Coin Curiosity

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1862 Penny

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In 1862 both the Royal Mint and James Watt continued to strike British pennies as part of the replacement of the old copper pence with smaller and lighter bronze pence. As in 1860 and 1861, a lot of the production was outsourced, with James Watt striking the vast majority of 1862-dated pennies (p38, Gouby, The British Bronze Coinage Pence, Halfpence & Farthings, 1860 - 1869, 2006).

1862 British penny production
MintMintage
Royal Mint1,827,840
James Watt48,706,560

No mintmarks or distinguishing marks were used by James Watt, so their coins are indistinguishable from those struck by the Royal Mint. Multiple different obverse dies were used to strike 1862-dated pennies however, and Michael Gouby's research suggests that while obverse 6 was used by both mints, only the Royal Mint used obverses 2 and 3, with the older dies likely being put to use after being returned from the Heaton Mint which struck pennies in 1860 and 1861 (p55, Gouby, The British Bronze Coinage Pence, Halfpence & Farthings, 1860 - 1869, 2006).

1862 British penny obverse dies
DieDescription
Obverse 2L.C. WYON under bust; D of F:D: points between teeth
Obverse 3L.C. WYON under bust; D of F:D: points at tooth
Obverse 6No L.C. WYON under bust

Obverse 2 and 3 coins are both very rare - Freeman's survey found no obverse 3 coins at all, and Gouby recorded seven known obverse 2 coins and three known obverse 3 coins (p55, Gouby, The British Bronze Coinage Pence, Halfpence & Farthings, 1860 - 1869, 2006).

A small number of 1862-dated pennies were also struck with a reverse die that was created using a halfpenny numeral punch. The halfpenny date 1862 pennies were only struck with obverse 6 and are also rare.


1918 Fifteen rupees

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Throughout the period of India's uniform coinage, a number of 15 rupee coins were struck. While not struck in every year, they were struck from 1862 through to 1891 and bore the denomination ONE MOHUR (equivalent to 15 rupees). The 15 rupee coins struck through the reign of Queen Victoria were generally low mintage coins suggesting that they did not see wide circulation or usage.

1918 15 rupees reverse
1918 15 rupees reverse

In 1918 15 rupee coins were struck again, though this time with the denomination 15 RUPEES, and also having been reduced in size to match the dimensions of the British sovereign. The 1918 15 rupees was struck at the Bombay Mint and 2,110,000 were struck. While a much higher number were struck, it is again unlikely that they saw significant circulation or usage as gold coins had been removed from circulation in most countries during World War I.

1918 15 rupees obverse
1918 15 rupees obverse

A small but unknown number of proofs were struck in the early 1960s when the Bombay Mint began re-striking historical coins using original dies.

Images provided by Museum Victoria under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International


Australian Next Generation $20 note

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Following on from the New Note Series $20 note introduced in 1994, the Reserve Bank of Australia introduced the Next Generation $20 note on October 9th, 2019 (Reserve Bank of Australia, https://www.rba.gov.au/media-releases/2020/mr-20-21.html). New notes were available from commercial bank branches on the day of launch. While the New Note Series $20 note was released following the New Note Series $10 note, the Next Generation $20 was was released following the Next Generation $50 note.

During production of the 2019-dated Next Generation $20 notes, Peter Gaetjens replaced John Fraser as the Secretary to the Treasury, who had resigned in 2018. As a result, the 2019-dated Next Generation $20 notes bear the signatures of both men. It is unclear why note printing skipped numbers 0189259 - 0200004 during the transition.

As with the New Note Series $20 notes, the Next Generation $20 notes depict Mary Reiby on the obverse and Reverend John Flynn on the reverse. The serial number prefixes are as per the New Note Series as well, with the second prefix letter running from A to M and the digits being the last two digits of the year the note was printed. The signatures are of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Secretary to the Treasury.

Next Generation $20 prefixes and serial numbers
First and Last PrefixesSerial numbersNumber printedSignatories
AA 19 - EA 190000001 - 018925810,030,674Lowe/Fraser
AA 19 - EA 190200005 - 3470047173,312,226Lowe/Gaetjens

Prefixes and serial numbers are provided by the Reserve Bank of Australia.


1860 British Farthings

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Bronze farthings were first struck in Great Britain in 1860, and while there were fewer problems with the new alloy than were experienced with the higher-denomination bronze coinage, there were still a number of iterations on the new obverse and reverse designs. There were three obverse and two reverse design used to strike circulating 1860 farthings.

1860 British farthing dies
DieDescription
Obverse 1Beaded border, five berries in wreath
Obverse 2Toothed border, four berries in wreath
Obverse 3Toothed border, five berries in wreath
Reverse ABeaded border
Reverse BToothed border
1860 farthing reverse A
1860 farthing reverse A
1860 farthing reverse B
1860 farthing reverse B

Although there were three obverse and two reverse dies, not all dies were paired with each other - the beaded border dies were phased out early on as the toothed border resulted in longer die life and hence higher output per die.

1860 British farthing die pairings
Die pairingNotesReference
1+ACommonFreeman 496
2+ARare - toothed/beaded border muleFreeman 498
3+AVery Rare - toothed/beaded border mule
2+BCommonFreeman 499
3+BCommonFreeman 501
1860 farthing obverse 2
1860 farthing obverse 2
1860 farthing obverse 3
1860 farthing obverse 3

Most of the 1860 farthing varieties are easy enough to obtain - while rare, the 2+A toothed/beaded border mule is not impossible to obtain, with Freeman estimating there are 16-50 extant examples (p121, Freeman, The Bronze Coinage of Great Britain (1860-1970), 2016), though the true number is probably a little higher as more examples would have been discovered since Freeman's book was first published in 1970. The 3+A toothed/beaded border mule is a very rare coin however, so rare that Freeman did not record its existence at all. An example was sold in the Oxford Collection by Colin Cooke in 2008 as lot 140, which had previously been sold in Croydon Auctions in 2005. When the Mangahas Collection was sold by Spink in 1990 it was then one of two known 1860 3+A farthing mules (Cooke, https://www.colincooke.com/collections/oxford_vicbunhead.html).

Read about more farthing varieties in the book Varieties of British Bronze Farthings 1860-1956.

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


Australian Next Generation $100 note

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Following on from the New Note Series $100 note introduced in 1996, the Reserve Bank of Australia introduced the Next Generation $100 note on October 29th, 2020 (Reserve Bank of Australia, https://www.rba.gov.au/media-releases/2020/mr-20-21.html). Unlike the launch of the smaller denominations, the Next Generation $100 notes were not pushed out to commercial banks to be available on launch day. Although the launch was in 2020, notes had been printed in 2019 and 2020 and notes bearing both dates were released in 2020.

As with the New Note Series $100 notes, the Next Generation $100 notes depict Dame Nellie Melba on the obverse and Sir John Monash on the reverse. The serial number prefixes are as per the New Note Series as well, with the second prefix letter running from A to M and the digits being the last two digits of the year the note was printed. The signatures are of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Secretary to the Treasury.

Next Generation $100 prefixes and serial numbers
First and Last PrefixesSerial numbersNumber printedSignatories
AA 19 - EA 190000001 - 01881159,972,215Lowe/Gaetjens
AA 20 -Not yet releasedLowe/Kennedy

Prefixes and serial numbers are provided by the Reserve Bank of Australia.