British Empire, Australia, Queen Victoria (1837-1901 AD), Gold Sovereign (7.99g, 22mm), 1866, Type II, Royal mint Sydney branch. Obverse: Young Head of Queen Victoria facing to the left, laureate with a banksia leaf wreath and her hair gathered and styled in an updo with a braided loop, date below, legend surrounds, “VICTORIA D:G: BRITANNIAR: REG: F:D:”. Reverse: “AUSTRALIA” central below small crown, olive wreath branches surround either side joined at the bottom by a knotted bow, legend surrounds above and below, “SYDNEY MINT ONE SOVEREIGN”. Bentley-648; McDonald-113; Marsh-371; Friedberg-10; KM-4. Calendar year mintage 2,911,000. Light rim contact marks, otherwise notably sharp and original with a most pleasing golden patina, good Very Fine, reverse near Extremely Fine.
The Obverse Latin legend reads “Victoria, Deī Grātiā, Britanniārum Rēgīna, Fideī Dēfēnsor”, with an English translation of “Victoria, by the Grace of God, Queen of the British people, Defender of the Faith”.
With large tracts of gold being discovered to the west of the young Sydney colony, the government of New South Wales appealed to the Royal mint in London to open a branch in Sydney – approval was granted in August 1853 and several patterns for the ‘Sydney mint sovereign’ were made, bearing a uniquely Australian design. On the obverse of the Type II sovereigns, Queen Victoria is laureate with a Banksia leaf, a flora which occurs naturally in Australia and is symbolically indicative of the Australian colony – the first specimen of Banksia was taken back to Europe by Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Solander during Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific.