Australia 1966 Five Cent Upset Error

As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine.

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the Mint

Figure 1 – 1966 Five Cent Upset Die Error

Back in the May 2021 edition of The Australasian Coin & Banknote Magazine (Volume 24 / Number 4) we talked about London minted 1966 10 cent coins with upset / rotated die errors. What we didn’t mention in that article is that 1966 5 cent coins, also minted in London, have been very occasionally sighted struck with die rotations. When we wrote the article we’d never actually seen a 1966 five cent die rotation, just a picture of one.

We’ve always been keen to get our hands on an upset 5c and for many years we’ve checked each and every coin that we’ve seen without success. Having examined many hundreds of potential candidates we were beginning to think that we were never going to find one. Then in mid-December 2021 a video post appeared on the popular Facebook group “The Gravy Train”. A collector in Victoria showed four upset 1966 five cent coins that had been found in a ‘coin noodling’ session. Each appeared to be in high grade, suggesting that the coins had been recently removed from a collection or money box and deposited in the bank. We were just a bit envious of the collector who discovered the errors as we would have loved to have one for our own collection!

Then when we opened up our retail shop, The Purple Penny, in the first week of 2022 we were surprised to get a visit from the very same Victorian collector! He had brought along his four upset 1966 5 cent coins and was kind enough to sell us one and allow us to examine the other three. Figure 1 shows the coin we purchased. You can see that the obverse is rotated 270o with respect to the reverse and that the coin is in lovely virtually uncirculated condition. This supports the idea that these errors only re-entered circulation very recently. More observations made on the coin shown and the other three viewed are:

1. Each coin had the same die gouge on the obverse indicating they were all struck by the same dies. See Figure 2.
2. As with the 1966 10 cent upset coin errors the coins were struck at the Royal Mint in London. Each 5 cent showed the long spine mintmark in the correct location on the reverse. See Figure 3.
3. All four errors had a slightly different degree of rotation. Careful note was taken of the alignment of the edge milling in relation to the point of the first A of Australia on the obverse. This was found to vary for each coin which indicates the OBVERSE die was rotating as these error coins were struck. See Figure 4.

Figure 2 – Characteristic Die Gouge

Figure 3 – London Mintmark

Figure 4 – Edge Milling

We’re both delighted to have obtained one of these elusive upset die coin errors and it will sit nicely alongside our 10 cent examples. We cannot thank the Victorian collector and his wife enough for taking the time to pop in for a visit and allow us to buy one of these lovely little errors!

Mark Nemtsas and Kathryn Harris own and run ‘The Purple Penny’ coin shop in Adelaide and are passionate about error coins.

Posted in Error Coins

1986 Mint Set Error – 20 Cent Struck Through Oil or Debris

As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine.

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the Mint

Figure 1 – 1986 20 cent struck through oil or debris

Figure 1 shows a 20 cent with two areas that have been struck through either oil or debris. The ‘strike through’ error is a catch-all term that covers the family of errors where some sort of foreign material comes between the coin die and the blank planchet when it is struck. This results in an area of the coin design being largely obscured or completely obliterated. What sorts of foreign material can come between the planchet and the die? Most commonly, it’s oil or grease. Less commonly it might be scrap metal or swarf, cloth, wire, cotton, or very rarely a screw or some other metal fastener.

In the case of the coin shown in Figure 1 there are two main struck through areas, one above and through the Queen’s crown and one below the truncation of the portrait. We’re not 100% certain what the foreign material was that caused the error. However, if pressed we’d suggest the strike through at the top of the coin was through grease or oil due to the uneven rounded nature of the flaw. The one at the bottom of the coin looks different, more angular and regular with a linear nature which may indicate it was struck through a bit of scrap metal.

Figure 2 – 1986 Mint Set Error

What really makes this error interesting though, is that it’s housed in a 1986 mint set! See Figure 2. Somehow this error escaped the Royal Australian Mint after going through many more quality checks than a run-of-the-mill circulation coin. Mint set coins are handled differently to circulation coins, hand packaged, and presumably each coin is given an eyeball quality check by packaging staff. Clearly this little gem slipped through all of that and is still housed in the original mint set packaging. Sure, it’s not the best mint set error we’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly one worth putting into a quality collection of errors.

Mark Nemtsas and Kathryn Harris own and run ‘The Purple Penny’ coin shop in Adelaide and are passionate about error coins.

Posted in Error Coins

Australia 1964 Penny Error – Double Struck in Collar

As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine Yearbook for 2021/2022

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the Mint

Figure 1 – Australia 1964 Penny Error – Double Struck in Collar

Figure 1 shows an interesting Melbourne minted 1964 penny. The sharp-eyed reader will likely be drawn to the double forehead of Her Majesty on the obverse. On the reverse there is great interest in the second set of numerals 964 just below the date (see Figure 2). What is the cause of both of these distinguishing features?

