Heritage Auctions to Offer Legendary Australian 1856 Pattern Sovereign

The Heritage November 5-6 World Coins Signature Auction and Platinum Night auction features an almost mythical piece and perhaps one of the most elusive in all of the Australian coinage–the 1856 Pattern Sovereign debuting Leonard Charles Wyon’s ‘banksia’ head.

Maybe the most attractive portrait ever featured on an Australian coin, the style of Wyon (son of the famous William Wyon) provided the young queen in a far more elegant and regal light than the seemingly austere ‘fillet’ head design of James Wyon that had featured on the first Australian sovereigns of 1855 and 1856, and this new design in fact became the adopted standard of the country’s 1/2 and full sovereigns down to 1870.

Engraved with the utmost care and expertise in all of its facets, the design captures upon every element of its seemingly simple, yet iconic, composition in a degree of clarity that is simply never encountered, thin frost and razor-sharp edges to the devices giving the coin the appearance of a royal medalet. The NGC-assigned grade of Proof 62 Ultra Cameo reflects both the deep contrast between fields and devices and some minor contact marks on the coin’s surface.

This apparent discovery piece would seem to mark only the third known 1856 pattern sovereign example, both McDonald and the original Quartermaster Collection listing suggesting that that specimen was the single representative in private hands of just two known. As such, this is an undoubted once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, sure to spark heated interest from all connoisseurs of the Australian series.

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