Jul 092015
 

On 1 July 1915, the Commonwealth of Australia officially accepted responsibility from the State Governments for all landfall and coastal lights around Australia.

Lighthouses have played a vital role in coastal navigation and safety since the earliest years of settlement. Within just a few years of the colony’s founding in 1788, convicts built Australia’s first marine light on South Head at the entrance to Sydney Harbour – a simple iron brazier suspended from a tripod.

A few years later, convict architect Francis Greenway designed Australia’s first proper lighthouse for the site. Named after the influential fifth Governor of New South Wales, it was an imposing design known as Macquarie Tower.

Macquarie-and-Lighthouse

The ‘Macquarie Tower’ Holey Dollar
On 11 July 1816, Governor Lachlan Macquarie placed a prime example of Australia’s first coinage – the Holey Dollar – under the foundation stone of his tower, which was completed two years later. Alas, due to poor quality of the locally mined sandstone from which it was built, Macquarie Tower had to be replaced by a similar lighthouse (above) in 1883. Its untimely demolition revealed the existence of the famous coin, which now reside in the collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour.

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More lighthouses were subsequently built around the Australian coast in direct response to shipwrecks in the treacherous waters of the Southern Ocean and the Tasman Sea. The King Island coastline in the Bass Strait, for example, claimed at least 60 vessels and 800 lives before the construction of lighthouses during the nineteenth century.

Prior to Federation in 1901, the six Australian colonies were responsible for the design and construction of their own lighthouses. Resulting in a variety of styles built from local materials such as granite, limestone and sandstone as well as concrete, the new Australian nation had a rich heritage of lighthouse architecture by the time the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service took over responsibility for the lights in 1915.

Today, Australia has more than 350 lighthouses along its coastline. On behalf of the Commonwealth Government, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority maintains more than 300 operational lighthouses and a further 200 other aids to navigation. In addition, AMSA seeks to preserve historic lighthouses and related marine artefacts for the community’s benefit.

100 Years of Commonwealth Management of Lighthouses – Stamp and Coin Cover

Issued by Australia Post, this superb Stamp and Coin Cover marks the centenary of the Commonwealth’s responsibility for lighthouses. Including an uncirculated Australian $1 coin struck by The Perth Mint, it features four official 70c stamps depicting historic and architecturally diverse Australian lighthouses.

Lighthouses_PNC

  • Cape Byron Lighthouse, NSW – constructed in 1901 from concrete blocks; Australia’s most easterly lighthouse and also its most powerful.
  • Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, WA – constructed 1895-1896 from limestone; situated on the most south-westerly point on the mainland.
  • North Reef Lighthouse, QLD – completed 1878 from timber sheathed in galvanised iron; situated on a shifting sand bar.
  • Tasman Island Lighthouse, TAS – built in 1906 from cast iron plates; at 276 metres above high water, one of Australia’s highest lighthouses.

The coin’s reverse depicts a lighthouse set on a rocky cliff with waves lapping beneath it. From the lighthouse, a beam of light shines into the night sky. The design also includes the inscription CENTENARY OF THE AUSTRALIAN LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE and The Perth Mint’s ‘P’ mintmark.

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Apr 172015
 

John Simpson Kirkpatrick – “the man with the donkey” – is one of the most potent symbols of Australian courage and tenacity on Gallipoli.

Simpson was 22 years-old when he landed at dawn on 25 April 1915 tasked as a stretcher-bearer. With the aid of a donkey brought in to carry water, he transported wounded men day and night from the fighting in Monash Valley to the beach on Anzac Cove.

Simpson-Donkey

Private John Simpson in Shrapnel Gully with a wounded soldier on his donkey. [Australian War Memorial – P09300.001]

On the morning of 19 May, just three and a half weeks after his arrival, he died while moving two injured men and was buried on the beach at Hell Spit.

There had been nothing remarkable to mark Simpson as a likely hero. Remembered as independent, witty and warm-hearted, he was a battler – an average bloke with an itinerant background. That he displayed such remarkable bravery and selflessness has made him an essential element of the Gallipoli legacy.

