Gold Sovereigns

Sovereign Collector Notes


Intended to be notes on issues in no particular order as yet. Information added as it is found or remembered.
By no means comprehensive, this is a on going project in order to educate and inform collectors, submissions welcome !
1892 Sydney Relatively common in high grade, part of Swiss hoard, well struck year, ChUnc minimum.
1893 Melbourne The Jubilee Head version of this is quite scarce in higher grade, date to watch.
1899 Perth Mostly poorly struck issue, been informed MS-64 is possible.
1899 Sydney Relatively common in higher grade, large hoard in Swiss Banks released late 90's to about 2003, Choice Unc minimum to buy. Some evidence suggests that there are still rolls available today.
1902 Matte Proof Nearly all have some kind of wipe mark, anecdotal evidence of Mint workers wiping coins. Impaired and damaged proofs common, Coins pickled after strike.
1908 Perth Seems to be only Perth date to be available in ChUnc for Edward VII, considered well struck for a Perth issue.
1916 London All of this issue exported to the USA and melted into ingots, rare.
1917 London All of this issue exported to the USA and melted into ingots, extremely rare.
1926 Sydney All of this issue exported to the UK and melted into ingots, rare.
1929/30/31 George V St George is different, much weedier, detail in obverse is not as strong as "large head", hair appears quite flat.
1937 Proofs With plain edge and tight fitting case most of these have edge bruising, case allows coin surfaces to be handled, proofs in FDC truly difficult to find.
1957-1968 Most went to Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Israel to attempt to blunt demand for counterfeits being produced in that region, most of remaining orders came from Australia and Canada.10
1968 Most went to Greece, according to 1971 ACR article, the Military Junta put a stop to further orders for gold.10
Perth Mint Most issues poorly struck, some years better than others.
Grade before Rarity. Demand drops very sharply for grades lower than Unc, grade is priority when deciding on which examples to purchase
2007 St George Reverse Royal Mint Re-Engraved St George Reverse From Original Model of Pistricci's, many changes to design, but Mint says much closer to original work.
De-Monetization of Pre-Victorian Sovereigns Newspaper clipping in Kenyon's Gold Coins of England: Times Newspaper 12th Feb 1890.

Sovereign Collections

Since it is nearly impossible to collect entire series of these wonderful coins, here are a few suggested types of collections each with its own challenges and rewards.
Uncirculated is minimum standard to buy, Choice Uncirculated preferred, if you ever see a gem and it is affordable to you, buy it !
If you spread your the cost of your collection over a minimum 5 year period, a quality set is within reach of all budgets.

Queen Elizabeth Type Set

One of each type produced.
Affordable to most budgets over a few years and quite enjoyable.
Those with a substantial budget could attempt this in proofs only, the Mary Gillick portrait is very rare.
1957 Sovereign 1957 has finer milling than later issues.
1958-1968 The First portrait is available at around bullion for BU examples.
1974-1984 Proof issues of early 1980's are available at around bullion.
1985-1997 Proof only and rather difficult to obtain.
1989 1989 issue is quite popular comes up fairly regularly.
1999- Large head obverse and 3 different reverses, deceptively simple, St George shown here.
2002 Shield Reverse
2005 Stylized St George Reverse

King George V Mints Set

One of each mint produced.
George V ruled at height of the Royal Mints reach and is the only monarch whose portrait appears on sovereigns from all 7 branches.
Suits most budgets, starting from bullion up to AUD$500,000 each (US$350,000).
Sydney Mint Most expensive and cheapest of the set, Choice Uncs can be obtained for 25% above bullion.
Melbourne Mint Well struck most dates, relatively common.
London Mint 1913 most common, 1917 rarest.
Ottawa Mint 1917 seen most often, not easy in higher grades.
Pretoria Mint 1927, 1928 very common in higher grade, 1923 and 1924 nearly impossible.
Perth Mint Usual weak strike most years, Choice Uncs for every budget.
Bombay Mint 1918 only, top examples not easy.

Queen Victoria Type Set

One of each type produced.
Affordable to most budgets over a few years and quite enjoyable.
Those with a substantial budget could attempt this in proofs only, the Young portrait ones are very rare.
Young Head St George Reverse Produced from 1871 in Sydney and London, Melbourne started in 1872, purists may wish to note that there is 3 or so slightly different versions of this portrait.
Young Head Shield Reverse Produced in London from 1838, with branch mints commencing in 1871 & 1872 purists may wish to note that there is 5 or so slightly different versions of this portrait.
Jubilee Head Produced in 3 mints 1887 to 1893, Michael Marsh notes 2 types of this obverse.
Veiled Head Produced in 4 mints from 1893 to 1901. Perth commenced in 1899.

