Counterfeit / Fake Year 2000 $1 / 10c Mules on eBay

In the last few weeks some less than reputable eBay sellers have been selling counterfeit Australian coins purporting to be genuine year 2000 $1/10c mules. Putting aside the fact that selling counterfeit Australian currency is a federal offense punishable by jail time it’s also a low life act being done simply to profit from the easily deceived. One eBay seller has sold one of these fakes for over $900 already, a hefty sum for something that is worthless and actually a crime to possess. This short article looks at the counterfeit mules and has some key points to look out for so you can easily spot them.

Counterfeit Mule (Left), Real Mule (Right)

Above you can see a comparison of the obverse of a fake mule on the left and a real mule on the right. Each numbered point is discussed below.

1. Double rim on the counterfeit coin is far too narrow and too perfectly centered.
2. Legend lettering on the fake coin is too close to the edge of the coin.
3. Hair detail on the fake coin is too coarse and ‘spaghetti’ like compared with the fine detail on the real example.
4. Spacing between the lettering and the double rim is inconsistent on the counterfeit mule while the lettering is the same distance from the double rim around the entire perimeter of the real coin.

Counterfeit Mule (Left), Real Mule (Right)

Above you can see a comparison of the reverse of a fake mule on the left and a real mule on the right. Each numbered point is discussed below.

1. The bodies of the kangaroos on the fake coin are unnaturally rounded and bulbous compared with the much more natural looking contours on the real coin.
2. The faces of the kangaroos are rounded and smooth with deepset eyes on the counterfeit, while the real coin shows much more fine and realistic detail. We thought the kangaroos looked positively ‘zombie like’ on the fake.
3. The second largest kangaroo’s top left ear disappears into the leg of the kangaroo above it on the counterfeit. On the real coin is the ear is above the leg.
4. The end of the left paw of the largest kangaroo is missing from the counterfeit.

The counterfeit examples also appear to have reeding around the entire edge of the coin and not interrupted edge reeding like a standard Australian dollar coin should have. See below.

Counterfeit 2000 $1/10c Mule Error Edge Reeding Detail

Buyer Beware

The particular seller of these coins is ONLY selling counterfeit coins. None of them are convincing and yet people have still bid them up to 100’s of dollars. If you want to buy a real year 2000 $1/10c coin buy from a reputable dealer or buy one that is graded and encapsulated in a PCGS holder. Remember it is a federal offense to buy and sell counterfeit Australian currency.

Images of the counterfeit Australian dollar coin courtesy of the fine people at eBay Australia!

Posted in Coin News, Error Coins

Error Coin Spotlight -2014 50c Struck on a Brass Planchet

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Above we can see an Australian 50 cent that has been struck on a wrong coin planchet. This error 50c is the wrong weight, wrong colour and the wrong shape. A regular 2014 50 cent should weigh 15.55 grams, be silvery in colour (copper-nickel to be exact) and have a 12 sided (dodecagonal) shape. This coin weighs 6.55 grams, is made of brass and is round.

This error coin is uncirculated so was likely pulled from a coin roll before it entered circulation and was so strikingly out of place that it was put aside. We’ve had this coin XRF (X-ray fluorescence) tested and it came out 95.07% copper and 4.93% zinc which is the composition of brass. It was a possibility that if the composition was aluminium bronze (92% copper, 6% aluminium and 2% nickel) that it could have been struck on a (6.6g) $2 planchet, but this didn’t turn out to be the case.

We looked into what other coins or medals the Royal Australian Mint was striking at the time this coin was made and no other planchets match this coin.

We’ve concluded that it’s most likely that foreign blank contamination occurred at the factory where the coin blanks used by the Royal Australian Mint are sourced, Poongsan in South Korea. This company is the world’s largest coin blank manufacturer producing coin and medal blanks in all kinds of alloys including brass and copper-nickel. A foreign blank contaminated the barrel of blanks at the supplier and went on to be struck as an Australian 50 cent creating this very special, super rare error coin.

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Posted in Error Coins

Double Struck A Pair of Halfpenny Errors

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We recently had the opportunity to look through the coin collection of a friend and some special coins caught our attention. I looked closer at one of the error coins and was surprised at the similarities to one of our own coins, so we took a photo to make some comparisons. We retrieved our own coin from storage to look at and compared both coins together. This type of error is quite rare and not often seen -a rotated double struck coin error. In this case a halfpenny was struck, rotated in the press, failed to eject and was struck again. The coin rotating enough to leave parts of both strikes visible that are quite entertaining.

The rotation of the second strike for each example is so very close too, only out by around 10 degrees. The bottom coin you can still read the original HALF around the kangaroos tail. The top coin only ALF remains in the field. The obverse we can easily see the rotation of HM’s profile. For the first strike she’s looking upwards, the base of her hair and ribbon seen at the back of her shoulder. These really are a special pair of error halfpennies.

