1887 Melbourne Shield Sovereign about Unc
Obverse: Queen Victoria Young Head to left, date below and legend around
Reverse: Coronate shield within wreath, mintmark below and legend around
This is a premium example of Australia's second-rarest Shield-reverse gold sovereign.
Sovereign collectors the world over have long known that all Queen Victoria Shield reverse sovereigns are scarce, no matter when or where they were struck. The 1887 Melbourne is the second rarest Shield of them all, second only to the 1886 Melbourne Shield, which is one of the key dates in the entire Australian sovereign series.
Interestingly, the vast majority of, if not all shield sovereigns struck in Australia were exported to India. The background of this nuance of distribution provides an insight into world trade in the 19th century. The British East India Company was actively involved in the China-India trade during this period, some of the products traded included: British cotton; Indian textiles; opium; spices and tea; silk and porcelain. One train of thought is that Chinese merchants were most reluctant to accept payment in gold sovereigns featuring the St George reverse design, as it depicted a dragon in an undignified and indeed humiliating position.
In European mythology (such as fairy tales) dragons are generally reviled and hated creatures - slain by the hero of any story they feature in. In stark contrast, the dragon is one of the most important images in Chinese mythology and is used to symbolise happiness, immortality, procreation, fertility and activity. Images of dragons appear widely in Chinese architecture, clothing; in decorative arts and in annual festivities. It is hardly surprising then that Chinese merchants may have refused to accept coins featuring an image of a dragon being slain!
An alternative explanation is that the use of an image of St George (the patron saint of England) on British coinage nigh constituted idol worship, a practice that is taboo in many Eastern religions. Yet another (less sensational) explanation for the use of this reverse type in India is that “the people there had become accustomed to that pattern.”
Whatever the explanation, “the Master of the Sydney Mint had instructions from the Royal Mint to use the St. George type reverse, and to only strike sovereigns with the shield reverse to special order, mostly for export to India.”
Although India has been a voracious consumer of gold over the years, its demand was not such that the entire output of Australian sovereigns would have been sent there. There only two years in which the Shield mintage is known exactly (1882 & 1883 at Melbourne), Shields comprise between a mere 15% and 20% of the total amount struck.
This particular Shield was struck in Queen Victoria's Jubilee year, the year that her "Jubilee" portrait was introduced to all British coinage, including those struck by Australia's colonial mints. Mint archival records show that production of the Jubilee coinage began at the Melbourne Mint on June 21st, which would mean the 1887 Melbourne Shield sovereigns were struck prior to that.
It is interesting to note that while the mintage of half-sovereigns at the Melbourne Mint in 1887 was just 64,000 coins, the 1887 Melbourne Shield sovereign is exponentially rarer. Just what the exact mintage is of this coin was is open to speculation - based on comparative rarity alone, one would think it was far, far lower than 64,000 coins.
This particular example exhibits the result of some light friction across the high points of the obverse, while the obverse fields are largely free of bag-marks.
It is a premium example of one of Australia's most desirable gold coins.
Standard Shipping - $9.00
Signature is required on delivery
Express Shipping - $15.00
Signature is required on delivery
Free pick-up from store - $0.00
You're welcome to collect your order from our office (Shop 22; 27-35 William Street; Fremantle; 6160) during normal office hours. Please make sure to check we're open before you head on in!
We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity, title and grade of every item we sell. The tax invoices we supply ensure that you have these guarantees in writing.
Please review our Website Terms and Conditions for a complete explanation of the guarantees we provide.
All items ship within 24 hours of confirmed payment being received.
Please review our Website Terms and Conditions for a complete explanation of our availability guarantee.
All orders are delivered via trackable and insured mail at a flat rate of $9 for orders within Australia, and $25 internationally.
Australia Post Parcel Post within Australia can take up to 1 week to arrive, while EMS / ECI international mail can take up to 3 weeks.
Urgent orders can be sent via Australia Post Express Mail at special request.
Please review our Website Terms and Conditions for a complete explanation of our delivery guarantee.
Be The First To Review This Product!
Help other Sterling & Currency users shop smarter by writing reviews for products you have purchased.