A gold coin (19 mm diameter with milled edge) featuring a young head of Queen Victoria facing left, hair filleted; around, VICTORIA DEI GRATIA, below, 1880. On the reverse, a garnished shield, crowned and lined, around, BRITANNIARUM REGINA FID:DEF:.
Young head of Queen Victoria facing left, hair filleted; around, VICTORIA DEI GRATIA, below, 1880.
London coins with die number carry Obverse 4 by Marsh (1876 - 1880): Again the bust is increased in size as compared to earlier coins, causing the bun in the Queen's hair to almost touch the G in GRATIA and this time the wider front ribbon on the top of the head is replaced by one that matches the others in size.
London coins without die number have Obverse 5 by Marsh: it has a lower relief and the largest bust of all varieties of the Young Head portrait. Because of this, the bun in the Queen's hair is clearly inside the legend area. The lower point of the neck truncation is in a similar position and touches the date. Thickening of the rim and toothing is also evident, which (coupled with the larger bust) gives an overall cramped impression.
Most Sydney Mint coins are of type S-3862E (Fifth young head obverse. On reverse, the cross of the crown is buried in the border; legend and rosettes very close to heavy border. Some Sydney Mint coins are of the earlier type, S-3862D (Fifth young head obverse, in low relief, wider truncation, no front year lobe).
No designer's initials W.W. at the truncation of the Queen's neck (unlike on full sovereigns).
Crowned and garnished shield quartered with the arms of England (1 & 4), Scotland (2) and Ireland (3); around, BRITANNIARUM REGINA FID: DEF:.
A small dot is shown just above the centre of the crossed lines that divide the Ensigns Armorial (unlike coins before 1859).
Below the shield is either the mint mark (if any) or the die number (if any; for coins minted in London). London coins may or may not have die number and have no mint mark; Sydney coins have mint mark and no die number.
Known die numbers (as per Marsh 1982): 3, 75, 78, 103, 104, 108, 110, 111, 114, 115, 118, 119, 121, 123, 124, 125, 129, 131.
Coins without die number have rim and tooth thickening on the reverse as well as on the obverse, so the top of the crown actually encroaches under the toothing.
The "ordinary" Royal Mint London coins for this year are listed in some catalogues as those with no die number; however, these are rare and the "variety" with a die number has a larger mintage so its rarity is "normal".
The "ordinary" Sydney Mint coins for this year are taken to be S-3862E (or McD 20a).
References to additional information:
[Book] Marsh, Michael A. The Gold Half Sovereign. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Coins, 1982. pp. 13-40.