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Downies Presents The Royal Australian Mint's Master Collection

An auction unlike any other in Australian history, Downies is delighted to present the Royal Australian Mint’s Master Collection – an assembly of ‘production standard master’ coins used to ensure the highest possible quality in the creation of Australia’s decimal coinage.

Royal Australian Mint Master Collection Catalogue

Uniquely Australian and never offered before!

The Royal Australian Mint holds just a single example of every issued Australian circulating and collector coin type as a production standard master coin. Each master coin is not included in the official mintage figure and has never previously been offered for public or private sale. With over 1,100 Royal Australian Mint master coins on offer, our next auction represents an outstanding opportunity for collectors to secure an important piece of the RAM’s proud 50-year history.

What makes these coins so special?

Two samples are selected from the first batch of coins struck. One of those samples is then selected as the quality standard and stored at the Mint’s quality control area. This coin is marked in red to identify them as the quality standard. The other coin is used by the Mint’s production team on the factory floor in order to check the quality of a sample taken from each subsequent batch of coins struck. After 5 years the coin used by the production team is destroyed, leaving only the coin stored in the quality control. This is therefore the only legal tender coin from a particular strike to not be included in the overall mintage figures, making it unique and of specific significance.

Updated Auction dates – Tuesday May 26 - Thursday May 28

To accommodate this unprecedented offering from the Royal Australian Mint, we have moved our next Downies Australian Coin Auctions sale to May 26 to 28 – to be held at the Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne’s east. Viewing of the auction will take place at Downies Head Office in Mitcham for 5 days from May 20. Visit our Contact Us Page for location details.

The Royal Australian Mint's Master Collection Catalogue

You can view the complete list of items from the Master Collection at our Auction 319A Page, where you will find downloadable PDFs of the catalogue itself, as well as a website version that includes pictures of every coin offered in the Master Collection.

Downies Presents The Royal Australian Mint's Master Collection

An auction unlike any other in Australian history, Downies is delighted to present the Royal Australian Mint’s Master Collection – an assembly of ‘production standard master’ coins used to ensure the highest possible quality in the creation of Australia’s decimal coinage.

Royal Australian Mint Master Collection Catalogue

Uniquely Australian and never offered before!

The Royal Australian Mint holds just a single example of every issued Australian circulating and collector coin type as a production standard master coin. Each master coin is not included in the official mintage figure and has never previously been offered for public or private sale. With over 1,100 Royal Australian Mint master coins on offer, our next auction represents an outstanding opportunity for collectors to secure an important piece of the RAM’s proud 50-year history.

What makes these coins so special?

Two samples are selected from the first batch of coins struck. One of those samples is then selected as the quality standard and stored at the Mint’s quality control area. This coin is marked in red to identify them as the quality standard. The other coin is used by the Mint’s production team on the factory floor in order to check the quality of a sample taken from each subsequent batch of coins struck. After 5 years the coin used by the production team is destroyed, leaving only the coin stored in the quality control. This is therefore the only legal tender coin from a particular strike to not be included in the overall mintage figures, making it unique and of specific significance.

Updated Auction dates – Tuesday May 26 - Thursday May 28

To accommodate this unprecedented offering from the Royal Australian Mint, we have moved our next Downies Australian Coin Auctions sale to May 26 to 28 – to be held at the Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne’s east. Viewing of the auction will take place at Downies Head Office in Mitcham for 5 days from May 20. Visit our Contact Us Page for location details.

The Royal Australian Mint's Master Collection Catalogue

You can view the complete list of items from the Master Collection at our Auction 319A Page, where you will find downloadable PDFs of the catalogue itself, as well as a website version that includes pictures of every coin offered in the Master Collection.

The 2015 $1 Colour Poppy Coin is coming to Downies!

We are pleased to announce that the limited edition 2015 $1 WWI War Heroes Colour Coin featuring the red poppy motif is now available to order from Downies!

2015Red1Dollar

This official Australian legal tender coin was originally part of a promotion that saw fourteen 20 cent coins made available to the general public through newsagents over a two week period. The colour $1 coin was initially released exclusively to News Corp subscribers, and we were therefore surprised to learn that we would be soon receiving an allocation of the coin from the Royal Australian Mint. Thus, we are now able to pre-offer this exclusive $1 coin to the broader Australian collecting public.

