Sovereigns of the Australian Mints

Author: Adam Hopkin - Numismatic Editor

Published: 14 May 2020

Last Updated: 24 Dec 2022


The prosperity of the Australian mints is partly due to their practicality as the Royal mint chose to pass the majority of its duty producing gold sovereign coins in 1871 to the newly built overseas mints. Found close to the sources of gold mining, the mints allowed sovereign production to take place in the same location the coinage would ultimately be used, making the existing methods of tediously shipping mass sovereigns globally simply outdated. 

1880-S Gold Sovereign Victoria Young Head Shield Sydney Mint

Sydney Mint Sovereigns

The first overseas mint established by the British, the Sydney mint officially opened in 1855, thanks to the British Secretary of state granting the colonial government the ability to do so

Gold Full Sovereign Coin Sydney Mint

The First Australian Mint 

Within the new mint’s first five years of operation over a million pounds worth of gold was melted down into gold half sovereign and sovereign coins. Despite this the produced coinage was not considered legal tender in Britain until 1886, almost two decades after the rest of the colonial territories. All 116,704.050 sovereigns minted in Sydney are distinguishable through the “S” mintmark found on the reverse of the gold coin.  

Melbourne Mint Sovereigns

After the discovery of gold in nearby Victoria, the Melbourne Mint was established to coin the raw precious metal from 1872 to 1931.

Austrlia gains another mint 

 Throughout the 60 years of production, the Melbourne mint contributed towards the circulation of the “Shield” sovereign and the “Young Head St George sovereign between 1872 and 1887. Succeeding years saw the mint produce the famed Victoria “jubilee” and “old head” sovereigns before producing coinage for King Edward VII from 1902 to 1910, and King George V to 1931, bringing the total number of sovereigns issued from the Melbourne mint in this period to an astounding 148,211,120. 

1897-M Gold Sovereign Victoria Old Head Melbourne Mint - Obverse

Perth Mint Sovereigns

The third branch mint to be opened by the royal mint, the Australian Perth Mint opened its doors in 1899, following the success of the sister sites in Sydney and Melbourne, established in 1855 and 1872 respectively.

1924 P Gold Sovereign George V Perth Mint - Obverse

Gold Sovereign Coins To Modern Bullion

Sovereign coins produced by the Perth Mint are easily identifiable thanks to their dedicated mintmark, an “P” symbol, found across the reverse above the date of issue.  Although gold sovereigns were produced at the Perth Mint for over 3 decades, from 1899 to 1931, the coins can still be rather scarce as many are thought to have been melted down in later years.  Despite ceasing to produce sovereigns in 1931 activity at the mint has done anything but die down, with Perth being more often associated with its bullion offerings comprising the Chinese lunar calendar series alongside animals native to the Australia, like the Kookaburra, Kangaroo and Koala.  

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