Following the example of the Sydney Mint , which had been established in 1855 to ensure efficient minting of Australian gold into legal tender (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) , and the passing of The Colonial Branch Mint Act of 1866, the Melbourne Mint was established in June, 1872 (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) . Victoria's ample gold resources were also a strong factor in the British' government's decision to open a branch in Melbourne (Melbourne Museum, 2016) .
The building that housed the Melbourne Mint was built especially for this purpose. Its architectural design purportedly inspired by Raphael's Palazzo Vidoni-Caffarelli in Rome, constructed in 1515 (Melbourne Mint Australia, 2013) . The building now houses the Hellenic Museum.
The Melbourne Mint joined the Sydney Mint in striking full and half sovereigns and 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 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.
This was the typical die design used by the Melbourne Mint during the final run of the Young Head series, distinguished by a crenulated reverse much like the Sydney Mint Type VIII, and most likely prepared from the same master die given that the Melbourne Mint produced the die s mint statemintages
The 1881 Melbourne Mint Half Sovereign is the first year in the series which, coming from a tiny mintage of 42,009, has fewer than 500 surviving examples. The date does turn up from time to time in a damaged VG to Fine state, though problem-free examples are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire with examples graded EF or better rarely appearing on the market and almost always indicating Reserve Bank of Australia provenance. The date is available in mint state though no examples have appeared on the market in many years.
MintageMintageMintageValues are in AUD and are retail price estimations based on past sales of coins certified by PCGS or NGC and as such values only related to such graded coins. Uncertified coins or coins graded by other services would likely be worth significantly less. For wholesale pricing please refer to the Red Sheet. While all attempts to ensure accurate pricing, data entry errors can occur and as such no warranty is expressed or implied as to the accuracy of any information published on this website. It is important to verify all published sales to ensure the accuracy of the pricing when making any purchase decision. Any personal information provided to us is protected by the Privacy Act 1988.