An extremely rare and valuable Australian coin featuring a “sour” looking Queen Victoria will go on show for the public in Melbourne these Easter holidays.
The Five Pound Coin, also known as a quintuple sovereign, fetched $US660,000 ($AU867,600) at an auction in the Texas city of Dallas on March 27.
It was the second-highest price paid for an Australian coin in history behind the 1930 Proof Australian Penny, which sold for $1.15 million in 2019.
The coin was one of only three struck by the Sydney Mint in 1887 to mark Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.
Museums Victoria lays claim to the only one believed not to be in private hands after it was transferred to them by the Royal Mint’s Melbourne branch on January 11, 1978.
Michelle Stevenson, head of society and technology department at Museums Victoria, said the coin’s rarity was key to its value.
“In Australia, sovereigns have always been minted as collected pieces or presentation pieces and always in quite small numbers,” she told AAP on Thursday.
“They are collectible by their very nature.”
To commemorate 50 years of rule under Queen Victoria, the obverse of the coin features a portrait of the monarch by Austrian-born sculptor Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm.
But the Jubilee design was binned in 1893 after being publicly panned for portraying the Queen as “stern or sour” and failing to reflect her regalness.
That too helps boost the value of the coin in collectors’ eyes.
“The fact that it was only produced for six years means that there’s only a limited number of sovereigns that have that within it,” Ms Stevenson said.
“That affects its rarity.”
The coin is also complemented by its reverse side, which features Italian sculptor Benedetto Pistrucci’s iconic engraving of St George and the Dragon.
“There’s almost a sense of movement in St George on his horse slaying the dragons,” Ms Stevenson added.
“It’s a really beautiful, evocative design.”
The Five Pound Coin goes on display at Melbourne Museum from Thursday until the end of the Victorian school holidays on April 18.
Tickets for entry into the museum are free for children and $15 for adults.