Kidney Kar Rally Update Part 2!

Day 4: Repairs and cleaning

Not much to report today. We of course have a somewhat 'less than perfect' car so our objective today was to get the parts needed to fix it. Drove slowly to Toowoomba to collect some parts from Subaru there then headed north to Bundaberg where we picked up some more. Spoke to the service manager at Subaru here and he has made space to fit us in at 2.30pm. So we shall see how we go. Hopefully all good to start again tomorrow...

Day 5: Rest and repair

As today is a rest day, last night was the fancy dress dinner (pyjama party theme) and we sweltered in our Hawks and Pies onesies! The range of attire was mind boggling! And as usual, the amount of cross-dressing really makes one wonder about some of these burly, macho guys! Still a fun night! The ambos conduct a raffle which raised about $2500. The CEO of KHA (Anne Wilson) said her farewells to the rallytives as she has to leave to attend a conference overseas. She praised everyone's efforts as she always does. Her team have been conducting a series of kidney health checks and awareness sessions, etc, at schools and hospitals in the towns we have been through. We have people stopping our cars in the street to give us donations. It is all really positive and heart-warming stuff.

Thought we might give the car a wash today before we head to Subaru. About an inch thick layer of dust coats the inside at the moment and the outside...well it's barely visible in a lot of places! Just hope the dust isn't what's holding it all together!

Before Before

After After

While at the carwash one of our customers came up to us...!

She saw the K&K and thought she remembered something about that, then saw the Downies and realized who we were. Annoyed with myself for not getting her name! She is from just north of Bundy. Had a lovely chat with her, really nice to catch up with a customer while on the rally!

Day 6: Good racing but more damage

We had a great rally day today. 6th overall for the day (still down the bottom of the pack over the whole rally because of all the missed sections, but really pleased with how we are going when we DO rally!)

Many of the sections were really tough today with lots of deep ruts, gutters, humps and holes (not to mention the usual copious amounts of dust). We hit a massive gutter while trying to avoid a deep hole and from then on the car didn't sound too healthy...

Made it through all 4 sections for the day with a picnic lunch in the middle and got to Dalby. Called in to an exhaust place where the guy was very helpful, put the car up on a hoist to look at it. Then we saw it...the sump guard had been sheared off completely, all the bolts holding it on were still there but the other protective plate that covered the other parts had been bent as well so it was resting against the muffler (hence the loud noise we were hearing from inside the car).

We went to dinner at the RSL and were told by several people that they think they might have run over our sump guard along the way! In fact one of the leaders mentioned that it almost ripped his sump guard off!

As an aside, 2 of the 3 joint leaders at the moment are from Victoria!

Anyway, will leave it there for today. We have to make decisions about how we proceed from here. No sump guard with what lies ahead could put us at serious risk. We will sleep on it.

Day 7: the start

Gibson Motors in Dalby looked after us first thing this morning by bending the remaining guard forward to get rid of the noise we were hearing from the plate being pushed against our exhaust. Now we are at Parsons Enterprises who are making us a new sump guard and affixing it to the car!

Will send more updates later...for now we are constantly reminded of the amazing generosity of people in the country towns we have visited and their willingness to help us on behalf of the Kidney Kids.


Oh and I forgot to car caught fire today in a very isolated area where there was just one house...they had no phone or cb reception...and no one was at home at the house except a very loud and nasty looking dog who didn't like us stopping so close to his property!

So thanks to our friends in Dalby we were able to re-enter the rally at the start of the third section. It was a tough class 3 but we made it through unscathed and in good time.

We checked in with Control at the end of the section and set off on the 'transport' to start the fourth section which was to be a difficult class 4.

About 200 meters from Control, we heard it, that familiar flap, flap, flap. Yep, you guessed it, another flat tyre! We were organized this time and only took about half the time to change it. That was our last spare and it was a tyre with a puncture repair already.

So we continued on the transport to Warwick, found the Bridgestone Service Centre, (the tyre was irreparable as something had slashed the side wall), purchased a new tyre so we had a spare and they changed it for us, checked our pressure all round and off we went.

At this stage we decided not to risk the class 4 section... 4 tyres in one rally was enough! So we headed straight from Warwick to Casino. I have to say, the highway (bitumen) was about the equivalent of a class 2 rally road! A shocker!

