Treasures in your change: 5c and 10c – What to look for

5c and 10c ChangeThe following was penned by Downies employee Jimmy…

As you may have seen in my previous blogs (here and here), there are quite a lot of rare, unusual circulating coins that are hotly pursued by collectors. This had a lot of people asking (along with myself), what else should we be looking for in our change? What might some of these circulating oddities be worth?

These questions have inspired a new series of blog posts from me, and, as I continue to search through my change, I will keep you up-to-date about what I’m looking for – and, in turn, what you should keep an eye out for! The coins that will feature in these posts are all found in circulation in Australia, meaning that you, the reader, have just as much chance of finding them as I have! My chances are slightly less now of course, as there are more people out there looking!

I thought I would start from the bottom and work my way up, starting with 5c and 10c. When it comes to Australian circulating coins, it appears that the 5c and 10c coins are the most consistent in terms of quality and lack of errors. This would have partly to do with the fact that there are no commemorative coins issued for either of these two types. The only varieties known are created as a result of die variations.

5c and 10cChronologically, the very first coin that collectors look for would be the 1972 5c piece. There are two possible reasons to keep a look out for this particular year. Firstly, only 8.3 million 5c coins were minted in 1972, well below the number normally minted (ranging from 25.2 million in 1978 to a whopping 305.5 million in 2006). Upon closer inspection of this particular date, it seems that two separate dies were used in the minting. When compared side by side, one coin appears to have a ‘low’ echidna, with the design close to the bottom of the coin, with the other distinguished by a ‘high’ echidna, with a larger space below the design. The ‘low’ echidna appears to be the scarcer of the two types, and is the one to look out for as it will have a slightly higher value than its ‘high’ brother.

For those of you who don’t want to be measuring echidnas, this brings us to a different variation to look out for. One that may be slightly easier to spot (albeit with a magnifying glass) involves Stuart Devlin, the man behind the designs on the majority of Australia’s traditional circulating coinage. More specifically, his initials feature on the very bottom of the 5c reverse design, of which there are three different types – large, small and tiny! While people may not see this as a major collectable, large SD initials on a 1991 dated coin can fetch up to $40 when found – which is a great return on a 5c investment!

Stuart Devlin small and large initialsTwo other key dates to keep an eye out for are 1985 and 1986. Any of our eagle eyed followers would be jumping out of their seats right now yelling “that’s not possible!”, and they would be right. No 5c coins were minted for general circulation in either of these years, and if you find one, it would have come from the 1985 or 1986 Mint Sets from the RAM. Neither date should ever be found in change.

Now we move onto the 10c piece which, unfortunately, does not have much to look out for. Low mintages are our best bet here. The 1985 10c coin, with a mintage of 2 million, and the 2011 10c issue, with a mintage of 1.7 million, are the two gems. Besides those, there are, of course, the mint set only dates of 1986, 1987, 1995, and 1996.

So get out there and start checking your change, but more importantly, check back here soon for my next post in this series, which will focus on the 20c piece!

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Australia has already dropped the 1c and 2c coins; should we go one step further and ditch the 5c too?

5c

The article was prepared by Archie S., who joined our team recently during his Year 10 work experience. We think he did a great job – how about you?

In a previous post we discussed the doing away of the penny by the Canadian treasury due to increased production costs and it seems that Australia’s own five cent coin is facing the spotlight for the same reason. Today, the five cent coin makes up $198 million worth of Australia’s hard currency, but is this humble coin still a valuable part of Australian currency or has it overstayed its welcome?

One of the main reasons for the debate is the market price of copper and nickel. Fluctuations in the two raw materials that are used in making the five cent piece can drive the cost higher than the actual face value of the coin! In some ways, these low denomination coins are also becoming irrelevant in our day to day lives; with scarcely any items in retail stores priced at five cents – and most vending machines and parking meters no longer accept the coin!

People find the masses of small change in their wallets annoying and unnecessary, even more so as more and more transactions these days are performed electronically. Similarly, back in 2006, New Zealand dropped the five cent coin from their currency, whilst also reducing the physical size of all of their coins thus fixing that excessive change issue. Many people now believe Australia should follow suit, including Deakin University marketing professor David Bednall, who says that the nation could easily adapt to living without the five cent coin.

Australia’s Assistant Treasurer Shorten is hesitant about the decision however, as he realises how this change would affect charities – the main recipients of 5 and 10 cents coins as donations. Organisations such as ygap – organisers of the charity http://www.fivecent.com.au/ – base entire donation drives around the 5c piece. The change would also potentially affect the retail world, changing the way we round numbers in prices, most likely to the system in New Zealand (1,2,3,4 –round down &  5,6,7,8,9- round up). Store owners fear a consumer backlash over perceived price increases.

Finally, the smallest coin in our pockets has also found its usefulness around the house. If it is discontinued, how else will we open the backs of our fiddly electronics or scratch our lotto tickets?

The last time Australia dropped a denomination was the 1 and 2 cent counts in 1992. Is it time we take the next step and drop the five cent coin too?