On 1 August 2002, The Age newspaper reported a new world record price of over US$17 million for a $20 US gold coin dated 1933. This represented a big leap in price. The world record for a bronze coin is currently held by an Australian penny - the proof strike of 1930. There are six examples of this special Melbourne mint proof. One is in the Museum Victoria collection. In addition there are some hundreds (the exact number is unknown) of 1930 pennies made as normal strikes which went into circulation. Further information can be found in our page on coin valuations, the link for which can be found at right.
1945 Australian ShillingSource: Museum Victoria
The two forms of 1930 penny, the proof and circulation coins are rare because very few were ever made. The 1933 US $20 coin and the 1945 Australian shilling are rare for a second reason, in both cases a large number were made but most were destroyed before being released because of a change in government regulation.
A third form of rare coin is a survivor which started out as one of many. In this class are coins like the Australian Holey Dollar, issued in 1813 and later withdrawn and melted. Other rarities in this class are those coins which have survived in perfect condition while the remainder have done the job they were made for; they were issued, used and as a result are now worn.
1813 Australian Holey DollarSource: Museum Victoria
Collectors try to obtain the most perfect examples of a coin. Indeed, for many older coins, so few have survived in “Uncirculated” condition that they can be very valuable. Even more valuable are coins that are still uncirculated and were perfectly struck in the first place. Mints often employed minimum pressure in striking coins to preserve their expensive dies so most coins, when examined under magnification can be seen to be not perfectly struck.
Collectors have developed technical grades to describe the condition of a coin. “Uncirculated” is one grade – it defines a normal coin in the condition that it left the mint. Age does not affect the definition, no matter how old a coin is, to be classed as Uncirculated (usually abbreviated to Unc.) it must be as it was the day it left the mint. A coin that was knocked against another during manufacture would be “Unc. bag marked” and would have a lower value. The slightest wear, shown by no more than rounding of the edges of the highest parts of the design and the coin is no longer Uncirculated.
1911 Australian FlorinSource: Museum Victoria
The chance of a coin surviving in perfect condition is very low. For this reason it is at this perfect condition end of the collector range where values increase most dramatically. From almost Uncirculated to Uncirculated can make a difference of many hundred percent. In lower grades, even when all of the original design remains clear, most coins do not have high values.
In addition to coins that are rare because of how few were struck or how few have survived in perfect condition, there are also pattern coins. These are trial coins made to test new designs or metals. Some, like the square coins experimented with between 1919 and 1921 but never made for circulation, can be easily recognised. Others like the 1937 penny, look like later issued coins. From 1938 millions of Australian pennies had the leaping kangaroo design, but in 1937 it was a new experimental design and is very rare.
Museum Victoria cannot provide information on the value or worth of a coin (or any other object). If you have a coin you think may have a value it is possible to get an idea of what a coin dealer might charge for it from standard catalogues cited below. However, remember that the grades are specialist descriptions and the values are only a guide to what you might have to pay for a replacement. Collectors are careful about spending money and look upon these prices as the most they should have to pay. Dealers are even more careful as they make their living from buying and selling. They will never the price that is listed in a book. They may or may not want to buy at all, especially if they already have examples in stock. You will be asked to bring the coin in for inspection if the dealer has any interest in it. The value of a coin is often in its state of preservation. It is a good idea to visit a number of dealers before selling, or to place the coin in a specialist auction where collectors and dealers compete for purchase.
1919 Australian Square Penny – a rejected patternSource: Museum Victoria.
No, do not clean coins – an Uncirculated coin that has been cleaned is no longer classed as Uncirculated and will be worth much less. A scarce coin that has been cleaned and is in a circulated condition may totally lose its value.
Greg McDonald, The Pocketbook Guide to Australian Coins and Banknotes.
Ian Pitt (Ed.), Renniks Australian Coin & Banknote Values.
Chester L. Krause and Clifford Mishner, Standard Catalogue of World Coins.
Please note: Museum Victoria DOES NOT provide valuations and cannot tell you how much your object is worth. Please read our valuations infosheet for further advice. We will not publish or respond to comments asking us to value an object.
Please refer to our response above on 5th December, 2012.