This 1964 penny is correctly classified as “double struck in collar” or perhaps a “rotated double strike”. Both terms are accurate and both add valuable information that help us understand the error. What you are looking at is a 1964 penny that was struck once in the normal fashion. However, something then went wrong with the coin press and the coin failed to eject properly from the collar die. It did move during the failed ejection, rotating perhaps 10 degrees or so before settling back into the collar. The coin was then struck again and after this second strike the penny ejected correctly and entered circulation. The grade is excellent so clearly some vigilant individual saw it very quickly and it was put aside as an item of curiosity.

Figure 2 – Detail, Second set of numerals 964 below date.

Knowing that this coin has been struck twice within the collar we can now look with fresh eyes at the Queen’s double forehead and that second set of 964 numerals. What are they? They are of course remnants of the first time this coin was struck, somewhat obliterated by the second strike. Understanding this we can examine the rest of the coin and see other features that betray the nature of the error. Look at the lumpy surfaces of AUSTRALIA on the reverse, see the ghostly remnants of a G between DEI and GRATIA on the obverse, and note that the Queen has also gained a second neck line!

The ”double struck in collar” error is a particularly interesting one, especially when the rotation between strikes is large enough to give rise to strong indicators observed on this coin. It’s an error type to look out for, and for the more advanced collector, identify coins that have been struck more than twice in collar! We’ve seen one coin that was struck 6 or 7 times in collar, but that’s a story for another day.

Mark Nemtsas and Kathryn Harris own and run The Purple Penny coin shop in Adelaide coin shop in Adelaide and are passionate about error coins.

Posted in Error Coins

Australia 1966-1984 2 Cent Struck on Split Planchet

As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine November 2021

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the Mint

Figure 1 – Australia 1966-1984 2 Cent Struck on Split Planchet

This month we have the pleasure of showcasing an error coin that is very rare indeed. What looks at first glance to be a pretty rubbish two cent piece is one of the hardest error types to find.

This coin is underweight and considerably thinner than it should be. Looking at the heavily striated surface texture of the reverse allows us to identify that it was here that a fatal flaw occurred. It’s along this face that the planchet split in half along a line parallel to the surfaces of the blank. One half of that split planchet went on to be struck into the two cent piece you see here.

The weakness in the strike we see on both sides of the coin resulted from the split planchet being severely underweight. The strike weakness is not uniform as the planchet was thicker and thinner in different areas. However, in general there is weakness on the periphery and in the centre of the coin the features are more strongly struck. The area where the planchet was the thinnest was behind Her Majesty’s head and in front of the frill-necked lizard’s face.

With regard to scarcity this error coin has two characteristics that make it extremely difficult to find. Firstly, it is very unusual to come across a split planchet one or two cent coin. By comparison, it is very common to see split planchet copper nickel coins, especially on the 5c and 10c denominations. Secondly, of all the types of split planchet errors the ‘struck after split’ type is by far the hardest to find. It’s important to understand that there are several types of split planchet errors that can found. These may be partially split and open like a clamshell, a planchet that has fully split and is retained as a mated pair or fully split and only half the coin being present. Each of those types split after the coins were struck. In the case of our coin the coin has split and then been struck easily making it the hardest to find type of split planchet error.

We’d like to thank the owner for allowing us to image and admire this error coin.

Mark Nemtsas and Kathryn Harris own and run The Purple Penny coin shop in Adelaide coin shop in Adelaide and are passionate about error coins.

Posted in Error Coins

Australia 1948 Penny Struck on Underweight Planchet

As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine October 2021

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the Mint

Image 1 – Australia 1948 Penny Struck on Underweight Planchet

Our showcased error coin this month is an error type that is a particular favourite of one of the authors. The coin in question is a Melbourne minted 1948 penny struck on an underweight 9.06 gram planchet (normal penny weight is 9.45 grams). A good part of the design of the coin is missing towards the bottom on both sides of the coin. The surface of the area of missing design is smooth on the obverse, while on the reverse it is rough with largely parallel striations going from left to right.

Why are the surfaces of both sides different? To answer that it’s best to think about the process that makes the metal strip from which the penny blanks were punched. The metal strip began as a thick heavy ingot of bronze. It was heated up and run back and forth through a series of hot roller mills with ever decreasing separation that gradually thinned out the large ingot into a flat metal strip. During this process perhaps a cooler scrap of metal falls onto the metal strip and is pressed into the surface by the rollers. It too is rolled flat and elongated but because of the difference in temperature between the scrap and the strip of metal it doesn’t actually bond with the strip.

