World Coins, Australia, Victoria, sovereign, 1880S, young head l., rev. crowned shield of arms within wreath, S below (S.3855), certified and graded by PCGS as Proof 66 Deep Cameo, a coin of splendid quality, all details of the motifs and legends heavily frosted against mirrored fields, producing a dramatic eye-appeal, extremely rare and a major collecting opportunity
*ex Dangar Collection, noted on grading insert
This extraordinarily beautiful pair of Sydney Mint gold proofs are notable not just as the extreme rarities they are, as proofs, but also because of their historical association with one of the earliest exhibitions in Australia featuring numismatics. Branch-mint proofs became the norm during this decade, all struck in extremely limited numbers and primarily for sale to various museums, so as to provide an institutional record of the coinage. The practice of minting proofs of record in Australia began with the first gold issue of 1853 at the then-new Sydney Mint, after which proofs appeared irregularly. When an apparently unique proof 1879 sovereign was minted for the purpose of public viewing of the coinage at the international exhibition hosted by the city of Sydney from 1879 into 1880, the practice became regular but mintages remained minuscule. At the public exhibition, alongside the proof 1879 sovereign were gold issues of 1880 – three pieces, one sovereign each with shield and St. George reverse, as well as a half-sovereign of 1880 with the shield reverse. These coins were never intended to be made available to private collectors. They rank among the most important and elegant of Australia’s coins.