In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the only mints which operated in the British Empire were the Royal Mint in London and mints in India. From the 1850s, branches of the Royal Mint. were established in Australia to mint local gold into sterling. The Sydney Mint was established by order in Council of 19 August 1853, opening on 14 May 1855. It closed on 31 December 1926. The Melbourne Mint opened on 12 June 1872 and the Perth Mint on 20 June 1899. A new Commonwealth Mint opened in Canberra in 1965 and took over responsibility for striking Australian coins. Consequently the Melbourne Mint ceased to operate at the end of June 1968. The Perth Mint continued to operate on a limited scale, but ceased to be a branch of the Royal Mint.
The Australian mints produced sovereigns and half sovereigns which were legal tender in the UK. Australia introduced its own series of silver coins in 1909 and of bronze coins in 1910, those coins being designed by the Royal Mint and also manufactured initially in the Royal Mint. The minting of the silver coins was transferred to the Melbourne Branch in 1916, and subsequently to the Sydney Branch also. The minting of the bronze coin was transferred to the three Australian branches in 1919.
In Canada, the Ottawa Mint opened on 2 January 1908, and became the Royal Canadian Mint on 1 December 1931. Sovereigns and half sovereigns coined at the Canadian Branch were legal tender in the United Kingdom. The minting of sterling gold coins was however incidental, for that branch was mainly employed on the gold, silver and bronze Canadian coinage which had previously been supplied from the Royal Mint, and on coinages for other Colonial governments.
In South Africa, the Pretoria Mint opened on 1 January 1923, closed on 30 June 1941 and reopened as the South African Mint. Arising from the needs of the First World War, a section of the Bombay Mint in India was set apart and declared to be a branch of the Royal Mint, so that gold blanks supplied by Indian mints might there be struck into sovereigns. It began work on 15 August 1918 and closed in May 1919.
The branches were organised on similar lines to the Royal Mint, and operated under its direction. The personnel were appointed by the Royal Mint, subject to the approval of the Treasury, and they were paid and pensioned as members of the British Civil Service. The Chief Officer was a Deputy of the Master of the Royal Mint.
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