The 1887 half sovereigns come in a number of varieties distinguishable by the place of manufacture which can be Sydney, Melbourne or London and by the positioning of the
The three varieties of designer's initials are wide, medium and narrow, also known as Small Spread, Normal and Close respectively. The Wide spaced variety features short or crushed characters while the Medium and Narrow feature full sized characters with varying spacing between them.
The narrow JEB is the most common of the three 1887-M varieties, particularly if sought in better grades with most of the very high grade examples of this date being the Narrow variety. In lower grades it appears to have scarcity on par with the Wide JEB variety; This disparity in survival condition between the two varieties would seem to indicate that the Narrow JEB variety was more likely to be hoarded possibly indicating it formed the first batch of this variety with the public hoarding it as a keepsake for Queen Victoria's Jubilee, this would seem to complement the high survival rate of the date.