Coin Curiosity

Exploring Old and New Coins of the British Commonwealth

2014 New Delhi Half Sovereign

Posted on 30 June 2020

In 2013 the Royal Mint partnered with MMTC PAMP to produce bullion sovereigns for the Indian market. The sovereigns were of identical design to the British sovereign and like the 1918 Bombay sovereigns, they bore an I mintmark above the date. They were struck at Rojka-Meo Industrial Estate in Mewat, Haryana, India. The success of this partnership in producing and selling 2013I sovereigns resulted in further sovereigns being struck in 2014, as well as half sovereigns for the first time.

There were 62,000 2014I half sovereigns struck and they were sold in red cards like the sovereigns. While production of bullion sovereigns has continued in India, the production of bullion half sovereigns has not, with 2014 currently being the only year in which they were produced. It is unclear why but likely the greater popularity of the sovereign (seen in the comparative mintages of British bullion sovereigns and half sovereigns) did not work in its favour.


1981 Australian 20c piece

Posted on 22 June 2020

In 1981 the production of Australian 20c piece was performed by three mints - the Royal Australian Mint, the Royal Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint. The Royal Australian Mint had exclusively produced 20c pieces since 1967 but industrial action at the time resulted in the outsourcing of some coin production. Unfortunately, the outsourced coins did not get struck with mint-marks making it difficult to distinguish where exactly a coin was produced.

The Royal Australian Mint coins are no different to coins produced in other years like 1980 or 1982, and are also the most numerous, with 65,500,000 coins produced.

Royal Australian Mint 1981 20c reverse
Royal Australian Mint 1981 20c reverse
Royal Australian Mint 1981 20c obverse
Royal Australian Mint 1981 20c obverse

The Royal Mint coins are difficult to distinguish but on the reverse the platypus' nostrils are shallower and the first and second claws (closest to the platypus) beneath the 2 are somewhat shortened (p28-29, Bedogni and Roberts, The Reverse Dies of the 1981 20c piece in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, August 2006). On the obverse the the Queen's eyebrows are less defined too (p61, Bedogni and Roberts, Differentiating the Dies of the Australian 20c Piece in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, May 2006).

The Royal Canadian Mints are somewhat easier to distinguish - on the reverse the first claw (closest to the platypus) under the 2 is half missing (the so-called 3.5 claws) (p28, Bedogni and Roberts, The Reverse Dies of the 1981 20c piece in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, August 2006) and on the obverse the legend is closer to the rim than the RAM coins (p61, Bedogni and Roberts, Differentiating the Dies of the Australian 20c Piece in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, May 2006) and the legend also exhibits fish-tailing whereas RAM coins have flat-based letters. The Royal Canadian Mint coins also have more brilliant surfaces.

Images provided by Museum Victoria under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International


2014 Mob of Roos Dollar

Posted on 22 June 2020

The 2014 Mob of Roos dollar was a reasonably low mintage coin, while the other circulating dollar for 2014 - the ANZAC dollar - was reasonably common with a mintage of 22,300,000 coins. Although the 2014-2015 Royal Australian Mint Annual Report stated that 5.2 million Mob of Roos dollar coins were produced, it was only 52,000 coins that were produced in that financial year (https://www.ramint.gov.au/news-media/news/2014-15-annual-report-correction). According to https://www.ramint.gov.au/one-dollar 1,052,000 coins were produced in total, though it is unclear when the other 1,000,000 were produced as there is no record of them in the 2013-2014 or 2015-2016 annual reports. The cards for 2014 counter-stamped dollars also advise a mintage of "approximately one million". The mintage of 1,052,000 is likely right though as while they are uncommon in circulation, they are not excessively rare.

Rolls of 2014 Mob of Roos dollars were also produced internally by the Royal Australian Mint after some years of not issuing any rolls of circulating coins: the rolls were made available to dealers only. It is also unclear how many coins were issued in rolls as no entry exists in any annual report for the rolled coins. Probably the rolled coins were taken from the mintage of circulation coins.


