Oct 152014
 

What happened to all the medals produced in celebration of Western Australia’s Centenary in 1929? Glenn Burghall’s research reveals that they were presented to a broad range of people – from ordinary school children right up to the reigning monarch!


Approximately 85,000 medals were struck at the Perth Branch of the Royal Mint to commemorate the Western Australian Centenary in 1929, and about 85% of these were distributed to the school-aged children of the State.

Centenary-1929-medal_bronze

Bronze medals celebrating the Centenary of Western Australia were presented to more than 70,000 school children in 1929.

Friday 13th September, 1929 was earmarked as the day for local communities to celebrate “Children’s Day”, and with speeches and performances in the morning, followed by sporting carnivals in the afternoon, the format for the day was pretty consistent throughout Western Australia.

In one of the exceptions though, the older students from the hills town of Jarrahdale were able to visit The Perth Mint on that day to see how the medals, that they had received the night before, were made.

The State Government provided one shilling for each child on the school roll to help feed and entertain them. Local community groups raised additional funds to make the day a very exciting and memorable day of celebration for the children which would last long in the participants’ minds.

It was a day to acknowledge the contributions from those people that had built their communities, to reinforce the need for hard work and self-improvement, and to instil a positive outlook for the future prospects of the children, and their State.

When addressing 800 or so children at Busselton, William Mann, M.L.C., said that they should treasure and care for their Centenary medals, and although those present would not see the next centenary, those medals that have been handed down for posterity would have their true value realised.

Each child was presented with a bronze medal in small buff coloured envelope made for the purpose. This envelope was different to envelopes used for the medals that were sold, and on this type of envelope the price of a bronze medal is given as one shilling. Local Roads Boards were able to provide bronze medals to children, too young for school, at the subsidised price of threepence.

Centenary-1929-medal_envelope

About 9,000 bronze medals were sold, either by the Mint, or with the assistance from the Banks, through their extensive state-wide branch network.

For a period, The Perth Mint, at the request of the Government, suspended sales of the bronze medals so as not to devalue their appeal to the children. It was expected that they would not receive their medals until later in the year.

A special type of bronze medal was struck for the oldest residents in the State, and a local daily newspaper published details of those recipients on a regular basis. Another 94 of the special bronze medals in cases were awarded to winners at the Royal Agricultural Society’s Centenary Show.

Just less than 900 silver medals were struck, but only a number around 660 were ever issued. Almost as many were presented as gifts to significant organisations and people outside of Western Australia as were sold within. The cost of each silver medal was seven shillings and sixpence.

Centenary-1929-medal_silver

An example of the Centenary medal struck in silver.

Three gold medals were struck and the whereabouts of two of these medals is known. One gold medal was commissioned by Perth City Council and sent to Perth, Scotland. Another gold medal, struck very late in the Centenary year, for the W.A. Historical Society, was sent to the man depicted on the obverse side of the medal – King George V.

About the author: Glenn Burghall has an interest in Western Australian history and actively seeks out stories about the events and personalities from the State’s Centenary year, 1929. Glenn is using current technology and tools to give a modern treatment to items of interest from that significant time in Western Australia’s development. Glenn has assisted the Perth City Council with research into, and presentation of, a Centenary display at Council House, Perth.

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Oct 132014
 

Glenn Burghall delves into the background of one of the most important commemorative medals in the history of Western Australia.


The Western Australian Centenary 1929 medals were struck at the Perth Branch of the Royal Mint, from 1½ inch (38mm) dies produced in England, and from designs also created in England.

The obverse side of the medal showing the crowned bust of the then reigning monarch, King George V., was designed by Sir Bertram Mackennal, an Australian artist resident in England.

1929-Centenary-Medal-obverse

Western Australians were familiar with Sir Bertram’s work because he had also been responsible creating the Lord Forrest statue sited at King’s Park, Perth. Mackennal’s initials B.M. appear to the right of centre at the base of the King’s bust. The legend, GEORGIVS V REX ET IND IMP, is quite an unusual choice, and was only used for a very brief time on Canadian coins back in 1911.

The reverse design, by English heraldic artist George Kruger Gray, is that of an energetic and vigorous Black Swan, the bird emblem of Western Australia. This design was selected because it was thought to portray the spirit and character of the State at the time. The design was progressive in appearance, a bold choice with support from Mint officials both here and in London, but it was not without its critics.

1929-Centenary-Medal-reverse

Three other reverse designs had also been presented for appraisal, which included another by Kruger Gray, and two by Hugh Paget showing a traditional treatment of a graceful swan on tranquil water. All four of the reverse designs included the State’s motto “Cygnis Insignis” (renowned for its Swans), and the words “Centenary of Western Australia 1929”.

Kruger Gray also designed the crest and coat-of-arms for the University of Western Australia. Kruger Gray’s initials K.G. can be seen to the left of the Swan’s front foot below the fold in the ribbon.

The first medal was struck in an official ceremony on 15th March, 1929, by Lady McMillan, the wife of the Lieutenant-Governor.

Striking-the-centenary-medal

Lady McMillan strikes the first Centenary of Western Australia medal.

The next two medals struck were made of silver and were presented to Lady McMillan and Mrs. Ellen Collier, the wife of Premier.

It is reported that the press then began to make bronze medals at a steady rate of 40 per minute. The first medal struck, and two others described as bronze coloured, were then mounted in a piece of polished jarrah by Mint staff, and presented to the Museum of Western Australia.

The first medal struck had a surface analysis performed on it by staff of the University of Melbourne in 2013, and interestingly it was found to contain about 79% copper, 16% zinc and 0.6% nickel.

