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1920 Sydney Sovereign sets records again

Two more numismatic rarities have hit the headlines this week, with the 1920 Sydney sovereign and a restrike Adelaide Five Pound creating two new world record prices for Australian coins.

The 1920 Sydney sovereign in question is the unique specimen, graded PCGS SP66. It is the only 1920 Sydney sovereign certified by PCGS, and the best example of the date. Its first public appearance was in the famous Quartermaster Collection of June 2009, where it hammered AUD $800,000. As I understand it, it was placed into the collection of a Singapore-based collector, and did not emerge onto the market again until May 2015 in London, where it sold for £480,000 including buyers premium (about AU$940,000 at the then exchange rate). By November that year, the coin had been submitted to PCGS, where it was certified SP66. The coin subsequently resided quietly in a collection until it appeared in the marketing material of a Monaco auction house, with an estimate of €500,000. It subsequently sold on 13th June 2021 for €942,400 including buyers premium (about AUD $1.48 million), setting a world record price for a gold sovereign.

1920S SovereignThe 1920 Sydney sovereign graded PCGS SP66. Image courtesy of PCGS.

The Adelaide Five Pound was struck in 1921 by the Melbourne Mint from original dies of the Adelaide Five Pound. As no original Adelaide Five Pound pieces exist, the restrike is a historic Australian numismatic rarity, on par with rare patterns such as the 1887 and 1902 gold proof sets. It has been graded by PCGS SP66+, and appears to be the same specimen that NGC had certified MS66 a few years previously. The coin sold for €992,000 (about AUD $1.56 million) including buyers commission, setting the record for most valuable Australian coin.

1852 Five PoundAn 1852 Adelaide Five Pound graded PCGS SP66+. Image courtesy of MDC Monaco.

It is widely known that the Australian and British coin markets have been on a tear these last two years, with strong prices achieved for rarities at all levels, but these two coins really are the icing on the cake. While they are not in every collector’s price range, the coins are very desirable, both as numismatic investments and historical artefacts. Along with the sales of the 1887 Sydney Five Pound (sold AUD $857,000) and United States 1933 Double Eagle (sold AUD $24.5 million) in the last twelve months, I doubt we’ll see another year in numismatics quite like this one.


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PCGS grades the 1920 Sydney gold sovereign

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