1855 Sydney Mint Type I Half Sovereign Fair
Obverse: Type I portrait of Victoria to left, date below and legend around
Reverse: Australia within wreath
Diameter: 19.30mm | Weight: 3.99g | Purity: 91.67 | AGW: 0.1177 ozt
Lot #48, Downie's (Australian Coin Auctions) Auction 205 (October 1986). Estimate: $1,100, Hammer: $1,200, Nett: $1,200.
Lot #621, Noble Numismatics Auction 72 (March 2003). Estimate: $200, Hammer: $5,700, Nett: $6,641.
Lot #1330, Noble Numismatics Auction 100 (July 2012). Passed in at an estimate of: $10,000.
This is arguably THE most affordable 1855 half sovereign available.
The 1855 Sydney half-sovereign is unequivocally Australia's rarest circulating coin.
While there are other Australian coins that are regarded as being rarer, they are not standard coins issued for circulation - patterns, proofs, errors and varieties aren't considered for this exercise.
Current numismatic research indicates that there are perhaps only fifty 1855 half sovereigns remaining available to collectors today.
That is an incredibly low number when we consider that some 21,000 were struck for use in the colonial economy of New South Wales.
This particular example was obviously actively in circulation for many years - it is heavily worn and has been variously punched, bent and buckled.
Despite this ignominious condition, it remains incredibly rare. Not only is it one of just fifty known examples, but it is also actually incredibly rare in this condition.
Most 1855 Sydney Mint half sovereigns in lower condition are evenly worn, and only have minor contact marks either side (if any at all). Very few are seen as banged up like this one, which means that there are very few opportunities for the date collector of Australian half sovereigns to acquire one of these historic coins for significantly less than $20,000.
Our auction records indicate that this coin has turned up for sale several times, most recently in July 2012. Check the prices it made in 1986 and then 2003, you can see it has been contested by budget-minded half-sovereign collectors on several occasions.
While it won't win any beauty contests, this hardy example of Australia's rarest circulating coin is incredibly affordable and will plug the gap in an album of Australian halves as easily as one that is three times the price.
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