About John Simpson

  • John Simpson Kirkpatrick was born in 1892 in North-East England, and like his father before him, joined the merchant navy.
  • Jumping ship in Newcastle, NSW in 1910, he worked variously as a cane-cutter, station hand, coalminer, gold prospector and seaman on vessels around the Australian coast.
  • During his time in Australia, John wrote home regularly, sending part of his wages to his mother.
  • He enlisted in the Australian Army at Blackboy Hill Camp, Perth, dropping the name Kirkpatrick to avoid questions about his earlier desertion.
  • Private Simpson expected to be sent to England, but departed from Fremantle on 2 November 1914 aboard HMAT Medic, which joined the main troop convoy from Albany en route to Egypt.
  • Simpson loved animals and once on Gallipoli befriended a donkey often remembered as Duffy, although also known as Abdul or Murphy.
  • In the habit of taking breakfast as he strode up Shrapnel Gully in the morning, Simpson also whistled nonchalantly despite the deadly gunfire.
  • At almost the same spot where Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges, the founder of Duntroon, had been fatally shot a few days before, Simpson was killed by a burst of machine-gun fire that hit him in the back.
  • His dutiful donkey escaped unharmed.

In tribute, Colonel (later General) John Monash, Australia’s greatest commander of the First World War, wrote:

“Private Simpson and his little beast earned the admiration of everyone at the upper end of the valley. They worked all day and night throughout the whole period since the landing, and the help rendered to the wounded was invaluable. Simpson knew no fear and moved unconcernedly amid shrapnel and rifle fire, steadily carrying out his self-imposed task day by day, and he frequently earned the applause of the personnel for his many fearless rescues of wounded men from areas subject to rifle and shrapnel fire.”

2015 Gallipoli Stamp and Coin Cover

JohnSimpsonPNCThe Perth Mint and Australia Post are pleased to commemorate Private John Simpson and his donkey on this 2015 Gallipoli Stamp and Coin Cover. As well as a $1 Australian aluminium bronze coin bearing a portrayal of the unassuming hero, it features an official Australia Post 70c stamp with a first day of issue postmark imposed on the shape of a medical cross.

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Apr 072015
 

The national postal service providers of Australia and New Zealand have come together in conjunction with The Perth Mint to honour troops from both nations who fought at Gallipoli.

The 2015 ANZAC Silver Coin & Stamp Set is a stunning collectable comprising an Australian 70c stamp, a New Zealand $2.00 stamp, and special commemorative stamp-shaped legal tender coins featuring superb complementary designs.

ANZACStampShapedAUCoinANZACStampShapedNZCoinSet on background imagery of Anzac Cove, they share the word ANZAC and silhouetted figures of two soldiers at a memorial service – an Australian bugler wearing a slouch hat, and a New Zealand catafalque sentry in a ‘lemon squeezer’ hat.

Imbued with hues that represent Australia’s sunburnt earth and blue skies, the design of the Australian issues include golden wattle, the national floral emblem. The New Zealand issues feature an emblematic silver fern and are infused with the lush greens and blues of New Zealand’s fertile landscape.

Each coin is struck by The Perth Mint from 1/2oz of 99.9% pure silver in proof quality. Issued as legal tender of Australia and New Zealand respectively, they feature a remarkable rim in the shape of stamp perforations.

Extremely limited mintage

An extremely rare joint-issue by the two ANZAC nations, just 2,500 of these sets will be released. Housed in a clear latex display case which comes in a shipper featuring key design motifs, each set is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.

ANZACStampShapedCoinSet

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May 062014
 

May promises to be another amazing month for new coin releases! See the full range of new issues inside the electronic bulletin now or click the individual links below.

Treasures of the World – Australia 2014 1oz Gold & Silver Proof Locket Coins with Gold – showcasing Earth’s abundance of natural riches, these coins have gold granules encased in a transparent circular locket.

