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Coins (Australian)

This hobby can be great fun as well as an interesting way of saving



The vast majority of women have an old forgotten coin somewhere that could be the start of a collection. It could be one of the more recently minted collector's coins, such as the Silver Kookaburra, a commemorative Sydney Olympic coin or even some of the pre decimal two up pennies.

Coin collecting has been popular for centuries but over the last few decades it has become a recognised type of alternative investment. The highly collectable coins are  those that were in circulation for only a brief period of time, minted with flaws or errors or of specific historical interest.

Rare coins

Rare coins have been collected for over 2000 years. The Romans collected Greek coins. The famous Flemish painter, Reubens had a fabulous coin collection. The House of Rothschild started as a coin shop. Other famous coin collectors include J.P.Morgan and the DuPont family.  

If you are new to coins and would like to find out more free information on the subject visit our learning centre after finishing this page.

If you are new to coin collecting, make sure that you:  

Buy top quality

Buy top quality coins, the high quality coins are subject to high demand. In the coin market, as in all other collectables markets, condition is everything.  For most coins, you should buy what is referred to as 'Gem quality', i.e. MS/PR65 or better on the 70 point coin grading scale. (for more information on coins see our learning centre)

Have a plan

Have a plan instead of just randomly buying coins. The easiest thing to do in the rare coin market is to spend money. In this area like with other collectable areas it is vital to stick to your allocated budgets. Do your research and quell your urge to spend using only a very small amount of your budget. The big long term winners either focus on a certain type or types of coins, or have built a specific collection.  Focus is all important.   

Know what you are paying for

Make sure you get what you pay for, quality is a big component of price. For the coin market, the 'gold standard' for third party grading services is the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).  Since it was founded in 1986, PCGS has  graded and authenticated over 13,000,000 coins with a declared value of over $15,000,000,000. The PCGS website is well worth a visit as it has many useful resources for aspiring coin collectors.

Build a relationship 

Get to know the dealer you intend to buy from. Before embarking on internet purchases of coins, it is important to attend a rare coin outlet. Visiting a physical outlet can help you to build your knowledge about the environment, language and the handling of the coins.  Understanding the workings of the coin trade will help you gain a feel for what is right and what may not be. Building a working relationship with a coin dealer will assist you in the future, as they have a wealth of experience and may be able to point out many pitfalls in this market.

Be Aware

Be aware that reputable coin dealers can often sell the same set of coins for considerably less than your national mint. For example the Royal Mint's latest price on its George V mint mark collection was £1,245, but you could buy this same set from a reputable coin dealer for nearly £500 less.

Do not clean your coins or buy cleaned coins for investment.

Some collectors may buy recently minted South African gold Krugerrands and U.S. gold coins.  But it is important to bear in mind that these coins have been churned out in their millions and may not rise much in value above the price of the gold.  The Austrian Mint has issued a very popular Vienna Philharmonic coin which might be a better bet as far as new issue coins go. 

Rare coins have shown consistent long term price appreciation. From major rarities to more inexpensive coins, top quality rare coins have had significant price gains over sustained periods of time. The 1913 Liberty nickel (only five known to exist) became the first $100,000 coin in 1972. In 2007, one sold for $5 million.

Louis Eliasberg (1896-1976) built up a US gold coin collection that cost about US$300,000. It sold for S$12.4 million at auction in 1982.

In the UK in May 2003, a selection of 50 coins from  "The Slaney collection" were sold for £460,000. These coins had been collected during the 1940’s & 50’s at a cost of £2,350. So the sale price was approximately 195 times the original cost price. Not a bad investment!  Also In the UK a buyer  paid £460,000 for an Edward III double florin, known as a double leopard and with a face value of six shillings. The sale price for this rare medieval gold coin broke the record for a British coin.  

At a Monetary Auction held in April 2006 in Sydney, a 1920 Sydney Gold Sovereign was knocked down in the auction room for $582,500 setting a new  world record.

British coins have a long history   

The first British gold coin should be regarded as the gold penny, struck by Henry III in 1257. From these early beginings some iconic coins followed during the reign of the Tudors and Stuarts. Continuing on to the creation of the gold standard of 1696 when the pound sterling would be made of a fixed weight of gold.

The industrial revoloution sparked another major change in the British coinage, with the introduction of the powerful steam powered coin presses. The Royal Mint moved from the Tower of London to nearby Tower Hill in1816.

Since 1871, British sovereigns were struck at branch mints. The first branch mint to strike sovereigns was in Sydney, Australia. It made good sense to produce British sovereigns close to the gold mining source areas, rather than ship the gold to London to be made into coins and then in some cases ship it back as coins.

The earliest known cheque was issued in 1659. But, paper money did not supersede metal until the second decade of the 20th century. During the first world war, gold bullion was needed to finance the war effort. Banknotes were introduced into regular circulation and within a few years, the gold sovereign ceased to be used in everyday transactions. Production at the Royal Mint stopped in 1917, although some were minted again in 1925.  

Australian coins have an interesting history

There is a strictly finite supply of Australian rare coins & banknotes. In recent years there has been a steady demand for coins and notes as investments within Self Managed Super funds (find out more about this in our learning centre).