19xx Halfpenny Rotated Double Strike Error

19xx Halfpenny Rotated Double Strike Error

Rotated Double Strike  Error - 1964Y  Half Penny

Rotated Double Strike Error – 1964Y Half Penny

Posted in Error Coins

1970 Captain Cook Proof 50 Cent VIP Presentation Set

1970 Cook 50c VIP Set (image courtesy eBay)

In 1970 Australia was excited about the very first decimal commemorative coin. This circulating coin was a dodecagonal 50 cent piece with the image and signature of Captain Cook and a map of Australia designed by Stuart Devlin. This commemorated the bicentenary of Cook’s voyage that saw the first Europeans discover the east coast of Australia. Circulation coins were sent to banks and retailers, uncirculated coins were included in mint sets, proof coins in year sets and specimen coins were issued in red plastic cases. There was also a very special set given to VIPs that is rarely seen for sale.

This VIP set was a gift from the Australian Government to important individuals and each had the recipient’s name engraved into a special plaque in the set. The Royal Australian Mint produced just 70 of these 2 coin proof sets, the controller of the Mint at that time J.M. Henderson says in the 1969-1970 annual report:

“Seventy gift boxes each containing two proof 50 cent coins and a plaque engraved with the recipient’s name were assembled at the request of the Prime Minister’s Department for presentation to important visitors and others concerned in the bi-centenary celebrations.”

1970 Cook 50c VIP Set (image courtesy eBay)

“Proof and Special coin” production statistics in the report confirm the Mint struck 140 pieces (2 coins in each set). With just 70 sets given to VIPs none appeared on the secondary market in the first 20 years after they were issued1. In fact just two sets have surfaced to date and it is easy to identify each set because of the engraved name plaque. It’s interesting to postulate a set was perhaps given to the Queen or a member of the Royal family who visited Australia in 1970.

The first set surfaced at a Noble Numismatics auction (sale 84 lot 125) in March 2007 and sold for $1,000 (plus commission). The name plaque was engraved to The Hon E.A. Willis, M.L.A. Sir Eric Archibald Willis (1922-1999) was the government Minister for Labour and Industry and Chief Secretary and Minister for Tourism in 1970 when he was issued the set. More recently (but still 10 years later) another set surfaced engraved to Rear-Admiral T.T. Lewin, M.V.O., D.S.C (pictured). Terence Thornton Lewin (1920-1999) was a highly decorated member of the UK Navy serving in WWII and later became Chief of the armed forces. He was a big fan and historian of Captain Cook.

1McDonald, Greg.(1991).Collecting and Investing in Australian Coins and Banknotes(2nd ed., pp.215)

1970 Cook 50c VIP Set (image courtesy eBay)

1970 Cook 50c VIP Set (image courtesy eBay)

Posted in Collecting Coins

Stuart Devlin Designer Goldsmith Silversmith 2018 -Book Review

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I have never written a book review before and the task for this hefty 529 page pictoral history of Devlins work is eased by the beautiful depictions within the pages. To say I’m a Devlin fan is probably an understatement, his work drew me from coin collecting to arts and sculpture and I have many pieces of his work.

This recently released hardcover masterpiece was assembled by Devlin’s wife Carole and her sister Victoria Kate Simkin after a health scare saw Devlin relent on his negative thoughts on publishing a book. The now 86 year old Order of Australia medal recipient and jeweller to the Queen has achieved so much in his life which is all featured with the pages of this book.

The book features chapters on:
Candelabra, candlesticks and centrepieces,
Commissioned works,
Coins, regalia and medals and art medals,
Jewelled surprise eggs, clocks and Objets d’art,
Limited edition silver and commemorative silver,
Innovations and computer-aided design,
and a Biography.

The book begins with a Foreward from Windsor Castle with His Royal Highness Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh praising the efforts and achievements of Devlin in his lifes work. In each chapter the book carries on documenting much of his work with stunning pictures -it’s almost a Devlin dictionary!

Stuart Devlin is the designer of Australia’s decimal coins first issued in 1966, these were his first coin designs he went on to design coins for over 36 countries! Winning the competition to design Australia’s new coins is said to have transformed Stuart Devlin’s life.

As a Devlin collector this book opened my eyes wider seeing the sheer scale of the items Devlin produced. It’s also help me date and read more about pieces I’ve seen and pieces in my own collection. This book was definitely a must-have for my library. A surprise was that Stuart Devlin designed houses! He did so for the likes of Mick Jagger and H.R.H Princess Margaret. The finale of the book is the extensive biography, more detailed than ever seen before with photos of his private life too.

This publication has a recommended retail price of £75 or $225AUD but I was able to pick up my copy for half that price. Overall this is the most detailed and concise compilation of his work that has gone to print.