This spectacular $1 coin features a poppy field design with a large central poppy motif rendered in an eye-catching red hue. At the top is the inscription ‘WWI – War Heroes’, while at the bottom is the coin denomination of ‘1 Dollar’. On the obverse side is the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Ian Rank-Broadley. Like regular one dollar coins struck by the Royal Australian Mint, the War Heroes coin is made from Aluminium-Bronze and measures 25mm in diameter. Unlike other dollar coins however, this colour release has been struck with a ‘frosted’ appearance, and only 13,500 coins have been minted for distribution worldwide.

12146packWhilst we have received confirmation of our allocation from the Royal Australian Mint, the nature of the News Corp promotion means that a fixed date for delivery of the coins from the RAM has not been confirmed at this stage. We are expecting, however, that delivery from the RAM will take place by early June. We will be sending an email notification to those who order this coin as soon as we receive a firm delivery date.

Opportunistic sellers cash in on Lest We Forget colour $2 coin

Shrewd sellers who managed to get their hands on the coloured $2 Lest We Forget coin are cleaning up on eBay as demand for the coin sends prices skyrocketing.

Within hours of the coin being unveiled on Sunday April 19 at a special event hosted by the Honorable Kelly O'Dwyer MP at the Stonnington Cricket Oval, listings on eBay began appearing, offering the coin for auction.

Perhaps fuelled by the enthusiasm of collectors and the general public alike to own one of these unique colour commemorative coins with a mintage of only 1.5 million - coupled with the knowledge that the Royal Australian Mint would not be offering an official Uncirculated version of the coin - auction prices for both individual coins and security bags are realising profits of between 1500%-4900% above the face value of the coins themselves. A veritable bonanza for the sellers but an excessive amount to pay for unwary buyers.

2dollarbagThis listing for a security bag of colour $2 coins is at $820 with 3 days to go*

It's unclear where these eBay sellers acquired their colour $2 coins for sale. Some speculate they work in banks or security firms that delivery currency to banks, while others believe they were just lucky to be amongst the first to find the coins in their change. Either way, they are finding a not-to-be-sniffed-at financial reward by listing them quickly on the online auction site, as impatient buyers clamber to be some of the first to own the new commemorative $2

The 2015 Lest We Forget colour $2 coin was issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. It is the 4th coin of colour to be issued into circulation after the 2012 $2 Red Poppy, the 2013 $2 Purple Coronation and the 2014 $2 Green Remembrance Day coins. The 2012 Red Poppy coin was distributed to the public through the RSL, while the other coins entered circulation via the Reserve Bank of Australia.

2dollarindThis coin sold for 4900% above its original face value

As more of these coins make it onto the secondary market the prices being reached on eBay will undoubtedly fall, so if you're looking for a more reasonably priced colour $2 we recommend being patient. eBay listings for the 2013 and 2014 colour $2 coins are still plentiful, 1-2 years after the coins were originally released, so there is no doubt the 2015 Lest We Forget coin will be popping up on eBay for years to come also.

Downies are currently looking to source these coins to offer as well, and if we are successful we will notify customers through our online newsletter, as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Otherwise, keep a close eye on your coinage because you never know when you might find one of these coin in your change. If you do find one feel free to post a photo of it here or on our Facebook page.

*prices listed at time of writing this article

New 2015 Colour Lest We Forget $2 Coin Design Revealed

The design for the new 2015 Lest We Forget colour $2 circulation coin has been revealed today at a special ANZAC Commemoration Ceremony held in Melbourne. The event was held at the Malvern Cricket Ground in Melbourne's inner east, hosted by the Honorable Kelly O'Dwyer MP (Federal Member for Higgins & Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) and Cr Melina Sehr, Mayor of City of Stonnington and featuring a number of other dignitaries.

DSC_4264

Scroll down to see more photos from the Anzac Ceremony, including the $2 Lest We Forget Colour Coin

Hundreds of people braved the temperamental Melbourne Autumn weather to attend the ceremony which stared with a march from Malvern Gardens, up High St and finished at the Malvern Cricket Ground. Around the grounds were tents for various local entities such as schools and businesses, as well as Kelly O'Dwyer's mobile office which had on display one of the $2 colour commemorative coins due to enter circulation from tomorrow.

2dollar

The coin features red stripes in a circular pattern in the middle, framing the words "Lest We Forget", with a design around the coin consisting of 5 crosses among a ring of poppies. In the bottom portion is the coin denomination of Two Dollars.

Unlike previous colour $2 coins issued into circulation, the 2015 Lest We Forget $2 coin will not be available to buy in Uncirculated condition through the Royal Australian Mint. Approximately 1.5 million coins will begin to be released into circulation by the Reserve Bank of Australia as of tomorrow, Monday April 20th, although it may take several days or even weeks for them to be fully released.