So here we are in Casino, very tired and heading off now to dinner at the RSM club. Tomorrow is the final day of rallying - we are hoping for a good finish to what has been eventful, but a great learning experience and lots of fun. We have already started compiling a list of the things we simply MUST remember to carry on next year’s rally!

Dalby RSL Dalby RSL

Day 8: Last day of Racing!

Last day of what has been an eventful rally for us, but we have plugged on regardless! Our last day takes us from Casino to Armidale through some beautiful country.

The first section of the day was a class 3 and boy was it a tough one! Lost a couple of minutes with one wrong turn, but no biggie. Lots of rocks, beautiful forests, very deep ruts and gutters and a water crossing, all made for an exciting start to the day. We made it through having lost just a few minutes we think.

The second section was a class 4 and I have to say I was a tad apprehensive of the cars ability to make it through a difficult stage. But we were determined to be there at the finish line today, so we decided to proceed and maybe just take it a little easier. Interestingly, this stage was nowhere near as rough as the first, but slower, with many tight turns and windy roads. We made it through unscathed!

Day 8 - Lunch at Ebor Falls Day 8 - Lunch at Ebor Falls

Lunch was at the lovely Ebor Falls, a beautiful spot to just stretch the legs and relax a little before we started the last section for this year.

The last section, another class 3, we zipped through fairly easily. The countryside was just beautiful (or at least I think it was, given the speed blur and dust I was looking through!) so we made it to the finish line! Yay!!!! All the rally kars and rallytives gather at the finish line to welcome the kars and enjoy a cold ale to wash away the dust that now, after 8 days, is lining your entire body inside and out as well as everything you have in the car!

Then, once all the kars had finished we convoyed into Armidale. The cb radio was rife with yahoos and yippees and lots of high spirits. What a great feeling to finish and with such a fantastic group of people who all share the common goal of helping the Kidney Kids.

The results!

So after a drama free day, we arrived in Armidale and unloaded all our surplus items from the gear truck. The car was packed to the roof! A quick relax at the motel and then we headed off to the City Bowling Club for the final presentation dinner.

And so the awards started – there are some fun ones and some serious ones. The fun ones include such things as the Kraziest Krew and the Best Themed Kar. The Serious ones include:

Outright Winners – congrats to:
Kar 11 – The Blues Brothers (1st place)
Kar 508 - Amy’s Team (our fellow Victorian friends – 2nd place)
Kar 26 – The Red Baron (3rd place - also Victorian!)
Highest Fundraiser -congrats to Kar 68 – Artline - who raised an amazing $52,100!
Best All Female Krew - congrats to Kar 1308 – Sister Act
The John Hogg Memorial Trophy (Best & Fairest) which went to Kar 99 – Crazy Frog – congrats to you guys
The Supreme Achiever Award – this is awarded to the person who dedicates the most time and effort to promote the cause of the Rally and Kidney Health Australia – congrats to Khaled El Sayed

The Redex Award – for the person or krew who have endured all kinds of misfortunes throughout the event and have shown perseverance and resilience to continue through to the end – well, we had our ideas about a couple of krews who would likely win this one, but were extremely surprised to win this one ourselves! So congrats to us! We felt very honoured indeed! The trophy itself is huge and we were concerned about getting it into the Kar for the return trip home, but we managed!

We were especially honoured to receive the award from Becky Johns – a Kidney Kid from Bendigo – what an amazing young woman she is and we hope we will get to see her again soon.

All in all we had a great night and we all said our goodbyes to all the amazing rallytives. We are extremely grateful to all the people who helped us over the course of the event in so many ways and to the organisers who run a very safe and challenging rally. And thankyou to all those of you who contributed to our fundraising efforts – but be warned – we will be turning up the heat next year to go even higher!


Kidney Kar Rally Update!

We’ve been receiving detailed updates from Kath Downie and they are so good we thought we’d share! Here are the adventures of the Downies rally team for days one, two and three:

Day 1: Tamworth to Lightning Ridge - exploding tires and skipped legs

For the first section of the rally, we were going like guns, then all hell broke loose when one of our rear tyres punctured and shredded to bits. We lost 20 minutes or so changing it (Well we aren't a pit crew!).


Then we were transporting to the start of the next section when Ken thought something felt a bit odd so we pulled over to hear loud hissing coming from the other side rear tyre! It was flattening at a great rate! Unbelievable! A passing rally car stopped to help us (they had a compressor on board so pumped it up just enough for us to make it the 15k back to the nearest town Manilla). Thank God they had a tyre repair place, but unfortunately there was only a lady looking after it as the owner had headed off to an auction and wouldn't be back before noon (it was 10.30 at this stage). So we had little option but to wait.


