The Australian 20 cent coin was first minted in 1966 and in it’s more than 50 year history there are some rare Australian 20 cent coins that are sought after by collectors. In this article we’ll talk about the 4 rare Australian 20c coins you can look out for in your change and do our best to assign a value to them.
1. Australian 1966 London 20 Cent Wavy Baseline Variety
About half of the Australian 1966 20 cent coins were struck by the Royal Mint in London. For some reason one of reverse (tails) dies used in London was damaged and touched up resulting in a distinctive ‘Wave’ on the baseline of the 2 on the reverse of the coin. The so called ‘1966 Wavy Baseline 20 cent’ is the most sought after rare Australian 20 cent coin. Why? Because even a banged up one that has been circulating for 55 years can still be worth a couple of hundred dollars. If you’re really lucky you might find one in pristine condition in an old coin collection or money box, and that 1966 Wavy Baseline 20c could be worth $2,000 or more. How do you know if you have one of these rare 20 cent coins? Firstly your coin must be a 1966 and secondly it must have the distinctive Wave on the baseline of the 2. Checkout the image below, with the rare 20c you’re looking for on the left.
2. Australian 20 Cent Coins Struck on Wrong Planchets
Sometimes blanks for other coins get mixed up with twenty cent blanks and then a 20c is struck on these wrong planchets. For an especially rare Australian 20 cent coin you’d be super lucky to find one that is not only struck on the wrong blank, but is struck on a wrong blank from ANOTHER COUNTRY. This has happened several times during the lifetime of the 20c coin. Twenty cent coins from the 1970’s have been found struck on Thai temple token blanks and blanks of coins from Nepal. In the 1980’s a very small number were struck on scalloped Hong Kong $2 planchets. In this century a few have been found struck on bi-metal planchets possibly from Iran. How much is a 20 cent coin struck on a foreign planchet worth? Anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. See below a rare 2001 20 cent coin struck on a 10.7g bi-metal planchet.
3. Australian 2001 Upset 20 Cent Error
At least one obverse die was loose during the production process of 2001 Platypus 20 cent coins which resulted in coins being struck with varying degrees of die upset. These hard to find upset die error 20 cent coins have appeared on the market with mostly small degrees of upset (less than 30°). They have popped up occasionally with large upset angles including the full 180°. What are they worth? The small upsets are worth perhaps $5-$10, while the big obvious upsets can be worth $100 or more! Certainly an Australian 20 cent coin to look out for.
4. Australian 1981 3 1/2 Claw 20 Cent
Industrial action at the Royal Australian Mint in 1980 and 1981 saw it outsource some coin production to the Royal Mint branches in Wales and Canada. Canada struck most of the 1981 dated 20 cent coins and included a die marker on the reverse of the platypus design to indicate they’d made the coin. The first claw of the left paw of the platypus is half the length giving the variety the name “3 1/2 claw” 20c. While not a rare coin it is quite hard to find in uncirculated condition. Circulated 3 1/2 claw 1981 20c are only worth face value, but uncirculated examples are worth $50+ and well worth looking out for.