The Australian Mint was one of three mints set up in Australia to help with the problem of shipping gold to England, minting sovereigns and then shipping them back to Australia for use in commerce there and in the Far East.
On June 20th 1899, Sir John Forest’s vision became a reality, and the third overseas branch of the Royal Mint opened. Completing a set of gold coins from this mint is one of the most popular directions in collecting Australian gold sovereigns, although one that has not always been carried to completion.
Perth Mint Gold Sovereigns By Year (Table)
This speeded up production, increased security and cut transport costs dramatically. The other two mints were in Sydney and Melbourne near the gold fields nearby.
Perth and other Australian Mint Sovereigns are some of the rarest Sovereigns obtainable.
The earliest Sovereign was the Young Head Victoria – the reverse design of which was taken directly from the Shilling (a common currency at that time in Australia) and with a slightly different Young Head of Queen Victoria.
This is known as the Type 1 Australian Sovereign. This was minted at the Sydney Mint in 1855 and 1856 at the Sydney Mint and had a mintmark s below the wreath on the reverse. It had a silver content of 8.33 %.
To make the Sovereign look more Australian for the type 2 Sovereign a different design was used. There was an Acacia Wreath on the reverse and was used all over the world including in India, S.America, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) Canada and London. In India there was said to be some disquiet over St George Killing the Dragon so the Shield was used
Some of the type 2 Sovereigns have a slightly unusual golden look to them, this was because the silver content was replaced with copper. These were often exported to Ceylon and India.
Most Young head designs were minted with the George & Dragon reverse however and these are more commonly found.
Australian Jubilee Sovereigns are reasonably common and most dates are easy to find in circulated condition. However, in Uncirculated condition many of these Sovereigns are quite rare.
- Veiled Head Sovereigns were used until Queen Victorias death in 1901 Perth Mint marked 1899 are the rarest sovereigns in this design and are a good investment in the higher grades.
- King Edward VII Sovereigns are easy to find in Uncirculated condition and reasonably affordable.
- King George Vth Sovereigns are surprisingly easy to find even in Uncirculated condition but some mintmarks are difficult or even impossible to obtain (the 1920 Sydney Mint example is very rare)
Australian Sovereigns have always in the past been a great investment – what adds to the value of your collection is to make it as complete as possible…
Normal Coin Collecting traditions apply to Australian Mint Sovereigns in that rare coins usually increase in value. Sovereigns only fetch really high or record prices in the very best condition available and if they are of scarce dates…
Grading coins is truly essential with any sovereigns other than bullion coins. A collector’s market is only marginally influenced by current gold prices – most Gold Sovereigns are worth many times more than gold price already!
Designed initially to produce around a million sovereigns per year, the exponential growth in gold coming from the “Golden Mile” of Kalgoorlie & Coolgardie meant that much of the Mint had to be entirely redesigned before it had even opened. By the time it stopped issuing sovereigns in 1931, Perth had produced 106 million – on a year-by-year basis a far higher amount than attained by Sydney or Melbourne.
A complete set of Perth Mint sovereigns spans 32 years, 4 obverse types and 33 dates. Given the relatively high and uniform level of gold produced by Western Australia, many Perth sovereigns are relatively easy to obtain, even in Uncirculated quality. It is for this exact reason that building a complete set of Perth Mint sovereigns is popular with collectors even today, although several of the rarer dates ensure that it no easy task.
To select just one coin which is representative of the entire Perth Mint series, collectors are able to choose from two equally affordable & appealing options. The 1899 coin presents itself as an obvious choice, while the Small Head portrait type, from the final years during which gold sovereigns were struck in Australia is another equally appealing.
Gold Coin Production
At the Perth Branch of the Royal Mint.
Press Release Taken Directly From The Perth Mint
The Perth Mint has kept accurate records of its gold coin production from 1899 – 1931 and published its figures in the Annual Reports of the Royal Mint. These gave the number of coins put into circulation during that calendar year, as required by the Lords of the Treasury. The annual number of coins produced included those issued to banks, those given to museums as well as the coins destined for the Trial of the Pyx, the annual test for accuracy of the coins’ purity and dimensions.
Numismatists want to know different production information from Treasury officials; they collect coins bearing certain dates, and any unusual design features add to the coin’s interest. The figures for the production of Perth Mint sovereigns and half-sovereigns have been published, but always used the figures from the Annual Reports.
The Perth Mint never established a collection of its own coins, perhaps because the Deputy Master, Captain John Francis Campbell, did not truly appreciate the artistic attributes and numismatic significance of the coins. He had been selected for his admirable organizational skills and not set foot inside a mint before his appointment. The staff who had transferred from other branches of the Royal Mint had their personal coin collections and although some were promised to the Mint, the donations were never made.
If a coin had been kept every time there was a change in the design, many questions about the Perth Mint production would be easy to answer.
In 1936 the Deputy Master of the Perth Branch of the Royal Mint, Henry Bertie Gritton, was asked about the different designs featured on Perth Mint’s gold coins. Gritton wished that such a collection existed for him to ‘dip into’. He passed the enquiry onto Cornelius O’Neill Quigley, the Chief Technical Officer, to carry out some research.
File PM 4860 contains a letter dated 7 December 1936 from C F Barrett of the Royal Mint in London asking for information about the production of sovereigns and half-sovereigns from the Perth Mint for a catalogue of “Milled” coinage being prepared by a ‘well-known collector over here’. Quigley had been ill and it had taken him a long time to compile the figures. To inspect the designs on the coins produced, he had to ‘visit pawnbrokers, jewellers and Banks’ and ‘was fortunate in finding an old man who had a number of sovereigns and half-sovereigns buried, and which mostly bore the mark of the Perth Mint’.
