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.
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.