Choice Change Challenge – Henry Parkes in our pocket!

Here we have another entry from Choice Change Challenger Alex!

The Choice Change Challenge… hmmm…. when the Online Team here at Downies asked George and I how the challenge was coming along, and whether we had any exciting new finds to share, we were distressed to respond in the negative. Aside from a 2000 50c issued for the Queen’s Royal Visit – incidentally, a coin bearing the only decimal obverse portrait of Her Majesty designed by an Australian, and a one-year-only portrait to boot! – picked up at the coffee shop, there isn’t much to share. It continues to be a tough undertaking, collecting the commemorative from change.

1996 $1 Sir Henry Parkes M Mintmark UNC

1996 $1 Sir Henry Parkes M Mintmark UNC

And then, one of our Team Members realised that last week was Sir Henry Parkes’ 199th Birthday! Henry Parkes is a man often called the Father of Federation, a man with the distinct honour of having a town named for him (in NSW), a man that appears on one of Australia’s only two commemorative banknotes (the 2001 Federation $5 note), and finally, a man that the Royal Australian Mint saw fit to honour with a commemorative coin in 1996. A coin that, besides RAM’s issuance of collector strikes in silver and as part of that year’s Mintmark series, was also issued for circulation.

Prior to the beginning of our challenge, George and I discussed the coins that we expected to be tough. And, the 1996 Henry Parkes Dollar was amongst those discussed. It’s a coin that is now almost 20 years old and from our own casual observations did not often turn up in change. We expected it to take some time to uncover – a bit like my nemesis, the 2001 Bradman 20c. Yet, lo and behold, it was not long into the challenge that we each boasted a Henry Parkes Dollar in our collections!

2001 Henry Parkes Federation $5

2001 Federation $5 note

What’s more, flying in the face of our preconceptions, we started seeing the 1996 coin everywhere! So much so that we were each able to not just add the coin to our collections but also to upgrade from lowly circulated examples to bright shiny almost-Uncirculated examples – all from daily change! Nowadays, this far in to the challenge, we continue to be frustrated by the unexpected over-abundance of Henry Parkes in our pockets. Adding to that frustration, as the Father of Federation, one might hope that his paternal good luck would rub off onto the 2001 Federation 50c and 20c series. Unfortunately, these coins are the lowest mintage commemoratives ever issued for circulation in Australia, and continue to frustrate us due to the dearth of examples – ESPECIALLY the 20c issues.

Still, it is ultimately the frustration of finding plenty of 1996 Henry Parkes $1 coins that leads to the jubilation when and if we uncover one of those scarce 2001 coins. And so, it is with that optimistic final thought that I would like to wish the Father of Federation a very happy 199th birthday!

Happy Birthday Sir Henry!

PS. Despite our frustrations at finding too many 1996 $1 coins, and not enough Federation 50c or 20c coins, it’s difficult to remain cranky at a man who sported such a glorious beard, as did Sir Henry Parkes….

The Australian $1 Celebrates its 30th Anniversary!

1984 $1 First Dollar ProofExactly 30 years ago today, the Reserve Bank of Australia introduced the $1 coin into circulation, on May 14th, 1984. It replaced the $1 banknote that had circulated since the inception of Decimal Currency in 1966. Stuart Devlin’s now famous Mob of Roos featured on that initial circulating $1 coin and has been a favourite amongst collector and non-collector alike ever since.

According to the Royal Australian Mint, plans to replace the $1 note had been contemplated since the 1970s, due to the need for higher face value coins that could be used in coin operated machines, and to replace the short service life of the $1 note.

During its life there have been around 100 commemoratives issued by the Royal Australian Mint using the $1 denomination and its standard circulating specification – understandably making it one of the most popular coins amongst collectors today.

Some of the highlights of the series are:

Also worth mentioning, aside from the official commemorative releases, is the unofficial 2000 Mule Error – an error which was created when incorrect obverse and reverse dies were mistakenly matched. For those interested in reading more about this fascinating error, we featured it in a previous article here.

The introduction of the new $1 coin wasn’t the only interesting or important thing to happen in 1984. Some other events of note that occurred that year:

  • 1 February – Medicare comes into effect in Australia.
  • 2 February – Melbourne newspaper The Age publishes phone taps incriminating an unknown judge.
  • 6 February – A bomb blast wrecks the home of Judge Richard Gee in the Sydney suburb of Belrose
  • 30 March – Tennis player and 2011 US Open Grand Slam winner, Samantha Stosur is born
  • April – A 115g jar of Vegemite is the first product in Australia to be electronically scanned at a checkout
  • 19 April – Advance Australia Fair is proclaimed as Australia’s national anthem, and green and gold as the national colours.
  • 14 May, Gary Abblet Jr, a modern day AFL football marvel, is born
  • 21 August – The Federal budget is televised for the first time.
  • 25 November – Ashes Winning Cricketer Peter Siddle is born
  • July 28–August 12 – Los Angeles hosts the Games of the XXIII Olympiad.
  • The $100 Paper Banknote is issued, becoming Australia’s highest Decimal circulating denomination.