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Posted in Books

Rare Coin Company Collapse Leads to Jail Time for Director

Former Rare Coin Company director Rob Jackman was earlier this month sentenced to 4 years and 2 months jail time for stealing and fraud. Investors and collectors suffered massive losses as the director tried to keep his failing coin business afloat before it was placed into liquidation in July 2013. The company thrived on offering premium collector coins or banknotes to customers with the cherry on the top being a guaranteed buy-back price including an investment return for coins or banknotes purchased. The Rare Coin Co kept investor’s numismatic items safe in secure vaults (and happily charged investors storage fees) as investors waited to collect their anticipated returns.

As the global financial crisis hit and the coin and banknote market began to slide more investors sought to collect on the buy back guarantee and the company that grew from a $600,000 turnover in 1997 to $44.3 million in 2010 was unable to honour the guarantees. It is understood that efforts to keep the company viable included the company selling numismatic items that belonged to the investors and not the company. The dishonesty of the director will see Jackman serve at least half his jail term before being eligible for parole and has been ordered to pay restitution, but without assets and having been declared bankrupt it’s hard to see any of the $1.8 million being repaid.

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Posted in Coin News

2018 Next Generation $50 Note Design Revealed

The design for the Next Generation $50 was revealed yesterday by the Reserve Bank of Australia. It will be released into circulation from October 2018. This follows the redesigned $5 and $10 notes transitioned in the last 2 years and the $20 note will follow in 2019.

The new fifty dollar note will retain the same colour scheme and feature the same famous Australians Aboriginal writer and inventor David Unaipon and the first female member of parliament Edith Cowan. A theme of the Next Generation notes is to include a different species of Australian native wattle and bird on each denomination. The new $50 will depict an acacia shrub Acacia humifusa and the Black Swan. It will also exhibit security and anti-counterfeiting features seen on all new Next Generation notes such as a top-to-bottom clear window, the rolling colour effect, embossing and UV fluorescence. Microprinting features exerpts of David Unaipon’s book and Edith Cowans maiden parliamentary speech.

David Unaipon features on the signature side of the note which, as collectors, we call the front. These signatures are Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe and Secretary of the Department of Treasury John A Fraser. Edit Cowan features on the serial number side or the back.

2018 $50 Next Gen Design Revealed (image courtesy

Posted in Banknotes

Coin Designers Stuart Devlin

Stuart Devlins Australian Coin Designs as shown in The Australian Numismatist Supplement September 1964 -first look at his new designs

In 1963 a competition was held to design the new Australian decimal coinage that was to be introduced in 1966. The new decimal coins were to replace the pre-decimal coinage that had been in circulation since 1910. Six competitors vied for the honour of designing these new coins.

One of these competitors was Geelong born artist and goldsmith Stuart Devlin. Devlin and the five other entrants met monthly in Sydney to discuss their ideas and designs offering each other constructive criticism. Stuart Leslie Devlins designs featured Australian native fauna hoping this would be well accepted by the Australian public. Stuart Devlin was announced the winner with the 1 cent coin featuring the feather-tailed glider, the 2 cent a frilled neck dragon lizard, 5 cent a spiny echidna, the 10 cent a lyrebird, the 20 cent duck billed platypus and the 50 cent Australian Coat of Arms. The kangaroo didn’t leap onto a coin design (aside from the Coat of Arms) until the one dollar in 1984. In fact Devlins kangaroo 2 cent coin design was rejected but struck in his honour by the Royal Australian Mint in 2017 as a collector piece. Devlin wanted depth in his designs and the feeling of movement in the coin design. Hence the 20 cent platypus, Devlins’ favourite brings the idea of looking through water at the platypus swimming into the third dimension. The Australian decimal coin designs were Devlins first coins and this achievement is said to have transformed his life.

In 1988 his artistry became computerised allowing him to realise his design much faster. It took an average of a month for Devlin to design a coin, with 2 weeks spent on research and 2 weeks for the design. The design on paper must then be modified to involve depth and details and is sent to a sculptor to make a 3-D plaster model. It is then sent to the Mint for approval.

Devlin, the designer who is said to have the “midas touch” is now retired and resides in England after designing coins for over 36 countries in his career. His Australian coin designs have stood the test of time, still being minted today and have been circulating for over 50 years. It is interesting to note that very few of his designs actually carry his initials. On this Devlin states “It is satisfaction enough to know that millions of people throughout the world carry my work in their pockets.”

Devlins Favourite -Platypus 20 Cent Coin Reverse (1972)

Hand Carved by Devlin 20 Cent Plaster

Posted in Collecting Coins

How Many Coins in a Roll?

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Have you got a roll or security bag of coins and don’t know how any coins are in the roll? Here’s a handy list for reference.

