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1930 Penny - Australia's Best Known Rare Coin

The 1930 penny is without doubt the one rare coin that most Australians know about -  it started off as being the last coin to go into the Dansco press-in albums that were hugely popular in those days (in fact they're so rare hardly anyone ended up with a complete penny set), and it now rates as an heirloom and an investment.

Unlike paper notes or even the larger silver coins, pennies could be accumulated fairly easily without placing too big a dent in the family budget. It wasn’t a trifling or incidental coin - back in the 1960’s a penny could actually buy something, and a collection of 95 coins represented a reasonable spending sacrifice. As they were used every day of the week, most people had the opportunity day to day to check their change and put the ones they didn’t have in their album.

Just the Right Degree of Rarity1930 Penny

Many collectors soon realised that there were a few gaps in their album which were taking a little longer to fill than others. Some of the old-style King George coins were tough, as was the 1946, but even these could be got with persistence. The really tough one was the 1930. It wasn’t long before there were thousands of collectors across the country whom from direct experience knew that the 1930 penny was a rare coin - many of these would have given their eye teeth for the opportunity to get one.  In fact, it can also partly be credited with starting the boom in coin investment - frustrated collectors often got to the point where they were willing to actually pay for one, just so they could finish their set!

That there was even a remote possibility it could simply be plucked out of change made it even more appealing. It came to be seen by the average Aussie battler as one of those rare opportunities to financial freedom that had more to do with luck than hard work, in much the same light as a winning lottery ticket. Even today, people still turn out old cupboards & biscuit tins in the hope of finding a fortune!

Why the Mystery?

Just why is there so much mystery surrounding this coin? Surviving Mint records are thin on the ground and those that are available are somewhat patchy in their coverage of the year’s events. One of the more considered opinions on the mintage of the 1930 penny comes from Mr John Sharples, Numismatic Curator at the Museum of Victoria. In his “interim report” to the NAA, he states: “... the place to look for penny production would seem to be shortly after August 13th. Probably a pair of dies were set and brought up to pressure and then permitted to run under normal working conditions for a time as a test. A second small run might then be sought in September to test one of the new obverse dies issued from the workshop on August 29th. Finally, at the end of the year, specimen (or proof) coins were struck for the Melbourne, Adelaide and British Museum collections.”“... it would appear that after the two short test runs in August / September .... they were put into storage in anticipation for an orderi.” In any event, any mintage figures that are discussed in numismatic circles today have been deduced principally from second-hand information.

Detecting a Forgery – A Quick Reference Guide

The 1930 penny is easily Australia’s most forged 20th century coin. Amateur and professional counterfeiters alike have turned their hand at producing this popular Australian icon, and many collectors have been deceived over the years.

Given the potential risk involved, prospective buyers are advised to become aware of the basic points to look for when determining a coin’s authenticity. As with any numismatic issue, there are certain characteristics of the design, strike and wear which are unique to the 1930 penny. Once these are learned and identified, much of the risk related to buying a 1930 penny is reduced. Although these pages contain much more about counterfeit 1930 pennies than a layman would know, it can never be enough to guard completely against counterfeits and forgeries. If you are looking to buy or sell a 1930 penny, ensure you deal with a member of the Australasian Numismatic Dealer’s Association (ANDA), who are experienced dealers bound by a strict Code of Conduct. The following is a quick reference guide to authenticating a 1930 penny:

Obverse: Two different obverse dies were used in the production of 1930 pennies, each with unique identifying characteristics. Nearly all known examples were struck with what is known as the “Indian” obverse die, our research indicates that just two 1930 pennies struck with the “London” obverse die have been sighted.

The first step in authenticating a 1930 penny is to determine which obverse die was used to produce it: if a 1930 penny has the “London” obverse, chances are at least 1,500 to 1 that it is a forgery. Independent authentication of any 1930 penny struck with the “London” obverse die should be obtained.

The “Indian” die can be identified by examining how the legend aligns with the outer beading: the final upstroke in the “N” of “OMN” sits neatly in line with an outer rim bead, whereas the same point on coins struck with the “London” die align between the outer rim beads. The colon following “IMP” is consequently aligned between two beads, rather than in line with one as on the “London” die.

Reverse: Only one reverse die has been observed for this coin, that struck from the “London” master die. The letters in the word “AL” in “AUSTRALIA” are aligned in line with the beads of the outer rim, and the letters “IA” in “AUSTRALIA” are between the beads of the outer rim.

