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

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