The one spare we carried was irreparable and the other one we brought up here was on the gear truck headed for Lightning Ridge. Anyway, at about 12.30 the owner returned and fixed the second flat (a big shard of shale was firmly embedded in it) and we bought the only tyre he had of the right size in his whole place to replace the shredded one.

There was no way we were going to make Narrabri for lunch with everyone, so we let them know we would see them in Lightning Ridge at the end of the day. So off we went. We then realized we were driving very close to where the final (of 4) sections was starting, so we went to the control point where the leg started and drove that whole 180k section without a problem.

The day ended with dinner at the Lightning Ridge Bowling Club, removing the tyre from the gear truck and changing it onto the car. All is well and we are ready to start day two tomorrow!

Day 2: Lightning Ridge to St George

We had a great day! We were equal 3rd for the day!!! Yay! Still way down the bottom of the list overall but we are quite pleased with ourselves! Interesting how 12 seconds can make a difference!!

Only loss today was our amber flashing light, but we are borrowing one until we get to Bundaberg where we will get it fixed.

Emus, Roos, cattle, sheep, goats running amok all over the roads made for interesting driving – no such thing as a fence up here! Had one spinout, Ken skilfully aimed for the sapling between two large trees and fortunately missed the fence behind the sapling!

Here is a picture of the homestead we stopped at for the lunch. Very hospitable people and they put on the best burgers!

The homestead we stopped at for the lunch

Anyway, that's all for today...we are stuffed and tomorrow is 25% longer so will be an early night.

And the fundraising continues!

Day 3. Disaster would sum it up nicely!

Section 1 completed in good time. So far so good.

Section 2 - started fine. Lots of wildlife on the road as well as cattle and so on – had one very close call with a pig. Went into a difficult section, heard a strange noise, stopped and checked under the car and all looked fine. So we continued on...big mistake! A few kilometres up the road and the car listed to one side and hit the ground. Our rear left wheel had sheared off completely...and what's more had disappeared! Trust me here, many people searched many square kilometers and only found one solitary wheel nut!!!!

We were ably assisted by another competitor for about 40 minutes (Kar 250 from Bendigo) and then just had to sit and wait in the heat and dust as every other car zoomed past. Then the sweep vehicles arrived and a control vehicle and out poured the mechanical geniuses! Several hours and lots of sunburn, swearing, etc later, they had removed both rear wheels and the calipers and several other bits and band-aided us together sufficiently to drive on (well crawl) to Dalby. We were trying to minimize using the brakes given one caliper was only held on with one bolt (being able to use gears in sports mode is a real help here) and as most wheels are now missing at least one stud, we stop every 100k or so to check the nuts are still tight!

As soon as I could get service I called around Queensland to find the parts we needed...a caliper bolt, several wheel studs and we won't be rallying. Instead we will be driving (slowly) to Toowoomba to get some parts from Subaru there and then heading straight up to Bundaberg to meet the rest of the rallytives. Bundaberg Subaru have some more parts arriving air freight from Brisbane for us Wednesday morning. (Wednesday was supposed to be our rest day in Bundaberg, but we have already had offers of help to pull the car apart again to fix it. So that's where we are currently. Hopefully rallying will continue on Thursday!

Torrent of Coronation Tributes

Queen-Portrait Portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II by Nicky Philipps

The Royal Australian Mint’s announcement on Monday the 17th of June that it is releasing the second ever full-colour $2 commemorative into circulation is just the latest in a string of high-profile tributes for and commemorations of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th Coronation anniversary. One such commemoration from the UK’s Royal Mail that slipped under the radar somewhat is the commissioning of a unique portrait of the Queen for exclusive use on the Royal Mail’s stamps.

GB 2013 £5 Coronation PNC GB 2013 £5 Coronation PNC

Pictured above in the official GB 2013 £5 Coronation PNC, this portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II by Nicky Philipps is only available on select Royal Mint products. The Royal Mail has gifted the original painting to the Royal Collection, and the PNC pictured above is available from Downies here.

Featured Coin Producer: Coin Invest Trust, Innovative Numismatic Developer

Modern collecting is often marked by a fervent desire for collectors to acquire the new and innovative. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but these unique modern issues are highly sought after - as long as they are also high quality. For many years now, Downies has partnered with, and been sole official Australian distributor for, one of the most innovative coin producers in the world - Coin Invest Trust (CIT).