1930 pennies are often forged most obviously through the alteration of the date. The zero in the date of a genuine 1930 penny will exhibit a fat and wide “0”, while most forgeries tend to show a more elongated and narrow “0”. Any visible evidence of tampering with the coin, such as a slight difference in surface colour or any scratch, dent or mark around the date should give cause for caution.
Sterling & Currency is able to provide a written, unconditional, life-time guarantee regarding the authenticity of every item we sell.

Quick Reference Grading Guide – A Superior Example1930 Penny- Heads Side

The depression saw children going to school without shoes; bread & dripping sandwiches becoming a regular part of the daily diet, and even a penny made a difference to the family budget. Any spare coins lying about the house would surely have been put to good use, and it’s logical to assume that of the entire mintage of 1930 pennies, the vast majority (if not all of it) would have been put to use as legal tender.
There would have been little reason for anyone to check their change until at least the 1950’s, when coin collecting became something closer to a mainstream activity. Once in circulation then, 1930 pennies would have remained in use for many, many years.

It should be of little surprise then that most of the 1930 pennies that remain in existence today are in a reasonably worn state - grading between Very Good and Good Fine. An analysis of how King George V pennies in general (and this coin in particular) wear over time will give us a clear idea of what to look for in a superior quality coin.

Important Note: A numismatist can only determine an accurate grade of a coin by taking all aspects of its condition into account. Characteristics such as strike; wear; lustre and surface quality are all considered. It is impossible to accurately grade a coin by looking at just one section of the design, no matter how important that section is. Having said that, all things being equal, the following comments can be taken as a quick reference guide that will allow a novice to arrive at an approximate grade of any coin they encounter.

Obverse: As with all King George V copper, the band across the base of the King’s crown is the highest point on this side of the coin. By and large, the degree to which detail remains in this band determines the overall grade of the coin. The more detail in the centre of the band, generally speaking the higher the grade of the coin.

Reverse: This side has a much flatter design than that on the obverse, and accordingly it is somewhat more difficult to grade the coin from examining this side alone. Wear on the reverse of King George V copper tends to be spread evenly across the rim, the lettering in the legend and the inner circle of the design.

As can be seen from the accompanying graph, the rarity of the 1930 penny increases dramatically when quality is a consideration: any example that grades better than about Very Fine may be regarded as being in superior quality. Although this coin is quite rare whatever form it takes, collectors looking to get one in “better than average nick” will do well to examine any potential purchase closely for the extent of detail in the band of King George’s crown. A superior coin will clearly show a good extent of detail in the centre diamond.

Sterling & Currency is able to provide a written, unconditional, life-time guarantee regarding the quality of every item we sell.

 

Grade   Description
Very Good    Devoid of significant problems, but heavily worn
About Fine Band across base of crown nearly complete
Fine Full band across base of crown
Good Fine Part of the centre diamond remains visible
About Very Fine Most of the centre diamond remains visible
Very Fine The centre diamond remains completely intact
Good Very Fine 7th & 8th pearls in crown are partially visible
About Extremely Fine Majority of detail in the 7th & 8th pearls visible
Extremely Fine Each of the 8 pearls is clearly visible across the base of the king’s crown

Determining Market Value

 

Confirming that a particular coin is authentic and of a particular grade are the first two steps to determining in the market value, the next is to see what the coin is bringing in the market in that grade.

All many collectors do to determine the market value of a coin or note is to look it up in one of the very popular price guides to coins & banknotes published by either Greg McDonald or Renniks. These books are an excellent introduction to the market, but don’t think they are the bibles of the numismatic world! Buyers will only ever pay what they think an item is worth, regardless of any figure that’s been printed in a book. Similarly, sellers will only accept what they think their item is worth, no matter what figure appears in print. Some buyers may want a particular item desperately; others may only have mild interest in it. Some sellers may need to raise funds urgently, while others can have all the time in the world.

With such a wide range of players in the market, it should be hardly surprising that two coins in very similar condition can trade for two very different prices. A motivated seller dealing with an indifferent buyer may choose to sell at a relatively low price, while an extremely keen collector dealing with a resolute seller may choose to pay a relatively high price.

A buyer or seller unfamiliar with the market will do well to answer the following questions:

What have auction results for similar coins been recently? Are any dealers offering similar coins at the moment, and if so, what price are they being offered at? How long have these items been on the market? When was the last time they were available?

Although it can be difficult to obtain verifiable transaction data from dealers (simply because this information is not published), auction sales data is one source of information that can be checked to determine where the market is. It is a realtively easily process to obtain a range of auction catalogues via the internet, and to then check the prices realized for those auctions to see what the actual results were.

