Following the discovery of gold in Sydney, sovereigns were minted at the Sydney Mint from 1855 and continued until 1916. Prior to the discovery of gold, Australian colonies were reliant upon coins minted in Great Britain as these were the only coins recognised as having legal tender status (Reserve Bank of Australia, 2005). The 1850s Gold Rush affected not only the mintage of coins but also sudden population growth, particularly in Victoria. In turn, this demanded sudden developments in government administration to manage standard utilities, land reform, communication and transport (Reserve Bank of Australia, 2005). Proposals for the establishment of a Sydney branch of the Royal Mint started in 1851, these were met with some resistance from gold buyers and banks in Sydney, which profited from the transfer of gold from Australia to London for the purpose of minting coins (Melbourne Museum, 2016). But in 1853, an order was eventually granted for the Sydney branch, and by 1855 it was in operation (Sydney Living Museums, 2016). The Sydney Mint was set up in the southern wing of the hospital that had been part of Governor Lachlan Macquarie's building program. The hospital, finished in 1816, was initially set up to treat convicts; it became known as the 'Sidney Slaughter House' because of its notoriously poor conditions (Sydney Living Museums, 2016). The southern wing then became a military hospital in 1823, and the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary in 1842 (Sydney Living Museums, 2016). The Sydney Mint contained offices, a bullion office, and a factory where it minted gold sovereigns and half sovereigns; in 1916 it began to mint commemorative medals, and copper and silver coins (Sydney Living Museum, 2016).
In 1915, due to the economic difficulties of the First World War, Australia left the Gold Standard but returned in 1925. In 1929, the Australian Government established the Commonwealth Bank Act , which required all holdings of gold by banks and the public to be sold to the Commonwealth Bank (now the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)) in exchange for notes (The Perth Mint Australia, 2016) . Such restrictions lasted until 1976 (The Perth Mint Australia, 2016). The Reserve Bank of Australia's 2005 auction of gold coins was a significant event in which a substantial amount of the RBA's gold coin holding was made available to collectors. Coins with great historical and numismatic value were retained in the Bank's Museum of Australian Currency Notes or moved to the Royal Australian Mint's National Coin Collection (Macfarlane, I, 2005).
The first circulation sovereigns struck at the Sydney Mint were dated 1855 and 1856. During those two years close to 1.5 million sovereigns were produced. The Type II Sydney Mint series is a popular series for Australian gold collectors to start off with. The Type II saw a change in the obverse design from the Type I filleted head, designed by James Wyon, to a wreathed bust, designed by Leonard Charles Wyon. The legend reads VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIAR: REG: F: D: .
The reverse, also designed by Leonard Charles Wyon, bears the Sydney Mint banksia wreath design surrounding AUSTRALIA , and positioned below a crown with the legend SYDNEY MINT ONE SOVEREIGN encircling the design. Both the reverse and obverse show a thin rim and toothed denticles.
The uniquely Australian design and general availability of all dates make the Type II Sydney Mint Full Sovereign an excellent starting point. The series lasted until 1870 when the Sydney Mint reverted to the reverse imperial shield design and St George reverse sovereigns.
In average circulated condition, most dates grade from VG to Fine, with the toughest challenge for the date set collector the 1858 or the 1860. Although the 1858 has certainly appeared less frequently on the market in recent times, the 1860 is widely considered scarcer - with examples available in the EF to AU range, and only a handful of mint state examples graded by PCGS (PCGS Population Report, 2016); note that the 1860 mintage figure includes the 1860/59 overdate. Seven examples of the 1860 were made available in the Reserve Bank of Australia Auction (Downies, 2005) , and one example in the Quartermaster Sale (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009). All dates exist in mint state due to the numerous hoard s surfacing, such as the RMS Douro hoard (Gold Sovereigns, 2012).
The ideal choices for type set collectors are the 1866, 1867 and 1868, all of which turn up quite frequently in mint state grades and are usually well struck up. The 1864 and 1870 are also fairly easy to obtain though they are sometimes plagued by weaker obverse strikes.
MintageMintageMintageValues are in AUD and are retail price estimations based on past sales of coins certified by PCGS or NGC and as such values only related to such graded coins. Uncertified coins or coins graded by other services would likely be worth significantly less. For wholesale pricing please refer to the Red Sheet. While all attempts to ensure accurate pricing, data entry errors can occur and as such no warranty is expressed or implied as to the accuracy of any information published on this website. It is important to verify all published sales to ensure the accuracy of the pricing when making any purchase decision. Any personal information provided to us is protected by the Privacy Act 1988.