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Recent Articles 22-Feb-2020

Rare Pre-Decimal Coins

Anna Fhaumnuaypol Pre-decimals are coins that everyone, whether you are a collector or just starting out, usually have in their collection which have the potential to truly worth a lot of money. It represents a very interesting look into the past since when it was first introduced in Australia in 1910.

1942 and 1943 Bombay Mint Copper

Anna Fhaumnuaypol During wartime, the demand for pennies and half pennies increased immensely due to pay requirements of Australian and American forces within Australia. However, the availability of metals, especially copper and silver used for coins, was in shortage due to it being used for the war effort for munitions. Moreover, people were continuing to hoard silver and copper coins in money boxes for fear of instability resulting in banks running out of coins to function their day-to-day routine.

Collecting Old Australian Coins

Walter Eigner Collecting old Australian coins provides a fascinating glimpse into Australia's history through its circulating coinage. While there is a general impression that old coins are too expensive for new collectors to collect that couldn't be further from the truth. For just a few dollars you could obtain a later year mint-state pre-decimal coin, and for less than the cost of a modern proof set you can purchase a George V (1911-1936) pre-decimal coin.

The case for certified coins

Walter Eigner The debate on certified coins vs uncertified coins has been going on in Australia since PCGS first reached the mainstream Australian market back in 2008. While today most Australian coin collectors favour PCGS graded coins, a recent incident has reaffirmed the importance of and buying certified coins and valuing them first, especially when buying on-line.

Valuing Old Coins

Walter Eigner By far the most common question we get asked is "what is my coin worth?" Perhaps you found a few old coins which is why you're here reading this article. Maybe you're a seasoned collector already looking to get more precise values for your coins than the printed catalogues can offer. Perhaps you're an investor looking to value your coin portfolio. This guide will cover all of that.

The Silver of Edward VII

Walter Eigner Although Australia had been a nation since 1901, it wasn't until 1910 that her first official coins were produced. While the Melbourne mint was producing sovereigns and half sovereigns at the time, these were technically Imperial British coins. The first coins issued specifically for Australia were struck in silver and of the denominations threepence, sixpence, shilling, and florin. These featured the Australian Coat of Arms on the reverse and the crowed bust of King Edward VII on the obverse.

Sydney Mint Half Sovereigns

Walter Eigner The discovery of gold in the colony New South Wales in 1851 prompted a surge of immigration among prospectors seeking wealth in the new colony. This lead to the production of half sovereigns in Sydney as of 1855. Only 3.3 million half sovereigns were produced from 1855 to 1869 resulting in individual years being very scarce and valuable. To add to this, the high bullion content of Sydney mint half sovereigns, which were alloyed with silver, compared with their British counterparts, which were alloyed with copper...
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Half Sovereigns of the Sydney Mint (1853 - 1869)

Type II - Wreathed Bust

The Type II series was introduced in 1857 but as with most of the early Sydney mint issues, demand exceeded that which the mint could produce and due to the slow and expensive method for ordering replacement dies from London, the mint engaged in many improvised techniques for extending the life of the dies.

Due to the low pressure needed to strike gold coins, dies were more likely to wear out than crack and consequently the Sydney mint instead re-punched letters into the dies in order to extend their working life. This has resulted in a number of issues having re-punched letters, sometimes using the incorrect letter in place for example with the 1858 REG as RFG or SOVEREIGN as SOVRREIGN errors.

In addition to re-punching letters, dates were also overdated in order to continue using the obverse dies beyond their original date. The first overdated piece of the Wreathed Bust series was in 1857 when the 1855 pattern die bearing the L.C. Wyon bust of Queen Victoria was repunched with a 7 over the final digit in the date to produce a new 1857 die. These can be identified by the loop of the 5 protruding one of the right hand side of the base of the 7 as in figure 18575ODHALF.

In addition to these overdates, a very small number of 1855 half sovereigns with the L.C. Lyon obverse are known to exist and considering the very low survival rates of the era, it should be considered no small feat for any to survive unless they were struck in higher quantities, probably around the 1000 mark. These were most likely struck in 1857 prior to the overdating of the die. That being said, due to the low survival rates only three have survived, of which only two are in private hands and the other residing in the Museum of Victoria. These should not be confused with the 1855 Type II pattern which although struck from the same obverse die, was struck to proof quality with a cameo finish.

Despite the high mintage of the 1857 of 537,000, the low survival rate has meant a probable survival count fewer than 2,000 pieces. With the date having been possible to source through bullion lots up until the late 1990s, very low grade or problem examples were often melted and thus the grades of the surviving examples tends towards a bell curve with the peak at around the VG to Fine level.


The 1858 is probably the most common date in the series, continuing to service the high demand to monetise gold from the early gold rush dates and to produce a circulating high denomination coin for the colony. Like the 1857, the Sydney mint ran into problems with the working life of dies and consequently resorted to re-punching digits onto the dies. While most of these just resulting in the doubling of letters, there are two known examples of where the wrong letter was punched into the die; the first and most well known is the SOVRREIGN error. In this error, the first E of SOVEREIGN on the reverse was re-punched on the die with the letter R by mistake as in figure SOVRR. Very few examples were struck with this error and even fewer had survived as the die was subsequently re-punched with the correct letter E. Having been discovered relatively early in Australian collecting history by the late Barry Sparkes in year 1994 (confirm), the error has become very popular and is now highly sought after.

A more recently discovered error, the REG as RFG error which saw the E of REG re-punched with an F instead of an E as in figure RFG, does not attract as much demand due to a lack of awareness resulting from its only recent discovery. It is nonetheless scarce though just how scarce they are remains to be seen.


The 1859 half sovereign exists as both a standard issue and an 1859/8 overdate. Both the year and its overdate seem to turn up far less frequently than the mintage implies, particularly in higher grades and some strike weakness is common to the year. The overdate is scarce though a lack of awareness of the issue may indicate many more unidentified examples exist. The issue can be identified by the bottom right-hand corner of the 8 bulging out of the 9 as in figure 18598ODHALF.

At least one 1859/8 overdate half sovereign has been slabbed by NGC at MS61 and sold at the HAG auction in January 2012 for USD 10,925.

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