Australian Veiled Head Sovereign Varieties 1893-1901

Posted on 27 April 2020

In a relatively recent discovery it was found that Australia's Veiled Head sovereigns were struck using two different obverse dies. The first obverse (generally referred to as a type 1) has the A of VICTORIA pointing at a rim denticle and the second obverse (generally referred to as type 2) has the A of VICTORIA pointing between rim denticles.

Type 1 Veiled Head Sovereign Obverse
Type 1 Veiled Head Sovereign Obverse
Type 2 Veiled Head Sovereign Obverse
Type 2 Veiled Head Sovereign Obverse

It remains unclear why a second obverse was created but obverse varieties exist in many other British coins of the same era so it is likely due to some design improvement in 1893 or 1894 - likely a change to improve die life.

Known Veiled Head sovereign varieties
YearMintageType 1Type 2
1893S1,346,000YesNo
1893M1,914,000YesNo
1894S3,067,000YesYes
1894M4,166,874NoYes
1895S2,758,000YesYes
1895M4,165,869NoYes
1896S2,544,000YesYes
1896M4,456,932YesYes
1897S2,532,000YesYes
1897M5,130,565YesYes
1898S2,458,000NoYes
1898M5,509,138NoYes
1899S3,259,000NoYes
1899M5,579,157NoYes
1899P690,992NoYes
1900S3,586,000NoYes
1900M4,305,904NoYes
1900P1,866,089NoYes
1901S3,012,000NoYes
1901M3,987,701NoYes
1901P2,889,333NoYes

The true mintage breakdowns will probably never be known but mintages were relatively high and many examples survive: Briggs' research found that for 1894S sovereigns the breakdown is 14% type 1/86% type 2; for 1895S sovereigns the breakdown is 23% type 1/77% type 2; for 1896S sovereigns the breakdown is 0% type 1/100% type 2 (though type 1 coins do exist); for 1896M sovereigns the breakdown is 15% type 1/85% type 2; for 1897S sovereigns the breakdown is 39% type 1/61% type 2 and for 1897M sovereigns the breakdown is 14% type 1/86% type 2 (the author's research shows the type 1 is around 30%) (p21, Briggs, Imperial Australian Sovereigns 1893-1901 Old or Veiled Head Major Update in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, April 2020). No usage of type 1 is known in 1898 or beyond.

Images provided by Museum Victoria and Museum Victoria under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International


1920 Dot Over Top Scroll Penny

Posted on 04 April 2020

There are seven known varieties of the 1920 Australian penny, and while the mintages of the different varieties are not known, the dot over top scroll or dot above top scroll variety is probably the second rarest. In a survey of 1,000 1920-dated pennies by Briggs there were 12 (p124, Briggs, Australian Copper (Bronze) Coins 1911 - 1964, 2013) suggesting they are 1.2% of the total mintage, while in another survey by an unknown collector of 1,490 1920-dated pennies there were 5 (Hoard of Predecimal Halfpennies & Pennies, copper.html, 2010) suggesting they are 0.33% of the total mintage. Research indicates that the the dot over top scroll pennies were most likely struck by the Melbourne Mint (p19, Effendi & Lever, The 1920 Penny Revisited (Part Four) The Enigmatic Double Dot and Dot Over Top 1920 Pennies in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, March 2014). With the Melbourne Mint striking 7,018,800 pennies in 1920 the mintage can be estimated as somewhere between 23,000 and 84,000 coins. Andrews suggests a figure of around 20,000 (Andrews, http://thesandpit.net/index.php?option=1920dat_penny).

1920 dot over top scroll penny reverse
1920 dot over top scroll penny reverse
1920 dot over top scroll penny obverse
1920 dot over top scroll penny obverse

Correctly identifying a 1920 dot over top scroll penny can be difficult as it can easily be confused with a 1920 double dot penny. Andrews and Effendi & Lever agree on a number of diagnostics: double dot coins all have a horizontal bar above the W in COMMONWEALTH on the reverse while dot over top scroll coins do not; double dot coins have a very obvious top dot while dot over top scroll coins have a shallow top dor; and some but not all dot over top scroll coins have a small horizontal bar on the right of the last A in AUSTRALIA on the reverse, between the bar and the bottom serif (which can just be seen in the above images).

Images provided by Museum Victoria under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International