Downies News

Downies pays homage to Elton John with The Royal Mint's Limited Edition Coins

Fans of Sir Elton John may still be reeling from his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour and retirement announcement.

But some relief may be found in The Royal Mint’s announcement to produce a series of coins that pay tribute to his legacy.

In his time, Elton John has made more than 4,000 performances and sold over 300 million records worldwide. Producing an incredible number of hit singles, Elton is undoubtedly one of the world’s truly great music superstars.

The legal tender coins come in 99.9% pure gold, silver and non-precious metal and feature his iconic glasses and straw boater hat on the reverse side.

Sir Elton is pleased to have his contribution to the music industry recognised this way. "The last few years have contained some of the most memorable moments of my career, and this is another truly humbling milestone on my journey", he said.

Downies has secured a small allocation of the collection as an official distributor for the Royal Mint, so get in quick and secure yours today! 

Shop the Elton John 2020 Range Today

Brought back to Australia by Downies

Recently reappearing on the market, having been brought back to Australia by Downies after held for decades in a European collection, the 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal is a crucial piece of early Australiana. One of Australia’s earliest works of medallic art, with a quite remarkable history, this gigantic 73mm silver medal is also a truly great Australian rarity.

The man behind the medal – Laurence Halloran

Orphaned at a young age, Halloran joined the Royal Navy in 1780, but deserted two and a half years later after brutally stabbing another sailor to death with a sword. He was acquitted of the charge of murder at the Exeter Assizes in 1783, and then, somewhat perversely, turned his hand to the role of educator. As it happens, he successfully ran private schools for more than a decade thereafter, before his school at Alphington, near Exeter, was closed due to insolvency. It would not be the first time that Halloran would experience serious financial difficulties.

Posing as a chaplain, which was another intriguing theme underpinning his life, Halloran rejoined the Royal Navy in 1798, serving as secretary to Lord Northesk, third in command under Admiral Horatio Nelson. Halloran was present at the famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, serving upon the Britannia during Nelson’s famous victory against the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. He then set off for South Africa, being appointed chaplain to the military forces at the Cape of Good Hope. Although this new endeavour started well, he fell out with the commander of the colonial military. Resigning his commission in protest, the end of his African sojourn came when he was heavily fined and banished from the colony for defamatory libel, following the publication of a satire on ‘South African Characteristics’.

Halloran found life difficult when he returned to England from South Africa, and struggled to find employment. As a result, he turned to forging official documents in a bid to continue his bogus career as a chaplain. Having been found in possession of ‘copper plate for making impressions of Deacons’ and Priests’ orders’, he was convicted of forgery, and sentenced to seven years penal servitude in the colony of New South Wales.

Friends in high places: Halloran in Australia

Arriving in Sydney upon the transport Baring in June 1819, Halloran discovered that an old friend from South Africa, John Thomas Campbell, was the Vice-Regal Secretary. Exploiting the connection, Halloran had Campbell recommend him to Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who almost immediately issued Halloran a ‘ticket of leave’. It was also Macquarie who played a key role in helping Halloran, in 1819, establish a school – known at the time as ‘Dr Halloran’s Establishment’.

The forefather of Sydney Grammar School, today one of Australia’s leading private schools, Halloran’s establishment was very successful. Indeed, Governor Macquarie stated at the time that Halloran was ‘the best and most admired instructor of youth in the Colony’. Alas, Halloran’s unrelenting penchant for writing libellous material saw him constantly in trouble with the law. This led to financial problems, and although he moved the premises of the school frequently, in an attempt to avoid his creditors, Halloran was jailed for debt several times in the 1820s. Governor Darling appointed Halloran as Sydney coroner in 1828, but, true to form, he lost his position after threatening to publish defamatory material about the Sydney archdeacon!

The birth of the Silver Medal

Whilst headmaster of the school, Halloran had prize medals created from 1819 until at least 1826. From the first year of issue, the 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal was awarded to Robert Campbell – a man who was ultimately active in politics, and part of the successful drive to end convict transportation. Recognised as one of Australia’s earliest examples of medallic art, the medal was the work of Samuel Clayton – another remarkable figure in this amazing tale of early Australia!

Like Halloran, Clayton was both born in Ireland and transported to the colony as a convicted forger. To the surprise of his peers in Dublin, where he was a highly respected citizen, an admired engraver and an upstanding Freemason, Clayton was sentenced to seven years penal servitude for producing counterfeit revenue stamps in a large-scale fraud operation. Arriving in Sydney in December 1816, he was given a conditional pardon in January 1818, and set about establishing a career as a painter and engraver.