But for many, it’s the introduction of the Mob of Roos $1 coin that marked the commencement of a new era in numismatics. To celebrate, the Royal Australian Mint released a spectacular 30th anniversary high relief silver proof coin, which has delighted thousands of collectors in Australia, and around the world!
2014 $1 30th Anniversary High Relief 1oz Silver Proof
Downies is fortunate enough to have a number of this spectacular coin in stock, so if you are interested in marking this special anniversary, click here to learn more!

The most secure coin in the world? How The Royal Mint is fighting back at crime!

The discovery of a multi-million dollar international counterfeiting and smuggling ring has prompted The Royal Mint to redesign their 1 pound coins. A Dutch crime organisation, who had set up their own modern minting facility complete with legitimate sounding company name and credentials, had been targeting the UK pound coins for some time before British detectives were able to track the counterfeit coins back to their Amsterdam origins. Estimates are that £45 million worth of counterfeit £1 pound coins circulate in the UK economy today and it is this figure that spurred the Mint on to reform this everyday circulating coin.

According to a story in The IndependantBritish police tipped off their Dutch counterparts, who raided the premises at the European Central Mint (ECM) and arrested the owner, after discovering machines capable of producing hundreds of coins per minute.

There is even talk that the counterfeiting extends beyond the UK pound coin and into the realm of Euro currency.

The Royal Mint released a statement on March 19 stating they have “developed world-leading anti-counterfeiting technology which will enable Her Majesty’s Treasury to modernise the United Kingdom’s circulating currency with the production of a brand new £1 coin.

OnePound

As shown in the image above, the coin will feature a unique 12 sided shape, reminiscent of the UK’s own pre-decimal threepence coin and Australia’s 50 cent coin. The coin will be struck from two different coloured metals and contain an iSIS security feature, developed specifically by the Royal Mint themselves.

A public design competition will get underway at a later date to determine the design for the face of the coin, expected to be released into circulation in 2017. The obverse will feature the traditional Queen’s head motif with name and year of issue.

With a clean slate being offered on the reverse design we ask you, what would you like to see emblazoned on the new £1 release?

Mule Madness!

The following was penned by Downies employee Jimmy…

If you read my previous blog post – on the incuse Millennium 50c I found in my change – you would be aware that I have only worked at Downies for a short period of time. Before this, I had only a slight interest in coins, but not much more than occasionally noticing an interesting one in my change, and setting it aside.

$1 Mule Obverse

I never really bothered looking up information, such as mintage figures, or design details. However, as I mentioned in my last blog, I started flipping through the pages of my Maccas guide just after I started working here, and discovered that there was a lot more to our everyday money than a few random coins with different designs.

One of the more appealing circulating coins I mentioned in my previous blog is the 2000 $1/10c Mule. What exactly is this coin, I hear you ask? Well, for those that don’t know, a ‘mule’ is a coin struck with obverse and reverse dies that were not meant to be paired together. In this case, the coin was created using the reverse die of a 2000 $1 coin and the obverse die of a 2000 10c piece. This results in a double ring on the obverse side, as seen in the picture below.

2000 One Dollar/Ten Cent Mule Error Extremely FineNow, unfortunately, I didn’t find this coin in my change. This is one of two examples we have in stock here at Downies. The chances of finding one in change are remote indeed. Maccas listed the mintage at 400 until 2010, when it was changed to “unknown”. Many people have attempted to estimate the mintage, with figures ranging from 400 to 6,000 thrown about, but it seems unlikely that we will ever be sure about the actual number struck. There is no doubt, however, that this coin is extremely rare!

In my opinion, one of the more appealing things about this coin is the fact that it is a circulating coin. This means that, somewhere around Australia, right now, there’s someone with a 2000 $1/10c Mule in their pocket, unaware of its value. These rare coins will continue to circulate, and it therefore remains a possibility that you or I will discover one in our change one day. It is this tantalising prospect that keeps me checking my change every day!

Are any of our readers on the lookout for this particular coin? Or better yet, has anyone been lucky enough to find one in their change?

The verdict is in… 2011 Series of the Year

Undeniably a captivating series, the Gothic Cathedrals collection has been awarded second prize in the Fifth International Commemorative Coins Contest – the 2011 Coin Constellation.

Held September 28 2011 in the Marble palace of St Petersburg, Russia, more than 200 coins from 25 countries lined up to be judged on concept, artistic solution, original technology, design and series development.

Niue 2010 $1 Gothic Cathedrals – Cologne Cathedral Silver Proof

Renowned for its unique oval shape and the spectacular obverse and reverse designs, the Niue $1 Gothic Cathedrals Cologne Cathedral Silver Proof truly lives up to its winning title. Combining state-of-the-art minting capabilities with the innovative inclusion of a genuine stained glass window – this captivating issue recreates the beauty of one of the world’s favourite landmarks.

With what’s left of the 5,000 coin mintage sure to be snapped up by eager collectors and investors alike, head on over to Downies.com to secure 2011’s Series of the Year!