wounded or killed. During the battles, the British and French armies fought against German troops alongside in the Somme region of northern France in an effort to break the deadlock of trench warfare and restore the fighting to fluid, mobile warfare.

Howitzer

The gun crew of an Australian Howitzer Battery, in an emplacement behind a steep bank near Lavieville in the Somme area. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

The first day of fighting on 1 July was the most costly day in the history of the British army with almost 60,000 casualties, a third of whom were killed. Despite enormous losses, the offensive continued on for another four and a half months. Australian troops consisting of men who had fought at Gallipoli, as well as new volunteers from home, arriving on the Somme to take part in the fighting from late July.

GeorgeV

King George V, holding telescope, observing the fighting at Pozières from captured ground. The Prince of Wales is behind the King talking to two officers. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Australia’s contribution

The Australian contribution to the Somme was the capture and defence of the fighting around Pozières and Mouquet Farm between 23 July and 3 September. Like their British allies, the Australians also suffered great losses with 24,000 casualties, including 6,741 who were killed. Such heavy losses on an all-volunteer army put pressure on the recruiting system and resulted in a referendum for the government to try and introduce conscription. Narrowly defeated at the polls in October 1916, the issue polarized the Australian nation along political, sectarian and class lines. A similar strain was felt in Britain, which was forced to rely on conscription after the bloody battles of 1916.

Memorial

Troops of the 24th Battalion gathered at a memorial erected in memory of members killed at Pozières and Mouquet Farm. Image courtesy Australian War memorial.

The Battle of the Somme resulted in 430,000 British and Dominion causalities, plus 200,000 French troops. Heavy losses were also felt by the German army with 650,000 casualties resulting in a tired and dispirited force that would never fully recover.

The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series
Be Worthy Of Them – 2016 1oz Silver Proof Coin

This significant addition to The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series depicts a group of soldiers as they charge out of the trenches along the Somme Valley in France and the inscription ‘Be Worthy of Them’.

BeWorthyOfThem_Somme1916

The Perth Mint will release no more than 7,500 of these coins, each accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.

Australian-War-Memorial-logoThe Australian War Memorial logo is a registered trademark of the
Australian War Memorial TM & © 2016

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Jul 012016
 

Born on this day in 1885, Dorothea Mackellar penned one of Australia’s most widely recited and beloved poems. First published in 1908 when she was just 23, My Country reflected the enormous love Dorothea felt for the Australian landscape.

These Australian rectangle-shaped coins are inscribed with four famous lines that have resonated powerfully with Australian readers for more than 100 years.

SunburntCountry_blog

1. A land of sweeping plains
2. Of rugged mountain ranges
3. Of droughts and flooding rains
4. I love her jewel sea

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Jun 272016
 

With the launch of our official eBay Store, here’s some timely advice on how to avoid buying fake coins and bars.

At The Perth Mint we don’t like hearing about buyers and collectors who have unwittingly purchased fake coins and bars. While you are safe buying direct from us and any of our official distributors, we understand that the coin collecting community also loves to buy and sell among each other.

Unfortunately, increasingly sophisticated copycats are trying to ruin your day! Despite eBay’s rules and policies forbidding the listing of replicas, counterfeit items or unauthorised copies, just about every major manufacturer and respected brand worldwide has had one or more of its products imitated and offered for sale!

AvoidFakes

As a measure of the problem, even people experienced in gold and silver have been known to be caught out by such scams. They then have to go through the rigmarole of claiming their money back, a hassle which once outside the refund deadline can prove frustrating.

One savvy and enthusiastic eBay buyer recently showed us examples of two fake minted bars he’d fallen victim to, even though the seller had excellent feedback ratings. Fortunately he had an industry contact with an XRF metal analyser and was in the habit of having everything he bought immediately tested. But not everybody is lucky enough to have access to such equipment when they need it!

To avoid the sickly feeling of being duped, buyers of gold and silver bullion need to become as knowledgeable as possible about the dangers. The following insights (which apply equally to buying from eBay, pawn shops or that bloke in the pub!) combined with a precautionary buying strategy based on commonsense principles will help relieve you from any nagging doubts.

What’s at risk?

The problem extends across the full spectrum of bullion and numismatic products, comprising cast (poured) bars, minted bars, as well as gold and silver coins.

Firstly, some good news! The web was abuzz not long ago with a scary story about a cast gold bar which was found to contain rods of tungsten. It led to massive amounts of conjecture about how many similarly defaced bars might be in the market. In truth, however, this unnerving episode was probably over sensationalised. In the long experience of senior staff at The Perth Mint refinery, such fakes are actually a rare occurrence.

On the other hand, the eBay buyer who visited the Mint not long ago said he believes there are large numbers of fake coins and minted bars out there. While they often appear to look like the real thing, generally these practically worthless rip-offs are nothing more than tungsten, copper, lead, nickel or alloy plated in a just a few microns of precious metal.

And hear this. The problem is probably going to get even worse because of the availability of technology that makes copying so easy. The canny counterfeiters may also be starting to target low mintage releases like some of our Australian Lunar coins in the knowledge that they stand a better chance of tempting a collector keen to finish a series.

Some tell tale signs

It’s now more important than ever to look out for any tell-tale signs that will suggest coins and bars offered for sale may be fakes. A listing marked ‘No Returns’ is an obvious red flag. But check carefully that the product’s full specifications are included. Official refiners and manufacturers advertise precise weights and dimensions for their coins and bars and by replacing gold or silver with base metal, counterfeiters are highly unlikely to be able to match these specifications precisely.

When compared to an authentic bar of the same weight, our visitor’s fakes looked good and were accurate in both length and width. But they were way too thick because the lighter metal inside – something that was not revealed by the photographs used in the advertisement. So if any of the specifications are missing from a listing or incorrect by even a single gram or millimeter, then treat it with enormous skepticism.

It’s really obvious that something is up when prices look drastically low. Gold and silver are commodities and cannot, therefore, be bought at a discount. If you think you’ve spotted a bargain or are offered the deal of a lifetime, think again. If it looks too good to be true, it will be!

Know your seller

Let’s be clear, collectors and investors are most likely to be exposed to the risk of fake coins and bars when buying from unknown suppliers. If you don’t know them, why take the risk? Our visitor reinforced this point emphatically when we asked what advice he would like to share with others. Simply “ don’t buy on eBay if you don’t know the dealer.”

In some cases you may be able to physically check them out by visiting the shop and meeting the owner. Maybe talk to some existing customers too. But if that’s impossible, let government-owned mints such as us help you out by referring to their list of authorised resellers.

This really is the golden rule for people on eBay anxious to avoid fakes. The Perth Mint publishes a list of reputable dealers on its website. Based all over the world, they’ve worked with us for many years and when selling on eBay, can be relied upon to provide honest and ethical service. In Australia, buyers can also be confident of dealing with members of the Australian Numismatic Dealers Association from whom you’re going to get what you paid for.

With a little research, you should be able to find similar information from other world mints too.

Visit The Perth Mint’s official store on ebay.

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