Monarch Type Set

One of each monarch type produced.
Bit of a challenge this one in strictly Uncirculated condition or an interesting and, (I believe), somewhat good value method to gather the proofs from this series.
George III 1818 rarest of all sovereigns, other dates obtainable in Unc with patience.
George IV, Laureate Head. Not easy to find in better grades.
George IV, Bare Head. Proof depicted here, only found slightly more than earlier portrait.
William IV Not often found in collectable grades.
Queen Victoria, Young Head, St George. A well struck high grade version is truly a thing of beauty to behold.
Queen Victoria, Young Head, Shield. Shield design is quite hard wearing, still retains good eye appeal at lower grades but Unc minimum to buy.
Queen Victoria, Jubilee Head. Proof depicted here, Choice Uncs are achievable.
Queen Victoria, Veiled Head. Proof depicted here, Choice Uncs are achievable.
Edward VII Matte Proof depicted here, Choice Uncs are difficult to find.
George V, Large Head. 1920 Sydney is the rarest of this series with prices around AUD$500,000 to 1911 Sydney in Choice available for AUD$190. A coin for every budget. London Proof Depicted Here
George V, Small Head. A low point in sovereign history, general standard is not high, Unc versions can be quite disappointing.
George VI 1937 Proofs only, plain edged, often "edge bruised".
Queen Elizabeth II Proofs near impossible, Gem UNC's for around bullion.
Queen Elizabeth II, Decimal. Proofs around bullion, good value to gather.
Queen Elizabeth II, 3rd Portrait. Deceptively difficult to obtain.
Queen Elizabeth II, 500th Anniversary. Single Year Issue in 1989, rather attractive design available in Proof only.
Queen Elizabeth II, Old Head Proofs and bullion issues still affordable.

How do I go about Collecting Australian Gold Sovereigns?

From KJC Coins
Some suggestions directly from the website.
"The Australian Minted Gold Sovereign Series 1855-1931 consists of 9 different types as depicted regularly in our "Gold Coins of Australia 1852-1931" listing in each of our "Collectors Monthly" publication. They include the Sydney Mint Type 1 (1855-1856), Sydney Mint Type 2 (1857-1870), Victorian Young Head Shield Reverse (1871-1887), Victorian Young Head St. George Reverse (1871-1887), Victorian Jubilee Head (1887-1893), Victorian Veil Head (1893-1901), King Edward VII (1902-1910), King George V Large Head (1911-1928) & King George V Small Head (1929-1931).

Australian Sovereigns were minted in Sydney from 1855 to 1926, Melbourne from 1872 to 1931 and Perth from 1899 to 1931. Therefore, from 1872 it is possible to have exactly the same type and dated Australian Sovereign struck at both the Sydney and Melbourne mints and 1899 at the Perth Mint. This, however, was not the same case every year, Sovereigns could be produced at one mint, two mints or all three mints and when enough coins were thought to be in circulation no sovereigns were produced at all. A complete Collection of Australian Gold Sovereigns encompasses all those produced between 1855 and 1931 at they Sydney, Melbourne and Perth Mints some 190 pieces in total.

The first Australian Sovereigns feature our own unique Australian design and are known as the famous and Rare "Sydney Mint" type sovereigns struck from 1855 to 1870. From 1871 to 1931 when production ceased, Imperial sovereigns were produced in Australia distinguishable only by a (S) Sydney, (M) Melbourne or (P) Perth Mint marks stamped onto each coin.

Australian Sovereigns may be collected by Date, Type, Mint or a combination of these. Take the Queen Victoria Veiled Head Series (1893-1901), it contains a total of 21 coins - 9 struck in Sydney, 9 in Melbourne and 3 in Perth. If you decide to collect this series the aim is to piece together one example of each of the 21 different dated and Minted Veiled Head Type Sovereigns ever struck. In most series there are certain key dates which will cost you considerably more than the others but these make very good Investments and are worth saving up for. In the Veiled Head series for instance 1899 Sydney and Melbourne Mints will cost you around $250 in Uncirculated condition quality where as the 1899 Perth will cost you around $3,000 as it is the key date of the series.

One of the most popular collections of Australian Sovereigns today is the complete Perth Mint Collection, containing 33 coins minted from 1899 to 1931. While the majority of these can be put together for $150-$185 for each coin, there are several key dates which make the collection valuable including the 1899, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928, that will cost you considerably more. The popularity of the Perth Mint Collection derives from the fact that to complete a collection in nice quality will set you back just $13,000-$15,000 where as Sydney or Melbourne Mint Sovereign Collection will cost well into the $100's of thousands to assemble in similar quality.

There is no substitute for experience and expertise, it is based on this that we recommend you look at building up complete collection of Victorian sovereigns, the Veil Head Series 1893-1901 where most coins in Uncirculated quality will cost as little as $250 each, the earlier Jubilee Head Series 1887-1893 where most coins in Uncirculated quality would cost as little as $300 each. If your budget can stand it the Young Head and Shield Series is recommended in Uncirculated quality but be prepared to spend up to $1,500 per coin on average. The beautiful Sydney Mint Series from 1855-1870 are very valuable in high quality and may be out of reach for many Collectors, if so, we recommend considering one or two choice examples. We also highly recommend the later King George V Coins which are either Very Scarce or Rare dates due to the cutting back of mintages. Dates highly recommended include 1919M, 1920M, 1921S & M, 1922 S & M, 1923S, 1924 S & P, 1925P, 1926 P, S & M, 1927P, 1928 M & P, 1929M, 1930M and 1931M.

When you consider that Australian Sovereigns are the Rarest and most sought after Sovereigns in the world today, with institutions such as Rothschilds in London taking the time to piece together a complete collection, they still represent great value with many of the 190 Sovereigns ever issued, available in top quality, for between $150-$500 each.

The simple fact is that unlike the modern mass produced issues released from the Government Mints in Canberra and Perth today, the Sovereigns are no longer produced and in fact as time goes by there are less and less remaining in existence. With more and more interested Collectors and Investors in the market and less coins it makes good sense to start putting some away now as a nest egg for your Retirement or to pass onto your children. "