Rare coins

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 Shilling

1945 Australian Shilling
Source: 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 In this class are coins like the Australian Holey Dollar, issued in 1813 and later withdrawn and melted.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 Dollar

1813 Australian Holey Dollar
Source: Museum Victoria

How important is condition for value?

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 Florin

1911 Australian Florin
Source: 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.

How can I find out what my coin is worth?

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 pattern

1919 Australian Square Penny – a rejected pattern
Source: Museum Victoria.

Should I clean my coins?

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.

Further Reading

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.

Comments (76)

sort by
newest
oldest
Bridget Faka 8 April, 2009 11:18
i have a coin of one shilling dated 1927, it has the faze of Gearge iv on the front and Australian cCoat of Arms on the back
reply
Jaynedale Baeto 18 April, 2009 13:41
i have a one florin (two shillings) dated 1911, it has the face of George v on the front and Australian ccoat of arms on the back
reply
theona 20 April, 2009 11:11
i have a cole arcade medallion are these rare?
reply
Gordon 30 June, 2009 01:31
Hi I have a 1921 pattern 12 square penny in FDC. Do you know if anyone keeps a record of the mintage as the McDonald or Rennik catalogue does not shows the mintage.
reply
Discovery Centre 9 July, 2009 11:14

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?

Bill Adamson 24 August, 2009 13:46
Dug up near an old ruin in the Adelaide Hills a medallion with the words "Lost from the A.W.C.N Cos. Stores Adelaide.Finder Rewarded." Is there any info regarding this oval-shaped medallion?
reply
Discovery Centre 26 August, 2009 10:46

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.

Patricia Oliver 31 August, 2009 18:45
Hello I have a small collection of old pre-decimal coins ranging from 1912 - 1964. I want to sell them, but how do I know a genuine buyer who will give me the actual valued price? I also have an old pre war valve radio - can you recommend a good valuer please.
reply
Discovery Centre 1 September, 2009 16:40

Hi Patricia,

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

Beth 6 October, 2009 06:09
How many 1945 Pennies went into circulation besides the four proofs and Patterns. Kind regards Beth
reply
Discovery Centre 9 October, 2009 16:13

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.

Dale 6 January, 2010 14:13
I am currently sorting through hundreds of pennies and halfpennies from 1913 to 1964 that belongto my elderly Mother. A lot have verdigris on them and what is best to clean them with - more just to sell at the markets as most are not rare dates.
reply
Discovery Centre 6 January, 2010 16:20

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.

walter 21 February, 2010 08:50
hi have some coins from 1920 and 1921, square in shape. 1920s have a crowned monarch but the 1921 don't. 20s have a kookaburra on reverse and 21s have a kangaroo. all have a large 5 on them can u tell me what they are and any possible value
reply
Discovery Centre 27 February, 2010 15:31

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!

SHAY 4 May, 2010 16:37
HI, i have a 3pence dated 1927. is this special in any way?
reply
Discovery Centre 5 May, 2010 13:00

Hi there, Shay. There were 6.68 million examples of the Australian threepence produced in 1927. Hope this helps!

Thaddeus Sammut 29 June, 2010 19:18
I am in possession of a double struched(printed) 1827copper coin 34cm diamater.Please can you give me more information. Thanks
reply
Discovery Centre 30 June, 2010 09:50

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.

Thaddeus Sammut 24 July, 2010 04:08
Copper coin dated 1827 diamiter 34cm Was produce for Australia
reply
dave 4 August, 2010 10:12
hi there i have a australian note from the 40s/50s its in good condition but the funny thing is, its only printed on one side. the water mark is there "holding up at the light"?? ive emailed a few different dealers in the past 6 months or so and sent pictures but have had no real answer from anyone. only ill buy it of you for or send it to me ill check it over?? dont like the idea of that! any details at all you may no of any of these notes being around/found/sold ect or how this would have come about? thanks for your time hope you could help me out. regards dave
reply
Discovery Centre 5 August, 2010 13:43

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.

