Treasures in your change: 20c – What to look for

infographic-smallThe following was penned by Downies employee Jimmy…

Welcome to the second entry in my ‘Treasures in your change’ series, focusing on rare circulating decimal types that you might find in your change! My last entry – that you can read HERE – was based on the 5c piece and 10c piece, and this one will focus on the 20c piece.

Now, while you may have already seen the informative infographic we posted last week, and pictured to the right, this blog post will go into a bit more detail, pointing out exactly what you need to be looking for while searching through your pocket money.

1966 Wavy Line 20c

1966 Wavy Line 20c

Australia’s first variety takes us back to the beginning of decimal currency, and the highly sought after 1966 Wavy Line 20c. This key type is thus named because the bottom stroke of the 2 in the denomination appears to have a wave at the top, rather than the straight line seen on other 20c coins. To cater for the massive amount of currency required at decimalisation, the then new Royal Australian Mint was joined by Britain’s Royal Mint for the production of 1966 coinage, and it was at the latter that a small number of 20c coins were struck with a slightly different die, creating the Wavy Line 20c variety. Prices for Uncirculated examples have been known to fetch up to $3,000, with even an EF example worth more than $1,000, and, as a result, I routinely check every 20c piece I receive in change. The Royal Mint did strike normal versions of the coin, which brings us to our next collectable variety…

1966 Canberra Mint 20c

1966 Canberra Mint 20c

Although many people are unaware that different mints struck the 1966 20c, knowledgeable collectors do tend to seek out examples from each mint – and there is one quick way to find out if you have a Royal Mint or RAM version in your hand. If you have a look at the water ripples around the platypus, there is a ripple that comes into contact with the right side of its head. This is where the difference between the mint variations will be apparent. A ripple that touches the head of the platypus will indicate the coin is from the Royal Mint, whereas a ripple that has a slight gap between the head will indicate a RAM coin! Both can demand good prices from collectors, so as a rule of thumb, if you get a 1966 20c in change, pay close attention to it!

1981 Three & a Half Claws 20c

1981 Three & a Half Claws 20c

The next 20c in the series to look out for was issued in 1981. In this particular year, industrial action at the Royal Australian Mint saw Australia once again seek the assistance of mints overseas, with Britain’s Royal Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint called into action. Now, while mintage figures from both overseas mints are similar, it is the coins struck at the Royal Canadian Mint that prove most popular with collectors. The Royal Canadian Mint 1981 20c can be distinguished by examining the claws on the left paw of the platypus, located directly under the 2 in the denomination. All other coins from 1981 have 4 claws on the left paw, but coins struck at the Canadian mint have a claw on the far right that appears to be half missing! This distinctive type is consequently known as the ‘Three & a Half Claws’ variety.

1981 Scalloped 20c

1981 Scalloped 20c

No analysis of 20c varieties could possibly ignore the famed 1981 Scalloped 20c. Coming to light late in 1982, this is a VERY RARE coin which, whilst you almost certainly will not have seen in change, you may have read about in one of our previous entries. Assisting the production of Australian 20c coins during the aforementioned industrial action at the RAM, the Royal Mint apparently struck some coins using scalloped blanks intended for use for $2 coins for Hong Kong, for whom it also struck currency. Amazingly, some of these coins made it into circulation!

Although less than 10 examples of this stunning coin have come to light, with the type currently cataloguing at $7,500 in Extremely Fine, who knows whether another one might arise in the future? Always check your change!


Aussies – You could have a $2,500 coin in your change right now!

Twenty Cents 1981 Canadian Mint 3.5 clawinfographic-smallThe humble Australian 20c piece has a surprising number of secrets – one of which is worth a potential $2,500 to anyone lucky enough to find it.

Over at we’ve put together an infographic that takes a look at the 20 cent piece, and some of the valuable error types that can be found in change.

Check it out here

Have you found a valuable or unusual coin in your change?

Choice Change Challenge – An unusual Platypus for an unusual year

Here we have another entry from Choice Change Challenger Alex – he has done some digging and unearthed an interesting story behind a year that keeps showing up during The Challenge.

