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Pierre_Henri

The non-proof South African Gold Sovereign of 1923

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Pierre_Henri

The gold George-and–the-Dragon Sovereign is internationally collected.

The series was struck in England, Australia, Canada, India and South Africa.

 According to the mintage figures, of the 719 SA Sovereigns struck for 1923, only 64 were struck as non-proofs making it one of the most desirable coins in the whole series. The SA 1924 date is also very scarce with only 3184 struck, but the non-proof 1923 issue is very rare coin with only 12 graded by the NGC.

 Here Is my problem – of the 12 graded, more than half have been graded as in less than Mint State (uncirculated) condition, the lowest being in XF condition (VF in the “old” terms thus)  

Could these coins be details-proofs – proof coins that were roughly handled or actually got into circulation by mistake?

We have asked the question before on this forum, but at what grade (stage of circulation) would it be impossible to differentiate anymore with certainty between a proof coin that got into circulation and a non-proof coin?

I have seen a 1949 Shilling in VF condition and only proofs were struck that year.

If an XF (non-proof) 1923 SA Sovereign should come up for auction in the future, I will probably ignore it – the chances of it being an ex-proof (and not a non-proof) is really high.

Edited by Pierre_Henri

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A few months back I had the privilege of inspecting two of these so called "currency issue" 1923 SA Gold Sovereigns. One was graded AU58 and the other AU55 both graded by PCGS. In addition to the 12 graded by NGC a further 9 coins have been certified by PCGS (including the two I mentioned).

The AU examples that I perused were almost certainly "pure" business strikes and not ex-proofs. The fields were not mirrored and the details including KGV's portrait and the reverse detailing were not contrasting to the fields. The minute detailing of KGV's moustache and St George's cape were not as sharp as on their proof cousins. All in all, it was quite easy to make out that these specimens are not proofs.

Reverting to your question, I think making this distinction would be nearly impossible once the coin approaches the low XF/VF range as the "polish" of a proof coin would have long been gone by then. Furthermore, the wear on a coin of that grade would make it nearly impossible to judge based on the sharpness of strike and the boldness of detail.

One can never be quite certain that an XF example would be an ex-proof and vice versa. Further, I do not think that the TPG companies can be relied upon at that stage of circulation as they would not be quite sure themselves and the grade would be based on their best "guesstimate". This is further evidenced by the fact that PCGS has graded an example MS66PL, indeed not committing to whether it is a proof or business strike. This could also indicate that at very high levels of preservation, the proofs and business strikes could be almost indistinguishable as well.

image.thumb.png.9735f2515d1d567d61363d6f43107c6a.png

 

 

 

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On 11/24/2020 at 6:22 PM, Pierre_Henri said:

Could these coins be details-proofs – proof coins that were roughly handled or actually got into circulation by mistake?

We have asked the question before on this forum, but at what grade (stage of circulation) would it be impossible to differentiate anymore with certainty between a proof coin that got into circulation and a non-proof coin?

I have seen a 1949 Shilling in VF condition and only proofs were struck that year.

Hi Pierre

I remember this question.

Perhaps our modern coinage can be taken as a rough indicator. Now I'm aware nickel coins are extremely hard and cannot be compared to soft silver or gold, but hear me out on this.

I've mentioned previously that modern minting process leaves a highly mirrored surface on business strikes. Often coins just put into circulation come off as proof like, as can be seen with my many R2 photos on Coin of the day thread.

Modern proofs have a higher reflective mirrored field, but only marginally compared to business strikes. Hence for this reason the dies for UNC collector coins like proteas and krugerrands are burnished, to differentiate them from proofs. 

 

This being said, if we take our beautiful new R2 released 2019 with all different designs on them. Do we get any of them in circulation today where can say they still have near mirror fields? I don't think so.

Even with my collection of normal circulation two rands, which I was still actively pursuing last year. I found it very hard to get good looking 2016 coins (This year has a two defects). 

I'll see if I can take a few photos tonight to illustrate, but I think we can get a good idea on how long softer gold or silver proofs would lose their fields.

 

regards Robert

 

 

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Please excuse the lighting as the photos.

The dark shadows on the coins is the reflection of my camera phone. I've done this to provide a contrast as well as idea of the coins surface.

 

First we see a 2019 R2 that has hardly seen circulation.

IMG_20201126_210659~2.jpg

IMG_20201126_210440~2.jpg

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Next a R2 from the same year with less than 12 months circulation. 

IMG_20201126_210944~2.jpg

IMG_20201126_211005~3.jpg

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Next up I have 2016 that has seen almost no circulation. 

IMG_20201126_211542~2.jpg

IMG_20201126_211528~2.jpg

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Compared to another 2016 coin that has seen a little more circulation. Not more than a few weeks I'd say.

Note how a few scuff marks dulls the surface.

IMG_20201126_212035~2.jpg

IMG_20201126_211936~2.jpg

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Final example for good measure. Two 2017 coins, the later seeing a bit more circulation than the first.

 

IMG_20201126_212333~2.jpg

IMG_20201126_212305~2.jpg

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IMG_20201126_212135~2.jpg

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Good morning. 

To add, I removed all these coins between mid 2018 to 2019. 

The 2016-17 shiney coins must have been sitting in bank bags, hence why I could pick them up a year later in such condition. The rest of them also were picked up between a few months to a year after their issue date.

The 2019 Childrens rights coin that is heavily scuffed has seen the most circulation but it should be noted that I removed this for my collection in mid 2019. These coins were the first issued in early 2019 so this coin can have about 6 to 8 months of changing hands. 

Hope this gives some insight as to how fast even a hard coin can lose it's pristine surface due to scuffing. Note I don't say wear, as it would take must long to wear away detail.  

regards Robert

 

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