Once complete the bronze strip is coiled and then later used to manufacture penny blanks. Perhaps at this time our bit of elongated rolled in scrap falls off of the strip and a light weight blank is punched. Alternatively, perhaps the blank is punched with our scrap in place and the punched part of scrap falls away later. We cannot be sure when the scrap fell out but we do know for certain it fell out BEFORE the coin was struck. We can be 100% sure that the scrap was on the reverse of the coin due to the parallel striations. Why then is the design missing on the obverse? Because when it was struck the planchet was too thin in that area for metal to fill the die properly.

We’ve seen several errors of this exact type over the years, few enough to make them scarce. They are an interesting item to add to one’s collection and provide a real insight into two separate processes used to manufacture coins. If you happen to see one make sure you snap it up!

Mark Nemtsas and Kathryn Harris own and run The Purple Penny coin shop in Adelaide coin shop in Adelaide and are passionate about error coins.

Posted in Error Coins

Australia 1988 $2 with Curved Clipped Planchet Error

As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine September 2021

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the Mint

Image 1 – Australia 1988 $2 with Curved Clipped Planchet Error

If you’re even slightly active in the online coin community you’ll know that a major Australian media company published an article in early 2021 about 1988 and 1989 $2 coins. The general gist of the article was that these coins might be valuable because of the letters HH on the rib cage of the Aboriginal elder shown on the reverse. Of course, these are the initials of the coin designer Horst Hahne and they were removed from the coin after 1989. Are they valuable? Generally no, however in the image shown with this article you can see a 1988 $2 coin that is indeed quite valuable.

You’ll notice that there is a curved portion of the coin missing at the bottom edge. The curved shape is characteristic of the “curved clipped planchet error”. There was a failure during the process that manufactured the blank from which this coin was made. A failure that lead to one blank being punched from an area of a metal strip that had already had another blank punched from it, resulting in the missing part of the coin you see before you.

How do we know this is a real clipped planchet error? The technical details are beyond the scope of this article but please refer to a previous article[1] we have written that covers the topic in detail. In brief, the most obvious indicator of authenticity is the smooth flowing outward transition of the inner rim toward the outer rim on both sides of the clipped area. In particular the bottom of those HH letters flowing outward into the clip site. This is a result of unconstrained radial metal flow into the missing region of the coin.

In conclusion, what we see here is a genuinely interesting 1988 $2 coin with the HH initials on the reverse. It’s a fine example of a genuine curved clipped planchet error in an excellent grade with an unfortunate obverse fingerprint. Despite this detracting feature it is still a difficult to find error on an aluminium bronze $2 coin.

Mark Nemtsas and Kathryn Harris own and run The Purple Penny coin shop in Adelaide coin shop in Adelaide and are passionate about error coins.

[1] The Australian Coin Collecting Blog, 2012, How to Determine if a Clipped Planchet Error is Real, The Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, Vol 15, No. 5, pp 10-11

Posted in Error Coins

Australia 1943I Penny Large Reverse Rim Cud Error

As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine August 2021

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the mint

Image 1 – Australia 1943I Penny Large Reverse Rim Cud Error

As error collectors the authors of this article are always on the lookout for the best examples of a particular error type, even the common and less interesting ones. One of these humble error types is the ‘cud’ error, which, according to well-known US error expert, Ken Potter, is a die break error that involves the rim or shank of the coin die[1]. Coins struck with such a broken die show missing design elements usually as blobs of metal where the die has broken. Cuds are often small and not that interesting. However, in the case of the 1943I Penny shown here you can clearly see that the cud extends around nearly a quarter of the reverse rim and protrudes well into the coin design itself.

You’ll note that the surface of the cud is smooth and flowing, which (and one of the authors is falling back onto his long past engineering degree here) is typical of a brittle fracture of the die. Close examination of the obverse design opposite the reverse cud clearly demonstrates the size and thickness of the error. The area around REX F:D: has not been struck up properly because so much of the coin metal has flowed into the missing area of the reverse die. The especially keen collector of cuds might keep an eye on each and every 1943I Penny they see looking for the same cud error. Not necessarily to find identical errors, but to find if the die break was progressive rather than a one-off-event. This could lead to a lovely group of related cud errors from the same reverse die!

In summing up the error collector should always be on the lookout for scarcity, even among common error types. If you’re looking for one cud error for your collection make sure it’s a superb example, focus on grade, size of the die break, and if possible, one that affects the strike of the coin on the side opposite the cud.

Mark Nemtsas and Kathryn Harris own and run The Purple Penny coin shop in Adelaide and are passionate about error coins.

