The gold Britanniarum coin of 1892 is a gold half-sovereign depicting Queen Victoria. As of July 2010, this coin was worth about £92 as gold bullion and about £110 to £156 as a collector coin, with the difference depending on coin condition. The half-sovereign and sovereign coins of 1892 were the last to bear the Jubilee bust of Queen Victoria that was introduced in 1887. According to GoldCoin.org, modern half-sovereigns were minted from 1817 until 1926, when Britain went off the gold standard. Coinage resumed in 1982 only for proof sets. Production of half-sovereign bullion coins resumed in 2000.
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When gold trades at about £786 per oz., as it did in July 2010, an 1892 half-sovereign’s gold melt value is about £92. The price of gold changes daily, however. To find the gold value of an 1892 half-sovereign on any given day, that day’s spot gold price per oz. is multiplied by 0.1177. According to GoldCoin.org, most bullion dealers add a 7.5 per cent handling premium on top of the gold price, but that premium, too, is subject to change in response to supply and demand.
In addition to their gold content value, 1892 half-sovereigns also have a numismatic premium as a collectable legal tender coin. The numismatic value depends on coin condition, with very-high-grade coins having a significant premium over their gold value. CoinQuest.com, a coin appraisal website, stated that as of July 2010 problem-free, average-circulated examples of half-sovereigns minted after 1870 had a collector premium of about £19 over their gold melt value. Coins that have been cleaned, polished, scratched, scraped, holed or otherwise damaged have no numismatic premium and are worth only their gold value. At the high end of the numismatic scale, according to the Proxibid website, a professionally graded MS-65 choice uncirculated example of the 1892 half sovereign sold for £156 in an April 2010 U.S. auction sale by Scott Auctions. Numismatic value varies over time, depending on supply and demand.
According to GoldCoin.org, the 1892 half-sovereign measures 19.33mm in diameter and weighs 3.99g. It is made of 0.916 fine gold (22 carat gold) and contains exactly 0.1177 troy oz. of gold. A total of13.68 million of these coins were minted. The coin had a face value of 1/2 pound sterling in its year of issue, even though the denomination wasn’t stated on the coin. Today, the coin trades as a piece of gold or as a collectable item, not at face value.
The coin's obverse bears the Jubilee bust of Queen Victoria circled by the Latin legend “Victoria Dei Gratia,” which means "Victoria by Grace of God," according to the Cruzi's Coins website. The reverse bears a crowned shield circled by the legend “Britanniarum Regina Fid. Def.,” meaning "Queen of Britain and Defender of the Faith." The base point of the shield splits the date, with “18” on the left and “92” on the right of the point.
The 1892 half-sovereign coins were unusual because they were made from recycled gold coins turned in by the British public under an 1891 proclamation by the Royal Mint. According to GoldCoin.org, the average life of a circulated gold coin was 15 years. By that point, the coins lost enough weight from wear to be below the legal weight standards for British legal tender gold coins. In 1891, the Royal Mint allowed the public to turn in any underweight gold coins for new, full-weight coins. The act also declared that gold coins minted before 1837 were no longer legal tender as money. Most of the recycled gold was minted into the half-sovereigns of 1892, with the remainder minted into sovereigns in 1900.
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