The choice change challenge: Aussie coins in change


From time immemorial, mankind has asked important questions, questions that speak to the heart of what it means to be alive, to be human and to be a collector.

  • How hard is collecting from change, really?
  • What can I find?
  • Will they be worth any money?
  • How can I compete with my work colleagues and lord it over them when I win and blame chance when I don’t?

These important questions and more are being answered by Alex and George here in the office. On the 21st of November, 2012, they took up this challenge: collect a full set of circulating Australian decimal commemorative coins, just from the change they get from everyday transactions. Inspired by Alex finding a 1988 50c First Fleet commemorative in Uncirculated condition (catalogue value is $25!) in his change, Alex and George decided to make the process a competition.

The goals of the competition are threefold. First, it’s a race between two friends for bragging rights. Second, as both Alex and George have been in the coin industry for a long time, they wanted to research exactly how long it would take to assemble a complete collection. Third, the process should be entertaining and informative for readers of the blog! We’ll be checking in with them over the coming months to see how they go and keeping you up-to-date on their progress.

Both are off to a great start, with some highlights of their endeavours below:

Competitor 20c Series 50c Series $1 Series $2 Series
Alex 3 7 11 0
George 1 8 10 1

George’s major highlight has been his discovery of the extremely low-mintage NSW and NT 2001 Federation 50c coins (mintages of 3.042m and 2m respectively), with Alex rightly pleased with unearthing a better-than-usually-seen quality example of the 1997 Smithy $1.


As you can see, collecting from circulation can be rapidly rewarding, and an interesting collection doesn’t have to take long or cost the earth to acquire.

A good step to take to complete (or start) your collection is secure an Official Mint or Proof Set, for absolutely pristine examples of decimal currency (if you are interested, check out the 2013 Australian Mint Set here and the 2013 Australian Proof Set here). Not only is it a great idea to complete your collection this way, but having the absolutely perfect example of each coin allows you to compare the coins you find against the perfect standard and can help you get a feel for grades and how coins wear down in circulation.

So, how about you – do you collect from circulation? If so, what is your favourite find? Leave your comments below and we’ll hear more about Alex and George soon.


5 thoughts on “The choice change challenge: Aussie coins in change

  1. I work in a TAB and handle money everyday. Amongst the coins I have found a 2007 uncirc ashes $1. Various barcelona uncir $1. 1999 last Anzac $1. 1984 proof $1. Plus others in very good condition. But my most exciting was the 2000 millennium flag 50c error coin.

  2. Pingback: The Choice Change Challenge January update: the perils and pleasures of international travel « Downies Blog

  3. Recently i have been churning through 5 cent peices in order to make a full set (just missing the 1972) and have come across 2 pre decimal 6 pences! i was a bit startled on both occasions considering they were withdrawn almost 50 years ago. Another bonus was that they were both 92.5% silver, 1942 (huge die crack) and a 1946.

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