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1897-S Half Sovereign

Old Head

Australia

1897-S Half Sovereign Reverse1897-S Half Sovereign Obverse Mintage50,000 pieces struck in 1898 and 65,000 pieces struck in 1899 were likely dated 1897.Reverse DesignerBenedetto PistrucciObverse DesignerSir Thomas BrockWeight3.99 gramsSize19 mmCountryAustraliaDateMM1897-SDenominationHalf SovereignVarietyOld HeadPrefixMSWeight3.9934790159Size19EdgeReededFace CurrencyGBPFace Value0.5Mintage0Mintage Info50,000 pieces struck in 1898 and 65,000 pieces struck in 1899 were likely dated 1897.6481897-S Half SovereignCompositionGold91.7%0.9167000055Copper8.3%0.0833000019Gold0.9167000055Copper0.0833000019Bullion Value$210
In 1872, the newly established Melbourne Mint joined the Sydney Mint in striking full and half sovereigns, but it was not until 1899 that the Perth branch of the Royal Mint was opened to accommodate for gold deposits found in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie(The Perth Mint , 2016)1642Website
The Perth Mint
History
The Perth Mint1/1/2016http://www.perthmint.com.au/visit_the_mint_the_perth_mint_history.aspx4/26/2016 4:16:52 PM
 just as the Melbourne Mint had been established to accommodate Victoria's ample gold resources. The Perth Mint had a strong advocate in Sir John Forrest, the first Premier of Western Australia(The Perth Mint, 2016)1635Website
The Perth Mint
History
The Perth Mint1/1/2016http://www.perthmint.com.au/visit_the_mint_the_perth_mint_history.aspx4/26/2016 3:50:54 PM

The Perth Mint struck gold sovereigns from its opening in 1899, and half sovereigns from 1900, until 1931 when Britain ceased using the gold standard(The Perth Mint, 2016)1636Website
The Perth Mint
History
The Perth Mint1/1/2016http://www.perthmint.com.au/visit_the_mint_the_perth_mint_history.aspx4/26/2016 3:50:54 PM
. During this time the a facility that produces coinsmintmint struck approximately 106 million sovereigns and 735,000 half-sovereigns; it would then go on to mint bullion bars and decimal coinage(The Perth Mint, 2016)1635Website
The Perth Mint
History
The Perth Mint1/1/2016http://www.perthmint.com.au/visit_the_mint_the_perth_mint_history.aspx4/26/2016 3:50:54 PM
. On 1 July 1970, legal control of the mint transferred from Britain to the Western Australian Government(The Perth Mint, 2016)1635Website
The Perth Mint
History
The Perth Mint1/1/2016http://www.perthmint.com.au/visit_the_mint_the_perth_mint_history.aspx4/26/2016 3:50:54 PM
. Since 1987, following the Gold Corporation by a State Act, the Perth Mint has struck gold, silver and platinum legal tender, and is renowned for the purity of its metals, traditional workmanship and iconic series(The Perth Mint, 2016)1635Website
The Perth Mint
History
The Perth Mint1/1/2016http://www.perthmint.com.au/visit_the_mint_the_perth_mint_history.aspx4/26/2016 3:50:54 PM
. It continues to operate today at its original Hay Street premises, designed by George Temple Poole, which had a new adjacent building constructed in 2003, along with a refinery near the Perth airport which was opened in April 1990(The Perth Mint , 2016)1637Website
The Perth Mint
History
The Perth Mint1/1/2016http://www.perthmint.com.au/visit_the_mint_the_perth_mint_history.aspx4/26/2016 3:50:54 PM
.

The Melbourne Mint 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)1638Book
The Quartermaster Collection
The Melbourne Mint
Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd1/1/20094/26/2016 3:50:54 PM58-9
. The Sydney Mint closed in 1926 having produced gold, silver and copper coins throughout its time(Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd, 2009)1639Book
The Quartermaster Collection
The Sydney Mint
Monetarium (Australia) Pty Ltd1/1/20094/26/2016 3:50:54 PM48

The Half Sovereign Old Head, or Veiled Head, was the fourth half sovereign series to be struck at an Australian mint, with business and A coin struck from specially prepared dies to strike a superior quality coin not intended for circulationproofproof 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 The heads side of the coinobverseobverse, 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 The inscription around the inner edge of the coinlegendlegend reads VICTORIA • DEI • GRA• BRITT • REGINA • FID • DEF • IND • IMP •. 

The The tails side of the coinreversereverse, 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 A marking, usually a letter or dot that signifies which mint struck a particular coinmintmarkmintmark ('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 date.


Reverse: Melbourne Mint 'M' mintmark in the centre of the ground, below the horse's hooves and above the date.



Reverse: Perth Mint 'P' mintmark in the centre of the ground, below the horse's hooves and above the date.

The Old Head offers only one challenge to date set collectors, the 1893 Melbourne, the 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 A state of a coin that shows no signs of circulationmint statemint 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(Downies, 2005)1643Book
The Auction of the Gold Coins of the Reserve Bank of Australia
Australian Half Sovereigns
Downies1/1/20054/29/2016 3:01:18 PM55-60
, which saw an oversupply of such dates reach the market. However, very few higher grade 1899 and 1900 Melbourne Mint half sovereigns were offered yet their prices were brought down by most catalogues indicating they may be somewhat undervalued.

The 1897 Sydney is one of the easier dates in the series to acquire in average or better, though it rarely turns up in bullion grade. Mint reports indicate that no coins were struck at the Sydney Mint in 1897 but 50,000 coins were struck in 1898 and 65,000 coins were struck in 1899. It is most likely that these were struck using 1897 dies, indicating a total mintage of 115,000. The type is available in EF to Uncirculated but they are very difficult to acquire. One example in Gem Uncirculated is known and was offered through Noble Numismatics recently where it realised close to $15,000.

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