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The Hyde Park Collection - Australian Victoria Sovereigns 1855-1901


Set Type: Gold Sovereign, Victoria, 1855-1901, Circulation Issue
Owner: Zebo
Last Modified: 1/17/2021
Views: 800

Rank: 1
Score: 235340
Leading by: 83591
Points to Higher Rank: N/A
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Set Description:

AUSTRALIAN QUEEN VICTORIA CIRCULATION STRIKES (1855 - 1901)

This set consists of all the different gold sovereigns issued by Australia and its Sydney, Melbourne and Perth mints from 1855 through 1901. The size and cost of this set makes it remarkable: 108 coins, over 25 ounces of gold, quite a few really tough dates with some definite rarities. The Sovereign during that time was the chief coin of commerce in the world.

My goal is to put together a high grade complete date and mint collection of Australian Sovereigns. This collection was minted during Queen Victoria's reign and includes a variety of different obverse and reverse designs (described below). My love of the Sovereign began with my father's interest in the coin. My collection has grown significantly over the years and I will continue to upgrade the set when feasible. The history and personalities surrounding the Sovereign is fascinating. The importance of the Sovereign in world commerce is unprecedented. My appreciation for Sovereign rose to new heights after researching and later obtaining Sovereigns from the Quartermaster, Bentley, George and Park House collections.

The Reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) - House of Hanover

Australian Victoria Sovereigns:

1855-1856 Imperial Young Head; Australian Reverse
1857-1870 Australian Victoria Head; Australian Reverse
1871-1887 Imperial Young Head; Shield Reverse and St. George Reverse
1887-1893 Imperial Jubilee Head; St. George Reverse
1893-1901 Imperial Veil Head; St. George Reverse

Australian Mints:

Sydney Mint 1855-1901; Melbourne Mint 1872-1901; Perth Mint 1899-1901

Key Dates - 1886 M Shield,1855 SY, 1856 SY, 1858 Sy, 1871 S St. George, 1972 M St. George, 1879 S St. George, 1880 M Shield, 1887 M Shield, 1887 S Jubilee, and 1899 P

Queen Victoria:

Queen Victoria is the second longest reining monarch recently surpassed by Queen Elizabeth II. She ascended to the thrown in 1837 and the first Sovereign under her reign was minted in 1838. She ruled until her death in 1901. Her son Edward, became King Edward VII. There are three main Queen Victoria portraits - young head, jubilee and old/veil head. There are many varieties including, but not limited to, the position, size, existence, orientation and spread of initials, length of horse's tail, the rotation of the portrait, and die number.

Queen Victoria's reign saw great cultural expansion; advances in industry, science and communications; and the building of railways and the London Underground.

In 1840, Queen Victoria married her cousin, Prince Albert, the son of her mother's brother. Since Victoria was Queen, Albert couldn’t propose to her. So she proposed to him.

At first, the British public didn’t warm up to the German prince and he was excluded from holding any official political position. At times their marriage was tempestuous, a clash of wills between two extremely strong personalities. However, the couple was intensely devoted to each other. Prince Albert became Queen Victoria’s strongest ally, helping her navigate difficult political waters.

Australian Mints:

The Sydney Branch Mint

Millions of pounds of gold bullion were shipped from Australia to London each year to be minted into coin. However, it soon became apparent that it would be easier to refine the gold and turn it into coins at source, rather than transport it to Britain and have it turned into coins there. Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide each submitted to be the venue of a branch of the Royal Mint and after some deliberation the British government awarded it to Sydney, which began issuing coins in 1855. This Mint issued coins with its own design from 1855 until 1870. In 1871 the Royal Mint insisted that all gold sovereigns regardless of Mint should carry the British design.

The need for a Mint to produce coin in Australia and convert the local gold from the goldfields, without sending out of the country, finally came to fruition when an Order of Council was issued and ratified on 19 August 1853. Designs, dies and pattern coins were produced dated 1853. The Sydney Mint opened on 14 May 1855 and the first type design from the 1853 pattern was adopted for currency.

