You probably already knew that the economy in the US is pretty bad at the moment, and you've probably already seen the human face of the impact of the GFC in the US in any number of the stories covering the incredible number of people losing their homes, jobs and livelihoods. A recent story in the US mainstream media shows that in a very small way at least: "High gold prices, combined with increasing economic uncertainty, means that more families are including gold panning in their vacation plans. And, because a little bit of gold can become a lot of money, gold panning for some people is more than a hobby: It's a source of much-needed income."
You might be interested to know that difficult times had a lot to do with the mintage of at least one Australian soveriegn - the 1930 Melbourne.
1930 Melbourne Mint Sovereign - Ex Quartermaster Collection
A few years back I had regular access to the Royal Mint Annual Reports, and the Melbourne Branch report for 1930 contained a range of innocuous comments that point clearly to the fact that the majority of the gold presented at the Melbourne Mint in 1930 originated from small prospectors that had turned to working the land as a means of supplementing their family's meagre income:
Towards the end of the year, great activity was shown in the search for gold - many plans were under discussion for the revival of the gold mining industry. Prospecting associations were being formed, special grants were being made from unemployment relief funds (together with sustenance and equipment) to assist fossickers in approved areas. Both new and old workings were given attention.
“In more than one mining district permission was given to sink a shaft in a main street, and even to remove a portion of the road surface for treatment at a govt. battery.”
The Victorian government reported that the number of people engaged in gold prospecting was higher than for many years before. Although the total value of the deposits was lower than for years past, the total number of deposits was higher.
The Gold Bounty Act was also enacted during December of this year, as further incentive for the increased production of gold and the reduction in overall unemployment.
The 1930 Melbourne isn't widely regarded as being one of the most desirable coins in the Australian sovereign series, nor is it even regarded as being one of the most desirable coins in the King George V Small Head series, but when we think what those individual prospectors must have gone through to get the gold used to make them, and just how excited they would have been to make a discovery, any discovery, I believe it allows us to have a whole new appreciation for it's background and rarity.
If prospecting does indeed continue to increase in the US, the fact that the amount of gold used to produce US gold coins these days is massive in comparison to what could conceivably be found by even a large army of prospectors means that it's unlikely we'll see another coin with the same romantic appeal as the 1930 Melbourne sovereign any time soon.
Although we do have a lovely 1929 Perth sovereign in stock at the moment (another of the scarce dates in the King George V Small Head sovereign series),it is indeed a sad reflection on the productivity of the Demand Estimation Department (Sovereign Subdivision) here at Sterling & Currency that we don't have any examples of this coin in stock at the moment. What can we say - we didn't know USA Today would run that story!
All is not lost however - if you think you might be interested in considering one should it become available, don't hesitate to email me and I'll let you know obligation free.
Depending on grade, the 1930 Melbourne currently trades for between the high $400's for a circulated example, and a bit shy of $700 for a truly choice one. They tend not to be seen in less than EF condition, and an UNC isn't particularly hard to come by.
An incredible connection to a bygone era of hardship and determination.
As one of the most powerful images of the Depression era, Migrant Mother reflects the victims that suffered the most in the United States during the 1930s.