However much like previous colour $2 issues, there is little doubt that due to the poignant nature of the commemoration and sheer difference in design of these coins from the regular $2, people will hoard them away instead of spending them, making them quite hard to find in a short space of time. The same has happened with the 2014 $2 Remembrance Day Green Colour Coin, the 2013 $2 Coronation Purple Colour Coin and the 2012 $2 Poppy Red Colour Coin. The latter being distributed through the national RSL Red Poppy Appeal rather than through the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Canada is the only other country to have released colour coinage into circulation - and this is only the 4th Australian circulating coin to be issued in colour - making this a significant commemoration of the ANZAC Centenary as we approach the 100th anniversary of the battle at Gallipoli.

So keep your eye on your small change over the coming days and weeks and if you find one of these colour commemorative $2 coins be sure to post a picture below or on our Facebook Page.

More photos from the Anzac Ceremony

New 2015 Poppy Red Gallipoli $2 Coin Issued For Circulation

It has been announced that a newly designed $2 coin will be issued into circulation as of Monday, April 20, 2015. 2015Red2Dollars The surprise announcement was made on the 3AW radio station yesterday, when Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer was discussing the events to be held at Malvern Gardens as part of the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli commemorations.

Struck by the Royal Australian Mint, the coin will be unveiled at the Anzac Centenary March that kicks off at 11am on Sunday, April 19, 2015 at Malvern Gardens on the corner of High St & Park St, Malvern, Victoria.

This will be only the 4th coloured $2 coin issued in Australia, starting with the Red Poppy Remembrance Day $2 coin in 2012. In 2013 there was a Purple $2 issued to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2014, a Green $2 was released into circulation to honour Remembrance Day.

Collectors and the general public alike have delighted in finding and hoarding away these coloured coins over the last few years, and you would now be very lucky to find any of them in your change. The new 2015-dated Red Poppy $2 will undoubtedly be no different.

"It's an incredible design." Mrs O'Dwyer said. Going on to describe the coin as "Poppy red" with a design consisting of crosses and poppies. The Australian Government currency determination website describes the design of the coin as having the inscription 'LEST WE FORGET', with a series of red coloured stripes arranged in a repetitive circular pattern surrounding the central circle. The coin will also carry a representation of poppy flowers between 5 stylised representations of crosses, along with the coin denomination of TWO DOLLARS.

So, be sure to keep your eye out for this special new colour $2, and let us know when you find one!

100th Anniversary of the first AIF Convoy

Although April the 25th and November the 11th are perhaps better known, November the 1st is one of the most important dates in Australian history. It was on November the 1st 1914, exactly 100 years ago this Saturday, that Aussie soldiers began the long voyage from Australia to fight for King & Country in ‘the war to end all wars’.

Ships bunkering in Princess Royal Harbour. Ships bunkering in Princess Royal Harbour.
Source: historicalbany.com.au

The last piece of Australia seen by most of the original AIF volunteers as they set sail to war was Albany – the town on the Western Australian south coast from which the huge troop convoy embarked on the 1st of November 1914. For many of the men, it would be the last of Australia they would ever see. Viewed by many as the first chapter of the Anzac Story, and, indeed, the birthplace of the Anzac Spirit, Albany is once again the focus of national attention.

A guard of the 5th Battalion on board A3 HMAT Orvieto, 1914. A guard of the 5th Battalion on board A3 HMAT Orvieto, 1914. Source: anzaccentenary.vic.gov.au

The 100th anniversary of the departure of the first AIF convoy from King George Sound is naturally being honoured, with a wide range of commemorative events to be held in Albany this month. A Naval Ship Open Day; a community concert with the West Australia Symphony Orchestra; an historical light & sound show; Anzac projections & storytelling; musical & choral school performances – and much, much more.

Anzacs departing Albany in 1914 Anzacs departing Albany in 1914. Source: City of Albany

Indicative of the importance of this major anniversary, a wide range of commemorative coins have been launched, giving all Australians the opportunity to pay homage to those who served the nation with such distinction during the 1914-18 First World War.

Click here to see these stunning tributes.

The most famous mutiny in history: the mutiny on the Bounty

Known as the most famous mutiny in history, the Mutiny on the Bounty is a compelling tale of ambition, hedonism, betrayal, seamanship and tragedy – all set against the idyllic tropical backdrop of the South Pacific.

