Coin Curiosity

Exploring Old and New Coins of the British Commonwealth

Australian Small and Tiny SD 5c

Posted on 11 May 2018

The reverse of the Australian 5c piece has changed in subtle ways on multiple occasions since its introduction in 1966. The exact reason for most of these changes has never been stated but it is likely the changes were in pursuit of improved die life.

One such change was first detected on a small number of 5c pieces in 2007 - the position of the echidna had changed slightly, as had the size of the designer's initials (SD) under the echidna. On the older type reverse there was a noticeable gap between the top of the echidna and the rim and the initials SD had curved tops and bottoms; on the newer type reverse the gap between the top of the echidna and the rim was much smaller and the initials SD had flatter tops and bottoms and were also smaller in general.

Examination of 5c pieces dated 2007 and onwards showed that the small SD/low echinda type was being replaced by the new tiny SD/high echinda type: clearly the Royal Australian Mint had a large supply of 5c reverse dies though as the old design has been used from 2007 up to and including 2016. With the exception of 2007 the new design has been used to produce the majority of 5c pieces, suggesting that the initial change occurred late in 2007.

Survey by author of variety break-downs from circulation
YearLow EchidnaHigh EchidnaNumber searched
200789.85%10.15%266
20080100%588
200911.76%88.24%357
201021.65%78.35%351
20110%100%282
20120.43%99.57%695
20130%100%600
201413.18%86.82%622
20150%100%220
2016 (plain)0%100%232

While no small SD/low echinda coins are known in circulation for 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015 or 2016, they are known to exist in various mint-produced sets for those years. Of them, the 2011 seems to be the least common small SD/low echinda year in sets. The 2012 small SD/low echinda is also widely-thought to be a non-circulating coin but it has been detected in circulation in small quantities by the author.

It is likely that the anomalous 2014 small SD/low echinda is the last circulating example as, until it appeared, the variety's use on circulation coins had been rapidly decreasing and it has not appeared in circulation since.


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