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Top 10 Australian certified coins sold in 2023

By CAA    |   Wednesday, 8 November 2023

This year, most expensive and spectacular coins were sold on January 9, 2023, at Heritage Auctions. Here's the list of the most expensive Australian certified coins that sold in 2023 so far.

1. $783,000 - 1852 Adelaide Assay Office Ingot - MS-63 NGC

1852 Adelaide Assay Office Ingots

Not entirely a coin, the ingots were not intended as general issue but for banks to hold as backing for their notes. Thousands of these irregular ingots were produced. Most would not survive for more than a year or two. Today, less than dozen Adelaide ingots are thought to have survived.

Most known surviving ingots are in institutional collections except 2 that are in private hands.

1852 Adelaide Assay Office Ingots »

2. $452,400 - Sovereign 1853 - Pattern - PR-63 Ultra Cameo NGC

Sovereign 1853

This NGC PR-63 Ultra Cameo example sold at Heritages Auctions for $537,600 in May 2022 and again in January 2023 for $452,400.

Only 1 pattern for this date is in private hands, all other specimens are in museum collections. One presently residing in the British Museum, with the other two in the Royal Mint Museum in Wales. There are none in Australian institutions, and this date was absent from famed Murdoch Collection for both the Sovereign and 1/2 Sovereign.

Sovereign of 1853, the first Sovereign for the colony and one of only 4 originally produced. Commissioned following the announcement that Sydney would host the first Royal Mint branch outside of Britain in August 1853, this issue was produced by James Wyon as what was intended to be a design unique to the new mint. Completed over a year before the first circulating coins were struck at Sydney on June 23, 1855, Wyon captured a youthful portrait of Victoria in resolute and lifelike proportions that would be only slightly altered in the final design by his cousin, Leonard Charles Wyon, used on the emissions of 1855. It is thought that the reverse was loosely modeled on contemporary English 6 Pences and Shillings, with "Sydney Mint Australia" and the denomination arranged around a splay of flowers and a crown.

Most valuable and rare Australian sovereigns »

3. $330,600 - Adelaide One Pound 1852 Type 1 - MS-62 NGC

Adelaide One Pound 1852

This is the rarest type, with a die crack before D of DWT. A very few pieces had been struck from the first of two dies creating this coin.

At the same sale, a MS-61 example sold for $243,600.

Because of the tremendous shortage of coins at that time in Australia and while gold dust and nuggets were in ample supply, it was decided to create one pound coins as a way to convert that gold into circulating currency. But the government of South Australia, didn't wait for Royal assent and England approval, saying that the Assay Office was not a legal entity and should not be striking the coins, before producing a short quantity of these one pound gold coins. Therefore, the amended 1852 Bullion Act was rejected.

Adelaide One Pound 1852 Price Guide and Values »

4. $295,800 - Half-Sovereign 1853 - Pattern - PR-62 NGC

Half-Sovereign 1853

Just 4 Proof 1/2 Sovereigns were originally produced for this date, one of which is held by the British Museum, with two others in the possession of the Royal Mint Museum in Wales.

Deemed too costly to ship all the way back to England to use for the Crown's coinage, the Legislative Council of New South Wales had petitioned Queen Victoria as early as December 1851 to establish a local mint near the port at Sydney for the coining of this gold, a petition that was followed in subsequent years by further appeals, particularly after the closure of the Government Assay Office at Adelaide in February 1853. While James Wyon's trademark fillet head design would only see use in circulation for less than a year after the Sydney branch mint opened in 1855, the monetary revolution it heralded in Australia would endure for decades to come.

This PR-62 NGC example previsouly sold, in 2022, for $218,400.

Most valuable and rare Australian sovereigns »

5. $243,600 - Half-Sovereign 1853 - Pattern - PR-66+ NGC

Dump 1913

In 2022, this coin sold for $260,400. Only 6 known.

In Proof Finish
  1. Noble Numismatics Auction 62 (November 1999, Lot 1419); Spink Noble Numismatics Auction 39 (July 1992, Lot 1044); Spink Australia Auction 6 (November 1981, Lot 983); John Ahbe Collection; Captain Vivian Hewitt Collection; Virgil Brand Collection; J. G. Murdoch Collection (Sotheby's July 1903, Lot 615)
  2. The British Museum specimen (1935,0401.9027). Bequeathed to the British Museum by Thomas Bryan Clarke-Thornhill in 1935
In Circulated Condition
  1. The Museums Victoria, Melbourne specimen (NU 3130); Transferred from the National Gallery of Victoria, March 15, 1976; Donated by A.H.F. Baldwin in 1929
  2. The Walter Eigner specimen. Noble Numismatics Auction 112 (July 2016, Lot 1769); Spink Australia Auction 15 (March 1985, Lot 474). Certified VF Details (Graffiti) by PCGS.
  3. The W.E. Purnell specimen; Noble Numismatics Auction 101 (November 2012, Lot 1477)

6. $208,800 - Half-Sovereign 1856 - Pattern - PR-65+ NGC

Half-Sovereign 1856

3 traceable examples in auction records from the last several decades and likely still held privately. This piece previously sold for $201,600 in 2022.

7. $38,280 - Sovereign 1922 - MS-64 NGC

Sovereign 1922

Whilst the original records of mintage indicate 608,306 pieces were produced, it has become glaringly apparent over the years that most all of this number did not survive the withdrawal and the 'great melt' of gold coins that occurred during the 1930s and 40s. There's little doubt that this date is one of the rarest of Australia's Sovereigns, with only 12 having been graded at PCGS and an additional 8 residing in the NGC census.

A previous one, a PCGS MS-63+ was sold in September 2016 for $43,100.

Sovereign 1922 Price Guide and Values »

8. $30,000 - Penny 1920 - AU-58 PCGS

Penny 1920

This coin was described as:

Dot Above Bottom Scroll. English Obverse. PCGS graded AU 58. Good clear dot and a glossy medium brown lustre with some traces of mint red and good details throughout with a clear dot. An extremely rare type missing from almost every collection in any sort of higher grade and a highly important coin as such. The highest example graded at pop 1, with the next highest being only AU 53.

Sovereign 1920 Price Guide and Values »

9. $29,950 - Penny 1930 Indian Obverse - EF-40 PCGS

Penny 1930

Even if no 1930 penny were ordered, at the end of 1929, the Mint made the dies for a 1930 penny and struck a few of them. The most famous of all the Australian Commonwealth circulating coins, the 1930 pre-decimal penny, was minted at around 3,000 examples (source: PCGS and Krause) for circulation and 6 in proof finish. Mostly because of the Great Depression which began in October 1929, there was no need for that coin. The 1929 and a small number of 1930 pennies were released into circulation at the same time in 1929.

Last year, another PCGS EF-40 penny sold for $35,500.

1930 Penny - King of Australian Coins ยป

10. $29,580 - Adelaide One Pound 1852 Type 2 - MS-62+ NGC

Adelaide One Pound 1852

This coin was described as:

Highly original and impeccably well-preserved at the very cusp of a coveted Choice designation. The honeyed golden fields serve as host to the surprisingly crisp devices, which even in higher grades are notoriously weak.

Adelaide One Pound 1852 Price Guide and Values »

11. $27,840 - Sovereign 1921 - MS-62 NGC

Sovereign 1921

In May 2020 a PCGS MS-64 example sold for $51,166. With a very low mintage of 240,121, this is one of the rarest Melbourne sovereign ever produced. Most of these gold coins were melted. In 2018, another example, also certified MS-64 PCGS sold in April for around $50,700.

Sovereign 1922 Price Guide and Values »

Pictures by Heritage Auctions and PCGS.

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