Setting out for Tahiti to procure breadfruit to replant in the West Indies as a food source for slaves, the HMS Bounty left Spithead in England in December 1787 – the year that the First Fleet set sail for Australia. Led by Lieutenant William Bligh – who would become Australia’s 4th Governor in 1806 – the difficult conditions meant that the voyage to Tahiti took 10 months, with the Bounty arriving in October 1788.

bounty-shipThe crew spent five months on the island, enjoying the generous hospitality of the Tahitians. This, combined with Bligh’s alleged harshness – with the flogging of miscreants becoming a regular occurrence on the island – meant that most of the crew did not wish to leave and endure the long, hazardous voyage back to England. The austere, severe life at sea was a far cry from the island paradise of Tahiti.

The Bounty left Tahiti on 5 April 1789, but three weeks later, Bligh was confronted by mutiny-leader Fletcher Christian and several other mutineers. Bligh and eighteen loyal crew were cut adrift in a 7-metre open boat and, somewhat incredibly, Bligh managed to traverse nearly 7,000km over 47 days to reach the East Indies without maps or a compass. Given he was without access to any tools and in a vessel completely unsuitable for the journey; Bligh’s success leading his men to safety is a genuine marvel, and testament to his skill as a navigator. The commander then returned to England, where the mutiny was reported to the Admiralty in March 1790, with the HMS Pandora dispatched to find and arrest the mutineers.

Of the twenty-four crew not cut adrift with Bligh, sixteen stayed in Tahiti and eight settled on Pitcairn Island. By the time the HMS Pandora arrived in Tahiti, two mutineers were dead, with the other fourteen arrested. In a further dramatic twist, the return journey was as treacherous as the trip home after the mutiny itself. Of the fourteen, four drowned when the Pandora sank after striking the Great Barrier Reef. The ten survivors were tried, with four acquitted, two found guilty but pardoned, one freed on a technicality and three convicted and hanged in late 1792.

Pitcairn 2014 $2 Mutiny On The Bounty Silver ProofOf those settling on Pitcairn, five mutineers were killed in a dispute with the Tahitians they had brought with them. The remaining mutineers died one by one, with the sole survivor, John Adams, going on to lead a small, stable community, a community that ultimately established the country of Pitcairn. The country is still going strong today, with 50 regular citizens and a government that issues legal tender coins. One of those coins is the 2014 Mutiny on the Bounty Silver Proof, which commemorates the 225th anniversary of the Mutiny on the Bounty and is made all the more poignant for being struck as Pitcairn legal tender.

Oh, and what happened to that breadfruit, the quest for which cost many lives and caused the most famous mutiny of all time? The locals refused to eat it.

Choice Change Challenge - Henry Parkes in our pocket!

Here we have another entry from Choice Change Challenger Alex!

The Choice Change Challenge... hmmm.... when the Online Team here at Downies asked George and I how the challenge was coming along, and whether we had any exciting new finds to share, we were distressed to respond in the negative. Aside from a 2000 50c issued for the Queen's Royal Visit – incidentally, a coin bearing the only decimal obverse portrait of Her Majesty designed by an Australian, and a one-year-only portrait to boot! – picked up at the coffee shop, there isn't much to share. It continues to be a tough undertaking, collecting the commemorative from change.

1996 $1 Sir Henry Parkes M Mintmark UNC 1996 $1 Sir Henry Parkes M Mintmark UNC

And then, one of our Team Members realised that last week was Sir Henry Parkes' 199th Birthday! Henry Parkes is a man often called the Father of Federation, a man with the distinct honour of having a town named for him (in NSW), a man that appears on one of Australia's only two commemorative banknotes (the 2001 Federation $5 note), and finally, a man that the Royal Australian Mint saw fit to honour with a commemorative coin in 1996. A coin that, besides RAM's issuance of collector strikes in silver and as part of that year's Mintmark series, was also issued for circulation.

Prior to the beginning of our challenge, George and I discussed the coins that we expected to be tough. And, the 1996 Henry Parkes Dollar was amongst those discussed. It's a coin that is now almost 20 years old and from our own casual observations did not often turn up in change. We expected it to take some time to uncover – a bit like my nemesis, the 2001 Bradman 20c. Yet, lo and behold, it was not long into the challenge that we each boasted a Henry Parkes Dollar in our collections!

