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….


Choice Change Challenge: A challenger speaks out!

oct-coinchangechallengeThe entry below was contributed by Alex, one of the brave contestants in the Choice Change Challenge.

The life of a coin collector is, at times, tough. George and I, after an early flurry of commemoratives, have now come to a grinding halt. We now know… collecting coins can be tough! Having said that though, the other lesson learnt by this budding pair of Downies coin collectors is that finding a much desired piece is fiercely rewarding! It was just two days ago that our team all came into the office to find an email dripping with pure, unadulterated joy. George had received a 2001 Centenary of Federation ACT 20c coin in the change from his morning coffee. Aside from indicating the strength of coffee that George indulges in, his exuberance is perhaps the perfect example of why so many collectors out there simply cannot stop! Both he and I are seemingly many years from completing our ‘Collecting the Commemorative Challenge’ and yet, somehow, we’ve become hooked.

For those with an interest, I’ve packaged up where we sit on the table of commemoratives. We’ve done well! Yet, ultimately there is a long road ahead…

George Alex
20c Series
2001 Fed ACT 2005 Coming Home
2001 Fed NSW 2010 Tax
2003 Volunteers 2011 Women’s Day
2005 WWII 2011 Royal Wedding
2010 Tax
2011 Royal Wedding
2011 Volunteers
2011 Women’s Day
50c Series
1977 Silver Jubilee 1970 Capt. Cook
1981 Wedding 1977 Silver Jubilee
1982 Cth Games 1981 Wedding
1994 Family 1982 Cth Games
1995 Weary 1988 Bicentennial
1998 Bass & Flinders 1994 Family
2000 Millennium 1995 Weary Dunlop
2001 Fed CofA 1998 Bass & Flinders
2001 Fed NSW 2000 Millennium
2001 Fed NT 2001 Fed ACT
2003 Volunteers 2001 Fed CofA
2004 Comm Games 2001 Fed NSW
2005 Comm Games 2002 Outback
2005 WWII 2003 Volunteers
2010 Aust Day 2004 Student Design
2005 Remembrance
2005 Student Design
2010 Aust Day
$1 Series
1986 Peace 1986 Peace
1988 Bicentennial 1988 Bicentennial
1993 Landcare 1993 Landcare
1996 Parkes 1996 Parkes
1997 Kingsford-Smith 1997 Kingsford-Smith
1999 Older Persons 1999 Older Persons
2001 Federation 2001 Federation
2002 Outback 2001 Year of Vol.
2003 Volunteers 2002 Outback
2003 Suffrage 2003 Suffrage
2005 Dancing Man 2003 Volunteers
2007 APEC 2005 Dancing Man
2008 Scouts 2007 APEC
2009 Pension 2008 Scouts
2010 Girl Guides 2009 Pension
2011 CHOGM 2010 Girl Guides
2011 CHOGM
$2 Series
$2 Poppy $2 Poppy

And, my sneaky addendum to the above? For all of you who may be reading this in the Nunawading area, get out there and spend those spare commemoratives! Give George and I a chance at glory!

Choice Change Challenge – Alex’s Admission…

This post was kindly contributed by Alex, who has been participating in the Choice Change Challenge.

I have an admission to make… the Choice Change Challenge – or “Collecting the Commemorative”, as I’ve come to call it – is not my first foray into coin collecting…

The Choice Change Challenge began with a discussion between a colleague and me as to how long it would take to collect the entire Australian circulating commemorative coin catalogue – using only the everyday change in our pockets. “Not THAT long” we both agreed at the time. As it turns out, aside from some of the more common coins, it is slim pickings out there in Australia’s change! In the last month, I’ve added only a 2001 NSW Federation 50c and 2011 Royal Wedding 20c to my collection. Is it true? Are there really sock drawers in nearly every home that contain those ‘interesting and different’ Australian coins?

Some of Alex's collection

But I digress. The above failure to substantially add to the Choice Change Challenge is NOT my real admission. The real truth here is that, after 11 years working in Numismatics, and 5 years travelling the world because of Numismatics, I’ve managed to put together a collection of circulating world commemorative coins that is (in my opinion) none too shabby. Perhaps the hobby has, unbeknownst to me until now, taken over!

Probably the most consciously collected part of my accumulation is the USA State Quarters Program. As many would know, the US Mint began issuing the first five coins in their State Quarters series in 1999. Each year subsequent to that, five states were honoured upon five circulating commemorative quarters. This program proved hugely popular with collectors and has continued on after 2008 with the Territories set in 2009 and now, the America the Beautiful range of National Parks quarters.

US 2012 America The Beautiful Quarters BU Set

In terms of my collection, over the course of several trips, I’ve managed to put aside 35 of the 50 State Quarters Series thus far! That tally includes three of the initial five 1999 coins plus ALL of the five state quarters issued in the program’s second year, 2000! Now, to complete my series, I’ve only got 15 coins to find!

So, hopefully you will all wish me luck as I start preparing for the World’s Fair of Money in Chicago in August and, more importantly, cross your fingers along with me as I attempt to pull the last 15 State quarters out of my pocket while I am there!