In 1872, the newly established Melbourne Mint joined the Sydney Mint in striking full and half sovereigns, but it was not until 1899 that the Perth branch of the Royal Mint was opened to accommodate for gold deposits found in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie (The Perth Mint, 2016) just as the Melbourne Mint had been established to accommodate Victoria's ample gold resources. The Perth Mint had a strong advocate in Sir John Forrest, the first Premier of Western Australia (The Perth Mint, 2016) . The Perth Mint struck gold sovereigns from its opening in 1899, and half sovereigns from 1900, until 1931 when Britain ceased using the gold standard (The Perth Mint, 2016) . During this time the
The Melbourne Mint continued to strike half sovereigns until 1915, and full sovereigns until 1931, then silver and copper coinage until its closure in 1968 (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) . The Sydney Mint closed in 1926 having produced gold, silver and copper coins throughout its time (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) .
The Half Sovereign Old Head, or Veiled Head, was the fourth half sovereign series to be struck at an Australian mint, with business and
The reverse 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 mintmark ('M' for Melbourne, 'S' for Sydney, 'P' for Perth) in the centre. The date is positioned below.
The Old Head offers only one challenge to date set collectors, the 1893 Melbourne, the rarest circulation half sovereign with only five known examples, two of which are in the Royal Australian Mint Museum. Other than that, the series is readily available in all grades up to AU with some examples in mint state or better turning up from time to time. A lot of the dates, particularly in AU, have reduced in value considerably since the Reserve Bank of Australia sale (Downies, 2005) , which saw an oversupply of such dates reach the market. However, very few higher grade 1899 and 1900 Melbourne Mint half sovereigns were offered yet their prices were brought down by most catalogues indicating they may be somewhat undervalued.
The 1899 and 1900 Melbourne Mint half sovereigns are both scarce and highly underrated issues with the 1899 Melbourne being the scarcest issue in the series, apart from the 1893 Melbourne. It is scarcer than the popular 1900 Perth even in top grades, where the 1900 Perth is commonly considered to be difficult to source. The 1900 Melbourne is of similar scarcity to the 1900 Perth.