Melbourne Museum has a Western Australia Centenary medal in its collection which it identifies as being made of tombac, and an analysis of its makeup produced similar results to that of the first medal.

Tombac, or “Dutch Gold”, is a Copper/Zinc alloy with a higher level of Zinc, which was suited for use in medals because of its faux-gold appearance.

1929-Centenary-Medal-Tombac

Example of a medal struck in tombac.

Most of the common bronze medals sampled have a copper content of around 90%, with zinc around 5-7% and only a trace of nickel.

The medals have a diameter 38mm, and have a thickness of 3.5mm. The weight of the medals vary, but typically the tombac medals weigh around 30 grams; the bronze medals, 32 grams; the silver medals 39 grams; and the gold medals 62 grams.

About the author: Glenn Burghall has an interest in Western Australian history and actively seeks out stories about the events and personalities from the State’s Centenary year, 1929. Glenn is using current technology and tools to give a modern treatment to items of interest from that significant time in Western Australia’s development. Glenn has assisted the Perth City Council with research into, and presentation of, a Centenary display at Council House, Perth.

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Oct 092014
 

If this sovereign could talk, what a story it might tell.

With lineage dating back to King Henry VII, the sovereign was the most important coin in the British Empire and thus the world during much of the nineteenth century.

Symbolising purity, power and prestige, not only did it play an indispensable role in commerce and banking, but was also used as everyday spending money.

1914_SovereignSovereigns were valued at 20 shillings, still a substantial amount of money when this example was made at The Perth Mint in 1914.

Maybe it once belonged to a well-heeled West Australian whose life was on the cusp of being interrupted by war? Could it have been spent by a newly recruited soldier before leaving for the battlefields of Gallipoli and the Western Front? It’s fascinating to speculate.

The grave impact of the First World War sounded the death knell for gold as a circulating medium. In Britain, people were urged to give up their sovereigns to aid the war effort and it disappeared from circulation within a year. Before the conflict was over, Britain ceased production altogether.

Although The Perth Mint continued making sovereigns in Australia until 1931, this date is ranked among the last to be considered a true circulating coin.

Struck from 7.98g of 22-carat gold to the fastidious standards that made it so internationally trustworthy, the coin portrays the iconic Saint George and the Dragon design by Italian-born Benedetto Pistrucci, chief medalist of the Royal Mint.

GeorgeV_effigySignifying its place of manufacture, a symbolic ‘P’ mintmark is engraved above the centre of the year-date.

The obverse bears the effigy of King George V by Melbourne-born sculptor Bertram Mackennal.

Reflecting an important chapter in the history of the sovereign and providing an important link to Australia’s entry into the Great War 100-years ago, an extremely limited number of these superb coins in uncirculated condition are available now.

Buy here while stocks last.

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Oct 072014
 

October sees the launch of the latest coin from the Australia Map Shaped Series featuring native Australian animals.

The new coin portrays one of Australia’s most feared reptiles, the Saltwater Crocodile. A formidable and opportunistic predator, it’s capable of killing almost any animal that enters its territory!

Map_Shaped_Saltwater_Crocodile_Coin

Australia Map Shaped Coin Series – Saltwater Crocodile 2014 1oz Silver Coin

Check out this video clip of the actual coin in capsule.

Issued as Australian legal tender, just 6,000 of these Saltwater Crocodile coins from the Australia Map Shaped 1oz Silver Series will be released in presentation packaging.

Australia Map Shaped Series

The Australia Map Shaped Coin Series has proved exceptionally popular since the first coin was issued in 2012. With a maximum mintage of 6,000, each coin is cleverly created from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver in the shape of Australia.

The Kookaburra, Emu, Kangaroo and Platypus releases have already sold out, and there are currently less than 1,000 Koala coins still available for sale. Please consider snapping up the latest release if you’re intending to pursue this series further or simply love all things crocodilian!

Map-Shaped-Series

Future assured for popular series

Contrary to information presented in this month’s Bulletin, this unique series is certain to continue in 2015 and beyond. Designs under consideration feature an adventurous and exciting selection of Australian animals that we’re sure will delight collectors going forward.

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Oct 072014
 

Struck from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver, this coin celebrates the exhilarating and dangerous activity of rock fishing. Extremely popular in Australia and New Zealand, rock fishing involves fishing straight into the sea from a rocky outcrop or platform.

Rock-Fishing_silver-coinFor your chance to win this amazing Rock Fishing 1oz silver proof coin, simply rearrange the following letters to solve the anagram.

Clue: A great catch!

ROD_GROW_MEN

How to enter: Email your answer to anagram@perthmint.com.au marking your reply ‘October 2014 Anagram Competition’ in the subject line. Please include your name, address and telephone number. Entries close on 3 November 2014. Eligible entrants will be included in the free draw and the winner will be notified by telephone or email. Terms and conditions.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for notification of anagrams and other great coin competitions.

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Last month’s winner: Congratulations to Sharon Markwell, QLD for the correct answer of Cretaceous Period.

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Oct 072014
 

This month sees the launch of some special releases celebrating the 2014 Year of the Goat. These beautiful coins are magnificent collectables, gifts and keepsakes for anyone born under the influence of the lunar goat in 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 and 2015.

Coloured Gold Coins

Coloured Silver Coins

For the ultimate silver collectable marking the Year of the Goat, this year’s Typeset Collection features Proof, Bullion, Coloured and Gilded coins in one stunning presentation.

This month sees the release of many more exquisite coins catering for a broad range of tastes and interests in the wonderful world of modern numismatics.

Happy collecting!

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