Feb 212012

The 1930 penny is easily Australia’s most forged 20th century coin. Amateur and professional counterfeiters alike have turned their hand to producing this popular Australian icon, and many collectors have been deceived over the years.

Given the potential risk involved, prospective buyers are advised to become aware of the basic points to look for when determining a coin’s authenticity. As with any numismatic issue, there are certain characteristics of the design, strike and wear which are unique to the 1930 penny. Once these are learned and identified, much of the risk related to buying a 1930 penny is reduced.

1930 Penny Quick Reference Guide

Obverse: Two different obverse dies were used in the production of 1930 pennies, each with unique identifying characteristics. Nearly all known examples were struck with what is known as the “Indian” obverse die; our research indicates that just two 1930 pennies struck with the “London” obverse die have been sighted.

The first step in authenticating a 1930 penny is to determine which obverse die was used to produce it: if a 1930 penny has the “London” obverse, chances are at least 1,500 to 1 that it is a forgery. Independent authentication of any 1930 penny struck with the “London” obverse die should be obtained.

The “Indian” die can be identified by examining how the legend aligns with the outer beading: the final upstroke in the “N” of “OMN” sits neatly in line with an outer rim bead, whereas the same point on coins struck with the “London” die align between the outer rim beads. The colon following “IMP” is consequently aligned between two beads, rather than in line with one as on the “London” die.

Reverse: Only one reverse die has been observed for this coin – that struck from the “London” master die. The letters in the word “AL” in “AUSTRALIA” are aligned in line with the beads of the outer rim, and the letters “IA” in “AUSTRALIA” are between the beads of the outer rim.

Date: 1930 pennies are often forged most obviously through the alteration of the date. The zero in the date of a genuine 1930 penny will exhibit a fat and wide “0”, while most forgeries tend to show a more elongated and narrow “0”. Any visible evidence of tampering with the coin, such as a slight difference in surface colour or any scratch, dent or mark around the date should give cause for caution.

Although this guide contains much more about counterfeit 1930 pennies than a layman would know, it can never be enough to guard completely against counterfeits and forgeries. If you are looking to buy or sell a 1930 penny, ensure you deal with a member of the Australasian Numismatic Dealer’s Association (ANDA), who are experienced dealers bound by a strict Code of Conduct.

Andrew Crellin’s numismatic career began at The Perth Mint. Subsequently he spent over a decade in Sydney with two of Australia’s leading numismatic dealers. In that time he wrote two acclaimed books on Australian numismatics, appraised The Perth Mint’s archival collection and was nominated to the position of Secretary of the Australasian Numismatic Dealer’s Association. Back in Perth, his company Sterling and Currency specialises in Australian coins and banknotes, from the Holey Dollar of 1813 through to the modern coin sets.


  13 Responses to “1930 Penny – Detecting a Forgery”

  1. did perth mint make 1930 penny? sanjo

    • The Perth Mint has always been renowned as a precious metals mint, but it certainly made base metal coins too. As early as 1921 the Mint received an order from Treasury to produce pennies – the resulting 1922 pennies represent the first Commonwealth coinage to be made in Perth. 1930 pennies were made exclusively in Melbourne. Andrew has written more about this fascinating coin on his website.



  2. Keep up the good work Andrew. I recently started collecting Aussie pre-decimals and am keen to learn more.

  3. Hi i believe that a 1930 penny on ebay is a fake. can you please verify it. they only want $20500. website: http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280883677154&ssPageName=ADME:X:RTQ:AU:1123. thanks

  4. Hi, the amount of fake 1930 penny’s selling on ebay in Australia at present is astounding. I would love for an expert to send communication to ebay to verify this. The obvious floor is the 9 in the date, but I feel for the poor suckers that buy these coins and the impact this also has on the market.

    • hi,
      how do they forge the “9” in the 1930 penny? what other coin date would they use to change to so as to look like 1930? I have a 1930 penny which looks and checks to what you have pointed out (as being London), but I’m curious about the nine. Sorry if this sounds stupid.
      Still learning

      • Hi Terry

        As the shape of the “0″ in the 1920 penny is quite different to the “0″ in the shape of a genuine 1930 penny, the “9” in the date generally isn’t the digit that is changed in order to arrive at a forged 1930 penny. Date-altered 1920 pennies are fairly easy to spot as a forgery.

        Generally, an Australian penny dated 1931 – 1936 will have the last digit removed, and replaced with the “O” from “Commonwealth”, or a “0” from another coin altogether. Again, comparing the shape of the “0” is one way of spotting a forgery.

        Kind regards


    • That is flaw, not floor.

  5. going through my dads coin collection (he has just passed away) and I found a 1930 australian penny.
    looking above .. it lines up with all the clues about forgeries and seems to be real..
    is there anything else I can do to find out if it is real or not

    • Hi Julie

      Sounds exciting! We suggest you take it along to a reputable coin dealer for inspection. Here is a list of trustworthy ANDA members throughout Australia – http://www.anda.com.au/search.asp. They will be able to tell you if it’s genuine and roughly what it’s worth. As you probably already know, 1930 pennies in good condition can be extremely valuable.

      Best of luck and do let us know the outcome.

      Kind regards

      Blog Team

  6. Thanks for the onformation..i will take it to someone..
    I have another question for you..
    I found a 1991 20 cent peice in a packet..curious as to why (it is just a normal 20c afterall) I looked it up and the Aus mint says they didnt make 20c in that year..so how can it be that dad had one..
    Any ideas?

    • Hi Julie

      They didn’t make any 1991 20 cent coins for circulation. However, to mark the 25th anniversary of decimalisation, they issued a Year Set including a 20 cents coin; and they also released a Sterling silver proof 20 cent coin. So, it seems likely that your father had a coin that was removed from a Year Set, or better still, a special 92.5% pure silver version! Again, check with your chosen coin specialist for a comprehensive answer.

      1991 20 cents


      Blog Team


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