|This stamp issue marks the 150th anniversary
of the first official coin produced in Australia.
The Sydney Mint, established in 1855,
was the first branch of the London Royal
Mint outside Britain and the first branch in
the Australian colonies. It was Australia's first official coinage mint and the earliest Australian gold coins were struck at Sydney on 23 June 1855. The "Sydney Mint Patterns" are very important in Australia's numismatic history.|
The reverse design on the coins was very
different to previous Imperial sovereign
designs. It was uniquely Australian, with the words "Australia" and "Sydney Mint"
prominent. The designer of the Sydney
Mint Pattern was James Wyon, a member
of the famous Wyon dynasty of engravers.
Originally these coins were regarded as legal tender in New South Wales. In 1857 the British Treasury amended the ordinance to include "all the colonies of Australasia".
In February 1866, the sovereigns and
half-sovereigns from the Sydney Mint were declared legal tender throughout the United Kingdom. From 1871 the standard British sovereigns were adopted instead, except for the
mintmarks - 'S','M' and 'P' denoting from which
mint they were produced. After Federation in 1901, authority over "currency, coinage and legal tender" passed to the new Commonwealth Government. The Sydney Branch of the Royal Mint closed in 1926.