The Half Sovereign Young Head series was first struck on Australian soil in 1871 following the short-lived Sydney mint series. The changeover to the imperial shield reverse design half sovereign also coincided with the changeover to a gold-copper alloy for half sovereigns.
The series has five different obverse s with very slight variations (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) . They all feature the portrait of a young Queen Victoria facing left, her hair bound in a double fillet and secured in a bun. They show toothed denticles around the rims, and the legend reads VICTORIA DEI GRATIA .
There are four different reverses (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) . All the reverses show a crown atop a shield. The legend reads BRITANNIARUM REGINA FID: DEF:. The mintmark is positioned directly below the shield between two rosettes.
The first type struck by an Australian mint is the 1871, which was struck at the Royal mint , Sydney. It uses the Type I obverse and Type I reverse. The Type I obverse has two distinct identifiers: the tip of Queen Victoria's nose lines up with the left long-side of the 'O' in VICTORIA, and the 'I' in DEI lines up with the crown of her head (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) .
The Type I reverse also has two distinct identifiers: the cross on the top of the crown does not touch the rim, and the central vertical line on the shield shows a single dot near the centre of the shield (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) .
Royal mint reports do not mention any half sovereigns being struck during in 1871, however, they are definitely known to exist and reports from 1872 indicate that 356,000 half sovereigns were struck at the Sydney mint(Marsh, M, A, 2004) . It is likely that the mintage figure for the 1872 half sovereign includes the quantity struck in 1871.While the Young Head series consists of many of the rarest half sovereigns, the 1871 is a relatively common year with about 1,250 to 1,500 pieces in existence today, though finding them in EF or better can be very difficult. One Brilliant Uncirculated example was sold at the Reserve Bank Sale in 2005 (Downies, 2005) .
There have been no recent sales of 1871 Sydney Proof Half Sovereigns.
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