Even before he was officially pardoned, Clayton had carved his name into Australian history by creating the printing plates for Australia’s first banknotes – issued by Australia’s first bank, the Bank of New South Wales, in 1817. Interestingly, he was also the founder of the first regular Freemason lodge in the colony, and is therefore known as Australia’s ‘Father of Freemasonry’!

Known as the finest silversmith in the colony in the years after his arrival from Ireland, he also created the prize medals for Laurence Halloran’s school. As you will see from the image above, ‘S. Clayton’ is emblazoned upon the imposing 73mm diameter flan of the 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal awarded to Robert Campbell.

Underpinned by such a remarkable history, combined with both breathtaking rarity, immense beauty and the connection with one of Australia’s most prestigious schools, the 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal is a crucial artefact from the earliest days of modern Australia.

The 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal is featured in Downies' Rarities catalogue! For more images of the medal, click here to view it on our website. 

The image of Laurence Hynes Halloran above is courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales ML 1057 from a painting by Augustus Earle, c. 1825.

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Downies Southgate will be having a SALE – up to 70% off!

If you’re headed into Melbourne on the 21st of February, be sure to swing past the Downies Southgate store and see all the amazing specials we have in-store. Get up to 70% off selected stock – in store only, and only this weekend!

Come and see the friendly team at the Melbourne store, upstairs in the Southgate shopping arcade. Stockists of official Royal Australian Mint releases, Perth Mint products, the best from World Money Fair and lots more! Let us help you find exactly what you’re looking for!


Shop U04 Southgate
3 Southgate Avenue
Southbank, VIC, 3006

  1. Phone (03) 9686 8411
  2. Fax +61 (0) 3 8456 8401
  3. Email

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Digital Marketing Assistant (Campaigns)

What's it about?

Reporting to the Sales and Marketing Director, this position will be a pivotal component in supporting a passionate and highly creative digital marketing team.  You will be developing and delivering marketing campaigns and activities using our online platforms to help drive sales performance success across the team and organisation.

>>Click here to see the full job posting and apply on

Qantas Coins Coming Soon!

Australian coin collecting is set to soar to great heights with an exciting, upcoming collaboration between the Royal Australian Mint and Qantas!

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New Gruffalo Coins Coming Soon

Celebrating 20 years of the famous children’s book, two more Gruffalo coins are about to take the Australian coin collecting world by storm.


He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws,

And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.

He’s the Gruffalo!

-  Julia Donaldson, The Gruffalo

In 1999, a children’s book was released that would captivate the hearts and imaginations of kids across the globe. British author, teacher, singer and songwriter Julia Donaldson had struck gold with The Gruffalo, her charming tale of a canny mouse evading danger in the woods.

Adapted from a Chinese folk tale, the premise was simple.

Afraid of being eaten by the many sinister creatures asking him to dinner, a mouse invents an even greater foe: the gruffalo. His plan works, deterring his would-be attackers … Until he actually encounters a gruffalo, that is! Now what will he do?

The Gruffalo – a storybook phenomenon

Paired with delightful illustrations by Axel Scheffler, the story was an instant smash-hit. It spawned a follow-up in The Gruffalo’s Child, multiple stage plays, a film, toys and even a theme park ride. And this year, thanks to the Royal Mint, this whimsical tale has received more tributes: in cupro-nickel and precious sterling silver.

Initially released in February this year, a first wave of coins featured the Gruffalo’s iconic face. The Gruffalo proof coin, struck from sterling silver, sold out within hours of release. Demand was fierce, with children and collectors alike eager to get their hands on these beautiful British coins. And now, fans’ hearts are about to skip a beat: there’s a new design on the way.

The new Gruffalo coin

The mouse and the gruffalo face off against one another in this captivating scene, straight from the pages of the book. It has been captured in vivid full-colour on the silver Proof version, while the Brilliant Uncirculated coin showcases the Royal Mint’s superb minting standards.

The coins will be available for order later this month, so stay tuned for more information!

But for now, if you walk in the woods, best to be careful, just in case.  There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo …as far as we know.

Want to add the newest Gruffalo coins to your collection? Keep an eye on Downies’ Gruffalo range for updates!


Ford GT Legend Reborn!

With the arrival of the Ford Falcon XR in 1966, Ford Australia created a legend with the introduction of the GT nameplate to the Falcon range. From the XR model through to XB, the GT line emerged as the high-performance model from the Falcon range and the “Aussie Muscle Car” was born. 

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