Half sovereigns were struck at the Sydney, Melbourne and Perth mints from 1911 to 1920. Despite the relatively high proportion of surviving coins in AU or better, in recent times they have become difficult to acquire in true
condition, and beyond that very difficult, often being the victim of harsh cleaning or jewellery mounting. The George V half sovereign series (1911-1918) was the sixth and final half sovereign series to be struck at Australian mints. The
, designed by Sir Edgar Bertram MacKennal, features the uncrowned bust of King George V facing left, with
s. The designer's initials,
, appear on the truncation of the bust. The
GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:.
, designed by Benedetto Pistrucci, 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
('S' for Sydney, 'M' for Melbourne, 'P' for Perth) in the centre.
The date is positioned below and the designer's initials,
, appear on the far right below the ground.
Although over one million half sovereigns were struck at Australian mints during the reign of George V, few were used in circulation due to the introduction of
treasury notes and, as a result, most remain in AU or better condition.
PCGS have certified fourteen coins from the George V series into MS66 and one MS66
(PCGS Population Report, 2016)
which command very strong premiums over pieces in lower grades, often up to double MS65 values. Many coins, especially those from the Perth and Melbourne mints, are often very softly struck and are difficult to obtain above MS64.
The obverse of the coin is very hard-wearing, with the highest point being the end of George V's moustache which typically wears off below the AU grading. The reverse wears much more easily, but due to the frequency of weakly struck examples and the superior obverse, AU pieces are often mistaken as being mint state.
A typical mint state half sovereign of George V makes MS62 to MS64 for the later dates, though may drop down to MS63 occasionally. Coins graded below this have almost always been circulated but due to their hard-wearing nature still make the mint state grades. Most dates are quite common below mint state but still in demand due to the scarcity of mint state examples and because they are generally quite pleasing to the eye, even in AU.