King George V 1923 Gold SOVEREIGN Sydney Mint
Obverse: King George V
Reverse: St George & Dragon
Looks far better in the hand than the grade might suggest.
The year 1923 was challenging for the management and staff of the Sydney Mint. Declining mintage figures, rising costs and crumbling infrastructure brought about regular calls for the closure of the Sydney Mint.
There was of course resistance to this irreversible decision not only within the Mint, but also within the State government. In the face of this uncertainty, Sydney Mint had no option other than to continue fulfill their obligations with the meagre resources they had available to them.
Just 416,000 sovereigns were coined during by Sydney in 1923, out of 111,051 ozt of raw gold delivered. Interestingly, most of that gold originated from Queensland, a much smaller proportion was mined in New South Wales.
The Sydney Mint annual report for 1923 stated that “...the coinage on the account of the Commonwealth Government was confined to sixpences and halfpence.” The direct result of this limited activity was that the Sydney Mint posted a loss of £12,389 for the year.
A further symptom of the strains the Sydney Mint staff were under was the resignation of two temporary workmen, a departure that left "staffing levels far below normal." Due to the uncertainty of the relationship between the Mint and the State and Federal governments, these (and other) positions were left unfilled.
Working conditions may not have been ideal for Sydney Mint staff during this period, however that was no excuse for complacency or resignation. The Deputy Master finished his report for 1923 by stating that “The small coinage for 1923 afforded opportunities for a general overhaul of the engines and machinery. It was though inadvisable to incur unnecessary expense until the future of this branch had been assured. The operative staff was also engaged in repairs and renovations necessarily of an urgent nature, throughout the buildings.”
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