Mar 232016

The penny is easily the most collected of all Australian coins. First circulated in 1911 for the new monarch, King George V, it was one of six new Commonwealth denominations to replace British coinage from 1910. Today it holds a sentimental place in the heart of everyone that lived in the days before dollars and cents. In 1911 it gave citizens of the young Australian nation every reason to be proud.


A Royal Comrade of Australians

Although Australians have warmly regarded each British monarch since George III, George V (r. 1910 – 1936) seems to have held a special place among them.

A young Prince George first visited Australia when he was just 15, while serving with his older brother Albert as midshipmen on a Royal Navy vessel that patrolled the sea lanes of the British Empire. While on his journey home from Australia in 1881, Prince George wrote in his personal diary:

“After England, Australia will always occupy the warmest corner of our hearts.”[1]

When extracts from the young prince’s diary were published in 1902, it inspired a groundswell of affection and loyalty in Australia.

Prince George next visited Australia in 1901 to open Parliament House in Canberra, stopping over at the Perth branch of the Royal Mint during the tour. With his continued gestures of support for Britain’s colonies and Australia in particular, the new King was described in 1910 by one newspaper as being no less than:

“A Royal Comrade of Australians…not only their own King, but one who has intimately identified himself with their life, their struggles, and their aspirations, and has proved his title to be regarded as a comrade — as indeed, one of themselves.”[2]

The shiny new pennies of 1911 were a direct and official link to the popular monarch, offering Australia’s public the first opportunity to see their new King on their own coinage.

Sir Bertram MacKennal – Australian Cultural Hero

The King’s effigy was the work of Bertram MacKennal, the first Australian artist to be knighted.

Born in Melbourne in 1863, MacKennal rose to prominence in London from the mid 1890s. He designed the memorial tomb to King Edward VII, as well as a number of other projects for Britain’s royalty and social elite. By 1910, under the patronage of George V, MacKennal had become one of the most successful civic sculptors of his era.

Despite living so far from the country of his birth, MacKennal maintained close links with Australia. He designed a number of important Australian public sculptures – the cenotaph at Martin Place in Sydney, a monument to King Edward VII in Adelaide, a monument to Queen Victoria in Ballarat, as well as the famed Springthorpe memorial in Melbourne to name just a few.

“At the seat of the Empire there is no exclusive privilege more jealously guarded than that of designing the coinage of the realm,” declared the press. No wonder, therefore, Australians throughout the Continent were reported to be “expressing their gratification at the fearlessness of the king in conferring so great a distinction upon Mr Bertram MacKennal…”[3]

Many Australians took the appointment not only as the ultimate recognition of his ability as an artist, but also as a de facto acknowledgement of the entire Australian nation.

Above illustration:

The image portrays an archival-standard strike of Australia’s 1911 penny, struck for the express purpose of officially recording the start of the production of Australia’s first Commonwealth pennies. The exact number of such specimens is unknown – just two examples are confirmed to be in private hands, while one more is held in the numismatic collection of Museum Victoria. The first example of this coin to be made available to collectors via Australian auction was not seen until April 2006, when it sold for $30,000.

[1] Newnes; George, “T.R.H. The Prince and Princess of Wales”, William Clownes and Sons, London, 1902, p72
[2] KING GEORGE & QUEEN MARY. (1910, December 8). Guyra Argus (NSW : 1902 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 27, 2015, from
[3] KING GEORGE & QUEEN MARY. (1910, December 8). Guyra Argus (NSW : 1902 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 27, 2015, from

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.


Jan 272016

Fifty years ago in February 1966, Australia introduced decimal notes and coins, marking the end of its British-style currency system of pounds, shillings and pence. Initially there were six cent-denominated coins with designs by Stuart Devlin and four dollar banknotes.


Commemorate this major milestone in the history of Australian currency with your pick from these collector packs showcasing Australian pre-decimal and decimal coins:

Aust-Currency-Changeover-Pack_100 Australian Currency Changeover
Collection Pack (1953 – 1984)
Pence-to-Cents-Pack_100 Pence to Cents Changeover
Premium Pack (1964-1966)
FiftyCentsPack_100 1966 50c 50th Anniversary Pack

Have you seen our remarkable 50th Anniversary of Australian Decimal Currency 2016 1oz Silver Proof Two-Coin Set?


Mar 052015

Rare Perth Mint coins collectively worth a million dollars will be flown from Melbourne and displayed at the Perth coin and banknote show on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, 2015, courtesy of Coinworks. Highlight of the display, the unique 1901 Perth Mint Proof Half Sovereign and Proof Sovereign: the pair of coins valued in excess of half a million dollars.