dave 7 August, 2010 08:09
thanking you very much for your time! yes it is a very thin "fine" paper you could be right there. was there every away or a time in notes that have been made in or for australia that you could pull a note in half?? some how?? or was there ever notes made that they were pasted together?? anyway ill see if i can get a copy of this book as i cant find anything on the net. regards dave
Rachael Petersen 15 August, 2010 22:50
Just a quick question my brother just found a 1930 penny are i was wanting to know how rare they are and if it would be worth getting someone to have a look at it?
reply
Discovery Centre 17 August, 2010 10:28

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.

david 4 September, 2010 13:51
hi was just wondering if theres a way too remove laminate from my un circulated bank notes my wife thought she was doing a good thing when she laminated them. have these lost all value and iam better off giving them too the kids as play money.
reply
Discovery Centre 6 September, 2010 16:33
Hi David, that sounds like a problem! Unfortunately the museum can't give advice on conservation. We recommend that you contact the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials to find a conservator for advice.
Bill 6 September, 2010 23:30
Gday i have a bronze 1920 6 pence square pattern it has GEORGIVS V D.G. BRITT: OMN REX plus the left side of the kings head on one side. The other side has AUSTRAlIA with a 6 in the middle But the circle part of the 6 is made up of two sharks circling head to tail. The date 1920 is split 19 on left side and the 20 on the right side on the same face as the sharks. Is this coin rare and would you know the mintage of this particuler coin thank you
reply
Hamish 1 October, 2010 15:38
could any one tell me the mintage and rariety of my 1933 bronze with engraved on back GEORGIS V D.G. BRITT: OMNREX F.D.IND IMP can anyone help me?
reply
Muhammad Ali Jarakji 9 October, 2010 22:59
Could any one tell me about my old silver coin,having on the first chest quadrant cross,two castles,Lion,dragon.The coin weights 14grams
reply
Discovery Centre 12 October, 2010 14:53
Hi Bill, Hamish & Muhammed. It's a little hard to give information about these coins 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.
reply
Carter 20 October, 2010 09:22
I have one from 1787
reply
cindy siddons 31 October, 2010 01:46
hi can you tell me how many 1916 threepence were made in Australias mint, i think there was only five but im not sure,if there was only five made and i had one of the five coins, would it be worth a lot of money thank you
reply
Discovery Centre 2 November, 2010 12:34
Hi Cindy, According to the Rennicks Australian Coin and Banknote Guide, there were upwards of 1.6 million of these coins minted.
Nancy 22 November, 2010 09:26
I have a coin or a medallion that says "Territory of New Guinea Head Tax 1927-1928. Can't seem to find out anything about it. Can you direct me? A local coin buyer said I needed to do some research...it may be worth something.
reply
kenan 14 December, 2010 20:30
hi i recently inherited a few old coins and come across a 1951 JUBILEE FLORIN with a 1951 Federation book , i was told the book was issued and presented to school children with the coin and the book has a are on the first page for the students name , is this a fact?
reply
Discovery Centre 19 December, 2010 12:35

Hi Kenan,

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.

Lath 25 December, 2010 08:50
Hi i have a medallion/Coin not sure exactly. It is large. Silver and has a pattern around the edge kind of like a christmas wreath. Plain in the middle with a line going across at the very bottom with a very small owl flying underneath. On the reverse side it has the same wreath pattern around the edge and an arrow on the left and what looks like an Olympic torch on the right. Any information would be very much appreciated. Thank you.
reply
Discovery Centre 29 December, 2010 11:05

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 discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au 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.

 

