The Royal Mint at William Street in Melbourne was a lovely Victorian Complex around a verandaed courtyard.
This was in fact a branch of the Royal Mint in London and not originally an Australian company.
It was built in 1871-1872 and the central administrative wing is based on the Palazzon Cafferelli-Vidoni by Raphael in Rome. The Melbourne Mint began production of sovereigns in 1872. These had the mint mark m.
Following the discovery of gold in Australia the NSW Legislative Council on 19 December 1851 addressed a petition to Her Majesty Queen Victoria seeking the establishment of a branch of the Royal Mint (London) in Sydney. The intention was to turn the newly won gold into sovereigns and half sovereigns, and to establish a point of sale where the miners would receive the official price of gold as opposed to the often-paltry prices paid by the buyers on the fields.
All equipment and dies were sent from London and sample coins had to be sent back to London for approval. It was possible for miners and gold owners to take their gold directly to the mint and have it made into coins. There was a charge made for this service.
List of Sovereigns & Half Sovereign minted in Melbourne.
|Sovereigns coin 1872||748,180||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1873||752,199||165,034|
|Sovereigns coin 1874||1,373,298||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1875||1,888,405||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1876||2,124,445||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1877||1,487,316||80,016|
|Sovereigns coin 1878||2,171,457||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1879||2,740,594||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1880||3,053,454||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1881||2,324,800||42,009|
|Sovereigns coin 1882||4,559,631||107,522|
|Sovereigns coin 1883||2,050,450||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1884||2,942,630||48,009|
|Sovereigns coin 1885||2,967,143||11,003|
|Sovereigns coin 1886||2,902,131||38,008|
|Sovereigns coin 1887||2,856,424||64,013|
|Sovereigns coin 1888||2,830,612||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1889||2,732,590||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1890||2,473,537||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1891||2,749,592||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1892||3,488,750||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1893||1,649,352||110,024|
|Sovereigns coin 1893||1,346,000||Mintage Unknown|
|Sovereigns coin 1894||4,166,874||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1895||4,165,869||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1896||4,456,932||218,946|
|Sovereigns coin 1897||5,130,565||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1898||5,509,138||None Issued|
|Gold Sovereign 1902 Proof||Extremely Rare|
|Sovereigns coin 1902||4,267,157|
|Sovereigns coin 1903||3,521,780|
|Sovereigns coin 1904||3,743,897|
|Sovereigns coin 1905||3,633,838|
|Gold Sovereign 1906||3,657,853|
|Sovereigns coin 1907||3,332,691|
|Sovereigns coin 1908||3,080,148|
|Sovereigns coin 1909||3,029,538|
|Sovereigns coin 1910||3,054,547|
|Sovereigns coin 1911||2,851,451||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1912||2,469,257||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1913||2,323,180||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1914 *||2,012,029||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1915||1,637,839||125,664|
|Sovereigns coin 1916||1,272,634||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1917||934,469||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1918||4,809,493||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1919||514,257||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1920||530,266||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1921||240,121||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1922||608,306||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1923||511,129||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1924||278,140||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1925||3,311,662||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1926||211,107||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1928||413,208||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1929||436,938||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1930||77,588||None Issued|
|Sovereigns coin 1931||57,809||None Issued|
With the discovery of even larger gold fields, Victoria’s Legislative Council petitioned the Queen in July 1852 for a branch of the Royal Mint to be set up in Melbourne. The NSW petition, lodged 19 December 1851, was successful and the Sydney branch of the Royal Mint commenced operations on the 14 May 1855. Melbourne’s bid failed and it was not until 1865 that a further petition brought a favorable response. This delay is surprising in view of the fact that by 1860 there were over 80,000 alluvial miners on the fields and, by 1861 Victoria had over half of the Australia’s total population of 1,145,000.
A proclamation and Order – in – Council issued on 7 August 1869 constituted the Melbourne branch of the Royal Mint declaring that: ‘gold coins made at the Melbourne branch Mint will be legal tender in all parts of Her Majesty’s dominions in which gold coins issued from Her Majesty’s London Mint are legal tender’. The Melbourne Mint began production 12 June 1872. The Melbourne Mint had a great deal of trouble when it first began production, the dies were not getting anywhere near the life they should with Michael Marsh quoting figures of “an average of 14,000 for the reverse dies and 8,000 for the obverse dies.”
By the time of its closure in 1931, the Melbourne Mint had gone on to produce the highest number of sovereigns issued by any branch of the Royal Mint – a true reflection of the richness of the goldfields of Bendigo & Ballarat. It was at these same goldfields that the notorious Eureka Stockade took place back in 1854 – an event influential in shaping the collective Australian psyche. The wealth of the Victorian goldfields, often when spent as gold sovereigns from the Melbourne Mint, forever transformed the architecture, society and culture of Australia. Much of this transformation may be traced through a collection of sovereigns from the Melbourne Mint.
A complete set of Melbourne Mint sovereigns spans 59 years, 7 obverse and reverse types, and 72 dates. Although a complete Melbourne sovereign set is nowhere as difficult to achieve as one from the Sydney Mint, there are enough truly rare coins in this series to present even the most earnest and well-funded collector with a challenge.
Many dates from the Melbourne Mint present themselves but once or twice a decade in superior quality, and are coveted by discerning collectors when they do happen to become available.
For collectors looking to select just one representative gold sovereign from the Melbourne Mint, the Queen Victoria Young Head obverse may be considered to be the preferred choice. The full spectrum of rarity and affordability may be found in both the Shield & St George series, leaving the collector with a wide range from which to select a coin which for them best captures the Eureka spirit of the Victorian goldfields.
The last issues were made in 1931 from Melbourne and Perth (The Sydney Mint had closed in 1926). In addition to bullion and general circulation sovereigns, the Melbourne mint made rare presentation coins for the Queen Victoria Jubilee in 1888 (A two pound piece) and another two-pound piece for the Coronation of King Edward VII. The Royal Mint closed in 1970 in Melbourne.