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1871 Sydney Mint, Australia
22 Carat Gold
|These are the first Imperial sovereigns to be struck at a branch
mint outside of Britain.
Legislation for the establishment of a branch of the London Royal Mint in Sydney was announced in August 1853 - much to the disappointment of the Legislative Councils of Victoria and South Australia who also applied for the honor of having Australia's third - but first official - mint.
Established in a wing of the old Rum Hospital, the mint opened on May 14, 1855. The obverse was only slightly different to that used on British minted sovereigns and half sovereigns, the reverse was uniquely Australian. In 1870 it was decided to abolish the distinctive designs as London was determined to have a simplified monetary system between itself and its ever expanding colonies. Thus in 1871 the standard British types were adopted instead. It was Britain's intention to issue sovereigns of both types. It allowed the branch mints to decide which, and how much of the two designs to strike.
Young Head , Shield Reverse.
"WW " Incused
The first portrait for Queen Victoria was the "Young Head", which was used on
sovereigns from 1938 to 1887 inclusive. It was refined and modified a number of times
during this period. In the case of Shield reverse the date appears below Victoria's
portrait ( With St George, the date appears on the reverse. ) The design can best be
described by the Master of the Royal Mint, when writing to Queen Victoria regarding its
proposal in 1837:
“.... the Ensigns Armorial of the United Kingdom .... Contained in a plain shield, surmounted by the Royal Crown and encircled with a Laurel Wreath, with the inscription BRITANNIARUM REGINA FID DEF, having the united Rose, Thistle and Shamrock placed under the shield.".
The nature of this design is such that shield sovereigns tend to be marginally concave on the reverse - because it is to a small extent protected by the rims.
It can be difficult to accurately distinguish between different grades. For the same reason, shields are generally well struck. As with all coins however, some small differences will occur.
From top to bottom, some of the more prominent points however are: