Australian Dollar Coins - 1997 Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Birth Centenary

June 21, 2009


1997 Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (Small Portrait/Map Type) One Dollar


1997 Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (Large Portrait) One Dollar

Born in 1897 Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith was an early Australian aviation pioneer. He is best known in Australia for making the first Pacific crossing from Australia to the USA, setting a speed record from Australian to London of 10.5 days, and for disappearing while attempting to set yet more records. He is an iconic figure in Australian history and his blue Fokker Tri-Motor aircraft, the Southern Cross is equally well known in our popular culture. I am lucky enough to live near to where a replica of this plane is stored and it is not unusual to see the aircraft moving slowly through the sky on fine and calm days with it's engines making a loud rumble. It is an evocative sight and sound which is very unusual in these modern times of jet engines and turbo prop aircraft. Further building his legendary status in our culture Smithy (as he was known) died tragically and mysteriously attempting to set another Australia to London speed record in 1935. The plane and the bodies of Smithy and his co-pilot, Tom Pethybridge were never found and their places in Australian history were cemented forever. In 1997 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Charles Kingsford-Smith the Royal Australian Mint released two different commemorative $1 aluminium bronze coins.

The 'Smithy' dollar was struck with two different reverses. The coin struck for circulation had a larger portrait of Kingsford-Smith over his plane the Southern Cross. The other reverse had a smaller portrait, the Southern Cross again all superimposed over the map of the Earth. The coin with the circulation reverse was struck in AlBr for circulation (24,381,000 mintage) and in strict uncirculated and proof condition for the Mint and Proof sets of 1997. Coins with the larger head reverse were also struck in silver proof standard for Coin and Note set that included a 1997 $20 polymer note. The smaller head reverse was struck for the collector market with C (102,213 mintage), S (50,858 mintage), B (28,616 mintage), A (25,403), and M (27,430 mintage) mintmarks. 13,611 of the smaller head reverse were also struck in silver to proof standards and made available in presentation cases. As is normal the silver proof strikings of the Smithy dollars have the highest CV($70) with the collector aluminium bronze coins having CV's of $20 or so and fairly easily obtained.

The obverse of the coin depicts the Raphael Maklouf portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse of both types of Smithy dollar are by Wojciech Pietranik. They both depict a portrait of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith wearing a pilots helmet and his Fokker Tri-motor plane, the Southern Cross. The small head (map) coin also shows a map of the Earth tracing his flying route when he flew around the world.

Posted by mnemtsas at June 21, 2009 12:26 PM
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