Perth Mint mounts a mini-cameo to its Queen Victoria bicentennial celebration silver coin

Born on 24 May 1819, Queen Victoria went on to become, until recently, the longest serving monarch in British history. Ruler of the largest empire the world has ever since, and reigning through a period of tumultuous social and technological upheaval, her name has come to describe the 19th century as the Victorian Age. There are few more appropriate subjects for numismatic commemoration than the Queen of the British Empire at its height.

The Perth Mint is today launching four coins. We’ll look at the bigger proof pair first as they share a common design. We’re all familiar with the various effigies of Queen Elizabeth II that adorn the obverse faces of quite literally billions of coins, but this isn’t a new thing. Queen Victoria also had many different representations in the numismatic world, and the Perth Mint has chosen four of them for showcasing on the reverse of this coin. Each appeared on Australian currency between 1857, some 20 years after she took the throne, to her death in 1901. The four effigies surround a replica of St Edward’s Crown, the solid gold centrepiece of the British Crown Jewels since 1661. A classic numismatic style that will resonate with royalty coin collectors and available in 1oz silver and 2oz gold.

The more striking release however, is an attractive antique-finished 2oz silver coin. The most visible element on display is a faux cameo of Victoria, based on an original created by the son of Royal Mint Chief Engraver William Wyon, Leonard Charles Wyon. Cameo’s, popularly created from sea-shells in Victorian times, trace their history back to pre-Roman times in other forms, remaining relatively popular today. While the one present in the centre of the coin is a simple affair, it does appear to be an effective copy of one. The filigree border is nicely done, and the Perth Mint has become very adept at applying an antique finish over its many releases during the last half-decade or so.

The last coin is a ¼oz gold coin with a proof finish that carries just a single effigy of Victoria. The same Leonard Charles Wyon version that formed the basis of the cameo is used here, and is surrounded by a border carrying two stylised wattle branches and the title inscriptions.

Packaging of the silver coins is basically the same. The black box with the clear acrylic lid is a new type we don’t doubt we’ll be seeing a lot more of. It seems to be a fine way to display most types of coin. The gold coins come in more traditional wooden boxes, but all variants come with serialised certificates. All coins are available today either directly from the mint, or from their numerous dealers around the world.

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MINTS DESCRIPTION

Queen Victoria was born Alexandrina Victoria on 24 May, 1819, at Kensington Palace, London. She was the only daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III. Her father died shortly after her birth and she became heir to the throne as the three uncles ahead of her in the line of succession had no surviving legitimate children.

Ascending the throne in 1837, at the age of 18, when her uncle King William IV died, Queen Victoria reigned for almost 65 years. In that time, Britain’s Empire expanded to cover about one fifth of the Earth’s surface, making Queen Victoria empress to almost a quarter of the world’s population. Queen Victoria began to shape the United Kingdom’s political landscape into that of a modern constitutional monarchy, whereby political power shifted away from the sovereign to parliament.

CAMEO REVERSE: The coin’s reverse features a cameo insert depicting Leonard Charles Wyon’s effigy of Queen Victoria wearing wreaths of banksia in her hair. Queen Victoria popularised portrait cameos made of sea shells during her reign. A filigree design borders the Queen’s portrait, with a depiction of the royal St Edward’s Crown at the top. The inscription ‘QUEEN VICTORIA 200th ANNIVERSARY and The Perth Mint’s ‘P’ mintmark are also featured in the design.

In keeping with its historical theme, the coin has been ‘antiqued’ by hand to give it a unique finish conveying the surface abrasions of an aged artefact. As a result of this treatment, the appearance of each coin in the limited mintage may vary.

MULTI-EFFIGY REVERSE: The reverse depicts four effigies of Queen Victoria that have featured on Australian coinage between 1857 and 1901. These include the ‘Young Head Portrait’, ‘Jubilee Portrait’, ‘Veiled Head Portrait’ and ‘Sydney Mint Type II Portrait’. With the St Edward’s Crown in the centre, the coin’s reverse design also includes two stylised wattle branches, the inscription ‘200th ANNIVERSARY QUEEN VICTORIA’ and The Perth Mint’s ‘P’ mintmark.

SINGLE EFFIGY REVERSE: The coin’s reverse depicts Royal Mint engraver Leonard Charles Wyon’s effigy of Queen Victoria with wreaths of banksia in her hair. These portraits were created for the Sydney Mint Type II Sovereign in 1857 and circulated on sovereign and half-sovereign coins until 1870. The inscription ‘QUEEN VICTORIA 200th ANNIVERSARY’ and two stylised wattle branches are also featured in the design.

OBVERSE: The obverse depicts the Jody Clark effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the 2019 year-date and the weight, fineness and monetary denomination.

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $2 Australia $1 Australia $200 Australia $25 Australia
COMPOSITION 0.9999 silver 0.9999 silver 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 62.213 grams 31.107 grams 62.213 grams 7.770 grams
DIMENSIONS 50.6 mm 40.6 mm 36.6 mm 20.6 mm
FINISH Antique Proof Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS Inset Cameo None None None
MINTAGE 2,000 5,000 350 750
BOX / COA Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes