Rare Australian 20 Cent Coins

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.

Wavy Baseline (Left), Regular Coin (Right)

Wavy Baseline (Left), Regular Coin (Right)

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.

2001 20 Cent on 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.

Rare 2001 20c with 160 degree upset

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.

1981 31/2 Claw 20 Cent Coin

Posted in Collecting Coins

World War 1 Australian Identity Disc for Patrick Donohoe

ID Disc for Patrick Donohoe, 1280

Seen above is an unofficial World War 1 AIF ID disc made from Egyptian 1917 (AH 1334) 5 piastres (KM#318.1). Obverse has been neatly skimmed inside the radius of the rim beads. The following inscription has been applied with skillful ‘wiggle-work’:

No 1280
EGYPT 1916 17 18

The disk spells the soldier’s name as “DONOHOE” while a search of as Australian military records shows Patrick Donohue served with regimental number 1280. Donohue, a native of Galway in Ireland living in Randwick, Sydney was 41 years old when he enlisted into the AIF on September 24, 1915 at Holdsworthy, NSW. Patrick was taken onto the strength of No. 5 Squadron, 2nd Remount Unit and shipped out to the Middle East on HMAT Orsova on 10 November 1915.

His records show no information from his shipping date until 10 October 1916 when he marched to the military camp at Moascar in Egypt from the Australian Reserve Depot in Helipolis, also in Egypt. No futher activity is noted until 5 October 1918 when he is moved to canteens at Suez, where he stayed for a month before moving back to the camp at Moascar. In July 1919 he marched to Port Said before shipping back to Australia on HMAT Delta, arriving in Melbourne in September 1919 and finally being discharged on 27 October 1919.

Donohoe or Donahue?

It’s worth spending some time looking at the spelling “DONOHOE” vs “DONOHUE” by examining the handwriting and signatures from the service records. There are two separate Enlistment Attestation Papers in the records that are clearly signed and filled in by different people. The “Application to Enlist in the AIF” form appears to be filled in by yet another person. Below you can see a comparison of the hand-writing and signatures. Clearly sometimes the name is spelled “Donohue” and others “Donohoe”. The ID disc shown here with “Donohoe” indicates the confusion continued during the man’s active service. Perhaps we can surmise from this and the different hand-writing that Patrick Donohue/Donohoe was largely illiterate.

Comparison of Signatures/Handwriting

One small clue as to the correct spelling can be found in an article from the Sydney Morning Herald dated 5 February 1948. The article mentions the Will of Dora Donahoe of Randwick in Sydney. The executor of that Will? Patrick Donohoe. And who does Patrick Donahoe/Donohue, service number 1280 list as his next of kin in 1915 on his enlistment forms? His sister, Dora Donahue of Randwick, Sydney. Conclusive proof that the correct spelling is Donohoe? No, not conclusive, but certainly compelling.


1.National Archives of Australia, (Date Unknown) Record B2455 for Donohue, P, Available: P Donohue Service Record, [Accessed 15 August 2021]
2. Sydney Morning Herald. Thursday 5 February 1948. Legal Notices. [ONLINE] Available at: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/18059985. [Accessed 15 August 2021]

Posted in Collectables and Ephemera

1976 50 Cents Double Struck Error

Originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine October 2020

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the mint

Click image to enlarge

Your eyes are not playing tricks on you here, you are indeed seeing double when looking at this 1976 fifty cent coin. Life for this 50c started out just like most others, being struck as normal between an obverse (heads), reverse (tails), and collar die. Events after that point went awry! The coin failed to eject from the press, managing to move a mere 3mm before being struck for a second time. This out-of-collar 2nd strike overstruck and largely obliterated the majority of the first strike.

The first obverse strike is almost invisible under the second strike with just traces apparent around the date and legends and the back of Her Majesty’s portrait. On the reverse it’s much easier to see remnants of the underlying strike. Look at the disjointed appearance of the “50” and the clear remains of the bottom of the central shield. Closer examination of other parts of the reverse design make it apparent that there is a lot of flattening in the design from the second strike due to the placement of metal from the first strike.

Eagle-eyed readers may see that there is also a small strike-through (likely cotton or wire) at the base of Her Majesty’s hair. This coin is a fine example of a double struck Australian fifty cent coin and the authors would like to thank it’s owner for allowing the use the coin’s image in this article.

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

1960 Florin Straight Partial Collar Error

As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine September 2020

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the mint

Click image to enlarge

At a passing glance this ‘quaternary alloy’ 1960 florin looks like most of the other 15.76 million minted with that date. This is one of those errors where close examination of the much neglected third side of the coin is required. When this is done it can be seen that this is a special coin indeed.

Australian florins have a reeded or milled edge, a feature originally designed in the middle ages to stop the coin being clipped. However, in more modern times it’s done to stop counterfeiting and to make coins more easily identifiable by touch. The coin edge is struck by the third die (the collar die) and on an Australian florin the edge reeding should extend from the obverse face of the coin to the reverse face. However, it’s obvious from the deformed edge of this coin that an error occurred when it was struck. The planchet only partially engaged with the collar die and thus the edge reeding hasn’t been applied correctly. Consequently, this error type is known as a ‘partial collar error’.

Examination of this particular example shows that the edge milling has been applied to about half the thickness of the coin and the other half is smooth. The milling is present adjacent to the obverse face and not present adjacent to the reverse face. Obviously, the smooth edge is where the coin blank failed to engage with the collar die, indicating that in this case the obverse die was the ‘anvil die’ and the reverse die was the ‘hammer die’. This error can be further classified as a ‘straight partial collar error’ as the transition between the struck / unstruck parts of the rim are parallel to the coin faces. When this transition is not parallel the error is typically known as a ‘tilted partial collar error’.

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

2013 Purple Coronation Two Dollar Coin Value

2013 Purple Coronation $2 Coin

The 2013 Purple Coronation Two Dollar Coin (affectionately known as the “Coro”) is probably the second most popular coin of that denomination amongst collectors. While it’s not technically the first Australian coloured coin issued for circulation (the 2012 Red Poppy $2 coin holds that honour) it is the first coloured coin designed to withstand the rigours of circulation. The technology used to apply the purple paint on the 2013 Coronation $2 was different to that on the 2012 red poppy $2 and made the 2013 coin able to circulate without the paint being removed easily.

Being such a popular coin amongst collectors a very common question is, what exactly is the 2013 Purple Coronation Two Dollar coin worth? Before answering that question we must understand the two different forms it was issued in. A regular circulation coin was minted for general distribution via security companies with 995,000 of those coins minted. 34,967 special collector only “C” mintmark Purple $2 coins were issued in a capsule in a folder. These collector folders had a release price of $12.95.

As usual on this site we need to tell you a few things about the values in this article. Firstly, these values are RETAIL values, if you’re selling on eBay you might get these but remember eBay takes a cut. If you’re selling to a dealer expect to get about 20% to 50% less than the prices quoted. Second thing to realise is that the prices are current at time of writing (April 2021). To get an idea of values right now try checking out some of the sold ebay results for the different issues below:

2013 Purple Coronation (No Mintmark) Value

Right now an average circulated purple coronation $2 in EF or better grade might sell for $30-$40. A genuinely uncirculated example seems to fetch $50-$75. Of course genuinely uncirculated examples are not seen very often and we’ve seen very few in several years of collecting. This coin is one of those that gets a bit more if it’s uncirculated and graded by PCGS (see here for PCGS graded sales results on eBay). At time of writing an MS64 appears to be selling for about $100, MS65’s for about $120, and MS66’s for up to $175-$200.

Circulation purple coronations in original security bags or rolls seem to carry a premium over individual coins. 25 coin purple coronation bags have a value of about about $1500 (see here for Coronation $2 bag sales results on eBay). 2013 Purple Coronation coin roll values (security or Imperial / Cotton Co.) sit in a wide range from $1700 up to nearly $4,000. We’d advise caution when valuing rolls but we’d tentatively put a realistic retail value on purple coro rolls at $2750.

One other way the coin can be obtained is via the Royal Australian Mint in 5 coin bags that were branded by the Mint. Collectors were invited along to events held by the Mint in 2013 and your pocket change could be swapped for new shiny purple coloured coins in bags of five. These collectable little bags are worth $400-$500 each.

2013 Purple Coronation ‘C’ Mintmark Folder

2013 Purple Coronation ‘C’ Mintmark Value

A ‘C’ mintmark Purple Coronation $2 in a well kept ‘tri-fold’ folder might be worth $400-$500 right now, which is a couple of hundred dollars less than what they sold for in 2020. At the time of writing there were no eBay sold results for PCGS graded 2013 Coronation ‘C’ mintmark coins. However, we’d expect that those would sell for a very small premium above none-graded examples. Generally the quality of the 2013 ‘C’ mintmark coronations was excellent and third party grading seems to add little value.

Posted in Collecting Coins, Investing in Coins

2005 Mob of Roos $1 Coin – Struck 10% Off-Centre

As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine August 2020

What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the mint

Click image to enlarge

This is just one coin out of a reported mintage of 5.792 million 2005 dated ‘Mob of Roos’ dollars sent into circulation. Without doubt this dollar certainly missed the mark. It’s been struck about 10% or 2-3mm off centre. This type of error coin is known as ‘off centre’ because some of the coin design is missing. On the obverse the top part of the letters “AUST” are missing. On the reverse the three outer kangaroos of the ‘Mob of Roos’ have ears that are partly missing.

How did this mis-strike occur? When the planchet was fed into the coin press it didn’t neatly fall into the collar die as expected and was subsequently struck off centre. The improperly seated blank is then struck unconstrained by the collar die leaving the entire coin out-of-round. Close examination of the base of the letters “AUSTRALI” shows the characteristic ‘V’ shaped indentations known as fishtailing. Fishtailing is an indicator of the metal flowing outward into the void where there was no collar to constrain the strike.

This is not a common error by any means but if you do have a dollar coin that is struck off-centre similar to the coin we’re discussing here then there’s a very high chance it’s dated 2005 as a number of these have been found. Why this many? That is uncertain, but perhaps one or two die pairs were setup incorrectly for the production run. Was there a fault with the coin press? Another possibility is that a group of Type I (un-rimmed) coin blanks were fed into the dies, this being another common reason for off-centre/out of collar strikes.

If you look closely at the cheek of Her Majesty you’ll see a tear shaped die chip. This die indicator is present on a number of similar 2005 ‘Mob of Roos’ errors such as partial collars, broad-strikes and off-centre errors. The authors note that other 2005 errors of a similar type are seen without this die indicator. More research is needed to understand if there were multiple die pairs involved in creating these errors or if it was one die pair deteriorating or malfunctioning through their production life.

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

Australian Dollar Coins that are Worth Money!

It’s the dream of every Australian coin noodler to find that one coin that makes all the time, effort, and dirty hands worthwhile. One of the most commonly hunted denominations is the humble dollar coin. So what should you, the dedicated coin hunter, know what Australian Dollar Coins to keep your eye out for? This article will cover the top 4 Australian dollar coins that are worth money.

Year 2000 $1/10c Mule Found while Noodling

1. Mules

Mules are coins that are struck by coin dies that were not intended to be used together. There’s at least three mules in the Australian dollar coin series that are worth good money. The first is the legendary Year 2000 $1/10c Mule which if found in your change today (March 2021) would be worth a few hundred dollars. The other two mules to watch out for are the extremely rare 2014 and 2015 ANZAC $1 / 10c mules. Both of these were accidentally struck with ten cent heads dies, just a handful of each has been found and they could be worth thousands of dollars if you’re lucky enough to find one.

2. 1992 Mob of Roos Dollar Coin

The 1992 Mob of Roos dollar coin is the stuff of legends. For years the Royal Australian Mint website suggested that several thousand were minted but in reality almost none were or they were all destroyed. In all our years of tracking the error coin market we only know of two or three that have been sold, and those in the high thousands of dollars. So what’s the moral here? If you’re looking at dollar coins and you see one dated 1992 make sure you flip it over and check out the reverse design to see if you’ve got a coin worth real money!

Australia 1 Dollar 1984 Wrong Planchet Error

3. Dollar Coins Struck on Wrong Planchets

Those of you with even the most basic knowledge of coins will know that coins are struck on metal discs called blanks or planchets. Obviously it’s in the best interest of any coin mint that they be struck on the CORRECT blanks or planchets. However, sometimes they are not, resulting in what is known as a wrong planchet error. There have been several instances of this happening in the dollar coin series and each is worth a good chunk of change. A couple of key examples to look out for are the 1984 Dollar struck on a Ten Cent planchet and the 2009 Australian Mob of Roos Dollar Struck on Bi-Metal Planchet.

Australia 2001 Upset Centenary of Federation 1 Dollar Coin

4. 2001 Centenary of Federation Upset Dollar Coins

Make sure that you check each and every 2001 Centenary of Federation $1 coin to make sure the head and tails side are the same way up! For some reason during the production process of these coins the obverse (heads) die of one pair of dies became loose and a number (many thousands) were struck with the head/tails dies not correctly oriented. These are known as upset coin errors. These errors are not hugely valuable, but if you were to find one it would probably buy you a nice snitty at the local pub. Certainly worth enough to not want to throw back into circulation!

NOTE: The values in this article were current and approximate at time of writing (March 2021). To get a better gauge of values of these Australian Dollar Coins try checking recent auction results on sites like eBay or sold results from major Australian coin auction houses.

Posted in Coin News, Investing in Coins

Unauthorised use of our Images in The $2 Coin Book

A recently published book on the Australian $2 coin called the The $2 Coin Book has included the unauthorised use of images from this website. On 22 August 2019 the following email was received from book author Roger McNeice addressed to Blog Author, Kathryn Harris:

From: Roger McNeice OAM CF
Email: rvmn@internode.on.net
Phone: 0408279276

As mentioned in my phone call to Katherine, I have been working on a comprehensive book on two dollar coins. One chapter deals with error coins. I notic eon your web site that you have mentioned $2 error and have a couple of illustrations. I would like to include them in my book with full acknowledgement to the Purple Penny. Also info about the 2008/9 coins minted on the Euro planchet would be most useful.
‘I look forward to your reply.
Kindest regards
Roger McNeice OAM CF

This was responded to on 22 August 2019 with:

From: Kathryn Harris
Date: Thu, 22 Aug. 2019, 10:17 am
Subject: Re: Purple Penny Contact Form

Hi Roger,

Thank you for your email. I’m afraid though we must decline permission to use our content and images. Just like you our numismatic work and interests are an income stream to us and for this reason we value our content highly.

Kind Regards,

Kathryn Harris
The Purple Penny Pty Ltd
Website: thepurplepenny.com
Ph: 0422 977 753

Visit Us:
Shop 2 / 2-4 Hurtle Parade Mawson Lakes SA 5095

Mail to: PO Box 28
Dernancourt SA 5075

Below is a screenshot of the email exchange from Gmail, you can click on the image to enlarge it. Note that the original email can be forwarded to anyone who wants to examine it’s authenticity.

Email exchange between Kathryn Harris an Roger McNeice, August 2019 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

When The $2 Coin Book was published by Roger McNeice in December 2020 / January 2021 we were informed by others that it contained images with the watermark seen on most images on this website. We purchased a copy of the book and below are the details of images used without permission of the authors of this website.

Image 1 – Page 35 (Click to Enlarge)

The image above is used in the top half of page 35 of the book. It clearly shows the watermarked copyright of this website at the bottom right. The image is mis-attributed to IAG Auctions. This coin resides in our current collection and was not purchased from IAG Auctions.

Image 2 – Page 35 (Click to Enlarge)

The image above is used in the bottom of page 35 of the book. It clearly shows the watermarked copyright of this website at the bottom right. The image is mis-attributed to Google. While the image may appear on Google’s Image Search results Google does not own the copyright of images shown in Google Image Search. Ownership of copyright of images on Google Image Search is clearly explained here.

Image 3 – Page 36 (Click to Enlarge)

The two images above are used on the bottom of page 36 of the book. The lower right image clearly shows the watermarked copyright of this website at the bottom right. The image is mis-attributed to the South Australian Numismatic Society. There is no such organisation. However, the image can be found on the Numismatic Society of South Australia’s website here. That image includes our copyright watermark as we retain ownship of the copyright of that image. As members of the Numismatic Society of South Australia we do, from time to time, give them permission to use our images on their website, as in this case. However that does not allow them to grant use of the images to other parties. We are not suggesting that the Numismatic Society of South Australia has done anything wrong here, we are suggesting that the author of The $2 Coin Book has assumed permission to use an image from a body that cannot give that permission.

Permission to use Images from this Site in “The $2 Coin Book” by Roger McNeice

Roger McNeice does not have permission to use images from this site or any other website that we own in his current, past, or future publications. Use of the images in current and past publications contravenes directly what he was told in the email shown earlier in this article. Details on obtaining permission to use images on this website can clearly be seen in the right hand side “Site Links” box on the page :Using the Images from this Site.

Addendum – 26/03/2021

Below are screenshots of comments made by Roger McNeice in a Facebook post on or about 25/03/2021. The initial subject of the Facebook post by Mr. McNeice concerned someone copying and distributing The $2 Coin Book via PDF format. After this blog entry was posted someone added a comment to the older Facebook post linking readers to this blog entry. The screenshots below are posted as the Facebook post has now been removed/deleted. The Facebook post in question was in the Australian $2 Coin Collectors group.

Comments by Roger McNeice 25 March 2021 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Facebook Post by Roger Mcneice concerning copying of The $2 Coin Book (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Posted in Coin News

NSSA Presidents Numismatic Address -The Sydney Harbour Bridge

By Kathryn Harris
Numismatic Society of South Australia (NSSA) President 2019-2020.

I was born in Sydney and when I was 2 years old my family moved 4 hours south to Cooma, ‘The Gateway to the Snowy Mountains’ which is where I grew up. My grandparents, aunts and uncles all lived back in Sydney so for most school holidays and Christmases we travelled there to visit.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge (Image Courtesy: Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

I have fond memories of this time spent holidaying in the big smoke which always included hopping on a train and making the trip in to Central Station and the city circle. We’d always pack lunch and set off with roast lamb and tomato sauce sandwiches made by Grandma Polly.

The North Shore was the other side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a trip across the unmistakable icon was a must-do on many trips. Perhaps by train but mostly by sneaker, Mum, Dad, my sister and me made the trek to the other side.

Building the Bridge. Photograph from the personal collection of the chief engineer, Dr John Bradfield (Image Courtesy: University of Sydney Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The bridge officially began construction on July 28th 1923 with the “turning of the first sod” at an official ceremony in Milson’s Point. This was 10 years after the Sydney Harbour Bridge project was first planned and over a hundred years after the first ideas were raised to build a bridge linking the Central Business District to the North Shore of Sydney. The government, through a tendering process worked through twenty proposals from six companies for the construction of the bridge awarding the contract to British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd.

Building the Bridge. Photograph from the personal collection of the chief engineer, Dr John Bradfield (Image Courtesy: University of Sydney Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Calculations for the designs of the bridge filled 28 books and, in the end, it cost more than 10 million pounds to build the bridge (10,057,170 pounds, 7 shillings and 9 pence to be exact). This is just under a billion dollars in todays money.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, affectionately known as “The Coathanger” because of its arch-based design extends 1,149 metres from one side to the other. The arch spans 503 metres with four pylons standing 89 metres above sea level. Interestingly these four pylons serve no structural purpose and are a decorative feature only. It took 95,000 cubic metres of concrete and 17,000 cubic metres of granite stone to make the bridge. Steelwork weighing 52,800 tonnes is held together by around about 6 million rivets.

c1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge Medallion
Struck from slice of surplus steel bridge rivet (Carlisle ZS/2)

Here we have one of those rivets, or at least a slice of a rivet that was surplus to use in the bridge. These commemorative medals were struck on planchets made from slices of the excess steel rivets made by McPhersons P/L of Melbourne. It’s not known who was responsible for these but this example comes from the collection of a very good friend who saw my face light up when I saw he had one of these hard-to-find medals in such good condition.

In Commemoration of the Bridge Locking (Image Courtesy: Noble Numismatics)

(Image Courtesy: Noble Numismatics)

Construction began from each side until meeting in the middle, this milestone reached 19th August 1930 just shy of 2 years after the arch construction began. In this afternoon the two halves met but celebrations were short-lived because expansion and contraction of the metal caused the bridge to separate again. They were rejoined later that evening. The tokens seen here were made at the time to commemorate the event and were sold at Noble Numismatics.

Fell But Survived 9ct Gold Medal (Image Courtesy Noble Numismatics)

Sixteen workers lost their lives during the build project, surprisingly only two from falling from the bridge. One gent, Irish boilermaker 31-year-old Vincent Roy Kelly who fell 55m even survived! Mr. Kelly was using his heavy riveting gun when he lost his footing, onlookers were amazed as they watched him somersault and enter the water feet first. Mr. Kelly dropped his tool belt which hit the water first, breaking his fall and he clambered aboard a passing barge in shock with just two broken ribs. He was presented with this medal and a gold watch.

The medal is inscribed “To Vincent R Kelly, to mark his preservation from serious injury, on falling into the harbour, a distance of 182 feet. 23rd Oct. 1930” and was sold at a Nobles auction in 2012, I believe it is now in a museum. The front of the medal depicts the bridge and is inscribed from L. Ennis O.B.E Director of Construction. Lawrence Ennis, a Scottish engineer was managing director of Dorman Long & Co the British company contracted to build the bridge. He was construction supervisor for the project, the likes of which had never been attempted before in Australia on such a scale.

Royal Australian Mint Medallion c1970-1984 (Carlisle R/7) Vambola Veinberg

Sydney Harbour Bridge Ribbon Cutting Scissors by
Vambola Veinberg (Image Courtesy: Parliament of NSW, Facebook, September 28, 2016)

The bridge was opened with pompous fanfare (and a public holiday!) on 19th March 1932 in the presence of the Governor of NSW Sir Philip Game, Lawrence Ennis and NSW Premier Jack Lang. Lang was to cut a ribbon with a pair of ornate golden opal studded ceremonial scissors. Let us digress for just a moment on these scissors. Inscribed “Presented to the Hon. J.T Lang Premier & Treasurer NSW by Dorman Long & Co Ltd Contractors” they were designed by Vambola Veinberg who went on to the be the first chief engraver at the Royal Australian Mint. They were made by craftsmen at Angus and Coote jeweller using 9 carat Australian gold, hand-wrought with flannel flowers, waratahs and gum leaves set with six flame-coloured opals around a model of the bridge. This is a bit of a tangent of collecting for myself as coin designers almost always have creativity in their blood making all kinds of sculptural or precious metal pieces aside from coins and medals.

The scissors were also used to open the Sydney Harbour Tunnel in August 1992, the ANZAC Bridge in 1995 and the Sydney Cross City Tunnel in August 2005.

Back to the opening of the bridge where more than 750,000 people gathered around the harbour on a Saturday in March 1932. The ornate scissors would cut the ribbon to open the bridge but not before an incident most grand.

De Groot Cutting Ribbon, at Official Opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, 19 March 1932 (Image Courtesy: Unknown Author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Irishman Francis de Groot infamously garnered enduring notoriety in Australian folklore when, on horseback he slashed the ribbon with his cavalry sword before officials could claiming

“I open this bridge in the name of His Majesty the King and all the decent citizens of NSW.”

His organisation, the New Guard (a right-wing, loyal to the British Empire, anti-union and anti-Labor govt at time), had resented the fact that King George V had not been asked to open the bridge. He was then escorted away by police and the ribbon retied for the official cut. De Groot was fined £5 (+£4 in costs) for offensive behaviour (he later sued and was awarded a substantial settlement).

Bridge Opening Ceremony (Image Courtesy: Hood, Ted, 1911-2000, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Celebrations for the opening of the bridge were like nothing Sydney had ever seen before. A human tide followed a marching pageant of floats that highlighted significant events in the nation’s history, Captain Cook’s landing, the arrival of the First Fleet, Indigenous Australians, Bridge workers, the armed forces, schoolchildren and lifesavers with sydneysiders cheering from every window and balcony along the way. People also flocked to the foreshores to view a flotilla of ships and boats passing down Sydney Harbour and under the Bridge. The Royal Australian Air Force also gave an aerial display. After the official opening there was a 21-gun salute and the public was permitted to walk across the Bridge. The evening featured a firework display, as well as formal balls and dinners. In the lead-up to the opening, sporting competitions were held, including sailing races, athletics, tennis and cricket matches.

1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge Silver Medal for basketball (Carlisle 1932/5)

This 51mm beautifully toned silver medal commemorating the opening is edge inscribed and was awarded to an amateur girls’ sports team called the Kookaburras who played basketball in the inaugural celebrations in the weeks around the bridge opening.

Opening Ceremony Flag 1932

Many collectables and ephemera were produced and kept to remember this special time. We have a cloth flag flown by an eager young boy (5) who was present at the opening ceremony. The only other example of this flag we’ve seen resides in a museum.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Pageant Medal With Pin (Carlisle 1932/4)

This medal has an attached pin which would have been purchased at the time and the pin used to affix it to clothing worn. It celebrates the pageant on the opening day.

Businesses also joined the celebrations with commemorative tokens produced.

James Cook, Baker, Paddington Commemorative Token

This 25mm gold coloured gilt medal struck by Amor is interesting as it depicts Captain James Cook and was issued by the business of James Cook, a baker in the suburb of Paddington. The depiction of Captain Cook was the company’s logo.

1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge “The Big Store” Marcus Clark & Co Ltd Medallion
(Carlisle 1932/3)

Marcus Clark was a department store in 1932 which is now part of today’s Harvey Norman (Norman Ross took over Waltons who took over Marcus Clark). This 39mm brass advertising medallion promoting ‘The Big Store’ can be found in many collections. From our research in old newspapers at the time this store (any many other retailers) was selling various bridge novelties as collectable items commemorating the opening. This medal was given away free to all shoppers on Friday and Saturday 8-9th April 1932. It is touted as being coated with pure Australian gold and a valuable souvenir but can be picked up for about $20-30 today.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Toll Gates 1933 (Image Source: Hall and Co., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

To recoup the expense of the building of the bridge a Toll was charged to cross. Initially in 1932 the toll was sixpence for each car, threepence for adult passengers and a penny for the children all calculated as you crossed. The toll charge for other vehicles varied and when seven elephants from a passing circus crossed, they were charged tuppence each. In 1960 due to traffic congestion this was reduced to a flat fee per vehicle, a car being one shilling. In 1966 at decimal changeover the toll was 20c per car which increased to $1 in 1987, then in 1989 to $1.50.

Sydney Harbour Toll Token -c1990

Around 1990 toll tokens were introduced, these were minted in Canberra at the Royal Australian Mint and had the bridge depicted on one side and a waratah flower on the other. I’ve searched in Mint annual reports of the period and determined that they likely minted almost a quarter of a million tokens for use in bridge crossings.

The 10 million dollars build cost loan didn’t get paid off until 1988 which coincided with construction of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.