Coinworks managing director Belinda Downie says that ‘Proof’ coins are collector pieces, synonymous with rarity with only a handful ever struck and never intended to be used in every-day use.

But what makes Perth Mint ‘proof’ Gold Sovereigns incredibly rare is that over the years in which the Perth Mint was operating as a gold coin producer (1899 – 1931), the mint only struck ‘proof’ sovereigns in three separate years – 1899, 1901 and 1931.

Even rarer again, the Perth Mint struck ‘proof’ Gold Half Sovereigns in only two separate years – 1899 and 1901, both of which are unique.

Downie says a single Melbourne investor owns the 1901 Perth Mint Proof Gold Sovereign and the 1901 Perth Mint Proof Gold Half Sovereign.

The pair is unique and was acquired for $450,000 several years ago. Downie is bringing the pair to Perth after the owner agreed to a Coinworks request to display the coins at the show.

But while the Perth Mint commenced striking Australia’s gold coins in 1899, and is still to this day a major gold coin producer, the mint in 1941 diversified its gold coining repertoire, and began striking the nation’s coppers (pennies and halfpennies) at the request of Treasury.

The mint continued to strike copper coins until 1964, two years before Australia converted to decimal currency.

Following the traditions of the Royal Mint London, the Perth Mint struck limited mintage ‘proof’ (presentation) strikings of those coins struck for circulation.

In a tribute to the Perth Mint’s skills Coinworks will also display a selected number of “finest known” Perth Mint rarities out of this “copper coin” era, all of which are limited mintage presentation strikings and which include the 1947 Proof Penny, the 1948 Proof Penny and Proof Halfpenny, the 1950 Proof Penny, the 1952 Proof Penny and the 1953 Proof Penny.

The six proof coins will form part of a dedicated copper coin Perth Mint display prepared by Coinworks, valued in excess of $300,000.

Downie’s comments on the copper coins on display are as follows: “Well preserved proof coins of the Perth Mint are unrivalled for quality. The coins not only display superb levels of detail in their design, but qualities and colours that are simply unmatched by those of the Melbourne Mint. Each coin is a work of art, as individual and as beautiful as an opal. Furthermore they are rare.”

The Perth Mint commenced striking proof coinage as part of a commercial enterprise in 1955 and continued until 1963, before decimal changeover. At the show, Coinworks will display some of the finest examples of coins struck at the Perth Mint between 1955 and 1963, including the very rare 1955 Proof Penny and Halfpenny and the 1956 Proof Penny.

“The proof record pieces of the Perth Mint form an integral part of our currency heritage,” Downie says. “It’s an historical edge and exclusivity that underpins their strong investment performance.”

This article was originally published by Coinworks.


Dec 162014

The launch of the Commonwealth’s own silver coins in 1910 and first bronze coins in 1911 were key events in the history of modern Australia.

A few years after their introduction, the young nation faced its biggest challenge to that point – a world war of unimaginable carnage and horror.

Drawing together these important themes, this superb pre-decimal coin pack offers collectors an example of all six Commonwealth coins featuring year-dates between the fateful years of 1914 and 1918.

The First World War Australian Coinage Pack 1914-1918 comprises the following coins:

  • Threepence: 92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper
  • Sixpence: 92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper
  • Shilling: 92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper
  • Florin: 92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper
  • Halfpenny: 97% Copper, 2.5% Zinc, 0.5% Tin
  • Penny: 97% Copper, 2.5% Zinc, 0.5% Tin

The six coins are housed in a detailed A5-sized display folder which provides information, facts and figures about Australia’s involvement in World War I, as well as original wartime imagery.

For further details about this impressive release, please click here.


Mar 282014

Graded by NGC, the Benchmark Collection stands as the most significant set of Australian pre-decimal coinage ever assembled.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) has certified the superb Benchmark Collection, a complete set of Australian pre-decimal coins. The collection includes a number of finest known examples and important rarities as well as several previously undocumented varieties.

The Benchmark Collection stands as the most significant set of Australian pre-decimal coinage ever assembled. Mark Duff of Strand Coins in Sydney, Australia, carefully compiled the collection over a period of 25 years, drawing coins from many of the most important collections of Australian coins.

“NGC had previously graded a number of my clients’ most important and valuable Australian coins and I have long been impressed by their accuracy and consistency, and their enthusiasm to expand the knowledge of this series,” says Duff. “NGC was the only choice to certify the Benchmark Collection.”


1916M sixpence – NGC MS68

Among the many highlights of the Benchmark Collection is the 1916M sixpence graded NGC MS 68. The finest NGC-certified Australian sixpence of any date, this impeccable specimen traces its pedigree to the important Parkhill Collection.

