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Australia Victoria Shield Large Head

1883-S Crenulated Reverse Proof Half Sovereign reverse 1883-S Crenulated Reverse Proof Half Sovereign obverse

1883-S Crenulated Reverse Proof Half Sovereign

Mintage:3 Known Reverse Designer:J. B. Merlen Obverse Designer:William Wyon Size:19mm Weight:3.99g Edge:Reeded Composition:91.67% Gold
8.33% Copper


Sales History


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 (QM Sydney Mint 48).

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.

Reverse: Sydney Mint 'S' mintmark directly below and between two rosettes. Reverse: Sydney Mint 'S' mintmark directly below and between two rosettes.

During the years from 1880 to 1883, the Sydney Mint struck small numbers of half sovereigns that feature a crenulated reverse, typical of the Melbourne Mint examples. Very little is known about this 'variety' beyond educated guesses and what has turned up. This variety has been sighted in the dates of 1880, 1881, and 1883, and is reported in the McDonald catalogues as type 5/3 (McDonald, G, 2008) The reverse design features a crenulated reverse with 147 rim denticles, as opposed to the standard issue which features an even beaded reverse rim and 148 denticles.

Reverse: note the crenulated rims of this type compared to beaded rims below Reverse: note the crenulated rims of this type compared to beaded rims below

One proof issue is known of this type but has not appeared on the market in recent times.

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