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  • Contains original Sydney Mint sovereigns from 1855 & 1870

  • Australia’s first ever gold sovereign with unique local design

  • The last of its kind the 1870 sovereign portrays Queen Victoria with local NSW flora

  • Very limited availability ​

Australia’s First (1855) & Last (1870) two sovereign set

El Cazador Shipwreck Coin
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When gold was discovered in the Australian colonies there arose an urgent need to convert it into coins so that it could be more easily used and transported. A branch of the Royal Mint was established in Sydney in 1855 and, extraordinarily, permission was given for it to produce gold sovereigns with a design that was different to that being used at the mint in London.

The reason this was done was that it was not believed in London that sovereigns could be produced in the colonies to the same exacting standards being maintained in England. If the colonial coins looked sufficiently different then their rapid withdrawal from the banking system would be a relatively easy task.

Indeed, at first the coins minted in Sydney did appear a paler gold colour than their London minted counterparts. This led people to doubt the quality of the gold used in their striking. An assay found however, that the lighter colour was due to the fact that the Australian gold occurred naturally alloyed with silver, whereas the gold used in sovereigns in London was alloyed with copper. This meant the colonial coins actually had a slightly higher precious metal value!

With this assurance it was decided in London that from the year 1871 the mint in Sydney would produce sovereigns with exactly the same design as those in London, but with the addition of a small ’S’ mintmark. The era of the unique Sydney Mint design had come to an end.

The reverse design of the Sydney Mint coins was completely unique, featuring the phrase ONE SOVEREIGN and the word AUSTRALIA. For the first two years (1855 & 1856) a portrait of Queen Victoria was used that was an adaptation of that being used in London. However, in 1857 that changed, and the coins minted in Sydney used a portrait that did not appear on any other coins: on it, the Queen is depicted with a sprig of banksia in her hair. Banksia is the State floral symbol of New South Wales. 

This is why the Sydney Mint sovereigns have a unique place in the history of gold coinage: they are the only coins to feature a local design, they even bear the word AUSTRALIA, and the second type features a portrait of Queen Victoria with local NSW flora! 

The Sydney Mint type sovereign was struck on only fifteen occasions: with the first portrait in 1855 and 1856, and with the second portrait in each year from 1857 to 1870 (excepting 1869). This two-coin set is comprised of the very first coin struck, dated 1855, and also the very last, dated 1870. These two significant dates are also different types to each other: the 1855 coin features the first portrait while the 1870 coin features the second portrait of Queen Victoria. 

Such rarity is always hard to source so please contact us immediately to secure your set today before the limited available stock is sold out.


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