All Australian gold coins dating between 1852 to 1931 were struck from 22ct gold. The 1852 Adelaide pound was Australia's first gold coin. Australian old sovereigns struck between 1855 and 1870 and the Half Sovereigns from 1855 to 1866 featured the 'Sydney Mint' design.

From 1871 through to 1931 Australia minted its own Imperial Sovereigns and Half Sovereigns. These where identical to those struck in other parts of the then British Empire, except for the distinctive Sydney (S), Melbourne (M) or Perth (P) mintmark. However the Australian coins benefit from being a relatively small and highly collectable series and are considerably rarer than their English counterparts.

Australian numismatic rarities can never be reproduced. They are, by their very nature, genuinely rare in  pristine condition . Some, such as the 1813 NSW Holey Dollar & Dumps are rare even in a worn state, due to small production numbers.

These factors have helped to underpin a Compounded Annual Return of over 13% for the past 40 years.   
The following representative Australian rare coin & banknote portfolio dates back over 40 years to 1964 to 1965 and has been updated in 1999 and 2006. It contains 21 items which are a good representation of many of the Australian rarities. The starting value of A$5,471 in 1964-1965 to A$1,080,500 in 2006 represents an increase in value of 197 times. 

  Coin Type







1813 - NSW Holey Dollar... VF/EF




1813 - NSW Dump... EF




1852 - Type 1 Adelaide Pound... EF




1855 - Type 1 Sydney Mint Sov.aUNC




1886M - Shield Reverse Sov... UNC




1923 - Australian Half Penny... VF




1930 - Australian Penny... VF




1915 - Australian Shilling... BrUNC




1916 - Australian Proof Set... FDC




1934 - Australian Proof Set... FDC




1938 - Australian Proof Crown.FDC




1932 - Australian Florin... BrUNC




1933 - Australian Shilling... BrUNC




1938 - Australian Proof Set... FDC




1922S - King George V Sov... EF




1918 - £10 Cerutty & Collins... EF




1923 - Australian Halfpenny... gEF




1919 - Aus. Sixpence... BrUNC




1893S - Victoria Proof Sov... FDC




1921 - Square Kookaburra Penny.FDC




1914 -  Florin... BrUNC




Total Portfolio Value




**The information above has been gathered from ‘The Australian Coin Review’ Publications, Major Auction Results and Actual Sales.   


If you are looking for a good gift and future investment for your children or grandchildren, rare coins are worth considering.  

Buying for the future?  

Many countries now issue a one ounce bullion coin to be sold at a very low premium over the intrinsic gold value. Krugerrands are probably the most well known of these. First minted and issued in 1967 when the South African Chamber of Mines had an inspired idea to help market South African gold.

Krugers were never intended to be an aesthetically pleasing coin, just a lump of gold with a known weight and value. They certainly cannot be called pretty. Collectors seeking aesthetically attractive coins would be better looking at British gold sovereigns, or some of the newer bullion coins.

Canada was the first country to introduce a "pure" gold bullion coin, the maple or maple leaf. The maple leaf, being Canada's national emblem, this was an obvious and suitable choice for the reverse of  the one ounce bullion coin.It makes the maple leaf instantly recognisable worldwide. The obverse bears a portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
One distinctive feature of the maple is that it is made of pure gold (.999 or .9999 fine), rather than 22 carat (.9166 fine). Because this makes the maple smaller and lighter than a Krugerrand, it is possible that this stopped the maple from being an immediately successful competitor. However; many collectors now prefer maples or other fine gold bullion issues. Gold Maples are available in six different sizes and weights, from one ounce to one twentieth of an ounce.

The Chinese version of the Krugerrand is the Panda. Pandas were introduced in 1982. The premium charged on pandas by the Chinese mint is higher than that charged for Krugerrands or most other gold bullion coins. Although this may make them slightly less attractive to investors interested purely in their gold content, it does not appear to have deterred collectors.

Gold pandas were extremely successful when they were first introduced. There are reports of the 1982 coins selling at over US$3,000 or over £2,000. The panda mania continued for several years, peaking in 1987. Since then issue quantities have dropped and many dates are not easy to find. 

The Panda Family 

Each year the reverse design of the panda is changed, which makes the panda series more interesting to collectors. Pandas are regularly produced in five sizes from one ounce to a twentieth ounce. In some years much larger sizes have been issued, although in limited quantities. The Pandas are very affordable and children love them. They could be a good collector’s item for the  future.  

The Barbie Coin

The Perth mint is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Barbie, with an exclusive commemorative coin. This will appeal to both those who remember playing with the doll as a child and  to the serious collector. This coin is struck with one ounce of 99.9% pure silver, in proof quality. The coin is subject to a limited run of 20,000. At under AU$100 this quirky coin could be the perfect start to your daughter's or granddaughter's collection or is an affordable entry point for any new collector.

Some websites to get you started with coins are: www.perthmint.com.au  www.noble.com.au and www.aussie-coins.com 

 Do your research thoroughly before you buy any coins.  

Disclaimer: All the information above is provided as a service for individuals and institutions. It should in no way be construed as a recommendation as an investment. Investment decisions should be based on the risk tolerance and planning horizon of the investor. Market participants must understand that past performance is also not a guarantee or predictor of future results.
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