Australia 1921 Pattern Kookaburra Penny PCGS SP53
Type 12: - 98% Nickel / 2% Tin. 4.22g.
Obverse: Effigy by Bertram MacKennal within a circular legend that reads GEORGIVS V D.G. BRITT: OMN: REX.
Date (1921) below with a dot (_½) each side of it.
Initials __BM_Ô appear in the truncation of the bust.
Reverse: The bird looks like a kookaburra and is on a shorter and thicker branch.
The word __AUSTRALIA_Ô appears in slightly smaller letters and is less curved.
The words __ONE PENNY_Ô, while still on one line, are also slightly smaller.
Great eye appeal, solid value for money.
The pattern Kookaburra pennies were to be the forerunners of a smaller and more cost-effective national coinage, and are believed to have been the brainchild of the Commonwealth Treasurer at the time of World War I, Mr William Alexander Watt.
This move to an improved circulating coinage obviously did not succeed, and as a result, the very few Kookaburra patterns that remain in existence today are highly prized by collectors & historians.
Far smaller than the equivalent denominations already in circulation at the time, the patterns were made of a range of alloys that were lighter and intended to be far less susceptible to wear.
Various combinations of nickel, copper & nickel, tin & copper were used, and due to the light tone these alloys had, the proposed Kookaburra patterns were to be square in shape, to avoid confusion with the sixpence and threepences already in circulation.
Although this was clearly an unusual step, this innovation was not without precedent within the British Commonwealth.
The Royal Mint began producing square five-cent pieces in copper nickel for Ceylon in 1909 - these coins had roughly the same diameter as the intended Australian patterns, and continued to be struck (in one form or another) until the 1970_Ôs.
Resistance to Innovation
Watt encountered resistance to his Kookaburra patterns even while they were at the design & production stages.
More than one respected numismatic text records controversy over the selection of a __bare_� portrait of King George V, while records indicate the harder alloys presented difficulties to staff striking the coins.
Furthermore, the (imported) nickel cost more than the metals available locally.
Despite the apparent controversy over his portrait, the King approved the uncrowned likeness and by February of 1921, the Royal Mint had prepared and dispatched master dies to Melbourne.
The next phase of development was testing how the patterns would fare in circulation, and vending machine operators were quick to demonstrate how the Kookaburras jammed their machinery.
Given the obstacles the new alloys & shape presented, the prospects of Watt_Ôs revolutionary idea becoming reality darkened considerably.
A Talented, Forceful and Eloquent Protege
William Alexander Watt is described as being__a talented, forceful, eloquent_� prot_¸g_¸ of Australia_Ôs second Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin.
Watt became Commonwealth Treasurer in 1918 and while Prime Minister W.M. (Billy) Hughes was in Britain during 1918 and 1919 for the peace negotiations following the end of World War I, Watt was also Acting Prime Minister of Australia.
After a series of disputes with Prime Minister Hughes (apparently relating to his portfolio responsibilities), Watt resigned in June 1920, while on a financial mission to London. Watt was then appointed as a Privy Councillor in 1920, and retired from politics altogether in 1927.
Watt was succeeded in the Commonwealth Treasurer_Ôs role by Joseph Cook, whose biographers describe him as being dour; solemn; aloof and humourless,__a man that continually changed his political views and overturned his earlier principles and allegiances._�
Presumably given the nature of the other, more serious challenges facing the Commonwealth Treasury at the time, Cook apparently showed little interest in continuing Watt_Ôs radical project for Australia_Ôs coinage, and consequently the Treasury did not institute the Government regulations required to authorize the Mint to proceed.
The exact number of Kookaburra patterns that remain in existence is not known - Royal Mint records from the period do not indicate exactly how many were produced, and so numismatists are left to jump at the few that do become available.
Despite the numerical grade attributed to it, the example we offer here remains in excellent condition __ it has intact rims, original surfaces and a pleasing eye appeal.
We believe the price of this coin is right, and offers excellent value for the type collector.
Click the PCGS icon below to verify the certificate details for this coin directly on the PCGS website.
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