He made a thorough search of all the Coining Department books and sought the advice of two workmen, Henry Leonard Moore and George William Bell, who ‘were working with the presses on from the inception of the Mint and are still with us’. The old Coining Department books and die registers, like the workmen, have not survived today so Quigley’s research cannot be checked. But his figures provide the most accurate numbers of coin production for numismatic interest.
Gritton replied on 30 April 1937 that ‘to examine production of our coins for each year from 1899 to 1931 has necessitated the patient turning over of many stones but it has been done. … The number of pieces struck in the calendar year with the dies of that year does not coincide with the number of pieces issued that year because the pieces struck just before Christmas and the New Year were not issued until the first week of the next month (January).’ This discrepancy only applies to sovereigns – half-sovereigns were never made at this time of the year.
There are two exceptions to this practice and these relate to the succession of a new king. Queen Victoria died in January 1901 and her obverse die was used up to 31 December 1901. The 1902 ‘issue’ from the Mint included some of the Victoria coins bearing the date 1901. No 1901 Edward VII coins were minted in Perth. King Edward VII died in 1910 and it was not until 1 March 1911 that King George V dies were used. The 1911 sovereigns and half-sovereigns all featured George V.
In 1929 an alteration was made in the design of the obverse die. Instead of a single beading, a double beading, the same as the reverse, was put on the obverse die and this design was used until the end of 1931 when the Perth Mint ceased the minting of sovereigns. Numismatists refer to these obverses as ‘large head’ from 1911 – 1928 and ‘small head’ from 1929 – 1931. Any discrepancies between the number of these produced and issued in 1928 and 1929 are not known.
The St George and the dragon reverse design was used on all Perth Mint sovereigns and half-sovereigns. The Perth Mintmark on sovereigns and half-sovereigns has always appeared in the same position. A small ‘P’ is placed in the field immediately above the middle of the date.
The discrepancies between the figures for production by year date on the design and by the year of issue reflect the number of coins held in the Coining Department and the Mint Office over the Christmas / New Year period. In the 1899 Annual Report, the Coining Department gives a production figure of 691,706 sovereigns. This must be the number issued to the Mint Office and others must have remained, still unissued, in the Coining Department.
Sovereign production ceased in September 1931 but the number of coins issued during that year is one more than the number of coins made with that date. This can be explained if one coin for 1930 was made and issued in 1931 – perhaps this was specially struck for the Keeper of Coins at the British Museum because he was sent two sovereigns dated 1930 and 1931 on 9 January 1931.
Perth Mint file 2732 refers to half sovereigns which were made in 1919 and 1920 but all used dies dated 1918.
|Year Date||Number of sovereigns dated that year||Number of sovereigns issued that year (as in Annual Report)||Number of half-sovereigns issued that year (which before 1918 is the same as the coin’s year date)||Obverse design|
|1901||2,969,947||2,889,333||0||Queen Victoria (62,977 were released in 1902)|
|1902||4,254,861||4,289,122||0||King Edward VII|
|1903||4,678,569||4,674,783||0||King Edward VII|
|1904||4,596,205||4,506,756||60,030||King Edward VII|
|1905||4,854,698||4,876,193||0||King Edward VII|
|1906||4,803,230||4,829,817||0||King Edward VII|
|1907||5,028,807||4,972,289||0||King Edward VII|
|1908||4,926,537||4,875,617||24,668||King Edward VII|
|1909||4,526,270||4,524,241||44,022||King Edward VII|
|1910||4,685,941||4,690,625||0||Edward VII –|
(Total number of sovereigns dated 1910 is 5,646,049)
|1910 (minted in 1911)||960,108||4,373,165||0||Edward VII –|
(Total number of sovereigns dated 1910 is 5,646,049)
|1911||3,413,474||130,373||0||King George V|
(Annual Report figure includes 1910 Edward VII sovereigns minted in January and February 1911)
|1912||4,390,672||4,278,144||0||King George V|
|1913||4,689,749||4,635,287||0||King George V|
|1914||4,771,657||4,815,996||0||King George V|
|1915||4,334,135||4,373,596||136,219||King George V|
|1916||4,107,705||4,096,771||0||King George V|
|1917||4,116,840||4,110,286||0||King George V|
|1918||3,725,961||3,812,884||0||King George V ** Total number of 1918-dated half sovereigns = 219,988|
|1919||2,852,156||2,995,216||113,572||King George V (dated 1918 – PM 2732) **|
|1920||2,533,542||2,421,196||106,416||King George V (dated 1918 PM 2732) **|
|1921||2,320,530||2,314,360||0||King George V|
|1922||2,256,187||2,298,884||0||King George V|
|1923||2,129,026||2,124,154||0||King George V|
|1924||1,428,984||1,464,416||0||King George V|
|1925||1,868,007||1,837,901||0||King George V|
|1926||1,297,625||1,313,578||0||King George V|
|1927||1,305,420||1,383,544||0||King George V|
|1928||1,399,102||1,333,417||0||King George V|
|1929||1,588,350||1,606,625||0||King George V – double beading on obverse die started 1 January 1929. All 1929 coins have double beading (small head)|
|1930||1,773,914||1,915,352||0||King George V (small head)|
|1931||1,173,567||1,173,568||0||King George V (small head)|