The Melbourne Branch of the Royal Mint was established by Order-in-Council on 10 August 1869 and was opened for coinage in 1872. It was intended by its operation to stabilise the price of gold by providing a local market and to convert gold into a legally acceptable form. The Mint was under the sole control of the United Kingdom Treasury and its employees were classed as officers of the British Civil Service. Only as a branch of the Royal Mint could it mint sovereigns and half-sovereigns which were Imperial coins. Gold coins were minted until 1931. After that, gold refined was cast into fine gold bars for export.
After Federation a demand developed for a distinctive Australian currency and this was authorised by the Australian Coinage Act 1909. Australian silver coin minted in London was issued between 1910 and 1915 and bronze coin minted in England and India was issued from 1911 to 1919. During World War I, this local token coinage was undertaken by the Australian branch mints and the first issues of silver minted at Melbourne were made in 1916 and issues of bronze were made in 1919.
For many years the major activity of the Melbourne Mint was the production of coin for the Commonwealth Government with all the silver coin and a large part of the bonze produced in Melbourne. The original functions of the purchase and refining of gold continued though their importance was relatively reduced by the decrease in gold production. Gold and silver in various forms and alloys was prepared and supplied to manufacturers and others with medals of gold, silver or bronze being struck for various bodies.
In May 1970 Queen Elizabeth II issued a Proclamation discontinuing the Melbourne Branch of the Royal Mint from July 1 1970.
Other records relating to the establishment of the Royal Mint, Melbourne Branch may be found in VPRS 1099 Files on the Royal Mint.