Sydney Branch Mint History
The Sydney Branch of the Royal Mint, just like it’s British counterpart, has a long and illustrious history. The former Mint building is the oldest public structure within the Sydney Central Business District. Residing at 10 Macquarie Street, it shares geographical vicinity with many other historical Australian landmarks, such as Hyde Park Barracks and St. James’ Church.
The history of the Mint’s building has been recognised as an integral part of British and Australian Imperial history. Because of this, it is now apart of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales as well as the N.S. Wales Heritage Register.
Early history (1850 – 1900)
The Australian Mint’s history formally began sometime in 1853.
This is due to the incredible amount of unrefined Gold located near the New South Wales Colonies. Because of this discovery, then-Secretary of State for the Colonies, Henry Pelham-Clinton (1811 – 1864) allowed for an overseas branch of the Royal Mint to be established.
The establishment became known locally as ‘The Mint’, with its formal title being ‘The Royal Mint, Sydney Branch’. The original design of the coins produced was vastly different from other Branch sovereigns. This was due to the Mint’s original purpose to produce sovereigns solely for the Australian market. The Mint’s efficiency dramatically lowered the amount of gold the Australian Colony was exporting. This was due to an incredible one million pounds worth of gold being converted into sovereigns every year.
In 1868, the Sydney Mint’s coinage would be accepted all over the colonies. This would extend to include Great Britain herself in 1886 after the passing of the Colonial Mint act (1886). The Mints sovereigns extremely sort after, especially in the Indian market. This was due to their usage of a more yellow alloy, which showed usage of silver, as opposed to the more commonly used copper.
Late History (1900 – 1926)
Despite no longer formally being under British colonial sway, the country and its Mint continued to produce Royal sovereigns for the Australian Federation and the Commonwealth. In fact, the Sydney Mint was one of three Mint’s who had the honour of producing Commonwealth sovereigns after federalisation in 1900.
Overall, it is believed that the Sydney Branch of the Royal Mint produced around 140,400,600 sovereigns in its lifetime.
Despite various renovations throughout the early twentieth century, the building began to deteriorate. This culminated with the City of Sydney recommending the demolition of the building in 1909. However, when all coinage operations ceased at Macquarie St. in 1927, the building was repurposed for the Australian Government Department services.
It is through this re-purpose that the historic landmark lives on and Mint building stands as a testament to Australian colonial and coinage history.