The first half sovereigns struck under King Edward VII were struck in 1902 following His Majesty's coronation. This series was the fifth half sovereign series to be struck at Australian mints. The
, designed by George William De Saulles, features the uncrowned bust of Edward VII on the obverse, facing towards the right. The legend reads
EDWARDVS VII D: G: BRITT: OMN: REX F: D: IND: IMP:
The Type Ireverse
, designed by Benedetto Pistrucci, is featured on Edward VII half sovereigns from 1902 to 1905, with Australian mint
s struck bearing the date of 1906. It shows St. George, helmed and caped, riding a long-tailed horse and slaying a dragon. The ground bears a broken lance on the left, as well as the
('M' for Melbourne, 'S' for Sydney, 'P' for Perth) in the centre. The date is positioned in the exergue below.
The Type I design is slightly smaller than the Type II reverse and lacks the designer's initials,
Approximately 375,000 half sovereigns were struck for the Type I series making it quite difficult to acquire for the type set collector, especially if sought in better condition. Typical
examples grade MS61 to MS62, with examples above MS62 practically impossible to source in any date other than the 1902 Sydney; the Quartermaster sale did offer a 1903 Sydney, which would have likely certified at MS64 or higher, that realized $5,486
Of the series, the 1904 Perth is by far the toughest date to acquire, being extremely rare at AU or better; while the 1903 Sydney is the most common date, although the 1902 Sydney is much easier to acquire in mint state. This is due to a large
of mint state 1902 Sydney half sovereigns distributed by Noble Numismatics. The 1902 Sydney has been sighted with two different finishes: a
and a matte finish. The brilliant finish is slightly scarcer in the upper grades, while no distinction can be made between the two in the circulated grades. Coming from a mintage of only 84,000, it is quite difficult to acquire with lower grade examples very rarely appearing on the market.
The 1903 Sydney comes from a mintage of 252,000. While it is estimated that around 2,500 to 3,000 examples have survived, this date has a majority grade from VG to Fine with only a small number surviving in the upper grades. The coin is especially scarce in mint state and practically impossible to source in the higher mint state grades. The date is often struck from damaged reversedies with
die cracks common.
The Type II run from 1906 to 1910 is very difficult to acquire in higher mint state grades with most types being difficult to find well struck up. In addition, they are typically seen with very rough fields. The average mint state grade for this type is MS61 to MS62, with examples occasionally turning up in MS63.
The Perth Mint types are the scarcest with the 1908 Perth being very difficult to source in AU and the 1909 Perth also being very scarce in such grades. The 1906 Melbourne and 1907 Melbourne half sovereigns are also quite rare in mint state, though they do turn up from time to time.
One of the Melbourne Mint obversemaster dies has a die crack from the top rim and down the middle of the bust, which has resulted in a fine incuse line often mistaken for a pin scratch. This is found on approximately half the Melbourne Mint half sovereigns of the series.
The average collected grade in the series is XF though 1908 and 1910 Sydney half sovereigns do often turn up in AU while the 1906 Melbourne is generally found in XF, frequently with a better lookingreverse.
The Sydney Mint struck over one million half sovereigns during 1908 and 1910, making these two years the most common dates in the series. It is estimated that there are approximately 15,000 to 20,000 surviving examples distributed roughly equally between the two years. The typical collected grade for each type is XF to AU, though they often appear in lower grades. The 1908 date is frequently sighted in mint state with examples up to MS64 known but these are quite scarce.