numismatics.com.au | Numis Bid | Blue Sheet
Contact Us About Us
 
 
 Not logged in
Sign In | Register
 
Article Index Buying From Us Selling Coins Coin Valuations Mission Statement

Half Sovereigns of George V

03-Jun-2008

Although over a million half sovereigns were struck at Australian mints during the reign of George V, few were used in circulation due to the introduction of treasury notes and as a result, most remain in EF or better condition. Half Sovereigns were struck at the Sydney, Melbourne and Perth mints from 1911 to 1920 and despite the relatively high proportion of surviving coins in EF or better, in recent times, they have become difficult to acquire in true Uncirculated condition, and beyond that, very difficult.

I have only sighted four coins in the series which make Gem Uncirculated, a 1914S, two 1915S and one 1916S. In Choice Uncirculated there are quite a few in existence, but I haven't seen any on the market in quite some time. Many coins, especially those from the Perth and Melbourne mints are often very softly struck and are virtually impossible to obtain above Uncirculated.

The obverse of the coin is very hard-wearing, with the highest point being the end of Geo V's moustache which typically wears off below the EF grading. The reverse wears much easier, but due to the frequency of weakly struck examples and the superior obverse, less scrupulous dealers will often pass off EF examples as Uncirculated after dipping. The easiest way to check an Unc example is to check the fields on the obverse - an Unc example will have full mint bloom, undistorted in the fields (though this does not necessarily imply that the coin is Unc).

A typical Uncirculated half sovereign of George V makes MS64, though may drop down to MS63 occasionally. Coins graded below this have almost always been circulated but due to their hard-wearing nature, still make mint state slabs. Most dates are quite common below Uncirculated but still in demand due to the scarcity of Unc examples, and because they are generally still quite pleasing to the eye, even in EF.

Below is a table of each date, mint mark, their mintage figure (as per mint reports), and their approximate values in each condition. To the right of each grade, the number indicates the estimated rarity ranking in the respective grade. The shaded entries indicate that I don't believe any exist in the respective condition.

Date

Mint

Mintage

EF

 

Unc

 

Choice

 

Gem

 

1911

Sydney

252,000

175

4/9

450

2/9

500

2/8

 

 

1911

Perth

130,373

175

3/9

450

3/9

600

3/8

 

 

1912

Sydney

278,000

150

5/9

200

5/9

350

5/8

 

 

1914

Sydney

322,000

150

7/9

200

7/9

300

6/8

500

1/3

1915

Sydney

892,000

150

9/9

200

9/9

275

8/8

500

3/3

1915

Melbourne

125,664

150

2/9

450

4/9

 

 

 

 

1915

Perth

136,219

150

6/9

400

6/9

600

4/8

 

 

1916

Sydney

448,000

150

8/9

200

8/9

300

7/8

500

2/3

1918

Perth

0

6,000

1/9

9,000

1/9

13,500

1/8

 

 

1919

Perth

56,786

No examples known

No examples known

1920

Perth

53,208



One should note that the top-end examples are often only known by one or two examples, and so it would be difficult to estimate these values.

The scarcest date in the series is the 1918, Royal mint reports for the Perth mint in 1918 state that no half sovereigns were struck in 1918 however it does note that £7,327 of gold bullion was issued that year. Could this refer to the 1918 mintage? That would indicate that 14,654 half sovereigns were issued which would be consistent with the approximate survival rates of the era. Perth Mint reports from subsequent years state that 56,786 and 53,208 half sovereigns were struck in 1919 and 1920 respectively. Many references seem to imply that these were struck using 1918 dies however dies were certainly prepared bearing the dates 1919, and 1920. However a total mintage figure of 109,994 would be inconsistent with the typical survival rates of the era given that an estimated 250 to 300 1918P pieces remain. The Royal Mint report, however does note that the half sovereigns produced in 1919 and 1920 were exported - this would seem to support the theory that they were struck bearing the date of 1918 as all 1918 Perth mint examples originated from India, though considering the mintage, and the number of examples on the market, it would seem apparent that if this were the case, there are many more 1918P half sovereigns idling in India waiting to be discovered, for it is well known that Indians have the highest per-capita gold holdings in the world. The 1918P is available right up to Choice Uncirculated, though I have only seen one example in such condition as they are typically very softly struck

The 1911 dated half sovereigns were the only ones to undergo a significant degree of circulation and despite the relatively high mintage of the Sydney mint, the Sydney and Perth mint issues for the year are very difficult to acquire in Uncirculated. Average circulated examples of the 1911 turn up in VF to EF, while the 1911P usually turns up in EF or better.

The 1915M is probably the 4th scarcest date in the series though more frequently occurs in Uncirculated as by this stage, very few gold coins were in circulation. It is unavailable beyond this due to the typical soft strikes from the Melbourne mint. It is highly underrated and almost certainly scarcer than the Perth mint issue of the year.

All other dates turn up often enough in Uncirculated with the 1915 Sydney being the most common. Despite their relatively low prices, it can still be quite a challenge to complete a George V set in Uncirculated even excluding the 1918P and as a result is often the starting point for most half sovereign collectors.

Source:
The gold half sovereign, Marsh


Copyright © Walter Eigner Pty Ltd
ACN: 164 704 876
About Us | Contact Us