The Veiled Head sovereigns set spans two centuries, nine years, four mints and includes twenty-nine coins. This convenient number of coins makes a complete set well within the reach of all collectors, even those working on a modest budget over an extended period of time.
When Victoria’s subjects compared the Veiled Head portrait with the Jubilee design that it replaced, they regarded it as a far more appropriate and flattering image of Her Majesty. Victoria’s indomitable spirit, her unyielding loyalty to family and country are clearly conveyed in this most attractive and popular portrait. The number of sovereigns produced during this period, as well as the manner in which they were produced means that the Veiled Head sovereign has unique strike and wear properties.
On the 27th November 1892 it was decided that a new design by Thomas Brock be introduced. The reverse depicts St George mounted with a streamer flowing from his helmet, slaying the dragon with a sword. The date appears below the exergue line with the initials B.P. to the right, the mintmark (if applicable) appears in the centre of the exergue line directly above the date.
British Sovereigns are perhaps the most recognized gold coins in the world. The Queen Victoria “Old Head” variety is among the most popular and scarce, especially in select Almost Uncirculated (AU) condition.
Queen Victoria ruled England from 1838 to 1901, during the famous period in which “the sun never set on the British Empire.” Because of the length of her rule, the image of Victoria on British gold coinage was revised twice to reflect changes in her appearance. From 1838 to 1874, sovereigns featured the “Young Head” portrait of Victoria on the obverse with a shield design on the reverse. (In 1871, the reverse was changed to the traditional image of King George slaying the Dragon.) The next version of Victoria’s image, the so-called “Jubilee Head” portrait, appeared on sovereigns struck from 1887 to 1892. Finally, from 1893 until her death in 1901, British sovereigns featured what we call today the Victoria “Old Head” portrait. This image shows the mature queen, revered as the mother of the British Empire.
Any of these Queen Victoria sovereigns are exceedingly difficult to source in Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) condition, although smalls caches are often located in Europe, often choice Almost Uncirculated (AU) coins. Less expensive than BU coins, these choice AU examples are unusually lovely for the grade.
|Gold Sovereign 1893 Proof||773||Rare||0||0|
|Gold Sovereign 1893||6,898,260||1,346,000||1,914,400||0|
|Gold Sovereign 1894||3,782,611||3,067,000||4,166,874||0|
|Gold Sovereign 1895||2,285,317||2,758,000||4,165,869||0|
|Gold Sovereign 1896||3,334,065||2,544,000||4,456,932||0|
|Gold Sovereign 1897||0||2,532,000||5,130,565||0|
|Gold Sovereign 1898||4,361,347||2,548,000||5,509,138||0|
|Gold Sovereign 1899||7,515,978||3,259,000||5,579,157||694,937|
|Gold Sovereign 1900||10,845,741||3,586,000||4,305,904||1,927,484|
|Gold Sovereign 1901||1,578,948||3,012,000||3,987,701||2,969,947|
Numismatic; the Australian Queen Victoria Veiled Head Gold Sovereigns.
Sir Thomas Brock’s popular Veiled Head portrait captures many of the values so closely attributed to Queen Victoria and her Australian citizens of the dawn of the 20th century – dignity, steadfast loyalty and sacrifice are all qualities that come to mind when viewing an Australian sovereign struck between 1893 and 1901.
As can be seen from the following table, nearly all Veiled Head Sovereigns are of a similar rarity, and there is just one coin that may become reasonably difficult to obtain. This balanced mix of rarity and availability makes the Veiled Head sovereign series an enjoyable and rewarding set to complete.
- Key Date: 1899 Perth
- Rare Dates: 1900 Perth, 1901 Perth, 1898 Sydney, 1897 Sydney, 1896 Sydney,
- Scarce Dates: 1893 Melbourne, 1895 Melbourne, 1900 Sydney,1901 Sydney.
When Queen Victoria died of old age in 1901, an entire era died with her. During the sixty-four years of her reign, Australia grew from a related group of regional colonies to become a federated nation standing independently in the world.