As Australia basks in the glory of only the third ever 5-0 Ashes cricket whitewash, it reminds us of the “King” of the Australian 20c series, the 2001 Donald Bradman issue – and, subsequently, our attempts to “Collect the Commemorative”…!

As you might understand, George and I tend to look at every coin we receive in our daily change. As such, we have noticed that as time goes by, a trend seems to be emerging – of all the 20c coins uncovered by our hunting, it appears that when we receive a 20c platypus coin … it is almost invariably dated 1981. Yes, a thirty-three year old, Platypus 20c coin! I’m sure it is not difficult to imagine our continued frustration at this as we attempt to hunt down those elusive Australian commemoratives. In this case, however, frustration has led us to uncover an interesting tale…

Three mints, an industrial strike, 3.5 claws… the story behind one of Australia’s largest mintage 20c dates is an intriguing one. During 1981, an extended period of Industrial Action at the Royal Australian Mint caused a cry for help to fulfil the year’s quota for new coinage. Thus, the Royal Canadian Mint and The Royal Mint were sought out for assistance across all denominations. In terms of 20c coins however, it was believed that only the Canadian and Canberra Mints struck anything dated 1981. Whilst this view was soon altered, it was actually the Canadian Mint strikes that provided one of the more intriguing and sought after varieties of the 20c series – the 3.5 Claw Platypus!

Twenty Cents 1981 Canadian Mint 3.5 claw

Twenty Cents 1981 Canadian Mint 3.5 claw

Distinguishing the Canadian Mint-struck 1981 Platypus 20c coins from those struck elsewhere, it is on the Platypus’ left claw, directly beneath the ‘2’ in 20c that this variety can be recognised. Whilst Platypodes, both in the wild and numismatically, are known to have four claws, the Canadian minted platypus coins possess only three and a half claws! An easy variety to spot, once you know what to look for, this oddity provides a highlight for any 20c collector! Cataloguing today at $170 in Unc, this issue offers an interesting juxtaposition to a 20c date that George and I are finding everywhere!

But what about those coins purportedly struck at the Royal Mint? It would seem that genuine, confirmed numbers are difficult to track down. And, there are references that suggest that no 1981 20c coins were struck by the Royal Mint. However, just a few months before the end of 1982… The evidence was found. A very excited collector (no doubt!), walked into a Sydney Coin store with a 1981 20c coin, struck on a scalloped-edged Hong Kong $2 blank! Upon further investigation, it was unearthed that, at the time, The Royal Mint in Wales was striking the Hong Kong $2 coins and thus, by simple deduction, it became clear a third Mint churned out Australian 20c coins in 1981! Today, there are just 6 or 7 examples of this extreme rarity out in the marketplace. And, coincidentally, Downies Australian Coin Auctions has one example consigned in their February Sale! For more info, or to see this coin, click here.

Twenty Cents 1981 on a Hong Kong Two Dollars blank

Twenty Cents 1981 on a Hong Kong Two Dollars blank

Australia Remembers…

Marking the 70th Anniversary of the first wartime attack on Australian Soil, February 19 1942 saw 242 Japanese Planes launch the first of their 64 attacks on Darwin. An initial siege that lasted a mere 40 minutes, devastatingly stole the lives of more than 243 people – February 19 2012 marks beginning of the war on Australia.

Forced to leave the side of our Mother Country, 41 years after federation, Australia strengthened its alliance with the United States to combat what has now been described as Australia’s Pearl Harbour. With much focus protecting the northern border of Australia, on May 31 1942, three Japanese midget submarines, five large mother submarines and two sea planes attempted to invade Sydney Harbour. An attack that was of limited success with only one of the submarines firing its torpedoes, missing the intended target and instead hitting the depot ship, HMAS Kuttabul – fear began to penetrate the once believed invincible Australian culture.

Issued to mark the 70th Anniversary of the start of these attacks, the Royal Australian Mint has issued three unique Australian legal tender releases commemorating those who lost their lives protecting our borders.

Never to be issued into circulation, to secure the 2012 50c and 20c Shores Under Siege trio – head on over to today!