Remarkably, the sixpence series also includes three examples graded NGC MS 67: the 1917M, the 1934 and the 1936. All three specimens are the finest known of their date.

The Benchmark Collection’s run of florins is similarly notable for its quality. The 1914H and 1915 florins, both graded NGC MS 65, are the only Mint State examples of their dates to be certified by NGC. The 1915H in NGC MS 67 is the finest certified by four grade points, while the 1923 in NGC MS 67 is the finest certified by three grade points.

Other significant florins in the Benchmark Collection include the 1911, 1912 and the ex-Parkhill 1919—all graded NGC MS 65 and either the highest graded or tied for the highest graded. The 1934-35 Victoria & Melbourne Centenary florin graded NGC MS 65 is also noteworthy for its superior details.

The shillings are led by the 1915H in NGC MS 65, which exceeds the second-highest certified example by a full six grade levels. It is considered to be the most challenging issue in the Australian pre-decimal series.

The core of the shilling set was originally sourced from the famous Jerome Remick Collection but only the 1911 (NGC MS 65), 1914 (NGC MS 65), 1918 (NGC MS 66), 1922 (NGC MS 66) and 1933 (NGC MS 63) shillings from that set remain. The Benchmark Collection 1912 shilling in NGC MS 65, the 1926 shilling in NGC MS 65 and the 1927 shilling in NGC MS 66 are also worthy of mention.

The Benchmark Collection identifies several previously unknown varieties, including two distinct types of 1939 Kangaroo Reverse halfpenny: one with a double foot in the Y in HALFPENNY, the other with a single foot. The double foot variant is the rarer of the two and is represented in the Benchmark Collection by an NGC MS 65 BN example. Tied for finest certified for the date, this attractive specimen was once owned by Reserve Bank Governor H.C. Coombs.

The collection also includes the enigmatic 1916I Mule Halfpenny, which features a 1916-dated Australian halfpenny reverse muled with the obverse of an India ¼ anna. Approximately 10 examples are believed to have survived and the famous “Koschade specimen” in the Benchmark Collection is only the second example to be certified by NGC. It is graded NGC AU Details.

Also of note is the 1923 halfpenny graded NGC MS 62 BN, which is the only Mint State example of this date to be certified by NGC.

The penny set is anchored by two varieties of the famous 1930 penny, both graded NGC XF 45. The first variety features the so-called “London die” obverse and is known by just three examples. Another key date, the 1925 penny, is the highest graded at NGC MS 65 BN.

The Benchmark Collection features the rare 1946 penny with the distinctive “K.G.” initials, which is thought to be an experimental strike from the Melbourne Mint on dies that were prepared for but never sent to the Perth Mint. The lone NGC-certified example of this issue, it is graded NGC MS 64 RB.

After certification by NGC, Duff created NGC Registry sets to showcase the Benchmark Collection. “The online NGC Registry allowed me to share these incredible coins with numismatists around the world,” says Duff.

“The Benchmark Collection is unparalleled in its scope and boasts many outstanding Australian rarities,” says NGC Vice President Ken Krah. “We are very pleased that Mr. Duff chose NGC to certify this fantastic set.”

“These coins represent such an important period of Australian coinage history,” adds Jay Turner, NGC Finalizer. “It was great to see that history in one complete set.”

An online image gallery of the Benchmark Collection is posted to the NGC website under the Galleries section. To view the NGC Registry sets of the Benchmark Collection, click here.

Credit: This article originally appeared on the NGC website.


Jul 042013

The 1954 Royal Visit commemorative florin marked Queen Elizabeth II’s first tour of Australia which was characterised by huge, adoring crowds wherever she went. Four million of these coins were issued, becoming proud possessions in many Australian households.

Featuring a lion and a kangaroo standing side-by-side, the design symbolised Anglo-Australian solidarity. It was prepared by Sydney-born sculptor William Leslie Bowles, who studied at London’s Royal Academy and served with the Royal Tank Corps during World War I before returning home to work at the Australian War Memorial. Well-known pieces by Bowles include The man with the donkey, a tribute to Private Simpson’s courage at Gallipoli, and the Sir John Monash memorial in Melbourne.

The Queen set foot on Australian soil for the first time on 3 February 1954. Sadly, Bowles died a few weeks later and would never have known exactly how sought-after his commemorative design became.


The Perth Mint is proud to hold an example of 1954 Royal Visit florin in its historic collection, and is currently offering you the chance to add this distinctive Australian pre-decimal to yours. Making an eye-catching display, the coin is housed on a delightfully illustrated presentation card portraying a young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in Australia.