1 Cent roll- 50 coins face value 50 cents
2 Cent roll- 50 coins face value $1
5 Cent roll- 40 coins face value $2
10 Cent roll- 40 coins face value $4
20 Cent roll- 20 coins face value $4
50 Cent roll- 20 coins face value $10
1 Dollar roll- 20 coins face value $20
2 Dollar roll- 25 coins face value $50

Guaranteed NEW coins in the roll?
To be certain of new coins in the rolls only purchase Royal Australian Mint rolls or Reserve Bank rolls. Quite often new coins are found in security company rolls such as Armaguard, Brambles, Chubb, Brinks or Prosegur but it’s not a 100% certainty, you need to check with the source or the seller to give yourself peace of mind. Even then the ultimate peace of mind is opening the roll -but then you don’t have a roll of coins!

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Posted in Collecting Coins

Error Coin Spotlight – 1988 2c Struck on 1c Planchet

1988 2 Cent Struck on 1 Cent Planchet - Visible Date

1988 2 Cent Struck on 1 Cent Planchet – Visible Date

Coins struck on the wrong or incorrect planchets are a favourite among error collectors. In the Australian coin series wrong planchet errors are one the toughest error types to find and many collections lack an example. However, there’s one exception that is more affordable and common, the 2 cent struck on a 1 cent planchet. You can see an example of this particular error above -this one dated 1988. When the Royal Australian Mint was striking 2 cent coins with the Maklouf portrait for Australia’s bicentennial year the 2 cent blank supply was contaminated with 1 cent blanks. Exactly how many of those 1 cent blanks found their way into the wrong place is unknown but we suspect it’s in the dozens.

Why do we suspect that many? Two reasons. The first, as we keep an eye on the error coin market we see these 1988 2c wrong planchet errors come up for sale reasonably often. You almost always see one in a public auction with a decent error coin session. Also, as we’re always watching error coin sales on the secondary markets such as eBay and various social media channels we see them come up at the rate of one or two a month. That’s proof enough to us that there are quite a few extant examples.

Date Detail - Note Fishtailing of Legends

Date Detail – Note Fishtailing of Legends

The second reason we suspect there’s several dozen examples of this particular error has less solid evidence to back it up but it’s interesting none the less and perhaps a little piece of Australian coin folklore. The story goes that in the first decade of this century a certain coin dealer in Melbourne purchased a roll (or rolls) of 2 cent coins that included multiples of these wrong planchet errors. The coin dealer would have one of the coins for sale in their cabinet, and when it sold would watch the happy buyer leave the shop before reaching under the counter and removing another of the errors from their roll and putting that up for sale at the same price. Whether it’s true or not we’re not sure, but it’s a great story. Funnily enough one of the authors of this blog purchased their Maklouf portrait wrong planchet 2 cent error from the very same dealer in Melbourne in 2006. Right around the time that the story above is supposed to have taken place.

If you’re looking to purchase one of these desirable wrong planchet errors there are two main things to look at. The first is grade, look for the best grade you can afford showing the most amount of mint red. The example at the top of this article is full red with an unfortunate fingerprint, obviously the fingerprint makes the coin less desirable. But compare that with the coin imaged below which is toned red brown without a detracting fingerprint. Some collectors would prefer the full red example, while others would find the fingerprint too distracting and choose the Red-Brown example. Fussier people may choose to wait for a superior specimen to appear on the market. The second factor to consider with these coins is the visibility of the date. The first coin pictured clearly shows the date, while the second does not. You can see the bottom loops of the date but there is a bit of uncertainty. We’ve seen examples of this error with no trace of the date at all. With no date there is less information and certainty as to the exact nature of the coin and error, lack of certainty with regard to error coins generally means less value. For example, which would you rather purchase “a 1988 2c struck on a 1c planchet” or “a 2c on a 1c planchet date uncertain ranging from 1985 to 1991”. The answer is obvious.

Don’t look past the most crucial identification of the error, weigh the coin to see that it is the weight of a 1 cent piece 2.59g (or it may be that the coin is a different error or just damaged) and being underweight for a 2 cent we’d expect to see weakness in the strike and/or metal flow such fishtailing of the design -obvious fishtailing seen in the close-up image of the date above and the obverse legends on the coin below.

1988 2 Cent Struck on 1 Cent Planchet - Partial Date

1988 2 Cent Struck on 1 Cent Planchet – Partial Date

Summing up, the 1988 2c on 1c planchet is the most affordable example of a wrong planchet error in the Australian decimal series. Other wrong planchet errors typically sell for multiples of what this error would sell for. As always purchase the best example you can find, looking at mint red and detracting marks in particular. And make sure there’s a visible date, having a coin whose origins are obvious is always going to be an easier coin to sell when it comes time to divest yourself of it.

Posted in Error Coins

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