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Australia Victoria Jubilee Head

1891-S With JEB Half Sovereign reverse 1891-S With JEB Half Sovereign obverse

1891-S With JEB Half Sovereign

Figure shared with:
Sans JEB
Mint:Sydney Mint Monarch:Victoria Reverse Designer:J. B. Merlen Obverse Designer:Sir J. E. Boehm Size:19mm Weight:3.99g Edge:Reeded Composition:91.67% Gold
8.33% Copper


Sales History


In 1872, the newly established 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 Jubliee Head was the third half sovereign series to be struck at an Australian mint, with business and proof strikes struck at both Sydney and Melbourne from 1887-1893.

The series shows only one obverse and one reverse type. The obverse, designed by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, shows Queen Victoria facing left. She wears a crown and veil, as well as a necklace, earrings, and half garter star (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) . The legend reads VICTORIA DEI: GRATIA. Edgar Boehm's initials, JEB, vary in appearance: the letters can be wide, narrow, normal or medium, or the 'J' can look like an 'I'. Spacing of the letters is different depending on the mint, and the 1891 Sydney issue does not show the initials (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) . See some examples below:

The reverse, designed by Jean Baptiste Merlen, depicts a crown atop a shield; the date and mintmark sit directly below the shield. The legend reads BRITTANIARUM REGINA FID: DEF.

There is one variation in the reverse design which can be seen in the 1889 Sydney and 1893 Melbourne. For these two issues, the shield is placed slightly lower than in others. The base of the shield touches the mintmark, and the cross on top of the crown is fully visible (Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009) .

A fairly short type as far as business strike s go. The key date is the 1889 Sydney which has always been highly underrated, possibly because catalogues did not have a mintage figure for this date, which traditionally has been used as a gauge of rarity, despite Royal Mint reports indicating a mintage of 32,000 (Marsh, M, A, 2004) . Its rarity was only revealed at the Reserve Bank of Australia sale, which had so few quality examples available (Downies, 2005) . Even now, on the rare chance that they turn up, many dealers let them pass through their bullion piles - something worth looking out for considering this date is quite a degree rarer than the 1930 Penny.

There are many dates within the series only available as pattern s which would disappoint many date set collectors, most of whom have simply learned to skip those dates. The mintage figures for the two 1891 Sydney types are combined, while mintage figures for 1887 types are all inclusive of every other type including Young Head types. The 1893 Melbourne mintage is possibly shared with the Old Head type of the same date, however, there are only five known business strikes of the Old Head type.

There are two distinct 1891 types, again with the differences discernible in the JEB formation. In this case the two types are distinguished with one having JEB present and the other without. The example sans JEB is the more common of the two and probably the most common date in the series to acquire in lower grades. The type with JEB is very scarce with probably fewer than 100 examples surviving. In the upper grades it is practically unheard of though at least one uncirculated example has survived.

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