In 1872, the newly established Melbourne
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 proof strikes struck at both Sydney and Melbourne from 1893-1901. In 1900, the Old Head series became the first half sovereign series to be struck at the Perth Mint. The obverse, designed by Sir Thomas Brock, depicts a portrait of an older Queen Victoria veiled, crowned and facing left. Sir Thomas Brock's initials, T.B. , are positioned below the portrait's left shoulder. The legend reads VICTORIA DEI GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP. 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 1900 Perth is the most popular date in the series and has been quite overrated ever since the centenary of the Perth Mint during which many examples were recalled for collector sets. This revealed the type's scarcity, something which was not revealed for either the 1899 or 1900 Melbourne issues. The type is available in all grades up to Gem Uncirculated with several Extra Fine or better examples being offered at the Reserve Bank Sale.