Michelle 7 January, 2011 14:00
Hello, I have about 120 coins mostly per decimal that I have collected since I was a child I really don't know alot about their values so I have found though links on your site someone to take them to for valuation. I have one coin that maybe of interest that looks ancient and can't find any pics or anything on the net to help with it. I also have about 3 stamp albums of stamps collected as a child I need some help can you please send me a link or info as to where or who I could get these stamps looked at or valued. I would love to send you some pics of some if you have any interest in them. Regards Michelle
reply
Discovery Centre 8 January, 2011 11:45
Hi Michelle, our question of the week on coin valuations will provide you with some information on how to get coins and other objects valued. 
Dina brogden 27 January, 2011 05:35
I have had this coin like round piece of metal for some time and thought to google the words on it: georgivs vi d g:br omn Rex fidei def and a pic of a head, facing the right side. I've found out it is a coin and some various years and denominations. Problem: there is no backside to the coin. I do not know it's year or denomination. It's reverse is simply the indentation of it's obverse. I read about lamination but not on this coin. Please advise about it's possibility. Thank you.
reply
Discovery Centre 2 February, 2011 12:40
Hi Dina - as interesting as your coin sounds, we have done some research and not been able to find any information on it - you might be better placed by making enquiries with a commercial numismatics company or a numismatics society - a quick google search for either of these should help you find someone who can help - good luck!
KRISTY COOK 14 February, 2011 18:31
Hi, I have a 1921 Sixpence dime.It says GEOIGIVS V D.G. BRITT: OMN:REX F.D.IND:IMP ON THE FRONT OF THE COIN AND THEN SIXPENCE AND 1921 ON THE BACK.
reply
luke 8 March, 2011 00:41
hi i would like to know what are the rarest coins you can get i collect heaps of different notes and coins never realy cared bout value just started to wonder
reply
Discovery Centre 12 March, 2011 16:14
Hi Luke, some of the rare Australian coins are discussed in the article above. For world coins, you might want to do an internet search under 'rare world coins', which should give you some other results. You might want to look at a numismatics magazine such as Numismatic News, which will no doubt have articles on rare coins.
Cindy 5 May, 2011 07:28
Hi,I have a class assignment about coins and I was wondering if I can somehow interview an expert on coins on this website. THANKS :)
Discovery Centre 7 May, 2011 13:28

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.

close this reply
Write your reply to Cindy's comment All fields are required

We love receiving comments, but can’t always respond.

Doug 16 August, 2011 15:25
Hi, my family had a collection of misprints (mainly silver two shillings and one shillings, although there may have been other denominations). Theses came by way of an uncle that worked in a bank in Sydney. Unfortunately these were stolen in the late 80's. I'm sure they would be pretty unique, although possibly worthless. Is there anywhere that you would suggest I begin my seach? Not sure what to do, but would like to get them back Thanks Doug
reply
Jon 6 January, 2012 13:59
What has happened to the MoV numismatics collection? I well remember looking at the exhibits (such as the proof 1930 1d mentioned above) in the Russell St premises but since the move to Carlton there has not been any sign of coins in the severely diminished displays there. Is any of this collection likely to see the light of day again? Cheers Jon
reply
Discovery Centre 6 January, 2012 16:25

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

rosie 30 January, 2012 03:07
i have a 1986 victorian coin and a 1901 victorian coin also a 1900 victorian coin oh and a 1900 coin but it is silver and has a big 3 on the back inbetween 1900 please could you tell me a bit of info about them x
reply
Lester B. Smith Jr. 1 March, 2012 03:53
I have a 1920 with a dot over the bottom scroll,I`ve looked all over for answer. Can`t find any. I know you don`t answer but could you PLEASE send me some-one name. Thank You very much.
reply
Discovery Centre 1 March, 2012 14:20
Hi Lester, we don't do valuations but we can identify items for you. Please click on the 'Ask the experts' link at left and then select the Identifications option. Please send us an image of the coin and read the guidelines prior to submitting your enquiry. Otherwise you could read our Numismatics article for information on how to do further research on your own.
richard 1 March, 2012 10:57
hi i have a coin that says on the front united states of america bicentennial 1776-1976 and a lady on the back is this coin real?
reply
Discovery Centre 1 March, 2012 14:26
Hi Richard, unfortunately it is difficult to identify something like this from a description. It would be best for you to contact a numismatist who can examine the coin in person and authenticate it for you. Please click on our 'Question of the Week: Coin Valuations' at the top right hand of the page for information on how to contact an expert.
andrew 25 May, 2012 20:09
what is the differnts between a aus 1955 half penny and a 1955 tilted 5 half penny?
reply
Brigid 27 June, 2012 08:35
I have a 1913 Australian circulated penny that appears to be minted incorrectly (flat on one side with vertical lines....similar to modern coins). How can I tell if this flaw was from the mint?
reply
Daniel Russell 7 October, 2012 15:27
Hi i found a coin in some ruins in india some years back its more like a stone with scales on one side and a heart shaped on the other do you know where i could take this to find out what it is ?
reply
Discovery Centre 7 October, 2012 16:14

Hi Daniel,

 

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.