Disney – Steamboat Willie 2014 1/4oz Gold & 1oz Silver Proof Coins – we have extremely limited supplies of these delightful collector coins portraying Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie. (Unavailable online – please call).

Australian Wedge-Tailed Eagle 2014 5oz Silver Proof High Relief Coin & 1oz Silver Proof Coin – enjoy the latest additions to the Wedge-Tailed Eagle suite of releases featuring John Mercanti’s classic portrayal of Australia’s largest bird of prey.

Australian Megafauna – Thylacoleo 2014 1oz Silver Proof Coin – the fourth coin in our series featuring Australia’s ancient Megafauna portrays a giant marsupial lion.

100th Anniversary of Australian Red Cross 2014 1oz Silver Proof Coin and 2014 Stamp and Coin Cover – we’re delighted to present these stunning commemoratives celebrating Australian Red Cross, which has played a vital role in the Australian community for 100 years.

Doctor Who Monsters – Silurians 2014 1/2oz Silver Proof Coin – the fourth coin in this popular series portrays reptilian humanoids known as Silurians.

Mini Kookaburra 2014 0.5g Gold Coin – this cute release is the first ever Mini Kookaburra!

150th Anniversary of AB “Banjo” Paterson 2014 Stanp and Coin Cover – The Perth Mint and Australia Post are proud to present this magnificent tribute to the lifelong achievements our most famous bush poet.

ANZAC Centenary – Declaration of World War I 2014 Stamp and Coin Cover – another joint presentation from The Perth Mint and Australia Post, this issue marks the historic moment when Australians faced the most desperate conflict ever imagined.

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Oct 252013
 

PrinceGeorge_SilverPurchase our HRH Prince George 2013 1oz Silver Proof Coin and you will also receive Australia’s Post’s Birth of a Prince Stamp and Coin Cover (rrp $15.95) completely free.

Celebrating the Royal christening, this offer is valid for a limited time only, so please act soon. Click here for details.

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Oct 232013
 

Six British monarchs share the name George with the Royal infant who will be christened at the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace today.

The latter four Georges occupied the throne during Australia’s transformation from colony to independent nation – each leaving his mark.

George IIIGeorgeIII

When the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay, George III was in the 28th year of his 60-year reign. Remembered for losing Britain’s American colonies, he was probably a victim of porphyria, accounting for the nickname Mad King George towards the end of his life.

Did you know? Australia’s original ‘High Street’ was named in honour of George III by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1810.  Today, Sydney’s George Street remains one of the busiest streets in the city centre.

George IVGeorgeIV

When George III became ill, his son was appointed Prince Regent. Famous for his extravagant style and taste, his interest in art, and the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, he eventually became King in 1820.

Did you know? Captain Charles Fremantle hoisted the British flag at the mouth of the Swan River in May 1829 and took formal possession in the name of His Majesty King George IV of “all that part of New Holland which is not included within the territory of New South Wales”.

George VGeorgeV

George V’s reign between 1910 to 1936 was characterised by a series of tumultuous events, including the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and 1926 General Strike. None had more impact than World War I, however, during which he made over 450 visits to troops and over 300 visits to hospitals.

Did you know? In 1901, the future King opened the first session of the Australian Parliament in Melbourne upon the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia, and toured the then two-year old Perth branch of the Royal Mint.

George VIGeorgeVI

The father of the present Monarch became King in 1936 following the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. During World War II he remained in London, gaining great popularity for his visits to severely bombed areas of the capital.

Did you know? In another parallel with his earlier namesake, George and his wife were the royal representatives at the opening of the provisional Parliament House in Canberra on 9 May 1927.

The future King George

Prince_GeorgeSCC

PrinceGeorge_SilverA wonderful companion to our Australian silver proof coin celebrating the birth of Prince George to William and Kate, this colourful Stamp and Coin Cover has just been released by Australia Post. Incorporating an Australian $1 coin struck by The Perth Mint, it also features and commemorative stamp with a post mark from George Town, Tasmania, named after the infant Prince’s ancestor, King George III.

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