The World’s rarest Gold Sovereigns Part 3: Queen Victoria Colonial Mints.
Updated: Aug 4
1855 Sydney Branch mint (PCGS image)
Although the cover image shows clearly a Sydney branch mint Sovereign this serves only to draw everyone’s mind to Australia. I will follow Spink book and M.Marsh and examine only the later issues (i.e. those struck after 1871).
There are no major rarities here. Nothing from Sydney. And only 2 make it from Melbourne. No Perths either. Please remember I am examining the rarest so I have excluded some which although rare don’t quite fit in to my list here (examples: 1880S with inverted A for V in Victoria, 1880M Shield,1883M shield etc).
Victoria Melbourne mint
The 1886M Shield back is the first and rarest of the two coins in this list (and the very last two years of issue of this series of Sovereigns). A coin which I have never handled. Below is a ms62 example from PCGS pop report.
1886M (PCGS image)
And here the 1887M again from the PCGS pop report.
1887M (PCGS image)
A little note here. Both coins rate R3 in M.Marsh’s publication. That’s odd. In my view they are underrated seriously. Auction results on Heritage’s page show the records are $9400 for a au55 1886M (April 2016) and $9,000 for a au58 (April 2019). The Bentley specimens made £7,400 (1886M lot 756 part 2) and £6,200 (1887M lot 757 part2) September 2012. Both results hammer.
A 1872/1M is rated R4 in M.Marsh’s publication. This is overrated in my opinion at least by today’s standards as more have surfaced lately. Certainly R3 possibly R2 even. The result of a deliberate action from the Melbourne mint and not an error as many think.
Now a coin which I wasn’t sure about including it here as I am not sure what is. Australian dealer and friend Eric Eigner thinks it is an error. The 1872M with inverted die axis (↑↑). It was lot 745 of the part 2, 27 September 2012. The coin was struck en medaille most probably in error. I have handled one specimen in my early days now lost in time and always regarded it as possibly unique. Not so of course as is the case with many errors which can have a significant number struck before corrected. Eric thinks there are about 3 possibly 4 coins out there (read his story here). If his estimation stands correct then this perhaps ranks the rarest Victoria error Sovereign of any Australian mint. But as an error it probably doesn’t serve to be included here however I thought of mentioning as little is known about it.
1872M inverted axis image courtesy Eric Eigner (Drake Sterling)