Oct 102017
 

Australian women faced an array of challenges during World War I, from sole responsibility for children and family to coping, in many cases, with the reality of losing a loved one. A large number of women were recruited into jobs vacated by men, particularly in the armaments sector, while others threw themselves into projects such as the Comforts Fund in support of the troops.

Although prevented from serving on the front line, more than 3,000 Australian women also volunteered for active service as nurses, medical workers and ambulance drivers. Stationed in Europe, Britain, the Middle East and India, they worked in hospitals, on hospital ships and trains, or in casualty clearing stations close to the front lines where they were exposed to threats from artillery and bombing.

The nurses carried out their nursing duties with diligence and care, and were called upon to display extreme bravery.

On the night of 22 July 1917, the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station near Armentières in France was targeted by a German bombing raid. In dangerous circumstances, Sisters Clare Deacon, Dorothy Cawood, Alice Ross-King and Staff Nurse Mary Derrer helped injured men escape from the Station’s burning remains.

Each nurse received the Military Medal – awarded to personnel for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire.

In all, eight Australian nurses received this award during the course of the War. Tragically, 25 were killed while on active service, and four died in Australia from lingering injuries or illnesses.

Women in War – A Century of Service

One hundred years after nurses proved themselves to be an essential part of the military, Australia Post has issued a Stamp and Coin Cover entitled Women in War – A Century of Service. Displaying poignant historical imagery, it includes an Australian commemorative coin crafted by The Perth Mint in honour of our nurses’ achievements and sacrifices.

The image of Staff Nurse Ella McLean from Roma, Queensland is seen in the foreground of the commemorative $1 stamp. Originally working on home service at Kangaroo Point Military Hospital, she embarked on the Khiva in May 1917, serving first in India and then Egypt.

In the background is a photograph showing a woman knitting socks direct from the fleece of a sheep. The Australian Comforts Fund packed finished garments like these into bales and shipped them overseas for the troops.

The main envelope image shows nurses tending a ward of wounded troops in the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station near Steenvoorde (about 30 kilometres from Armentières) on 30 November 1917. Most of the patients treated there were injured during the Third Battle of Ypres, where in eight weeks of fighting Australian forces incurred approximately 38,000 casualties.

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Jul 182017
 

Australia’s Trans-Australian Railway was a vital piece of national infrastructure that officially opened on 22 October 1917. The promise of its construction had been made prior to Federation of the Australian colonies in 1901 to encourage a reluctant Western Australia to join the proposed Commonwealth.

Crossing 1,600 kilometres of the Nullabor Plain, Australia’s driest and most isolated terrain, the line connected the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie in the west with Port Augusta in South Australia, becoming a vital component in the trans-continental route between Perth, the Western Australian capital, and the bulk of the new nation’s population in the eastern states.

Trans-Australian Railway 2017 Stamp and Coin Cover

Used during the construction phase, Commonwealth Railways G class locomotives hauled trains for the first two decades of Trans-Australian Railway operations. At the time of the photograph featured on this centenary postal and numismatic cover, they’d been replaced by C class locos which were capable of meeting demand for increased loads. Like its contemporaries, engine C 66 was constructed at the Queensland engineering company Walkers Limited, which had built its first locomotive in 1873.

Incorporating an Australian commemorative coin struck by The Perth Mint, the Australia Post issue also features stamps portraying travel posters from 1930 and 1960. Extolling the romance of rail travel during the age of steam, the first stamp includes an image of a camel. Ideally suited to Australia’s arid conditions, these animals were imported during the 19th century from India and Afghanistan to aid outback exploration, transport and construction. The second stamp, entitled ‘To the West’, depicts a GM class diesel locomotive constructed by Sydney-based Clyde Engineering, first seen on the Trans-Australian Railway in 1951.

Just 7,500 of these stamp and coin covers will be released, each featuring a Kalgoorlie first day of issue postmark dated 4 July 2017.

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Feb 272017
 

If you’re interested in pre-decimals, you may have noticed the presence of the letters ‘PL’ on some Australian sixpence, threepence, penny and half-penny coins issued in 1951.

It’s a mintmark associated with the Londinium mint, which stood on Tower Hill during the Roman occupation of Britain. As an officially constituted branch of the Mint of Rome, its coins bore the letters ‘PL’, ‘PLN’, ‘PLO’, or ‘PLON’, likely abbreviations of the Latin words Percussa Londinio – “struck in London”.