2013 500 Togrog Mongolian Nature – Crying Wolf 1/2oz Silver BU 2013 500 Togrog Mongolian Nature – Crying Wolf 1/2oz Silver BU - Click image for more information

Established in 1970, CIT is a European firm that has been producing coins since 1982. Over the years CIT have won a number of high-profile awards for their ground-breaking releases, including the Coin Of The Year award for their 'Gulo Gulo' Wolverine coin, part of the Wildlife Protection Silver Series. They are known for a range of ground-breaking numismatic issues, including the Pearl Silver Proof Series, the Tiffany Glass $10 Series, and the Meteorite Silver Proof series, to name just a few.

The original Tiffany Glass offer made way back in 2004! The original Tiffany Glass offer made way back in 2004!

As an indication of the popularity of some of their coins, the first of CITs Tiffany Glass $10 Series was sold by Downies for $139.95 in May, 2004. It is now selling at up to $4,000 on the open market! It's no mere fluke, either, as each of the coins in that series (and many others) have sold out almost instantly each year since!

 Andorra 2013 5 Diners Swallowtail Butterfly 3D Colour Silver Proof - click image for more information Andorra 2013 5 Diners Swallowtail Butterfly 3D Colour Silver Proof - click image for more information

A big part of what makes releases by CIT so globally popular is that not only are they extremely innovative (3D coins with Butterfly wings, anybody?), but they are also crafted to the highest standards. CIT don't just create new coins - they craft innovative, high-quality collector pieces that push the boundaries of modern numismatics. Downies is happy to partner with them and share their story with our collectors.

Choice Change Challenge – Alex’s Admission…

This post was kindly contributed by Alex, who has been participating in the Choice Change Challenge.

I have an admission to make… the Choice Change Challenge - or “Collecting the Commemorative”, as I’ve come to call it – is not my first foray into coin collecting…

The Choice Change Challenge began with a discussion between a colleague and me as to how long it would take to collect the entire Australian circulating commemorative coin catalogue - using only the everyday change in our pockets. “Not THAT long” we both agreed at the time. As it turns out, aside from some of the more common coins, it is slim pickings out there in Australia’s change! In the last month, I’ve added only a 2001 NSW Federation 50c and 2011 Royal Wedding 20c to my collection. Is it true? Are there really sock drawers in nearly every home that contain those ‘interesting and different’ Australian coins?

Some of Alex's collection

But I digress. The above failure to substantially add to the Choice Change Challenge is NOT my real admission. The real truth here is that, after 11 years working in Numismatics, and 5 years travelling the world because of Numismatics, I’ve managed to put together a collection of circulating world commemorative coins that is (in my opinion) none too shabby. Perhaps the hobby has, unbeknownst to me until now, taken over!

Probably the most consciously collected part of my accumulation is the USA State Quarters Program. As many would know, the US Mint began issuing the first five coins in their State Quarters series in 1999. Each year subsequent to that, five states were honoured upon five circulating commemorative quarters. This program proved hugely popular with collectors and has continued on after 2008 with the Territories set in 2009 and now, the America the Beautiful range of National Parks quarters.

US 2012 America The Beautiful Quarters BU Set

In terms of my collection, over the course of several trips, I’ve managed to put aside 35 of the 50 State Quarters Series thus far! That tally includes three of the initial five 1999 coins plus ALL of the five state quarters issued in the program’s second year, 2000! Now, to complete my series, I’ve only got 15 coins to find!

So, hopefully you will all wish me luck as I start preparing for the World’s Fair of Money in Chicago in August and, more importantly, cross your fingers along with me as I attempt to pull the last 15 State quarters out of my pocket while I am there!

Choice Change Challenge March Update: The Fleets Meet!

It’s been a big month in the competition – and in Australian numismatics – since we last caught up with our courageous coin collecting contenders! A new Australian circulating commemorative has been announced; competition for the top spot on the leader board has been fiercely contested, and; the coin that started it all has been found a second time – read on to continue the thrilling adventure!