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Comments (14)

Comments

Hi I have a 1930 penny and other penny's but I want to know how to see if the penny's are real I looked at what was rote down about seeing if it's real or not but I just don't know what to look for probably soo please help

- Anonymous

My father has a coin that the jewellers have described as amazing and not a forgery, however when he took it to dealers to get a valuation xray and slab etc they just said it would not be real...they did not even weigh it or look under microscope..The jewellers and auctioneers he took it to locally could not fault it and were amazed, hoping he would list it with them to sell, but recommended valuation certificate first...I have copies of the photos if you are interested in valuing and possibly finding buyers for him...I think the guys in Melbourne are missing out on the sale of one of the super rare London mint coins which is in superb condition..

- Belinda

The best way of having your coins authenticated and appraised is to take them to a dealer, preferably one that has traded in coins of this calibre regularly.

Although some of this work can be done by viewing digital images, decisions regarding sale etc should only be made once the coins have been personally viewed by an expert in the field.

There are a number of options regarding resale - you can sell them via auction, you can sell them directly to a collector or to a dealer, or you can sell them on consignment via a dealer. The best option can really only be determined by having an understanding of the coins concerned, and your own circumstances.

We are able to perform an independent appraisal of your collection, and also provide recommendations regarding resale options if you like. Please contact us via email if you would like more information.

- andrew

I have recently inherited a very extensive coin collection in a magnificent collector book, and there are three 1930 One Penny coins. How do I get them valued and if originals, how do we sell them.

- Anonymous

I have a 1930 australian penny, with which has been hard to get valuated. In saying this I have coin dealers who think I'm stupid enough to believe it has no chance of being real when they try harassing me to sell for $209, I have even been verbally abused and told I am a bad person because of my refusal to these offers when all I simply asked for was an apprasal of the coins value. I do intend to sell the coin, but I am not willing to do so until I am certain of its estimated value. Otherwise I would only be risking making a mistake and losing money that my family really does need. I really hope anyone else in a situation like mine will be cautious and research as I have been doing as where I live there is someone taking advantage of those in financial need, that have no idea on coins and that are elderly pensioners.

- Katie

Hi,

I would gladly assist you in selling these. I know a number of private investors that have recently purchased some rare coins and would be happy to approach them on your behalf.

Do you have photo's of these coins?

- Bill

Hi,

When I was a little girl, a coin collector gave me one of his 1930 pennies (and as far as I can tell, it is authentic.) at the time, he said the coin was worth about $15 because it was an Australian penny and not American. I was wondering if this is accurate and if the value would've gone up at all?

- Sarah

my grandmother just pasted away and left me her coin collection in among other things, there is a few of these 1930 pennies that iv been told are rare, i know about as much of as i do woman (nothing at all) how much are they worth or where can i find out and who would i see about selling them, there is 7 1930 pennies

- Anonymous

i have read that some guy not too long ago rejected an offer of one million dollars for his 1930 penny

- Anonymous

While serving in the RAAF on exchange from the USAF, I began collecting Australian coins. Ended up with quite a collection which have been quietly sitting since 1962. I did buy a 1930 penny and I think mine is in pretty good condition. I was told that around 750 coins were issued to visitors to the mint that year. No formal production was intended.

- Anonymous

We have one of these coins which was in circuation..and know nothing about the value..

- Anonymous

The place to look in the above article for information on the cause of the rarity of this coin is here:

"One of the more considered opinions on the mintage of the 1930 penny comes from Mr John Sharples, Numismatic Curator at the Museum of Victoria. In his “interim report” to the NAA, he states: “... the place to look for penny production would seem to be shortly after August 13th. Probably a pair of dies were set and brought up to pressure and then permitted to run under normal working conditions for a time as a test. A second small run might then be sought in September to test one of the new obverse dies issued from the workshop on August 29th. Finally, at the end of the year, specimen (or proof) coins were struck for the Melbourne, Adelaide and British Museum collections.”“... it would appear that after the two short test runs in August / September .... they were put into storage in anticipation for an order.”

- andrew

I am now really curious. How did this particular year's penny become so rare? I read the paragraph above about the dies - most interesting. Wondering if somebody in the know would do me the courtesy of emailing me a short paragraph outlining why this coin became so hard to find?

- Jon

Its good to see you are doing the research and making it available to collectors and Dealers alike. With the grading list in such detail, I will now dig up my 30's penny and make sure I'm not one of those suckers... although having bought from a high class dealer I'm sure everything is very fine. Les

- Anonymous