Painting the Girders 1932 (Image Source: Powerhouse Museum from Sydney, Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

I’ll conclude my discussion with another fun fact about the bridge. A total of 272,000 litres of paint were applied by brush to the bridge in 3 coats ahead of the opening. These days lead paint is being removed, two robots and more than 100 people are working on repainting four layers of paint, a zinc-green, red and black undercoat followed by ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge Grey’ which is a special colour not available for any other person or use.

Painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Image Courtesy: State Library of New South Wales, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Posted in Coin News

Australian Five Cent Coin Values

The Australian 5 cent coin, first minted in 1966 and still used today is one of the most commonly seen coins in your change. It’s a tiny thing, weighing in at just under 3 grams and only 19.4mm in diameter. The size of the coin is reflected in it’s current purchasing power, which in 2021 is very small indeed. An interesting fact is that the face value of the five cent coin is (according to some sources) actually less than the cost of manufacture of each coin! The decline in purchasing power and high cost of making five cent coins has lead to persistent rumours of their demise but for the time being they are here to stay.

Enough of the history the coin, what are these pesky little things worth? The sad fact is that apart from a few notable exceptions the value of Australian 5 cent coins are mostly (wait for it), five cents! Below you can find a list of several Australian Five Cent Coins whose values are DEFINITELY not five cents!

Click image to enlarge

Australian 1972 Five Cents

Just 8.25 million 1972 dated five cent coins were minted, which until the 2016 Decimal Currency 5c, was the lowest mintage for a circulating 5c coin. Because of this the 1972 coin has always been the “key date” of the series and keenly sought by collectors. If you happen to find a well circulated 1972 five cent in your change it might be worth $5 or so. However if you manage to find one in an old money box or coin collection that is lustrous and uncirculated like the day it was made, it could be worth $50 or more.

Australian 1966 Five Cents Upset Die Error

A very small number of 1966 dated five cent coins that were minted at the Royal Mint in London were made in a coin press with a loose obverse die. This resulted in what is known as upset coin errors where the head and tails sides of the coin are not properly aligned. We’ve only ever seen one or two of this error making it very scarce and valuing them at anywhere from $50 to $200. The value of this Australian five cent coin certainly makes it worth looking out for in your change!

2007 Double Obverse (Head) 5 Cent Coin

Australian 2007 Double Header/Obverse Five Cents

Operator error (or mischief) lead to some 2007 dated 5c coins being minted with two heads (obverse) dies. Somehow these double headers got into circulation and have been turning up in small numbers for the last 7 or 8 years. Each is worth $1,000 dollars or more and uncirculated examples often realise more than $2,000! One avid coin noodler has found several dozen 2007 double header five cent coins, a collection that is now worth a considerable sum.

Australian 2016 Changeover Five Cents “Alien” Variety

At some point during the minting of the 2016 Changeover five cent coins one pair obverse and reverse dies tried to strike a coin when no coin blank was present. This resulted in the two dies hitting each other (or “clashing”) with the reverse die actually imprinting some of it’s design on the obverse die. From that point forward any coins struck by those dies has what looks like alien antennae sprouting from the top of the penny on the obverse design. This extra design element is due to the clashed dies. This distinctive and well sought after variety has sold for $300 or more and they are very rarely seen. Certainly a valuable five cent coin to keep your eye out for.

Posted in Collecting Coins, Investing in Coins

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Australian Numismatic Calendar

Current Coin Values, Bullion Prices and Exchange Rates

AUD $12.00
Australian 1966 Round 50c
AUD $718.05
Gold Sovereign
AUD $898.90
Australian $200 Gold Coin
AUD $35.14
Silver Price (per Oz)
AUD $3,050.06
Gold Price (per Oz)
USD $0.6557
Australian Dollar

These values are updated hourly using New York market prices. Coin values are purely the value of the gold or silver they contain and do not account for any numismatic value.
Prices Last Updated: 02:04 12 Dec 2023

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