Rare Australian Decimal Coins: Part Three- Varieties

February 1, 2009

There are often very slight differences in the dies used for our mass-produced circulating decimal currency. It is not clear whether this is accidental or merely just oversight or perhaps mint workers not paying careful enough attention to details. With a production run of one set of dies running to 100,000 or 200,000 coins usually a years mintage is produced from a number of different die pairings. Minor differences called varieties can be noted from studying a large number of coins of the same design from each year.

The most notable decimal variety and the one with the most worth is the 1966 wavy 2 20 cent coin. A number of our 20 cent of that year were minted in London and one of the numerous dies used for striking had a wave at the top of the baseline of the 2. If you were to find one of these in your change it could easily be worth $200 with high grade examples fetching thousands.

Another interesting example is the Coat of Arms reverse design of the 50 cent. When the design was transferred from master punches to working dies a small detail was occasionally overlooked. Behind the emu's head there are two horizontal lines which exist on some coins and not others - possibly these created a weakness in the dies causing die breaks so were ground off some dies. These are known as the double bar variety 50 cent. If you find for example a 1979 example of a 50 cent piece with these double bars it could easily be worth double that of it's non-barred counterpart.
Other varieties worth looking out for are:

  • 2000 Millenuim incuse flag 50 cent
  • Cuds causing extra features on designs such as lips on the Queen or double chins. These can occur anywhere on any design.
  • Die cracks or breaks where there is a line on the design occurring uniquely on that coin. With a die breaking each succeeding coin may have a greater degree of the die crack until the die breaks and is replaced.
  • 1968 2 cent some examples are missing the designers initials SD
  • 2004 20 cent obverse there are large head and small head types
  • 5 cent small and large echidna reverses

Noted above are the most well-known examples of varieties with more being discovered all the time. Keen collectors can't wait for new issues and they obtain bags and rolls of coins to inspect in great detail to try to detect minor die variations. The more spectacular the differences in the variety the more value the coin has but small differences don't generally fetch much premium above face value.

Posted by harrisk at February 1, 2009 4:40 PM
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Bookmark and Share