The Half Sovereign Old Head, or Veiled Head, was the fourth half sovereign series to be struck at an Australian mint, with business and
strikes struck at both Sydney and Melbourne from 1893-1901. In 1900, the Old Head series became the first half sovereign
series to be struck at the Perth Mint.
The obverse, designed by Sir Thomas Brock, depicts a portrait of an
older Queen Victoria veiled, crowned and facing left. Sir Thomas Brock's initials, T.B., are positioned below the portrait's
left shoulder. The
reads VICTORIA DEI GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP.
The reverse, designed by Benedetto Pistrucci, shows St. George, helmed
and caped, riding a long-tailed horse and slaying a dragon. The ground bears a broken lance on the left, as well as the
('M' for Melbourne, 'S' for Sydney, 'P' for Perth) in the centre. The date is positioned below.
Reverse: Sydney Mint 'S' mintmark in the centre of the ground, below the horse's hooves and above the
Reverse: Melbourne Mint 'M' mintmark in the centre of the ground, below the horse's hooves and above
Reverse: Perth Mint 'P' mintmark in the centre of the ground, below the horse's hooves and above the
The Old Head offers only one major challenge to
collectors, the 1893 Melbourne, the second rarest circulation half sovereign with only five known examples, two of which
are in the Royal Australian Mint Museum. Other than that, the series is readily available in all grades up to AU with some
examples in mint state or better turning up from time to time. A lot of the dates, particularly in AU, have reduced in value considerably
since the Reserve Bank of Australia sale
, which saw an oversupply of such dates reach the market. Despite very few higher grade 1899 and 1900 Melbourne
Mint half sovereigns being offered, their prices were brought down by most catalogues indicating they may be somewhat undervalued
in the current market.
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