Posted in Error Coins

Australian Decimal Banknote Plate Identification Letters

The current Renniks Australian Coin and Banknote Values catalogues lists just two Australian decimal notes with Plate Identification Letters (PILs). These are the 1991 $10 R-313a (Fraser/Cole) and 1991 $50 R-513a (Fraser/Cole). This article will display locations of PILs on other decimal notes.

Australia 1974 $2 R-86 (Knight / Wheeler)

Currently observed PIL on OCR-B Centre Thread (R-86b) and Side Thread (R-86c). PIL can be found in curl of wool immediately above and to the right of rear leg of ram on front of note.

1976 Knight / Wheeler $2 OCR-B Center Thread with Plate Letter D

1976 Knight / Wheeler $2 OCR-B Side Thread with Plate Letter O

Australia 1974 $5 R-205 (Phillips / Wheeler)

Currently observed with and without Plate Identification Letter. PIL can be found in first gumnut up from the bottom of the branch immediately to the left of the portrait of Banks on the front of the note.

1974 Phillips / Wheeler $5 with Plate Letter T

Australia 1988 $10 R-310a First Issue (Johnston / Fraser)

Currently observed with Plate Identification Letter. PIL can be found in the upper foliage of the tree immediately above the numeral 0 of 10 on the lower left front of the note.

1988 Johnston / Fraser $10 with Plate Letter V

Australia 1989 $20 R-412 (Fraser / Higgins)

Currently observed with Plate Identification Letter. PIL can be found just among the swirls just the left of the neck of the portrait of Kingsford-Smith on the front of the note.

1989 Fraser / Higgins $20 with Plate Letter R

Posted in Banknotes

Coin Collecting: Off-Metal On Trend

Click image to enlarge

As a coin collector snapping up each new release it’s exciting when something a little bit different pops up. Not just a new design on an old favourite but a striking of your favourite coin in a different metal to what is the standard. If we’re talking about the Australian 50 cent most will know that it’s silvery appearance is not a precious metal but a cupro-nickel alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel that these coins are struck. Occasionally an issue will be made out of a different metal, this is known as an off-metal strike. This affects the colour and weight of the coin but all other specifications of these legal tender coins remain the same. The weight of these off-metal 50c coins are 14.09g, almost 1 1/2 grams lighter than a standard Cu-Ni at 15.55g.

Click image to enlarge

The golden alloy used on one and $2 coins is often used as an alternate metal for special collector 50 cent coins. This is aluminium bronze, an alloy of 92% copper, 6% Aluminium and 2% Nickel. Coins struck in this metal are few and keenly sought. Here’s my list off the top of my head, can you think of any others?
2003 50th Anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II -Golden Anniversary
2020 Banjo Paterson Collection
2022 50th Anniversary of the Tamworth Country Music Festival -Golden Guitar
2022 Henry Lawson Collection

Certainly seeing a different coloured coin in your collection of commemorative, special and interesting designs on coins is quite on trend with collectors.

Click image to enlarge

Posted in Collecting Coins

2022 50 Cent Treasured Australian Stories Henry Lawson Three Coin Collection

Click image to enlarge

Henry Lawson, a legend of Australian literature is celebrated with this 50 cent three coin set struck in aluminium bronze. The three of his literary pieces that adorn this coin collection are The Drovers Wife, The Loaded Dog and On the Edge of a Plain. Whilst the Australian 50 cent is usually struck in cupro-nickel, these special collector coins are minted on golden coloured aluminium bronze planchets which is referred to as off-metal.

The collection of three coins have been made by the Royal Australian Mint, Australia’s circulating coin producer. Whilst these coins have been intended for the collector market they are the same size and shape of a regular 50 cent piece. Circulating coin are usually sent out in millions however collector coins have a much smaller mintage. These coins, a mere 40,000 coins of each beloved story have been made.

To add these interesting and different Australian coins to your collection head over to The Purple Penny website.

Click image to enlarge

Posted in Collecting Coins

Site Search


Upcoming Coin Collecting Events:

no event

Australian Numismatic Calendar

Current Coin Values, Bullion Prices and Exchange Rates

AUD $12.00
Australian 1966 Round 50c
AUD $718.05
Gold Sovereign
AUD $898.90
Australian $200 Gold Coin
AUD $35.14
Silver Price (per Oz)
AUD $3,050.06
Gold Price (per Oz)
USD $0.6557
Australian Dollar

These values are updated hourly using New York market prices. Coin values are purely the value of the gold or silver they contain and do not account for any numismatic value.
Prices Last Updated: 02:04 12 Dec 2023

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to the Australian Coin Collecting Blog and receive emails about new posts.