So why does it appear on these Australian coins?

PL_penny_

The post-War period was one of significant economic growth and Australian prosperity was reflected in burgeoning demand for coinage. With the Perth and Melbourne Mints working at full capacity, the Royal Mint at Tower Hill was asked to assist with Australian coin production for the first time since World War One. And with the request for additional coins from London, came the revival of the historic Roman mintmark.

A sudden downturn in the economy, however, meant Australian ‘PL’ coinage was only ever produced for 1951. Today, these coins are of interest to collectors: while choice grades are readily available, guide prices for high quality and extremely rare proof versions extend into the thousands of dollars!

Perhaps you’re an unwitting owner of a 1951 PL coin which proclaims its place of manufacture in a manner invented some 1,700 years ago?

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May 032016
 

May’s new product bulletin reveals stunning new additions to our 2016 coin program. For full details of each coin releases, check out this electronic bulletin and/or the links below:

A true Aussie icon, the Australian Koala is now available in the large 1 kilo proof format. There’s only 500 in the mintage, so be quick!

The same limit applies to Kimberley Sunrise, the title of an extraordinarily beautiful gold coin featuring a genuine fine white diamond in its design.

Paying tribute to the historic Sydney Type I, our 2016 Australia Sovereign gold proof coin is a true classic of modern Australian numismatics.

Meanwhile, our world-renowned Australian Kookaburra now comes in outstanding 1oz and 5oz ‘high relief’ versions.

Exceptionally popular, the Australian Stock Horse 1oz silver coin is back in 2016 with great new design.

The Cubs series continues with a reverse dedicated to the third largest feline in the world – the jaguar.

And what could be more appropriate for Mother’s Day than our spectacular Language of Love coin made from 2oz of silver?

Also available this month, the exclusive Gold Pressed Latinum Slip is an amazing acquisition for Star Trek fans on the look-out for unique memorabilia.

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Apr 222016
 

Two-up is a true blue Aussie game of chance which took off on the gold fields during the 19th century. It is most strongly associated, however, with the ‘diggers’ of World War I, who played it extensively in the trenches and while on troop ships to relive the monotony.

Essentially, two coins (usually pennies) are placed tails up on a flat board called a kip or paddle. A spinner is called to toss the coins (at least 10 feet in the air) and bets are taken on which way the coins will land.

TwoUp_at_Ypres

A group of First World War Australian soldiers at Ypres playing the popular game of two up. [Image E01199 courtesy of Australian War Memorial.]

The two-up custom continued with Australian soldiers during the Second World War and currently it is permitted to be played publicly on Anzac Day in pubs and clubs around the country in honour of these military traditions. After the sombre proceedings of dawn services and other acts of remembrance, games take place in the spirit of mateship and larrikinism for which our hero diggers are famed.Copper-Two-Up-Set

This traditional Two-Up Set available from The Perth Mint features two Australian pennies, portraying the famous leaping kangaroo design, and a typical wooden kip, made from plantation pine.

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Apr 182016
 

This celebratory 90th Birthday Stamp and Coin Cover features a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Australian Golden Wattle diamond brooch – said to be one of her personal favourites. Made from gold and 150 white and yellow diamonds, the brooch was a gift from the people and government of Australia during the Queen’s 1954 Royal Visit – when she became the first reigning monarch to step foot on Australian soil.

As the spotlight falls on Her Majesty’s 90th birthday, here are nine more ‘Australian’ facts about The Queen, one for each of her nine decades.

  1. When in Australia, The Queen’s official title is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.
  2. While travelling in Australia, The Queen uses a special Australian standard featuring the heraldic badges of each Australian state and the seven-pointed Commonwealth Star.
  3. Her Majesty’s wedding cake was made using ingredients donated by Australian Girl Guides in 1947.
  4. The Queen made a unique broadcast to people in remote communities over the Flying Doctor radio network from Alice Springs in 1963.
  5. The Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct was awarded to service personnel who disarmed a WWII German sea mine which washed up on the beach at Surfers Paradise in 1966.
  6. The first Royal ‘walkabout’ took place during The Queen’s Tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1970.
  7. The only time the Queen had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974, when she was called back from Australia to the UK due to a snap election.
  8. The Queen has been to Australia on 16 occasions, visiting every state, the two mainland territories, as well as the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island.
  9. In 2011, she joined tens of thousands of people at a big Aussie barbecue in Perth prior to leaving the country for possibly the final time.

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