QLD ANDA Show Special Release – 2009 1966 Decimal Pattern 20c!

Earlier this month, the Gold Coast leg of the ANDA Coin show was held. This was the first time an ANDA show had ever been held on the Gold Coast, and to mark such a momentous occasion an exclusive ‘Show Issue’ coin was released. Honoring one of Australia’s most iconic coin designs, this utterly magnificent release concentrates on Andor Mészáros’ 1966 Decimal Pattern 20c design that came so agonizingly close to being used for Australia’s decimal currency. Seriously considered, way back in 1966, the unique 20c motif was almost used on our first decimal coinage. Taking this into consideration one can quite easily appreciate the significance that this release has had on the numismatic community. Depicting a similar design as used on the infamous ‘1967 Goose Dollar’, this design highlights what ‘could have been’ of our Decimal currency.

The History!

To fully appreciate the significance that such a release has had on the numismatic community, one must know the history behind the original coin design. In 1965 the introduction of decimal currency and the subject of national coinage had a much higher profile in daily conversation than it does today. It goes without saying then, that the nation’s coin collectors held very strong opinions about which designs were to be selected for our national coinage.

1966 Goose Dollar

An original 1966 Goose Dollar Unc

The process by which the designs were selected was carried out by the Commonwealth Government with high consideration as to what were most suitable for Australia. The Government established an Advisory Panel on Coin Design, who commissioned six prominent Australian artists to submit a series of designs for consideration. One of the six artists selected was Andor Mészáros, a highly talented architect and sculptor, and at the time one of Australia’s most successful medallion designers. Although the Government later chose Stuart Devlin’s designs, there was still huge interest in Mészáros’ designs from a wide range of numismatists.

Once the decimal designs were decided upon, many were surprised to learn that a one dollar coin would not be included in the new issues. So in 1966, the ‘Australian Coin Review’ (ACR) ran a design competition for a new one dollar design, with the winning entry being submitted to the Australian Government. Mészáros 20c “goose” design from his original decimal coinage submission was adapted to a one dollar format and won the competition. Sadly misfortune broke again and the submission was rejected by the authorities as they were seeking a common theme for all coins in the new decimal series, as opposed to a series of individual designs. However, the editorial staff at ACR had previously stated that if the winning design was of a sufficient standard, it would be “struck as a souvenir in fine silver”, continuing on to say that the coins would then be made available to collectors through the ACR and coin dealers throughout Australia. In November 1967 it was confirmed that this would become a reality with ACR outlining that 750 silver proof, 1,500 silver specimen and 10 gold coins would be minted. The 1967 ACR Pattern Goose Dollar was then engraved and struck by John Pinches medalists of London. In spite of the thinly veiled disapproval, the ACR’s unofficial crown sparked interest with collectors around the world almost instantly, with the proof version announced to have sold out completely in February 1968 issue of the ACR magazine.

The Coin!

2009 1966 Decimal Pattern 20c ANDA Show Silver Proof

2009 1966 Decimal Pattern 20c ANDA Show Silver Proof

Taking into the consideration the popularity that was sparked by the original “goose” design, and coupled with the tremendous popularity of official Australian ‘Show products’ the new 2009 1966 Decimal Pattern 20c ANDA Show Silver Proof is sure to spark immense interest from collectors around the globe. Crafted to the height of Perth Mint Proof quality, this .999 fine silver coin enshrines the Goose design in immaculate proof quality. A wonderful opportunity to secure this striking coin type individually, the Perth Mint’s decision to issue the ‘Goose’ 20c Silver Proof ONLY at the ANDA Gold Coast Show is an inspired one.

ANDA Decimal Pattern 20c Pack

QLD ANDA Show Silver Proof Pack

With the huge demand placed on ‘Show products’, Downies has secured as many coins as possible from the edition of 2,500, and as expected our stocks are very limited. Presented on an official Perth Mint card, and available at a very affordable price, don’t miss what is likely to be your only opportunity to secure this historic, exclusive Australian legal tender type.

For more information or to purchase online, please click on the appropriate link:
North America

Bookmark and Share