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1908-P Half Sovereign

Edward VII


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 obverse , designed by George William De Saulles, features an 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 II reverse , designed by Benedetto Pistrucci, is featured on Edward VII half sovereigns from 1904 to 1910 with Australian mint examples being struck from 1906 onwards by all three Australian branches of the Royal Mint. 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 mintmark ('M' for Melbourne, 'S' for Sydney, 'P' for Perth) in the centre. The date is positioned below.

Reverse: Sydney Mint 'S' mintmark on the centre of the ground, below the horse's hooves and above the date.

Reverse: Melbourne Mint 'M' mintmark on the centre of the ground, below the horse's hooves and above the date.

Reverse: Perth Mint 'P' mintmark on the centre of the ground, below the horse's hooves and above the date.

This design is slightly larger than the Type I reverse and shows the designer's initials, B.P . Marsh refers to the 1904 Perth also being sighted with this reverse, however, I have not come across any (Marsh, M, A, 2004) .

Type I Reverse (Small): St George's cape is far from the rim.

Type II Reverse (Large): St George's cape is close to the rim.

Type I Reverse (Small): Designer, Benedetto Pistrucci's, initials do not appear.

Type II Reverse (Large): Designer, Benedetto Pistrucci's, initials do appear.

The entire Edward VII run is very difficult to acquire beyond mint state 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 beyond EF 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 obverse master 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 grade in the series is EF though 1908 and 1910 Sydney half sovereigns do often turn up in AU, while the 1906 Melbourne is generally found in VF to EF, frequently with a better reverse.

The Perth Mint struck under 100,000 half sovereigns during 1908 and 1909 making the two types among the rarest Australian mint half sovereign issues. The 1908 Perth is known by about 500 examples while the 1909 Perth is known by around 750. Both years are extremely difficult to acquire beyond EF with the 1909 being slightly more common. The average grade for both types is slightly below VF, but examples from VF to good VF turn up from time to time. Both years are often seen with weakly struck reverses, though the reverse generally tends to grade close to a full grade higher than the obverse. The finest two examples of the 1908 Perth at the Reserve Bank sale were graded EF, while the finest 1909 Perth was graded Uncirculated.

The heads side of the coinThe inscription around the inner edge of the coinThe tails side of the coinA marking, usually a letter or dot that signifies which mint struck a particular coinThe edge around a coin, often with beading or denticles(Marsh, M, A, 2004)
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