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1908-S 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 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 grade for each type is VF to good VF, though they often appear in lower grades. The 1908 date is frequently sighted in Uncirculated with Choice Uncirculated pieces known but these are quite scarce.

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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