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    An Astonishing Australian Specimen Sovereign
    Struck for the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition

    Victoria gold Specimen "Shield" Sovereign 1879-S SP65+ PCGS, Sydney mint, KM6, S-3855. A marvelous sovereign and exceedingly rare in this enhanced "Specimen" format; presumed unique! Not to be confused with the British proof issues of the 19th century, any branch mint Proof or Specimen issue of the same period is of the greatest rarity. Less established than the Royal Mint, the primary faculty of these sovereign outposts was to facilitate the commercial adoption of coinage. Whereas collectors in Britain numbered high enough to justify the production of sets, the same could not be said for countries such as Australia. Thusly, special productions were typically only created for dignitary or exhibition purposes. It is in fact the latter reason that is responsible for the present coin's existence.

    Through much of the 19th century, Europe had been sheltered from Australia, even with its British affiliations. In 1879, Australia was determined to make that change. For the first time on the continent (and anywhere in the southern hemisphere!), Sydney held an International Exhibition; an event that not only was a symbolic opening of the country to the Western world, but was also an opening in a real sense. From September 17, 1879 through April 20, 1880, Sydney played host to the world, putting its best foot forward to showcase and promote commerce, industry, art and science. During this period, over 1,000,000 visitors were in attendance to see, amongst other things, the Royal Mint in Sydney's exhibit. In preparation for the event, strikings (for later public display) of various coins and medals in gold and silver took place; it was at this time that the 1879-S (and 1880-S) specimen sovereign was created!

    While not quite reaching the heights of British proof quality of the period, one look at the present coin, and even the casual observer has to concede that it's undeniably special. Evidently struck on a specially prepared planchet, with a likewise specially prepared die, the surfaces present remarkable qualities throughout. On the obverse, the fields are distinctly reflective and Victoria's chiseled portrait shows moderate cameo-producing frost. To a slightly lesser magnitude, the same is true of the reverse, with reflective fields and a full and equal strike within all the quadrants of the shield; the all-important "S" of Sydney below is also sharp and clear. Free of all but the most trivial handling, this piece was evidently held apart for generations. To think this a product of a branch mint is truly breathtaking! Certainly, a coin of inestimable importance to Australian numismatics, and for the enthusiast of Australian sovereigns, a coin that will immediately elevate any collection to an exalted status. Absolutely, among the finest pre-1900 Australia Sovereigns one will ever see.

    Note for clients in the European Union: This lot is considered by the European Union to be “investment gold”. We believe that it meets the criteria established in Article 344(1), point (2) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC and thus should be exempt from import VAT regardless of the selling price. Any questions or concerns about VAT should be addressed to your accountant or local tax authority.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    4th-5th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,640

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