Australian Coin Obverses: Ian Rank-Broadley Part 2 Eyeing the Details

December 11, 2010

Decimal enthusiast Wayne Roberts has kindly supplied some of his research findings regarding the differences that can be found in the Ian Rank-Broadley obverse over the years. Catch up back at the main entry Australian Coin Obverses: Ian Rank-Broadley, then screw on your thinking cap, get in the zone, grab a coffee, put on your glasses and read on, you'll need all the concentration you can get!

There have been various modifications to this obverse since 1998/99 both of the portrait in size and of the text style or size of both the IRB and the legend around the portrait.
In 1999, one can find the RAM adjusting the size of the portrait. This is identified by the slight differences in the space between the legend and the rim. Two size varieties can be found for the 10 cents and $2 coins while there are three varieties for the $1 International Year of Older Persons coins. This also appears to have flowed on to the $1 Last ANZACS mintmark coins with the possibility of two portrait sizes at least on some mintmark issues.
In 2000, the text of the legend was changed and appears much finer than the 1999 style and possibly the size of the portrait was also changed. It is possible there were slight differences on issues throughout 2000 also and of course we have the 2000 Mob of Roos $1 mule with the 10 cents obverse die used. This was the year that the special Australian designed portrait of HM the Queen was used on the 50 cents Royal Visit coin only.
The text style and portrait size changed again for the 2001 issues and again during the year creating at least two varieties for the 2001 obverse. This encompassed the 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, $1 and $2 issues, while the 50 cents may have retained the one obverse throughout the year (more research is needed here). The 20 cents appears to have three varieties, at least in the proof coins.
These varieties are best identified by the difference in style of the IRB lettering. The three varieties are best described as:
  1. IRB spaced
  2. IR spaced and RB joined
  3. IRB joined
Further differences involve the size of the portrait and distance of the legend from the rim. These can also be known as the small and large head obverses. Each difference is linked to a different IRB style.
When looking for differences between obverses, the key points are:
  1. distance of legend text from the rim
  2. distance of high point on tiara from rim
  3. distance of right point of neck from rim
  4. style of IRB
  5. style, size, width of text - look at A, U, S, I, E and B especially
  6. style, size, width of date - look at 2 and 0 especially
From 2003 the obverse of the coins seem to have standardised with the IRB joined. However some strange things still continue with the styles of the legend text. In 2004 both the 20 cents and 50 cents came out in two varieties of legends, each associated with a large head portrait or small head portrait. The large head carried the familiar text with the "A"s all being pointed while the small head portrait had a different style text best described as flat-topped "A"s. In 2005 the legend and portrait size on the 20 cents and 50 cents returned to the pointed A style large head type but the size of the text was slightly larger and "00" in date more elliptical than on the other denominations. In 2006 it changed again for these two denominations where it became thicker, the 2 in date started blunt.
If that wasn't enough, in 2007 the 20 cents Platypus circulation issue came out with two varieties in the style of the 7 in the date. These are described as thin 7 and thick 7. The style of the date changed for the other denominations in 2008 with the start of the 2 being blunt rather than sharp/pointed and the "00"s in the date of these denominations became more elliptical. This continued in 2009 and the 20 cents in 2010. However the other 2010 issues appear to have another style date with a difference in the "0"s in the date appearing more egg shaped. A simple check is to compare the legend and date styles of the two coins in the 2010 Burke and Wills mint set and you will get an idea of these different styles.
The 2011 date style is different again with the 2 in date on all issues 5 cents to $2 having a curled like blob at the start of the 2.
It is hard to pick up many of these difference with the naked eye as the coins are so small but they can be seen with slight magnification.

Thanks to Wayne for his detailed information we've been able to publish here for the benefit of the serious variety collector.

Posted by harrisk at December 11, 2010 4:53 PM
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