Tiger 3 December, 2012 21:06
Hi there I have a 1912 one penny V Georgivs v.d.c Britt : omn : Rex f.d. ind : imp and a 1958 one penny V Elizabeth where the I in Elizabeth & gratia line up between 2 outer beads. Are these two rare coins?
reply
Discovery Centre 5 December, 2012 10:07
Hi Tiger, try contacting one fo the Numismatics associations to check out your coins.  This Question of the Week may help!
Travis Mcnaughton 1 February, 2013 03:17
hi i have a 1921 penny with a dot on it like this p.ennie and i have a 1984 one dollar coin that has been stamped on a ten cent coin can you help me find out what the coin are? i asked at a coin fair but the guy have never seen them
reply
Discovery Centre 2 February, 2013 15:18

Hi Travis,

Please refer to our response above on 5th December, 2012.

Tamara 10 April, 2013 07:00
Hi, I have a silver coin with "Territory of New Guinea, Head Tax 1936-1937 10/-" imprinted on it. Where can I find out more information about this coin? Thanks.
reply
B J Kirby 9 June, 2013 11:51
I have a coin that doesnt exist,at least not officially.It is a common 1952 penny no dots that is of a silver colour of the colour of a 500% silver florin.I cleaned 12 1952 pennies that were diseased in brown vinegar and one of them the bronze came off completely.I am not claiming anything outside of possessing a genuine circulated 1952 penny that is as far as I am concerned one of a kind because I have not heard of any of this kind.I am not requesting a valuation all I would like is an address of a coin expert to have a look at it.I can mail quality photos of it to an expert,I am not letting it out of my sight without a guarantee of its return as I [myself ]consider it priceless and I dont want it to go astray.This is my sons email address.Barry
reply
Alan Park 10 November, 2013 18:54
Hi, I have come across a 1915 Halfpenny. I am not after a value but the coin has stamped on it (just to the right of the Kings head) the letters G underlined over V and I was wondering if this has any significance? Many thanks.
reply
Matt R 9 January, 2014 20:43
I have a 1946 Australian Half Penny. It's oval shaped and has the prayer 'Our Father' written on one side. I can't seem to find any info on this coin. Any ideas?
reply
Kerryanne Tomlinson 15 January, 2014 19:27
I found a coin wedged between a rock at the beach today, the writing on the outside is GEORGIVS VI D: G: BR: OMN: REX F: D: IND IMP. on the outside with a head on it, obviously reaaaaally rusted from the sea, but where do I go to get this checked out and see what year its from and all that? Do i take it to a museum? I've done a little bit of research on it but would like to know more, I mean.. It's not every day you find an old coin at a beach
reply
Kerryanne Tomlinson 15 January, 2014 19:29
p.s, how would i go about cleaning the brown stuff off ?
Discovery Centre 17 January, 2014 11:57
Hi Kerryanne, sounds like an interesting find! I do not know where you are located, but if you are in Melbourne, I would suggest that you contact a local numismatic society or dealer - Melbourne Museum does not currently have a numismatics specialist on staff. I would, however, caution you against cleaning the coin before showing it to a specialist, as the evidence of wear and patina is an essential part of the coin to any dealer or collector. An old coin should not be cleaned to shiny-new!
Libby 1 August, 2014 12:08
Hi, I have a 1962 3pence Australian coin and I was wondering where it was minted? Thanks
reply
Chrissie 10 August, 2014 11:35
Hi, can you please tell me where to find out more information regarding an 1880 ANDA coin/medallion. Thanks
reply
billy 17 September, 2014 04:58
I have a 1858 melbourne victoria coin with queen on one side Other side. Peace & plenty with emu and kengeroo
reply
peter milsome 28 September, 2014 04:07
Hi,I have an Australian 2 cent coin 1970 i think,that is smaller and thinner than normal,i have comparison photos but have been un able to find what it is.
reply
George 14 November, 2014 17:35
Hi I have a 1981 20 cent that is the same gold color as the dollar coin. Do you know if this is a rare coin or one of many. Thank you
reply

Related Resources