2001 Henry Parkes Federation $5 2001 Federation $5 note

What's more, flying in the face of our preconceptions, we started seeing the 1996 coin everywhere! So much so that we were each able to not just add the coin to our collections but also to upgrade from lowly circulated examples to bright shiny almost-Uncirculated examples – all from daily change! Nowadays, this far in to the challenge, we continue to be frustrated by the unexpected over-abundance of Henry Parkes in our pockets. Adding to that frustration, as the Father of Federation, one might hope that his paternal good luck would rub off onto the 2001 Federation 50c and 20c series. Unfortunately, these coins are the lowest mintage commemoratives ever issued for circulation in Australia, and continue to frustrate us due to the dearth of examples – ESPECIALLY the 20c issues.

Still, it is ultimately the frustration of finding plenty of 1996 Henry Parkes $1 coins that leads to the jubilation when and if we uncover one of those scarce 2001 coins. And so, it is with that optimistic final thought that I would like to wish the Father of Federation a very happy 199th birthday!

Happy Birthday Sir Henry!

PS. Despite our frustrations at finding too many 1996 $1 coins, and not enough Federation 50c or 20c coins, it’s difficult to remain cranky at a man who sported such a glorious beard, as did Sir Henry Parkes....

Treasures in your change: 20c – What to look for

infographic-smallThe following was penned by Downies employee Jimmy…

Welcome to the second entry in my ‘Treasures in your change’ series, focusing on rare circulating decimal types that you might find in your change! My last entry – that you can read HERE – was based on the 5c piece and 10c piece, and this one will focus on the 20c piece.

Now, while you may have already seen the informative infographic we posted last week, and pictured to the right, this blog post will go into a bit more detail, pointing out exactly what you need to be looking for while searching through your pocket money.

1966 Wavy Line 20c 1966 Wavy Line 20c

Australia’s first variety takes us back to the beginning of decimal currency, and the highly sought after 1966 Wavy Line 20c. This key type is thus named because the bottom stroke of the 2 in the denomination appears to have a wave at the top, rather than the straight line seen on other 20c coins. To cater for the massive amount of currency required at decimalisation, the then new Royal Australian Mint was joined by Britain’s Royal Mint for the production of 1966 coinage, and it was at the latter that a small number of 20c coins were struck with a slightly different die, creating the Wavy Line 20c variety. Prices for Uncirculated examples have been known to fetch up to $3,000, with even an EF example worth more than $1,000, and, as a result, I routinely check every 20c piece I receive in change. The Royal Mint did strike normal versions of the coin, which brings us to our next collectable variety...

1966 Canberra Mint 20c 1966 Canberra Mint 20c

Although many people are unaware that different mints struck the 1966 20c, knowledgeable collectors do tend to seek out examples from each mint – and there is one quick way to find out if you have a Royal Mint or RAM version in your hand. If you have a look at the water ripples around the platypus, there is a ripple that comes into contact with the right side of its head. This is where the difference between the mint variations will be apparent. A ripple that touches the head of the platypus will indicate the coin is from the Royal Mint, whereas a ripple that has a slight gap between the head will indicate a RAM coin! Both can demand good prices from collectors, so as a rule of thumb, if you get a 1966 20c in change, pay close attention to it!

1981 Three & a Half Claws 20c 1981 Three & a Half Claws 20c

The next 20c in the series to look out for was issued in 1981. In this particular year, industrial action at the Royal Australian Mint saw Australia once again seek the assistance of mints overseas, with Britain’s Royal Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint called into action. Now, while mintage figures from both overseas mints are similar, it is the coins struck at the Royal Canadian Mint that prove most popular with collectors. The Royal Canadian Mint 1981 20c can be distinguished by examining the claws on the left paw of the platypus, located directly under the 2 in the denomination. All other coins from 1981 have 4 claws on the left paw, but coins struck at the Canadian mint have a claw on the far right that appears to be half missing! This distinctive type is consequently known as the ‘Three & a Half Claws’ variety.

1981 Scalloped 20c 1981 Scalloped 20c

No analysis of 20c varieties could possibly ignore the famed 1981 Scalloped 20c. Coming to light late in 1982, this is a VERY RARE coin which, whilst you almost certainly will not have seen in change, you may have read about in one of our previous entries. Assisting the production of Australian 20c coins during the aforementioned industrial action at the RAM, the Royal Mint apparently struck some coins using scalloped blanks intended for use for $2 coins for Hong Kong, for whom it also struck currency. Amazingly, some of these coins made it into circulation!

Although less than 10 examples of this stunning coin have come to light, with the type currently cataloguing at $7,500 in Extremely Fine, who knows whether another one might arise in the future? Always check your change!

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