The Coin Cabinet
Auction 69  16 Aug 2022
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Lot 99

Starting price: 330 GBP
Price realized: 370 GBP
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Lot of 2 gold coins.

Coin 1: Victoria, 1837-1901, Half-Sovereign 1890. London. With JEB Low shield DISH L512. 19.3 mm. 3.99 g. 917/1000 Gold. (AGW=0.1176 oz.)
No half sovereigns were struck in 1888 and 1889 in an attempt to steer the public towards greater use of silver coins, which were less prone to wear than the half-sovereign and so more cost-effective. The double-florin (4 shillings) piece was produced 1887-1890 to offset for the half-sovereign shortage, but weighs 22.6 grams and measures 36 mm. The public was not happy about carrying around the equivalent value of the widely used half-sovereign (10 shillings) in silver coins. Production of half sovereigns recommenced in 1890 with 2,266,023 coins.

The issues the mint encountered with the Jubilee coins are well documented and were exacerbated by the pressure for the coins to be ready for the Queen's Golden Jubilee on 20 June 1887. Due to time restraints the Jubilee head sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm's initials JEB were individually punched onto the master dies, resulting in three categories of JEB types-Imperfect J, hooked J (six unique dies) and no JEB. It is unclear in which order coins of these categories would have been produced and why at some point, presumably after 1887, it was decided to discontinue the use of dies with the JEB initials. After 1887, JEB initials are all of the Imperfect J type and become increasingly rarer as the years pass. This in our opinion indicates that coins struck after 1887 bearing the JEB initials would relate to the use of old dies from 1887 production runs, in the same way as the use of high shield dies.

To improve metal flow, the reverse was redesigned at some point after 1887 and the shield moved slightly lower (sometimes called wide date as the lower part of the shield pushed the date further apart). In the same way as presumed with the use of JEB dies after 1887, the Mint continued using the high shield dies from 1887 production runs until 1892, the later ones being very rare (1891 is ultra-rare).

Coin 2: Victoria, 1837-1901, Half-Sovereign 1890. London. With JEB Low shield DISH L512. 19.3 mm. 3.99 g. 917/1000 Gold. (AGW=0.1176 oz.)

Total gross weight: 7.98 g. (AGW = 0.2353 oz.)
Composition: 917.0/1000 Gold.

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