The design of the Sydney Sovereigns was to be quite different from the Imperial British type becuase the original intention for them was to be legal tender only within Australia. This changed with the Colonial Branch Mint Act of 1866, when they became legal tender in the UK and other colonies. this led directly to the harmonization of the Imperial type designs at the Sydney mint. The 1855-1868 yellow gold Sovereigns of the Sydney Mint that were alloyed with silver were most popular in export trade with India. They were more revered than the British Sovereigns because of their yellow color, signifying the more valuable alloy with silver as opposed to the red gold color of the British Sovereign alloyed with copper. This changed in 1868, the first step towards harmonization of the types of denomination, when Sydney mixed copper in the alloy, rather than silver, making some of the 1868 dated issue and all for 1870 of the red gold color.

When the Sydney Mint stopped minting gold Sovereigns in 1926, the total number of all Sovereigns struck of both Australia and Imperial types from 1855-1926 stood at 144,435,1926.

Imperial Type Sovereigns in Australia

With the significant Coinage Act of 1870 in Great Britain came a sweeping change to harmonize the design of the coins minted from the Australian output of gold with that produced from the Royal Mint in London. The fact that the Australia design coins were legal tender only in Australia for their formative years had obviously affected export trade. The Colonial Branch Act of 1866 had made the Australia type coins legal tender in the UK and in trade, useful especially with closer neighbors in India and Asia. However, the British Imperial gold Sovereign was already a respected trade coin with its shield reverse and more acceptable than the Australia type coins.

The Melbourne Mint

During the 1850s, Victoria alone contributed more than one-third of the world’s gold output. Although a Mint opened in Sydney in 1855, it had difficulty keeping pace with the output of the goldfields and in 1871 a new branch of the Royal Mint opened in Melbourne.

The new Melbourne Mint was originally scheduled to open 1870. However, due to circumstances beyond their control, the Mint opened late on 12 June 1872. This tardiness was mostly because the ship Rangoon had sunk near Galle Harbour in Ceylon while carrying all the new 1871 dated dies from the Mint in London. A very limited number of the dies were salvaged and these later came into use with the overdate 1872 over 1. By the end of 1872 nearly three quarters of a million Sovereigns with the shield reverse had been produced, all with the mint letter M under the wreath on the reverse. St. George reverse Sovereigns and gold Half Sovereigns were also produced from 1873 and both shield and St. George reverse coins were produced in most years until 1887. The shield design was retained at the Australian branch Mints only, as it was still the preferred coin in trade with India and Asia, and the St. George reverse was preferred in England. The mints were given the choice of which to strike according to demand, which is why some years do not exist for certain reverse types.

According to the publication Royal Sovereign, a Chinese General, Wong Yung Ho, visited the Melbourne mint in 1887 and confirmed that the shield design was preferred by the Indians when trading with the Orient. The Indians feared they would upset the Chinese if they paid for their wares with the St George reverse coin. This was because of the humiliating position of the Chinese national symbol the dragon under the horseman and therefore this reverse design was not generally seen in commerce in Asia.

The Melbourne Mint stopped minting Imperial type gold Sovereigns dated in 1931, the total quantity of all Sovereigns at this branch Mint stood at 147,282,731 pieces. This was the highest total of gold sovereigns from the three branch Mints based in Australia.

The Perth Mint

Gold was first discovered in Western Australia in 1884 and gold mines became established at Kimberley in 1886. The gold mines at Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie quickly became recognized as two of Australia’s richest. The problems of transporting the raw gold over 2,100 miles to the nearest Mint in Melbourne were obvious and a new branch of the Royal Mint was authorized and opened in 1899.

The Colony in Western Australia had been granted Government in 1890, with John Forrest as the first Premier and Treasurer and it was he who was instrumental in establishing the Perth mint to follow suit with the Sydney and Melbourne branches.

Permission was granted for a Mint from London in 1894, as long as certain conditions were adhered to. The Perth Mint Bill went through Assembly in July 1895. In 1897 a renegotiation was necessary with a new completion date of 1 January 1898. A Proclamation for the new Mint was ratified by Queen Victoria on 13 October 1897. All gold coins struck at the Perth Mint would carry the Mint letter P.

However, as usual with all large building projects, there were some delays, and the Perth Mint building was finally completed on 17 October 1898. The Mint was ready in June and the very first Perth Mint Sovereign was struck on 20 June 1899.

When the Perth Mint stopped minting Imperial type gold Sovereigns in 1931, the total quantity of Sovereigns produced was 106,384,197 pieces.

Census population updated 8/21/2019
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