Victoria’s reign was the longest in the history of the British royal family, we can be certain that the memory of her beauty and character would have been kept alive for many years by the coins struck bearing her portrait.
As with each of the other Australian sovereign obverse types, Queen Victoria’s Veiled Head sovereigns offer themselves as an attractive window onto the monetary, economic and social events of their era.
A collapse in the banking system; an economic depression; the discovery of gold in Western Australia; Federation; as well as major technological changes all came to bear during the period in which Veiled Head sovereigns were produced.
Indeed, the discovery of gold in Western Australia led to the establishment of the Perth Mint in 1899 – not coincidentally this is the most difficult Veiled Head sovereign to obtain, particularly in superior quality.
Some of our nation’s most loved literature and art were created during the late Victorian period, many of these works have gone on to become regarded as national treasures – they have become fundamental to the way Australians view themselves.
Many public buildings that remain prominent to this day were built at the turn of the century, often with the riches gained from the goldfields. When Victoria’s subjects compared the Veiled Head portrait with the Jubilee design that it replaced, they regarded it as a far more appropriate and flattering image of Her Majesty.
Victoria’s indomitable spirit, her unyielding loyalty to family and country are clearly conveyed in this most attractive and popular portrait.
The number of sovereigns produced during this period, as well as the manner in which they were produced means that the Veiled Head sovereign has unique strike and wear properties. Discerning collectors will do well to become familiar with the main points to examine when grading this obverse:
- 1. The fringe between the base of the crown and the top of the veil;
- 2. The leading edge of the veil (above, behind and below the ear), as well as the folds towards the back of Victoria’s head;
- 3. Victoria’s shoulder; and
- 4. The eyebrow and cheek (running from directly below Victoria’s eye to the top of her throat.
Although a complete set of Veiled Head sovereigns will never be a unique achievement, it is one that has immediate and lasting appeal to a diverse collector base – prices have shown solid appreciation over time, and superior examples are quite easily resold.
When a quiet and unobtrusive Irishman led a party of men prospecting for gold east of Coolgardie in June of 1893, little did he know that the gold he was to discover would be referred to by the first West Australian Premier as “the colony’s one great product – gold.” The gold discovered by Patrick “Paddy” Hannan in Kalgoorlie lead to one of the greatest gold rushes in the world, provided the impetus for the establishment of the Perth Mint in 1899, and fueled the three Australian mints for several decades.
The volume of gold that came out of Western Australia’s “golden mile” is reflected in the increased availability of sovereigns (from the Perth and Melbourne Mint particularly) until at least 1919.
Less of the gold from Western Australia reached the Sydney Mint, and this is reflected in the higher rarity of the Sydney mint sovereigns from 1896, 1897 and 1898.
Senior planners at the Royal Mint and WA Colonial Government seriously underestimated the volume of gold that the Perth Mint would handle, and as a result the number of sovereigns produced in the early years of the Perth Mint was extremely low compared to production figures in later years.
The key date to the Veiled Head series is the 1899 Perth, and therefore the coin has two appealing points to it – not only is it the first coin to be produced by the Perth Mint, but it is also the rarest date in the Veiled Head series. Some of Australian’s most loved literature and paintings from artists such as Streeton, McCubbin, Paterson, Roberts; Lawson and Long were created during the late Victorian period.
Many of these works have gone on to become regarded as national treasures, and have become fundamental to the way Australians view themselves. Many buildings that remain prominent to this day, Technology – trams, light rail, motion pictures, wireless radio, gramophones. Pre federation banknotes (superscribed issues) were declared to be legal tender.
January 1st 1901 heralded a new era in the history of Australia – we had become a federated nation, and the people rejoiced in the patriotism, loyalty and feeling that the occasion brought along. It was on 1 January 1901 that six colonies came together in a Federation, and thus Australia embarked on its journey to nationhood. Following an extended period of popular debate.
Design for the flag was chosen, legislation leading up to federation was passed, discussions within each state legislature took place, referenda on the topic also conducted.