It's a little hard to give information about your without seeing images. Discovery Centre offer a free identification service and you can submit your enquiries to Ask the experts, along with images, after reading our identification guidelines. However Museum Victoria does not have an expert in Indian Coins. I suggest using a search engine to lookup numismatics societies to see if they can help you with your coin.
Thanks for your comment, Jon - Museum Victoria does indeed still have an extensive Numismatics Collection; you can see the details of over 7000 objects from this collection via our Collections Online here. Additionally, there are examples from this collection currently displayed in Melbourne Museum's Melbourne Story exhibition, and here in Melbourne Museum's Discovery Centre.
Hope this helps
Hi Cindy, Museum Victoria does not currently have a numismatics curator. You might want to contact a local interest group, or one of the many numismatics dealers you can find on the internet.
Hi Lath, thanks for your comment, to you assist you further we would need to see a photograph of your coin.You can e-mail it to email@example.com please read through the following guidelines prior to sending your image.http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/ask-us-a-question/identifications/identification-guidelines-/. You have been assigned an enquiry number DC ENQ 5726 – Please quote this number if you choose to send us your image.
A Jubilee of Australian Federation medal was certainly presented to school children in 1951 - take a look at it on our Coins & Medals website to see if it compares to yours.
Hi Rachael - According to the World Coins standard catalog, the mintage for an Australian 1930 penny was roughly 3000. There is some more information about where to seek advice on our Valuations question here.
Hi there, Dave. The only reference we can find to one-sided notes in Ian Pitt's Australian Coin & Banknote Values concerns proofs of notes, that were often single-sided "paste-up" proofs in black and white, "usually on thin unwatermarked paper or thick card." Other than that, we can only encourage you to show your item to a specialist for examination and further advice. Hope this helps.
Hi Thaddeus, unfortunately we can't give an identification with such little information. If you wish to learn more about your coin, please provide further information and images through our identification service.
Hi there, Shay. There were 6.68 million examples of the Australian threepence produced in 1927. Hope this helps!
Hello Walter - We've had a look at a few reference works, but cannot find anything similar to what you describe. I'd advise you to take a photo of the items, and send it to us via the "Ask the Experts" link, and we will pass it on to one of the curators for their opinion. Museum Victoria cannot give valuations. Look forward to hearing from you!
Hi Dale, thank you for your enquiry. You might find that the Numismatics Association of Australia can offer you some advice http://naa-online.com/ or perhaps the Australian Institution for the Conservation of Cultural Materials http://www.aiccm.org.au/ may be able to help.
1945 pennies were produced at two mints - Perth and Melbourne. The latter are very rare as Melbourne only produced patterns and proofs, none of which went into circulation. This is why they are among the rarest of Australian coins. But Perth Mint produced over 10 million 1945 pennies for circulation. These can be distinguished by the special mint mark - a dot after the Y in the word 'penny'. For further information refer to the above references as well as the Australian Coin and Banknote Market Guide by Greg McDonald.
Whilst the Museum is unable to recommend specific dealers or valuers, or provide valuations ourselves, we can certainly point you in the direction of an excellent resource for finding a valuer for your coins and radio. The List of Approved Valuers is a list approved by the Australian Government for the Cultural Gifts Program, wherein you'll find valuers listed by State and specialty. You'll find this list at the following URL: http://www.arts.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/82958/cgp-approved-valuers-report-7august09.pdf
Hi Bill. We've been unable to find any info on a medal of this kind either in our collection, at other museums or on google. If you wish you can submit a query to the Discovery Centre, including a photograph, we will pass it on to one of our History & Technology curators, who may be able to find out more information.
Hi Gordon - unfortunately Museum Victoria doesn't have the information you're looking for. Might you try submitting an online enquiry to the Royal Australian Mint?
Hello Charlotte; yes Tjeby is indeed still on display here at Melbourne Museum, in part of our Human Mind and Body Gallery.
To read the latest tweets from @museumvictoria
Follow Museum Victoria on
Hi Graeme, The WW1 Centenary Exhibition is not part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces program. Only ACMI's David Bowie Is and NGV's Maste...