First things first, let’s have a look at the current tally:

Competitor 20c Series 50c Series $1 Series $2 Series Total
Alex 3 12 14 1 30
George 4 14 14 1 33
Jezebel 5 11 15 0 31

Competition has been intense! During the month Jezebel held quite a strong lead, but at the time of writing had just been knocked out of the overall lead by George, though she is still leading in the 20c series and the $1 series. Across the field there are only 3 coins between first and third place – our competitors are neck and neck!

A highlight for this month is that Alex has found another 1988 50c First Fleet commemorative! You may remember that this coin was the catalyst for starting the entire Choice Change Challenge – and it catalogues for $25 in Uncirculated condition! It’s an exciting find and big news for Alex.

The big news for the entire numismatic community in Australia was the announcement by the Royal Australian Mint of the imminent release of another circulating commemorative – the Centenary of Canberra 20c piece! Due for release shortly, it’s an important addition to the circulating commemorative series, and one that will be added as a target for our intrepid collectors once it enters circulation!

If you’d like to secure this brand new commemorative well before you are likely to find it in your change – and in Brilliant Uncirculated condition to boot – they are available now in the 2013 20c Centenary Of Canberra PNC.


That’s it for this Choice Change Challenge update! We’ll finish up with a question: What coin would you love to find in your change today and why? Leave your answers in the comment section below!

Year of the Snake – a fortunate year in numismatics!

Year of the snake

Happy New Year! Yesterday was the first day of the Lunar New Year, and everyone here at Downies hopes you have a prosperous and happy Year of the Snake!

The Snake is the 6th animal in the Lunar Zodiac, exemplified by traits such as awareness, cunning, pride and decisiveness. People born in the Year of the Snake (especially with this year’s element, Water), are said to be insightful and influential, and can make great financial decisions. This affinity with money makes this Lunar Zodiac sign a particularly fitting and popular theme to feature on numismatic releases around the world.

There are some truly spectacular tributes to the Year of the Snake that have either just been released or are being awaited with great excitement. One innovative release is the Laos 2013 2,000 Kip Lunar Snake Jade 2oz Silver Proof, which contains a ring of real Jade and a gilded snake to commemorate this special year.

The Perth Mint has released some special editions that not only focus on the Zodiac theme, but emphasise its importance to the numismatic community of which we are all a part. One such release is the 2013 $1 Berlin World Money Fair Edition Year Of The Snake 1oz Coloured Silver BU – a limited edition of just 5,000, specially prepared for the Berlin World Money Fair which was held last week.

The Lunar Zodiac theme is often used by mints around the world to showcase the very best in the art and science of numismatics. It is well worth studying these new coins to see what has been achieved and what the future holds for modern coin collecting, but there are so many exciting new releases coming out to celebrate and commemorate the Year of the Snake, it can be hard to keep up.

For a handy list of this year’s Lunar Zodiac issues from around the globe, click here to visit’s special Year of the Snake page.

Have a great Lunar New Year!

The Choice Change Challenge January update: the perils and pleasures of international travel

When we last left the Choice Change Challenge, both Alex and George were off to flying starts, with each leading in different categories. Alex had the lead in 20c and $1 commemoratives, and George led the way with $2 and 50c commemoratives. Since then, there have been two major shake ups, the first being a temporary (but major) handicap. It’s a doozy:

Alex has left the country!

George is still here in Australia, but Alex has been off for a month on a part holiday/part business trip to Europe. While Alex is collecting British and Euro commemoratives, George has found it a surprisingly challenging few weeks. Alex will return in about a week and we’ll get to see how long it takes for him to catch up!

The second shock twist is a new entrant! Hearing all the fun George and Alex were having, Jezebel here in the office decided to join in! She started over a month later, but has shot to the lead with $1 Commemoratives.

Here are the current standings:

Competitor 20c Series 50c Series $1 Series $2 Series
Alex 3 8 11 1
George 2 12 11 1
Jezebel 3 7 15 0

Our contestants have strict rules for this challenge (only commemoratives acquired through normal transactions can be included in the tally – no asking to rifle through shop tills!), but there are extra things you can do to get your collection up to speed! A reader of ours, Christen, handles a large amount of change across the counter every day and has found some crackers (and paid for them fair and square, obviously!).

1999 $1 Last Anzacs S Mintmark Al-Br

1999-$1-Last-Anzacs-S-Mintmark-Al-Br Honouring Australia’s Anzac heroes, the one-year-only 1999 $1 Last Anzacs Al-Br type was not issued for circulation and should never be found in change. Remarkably, Christen did indeed find one of the mere 53,286 Last Anzacs S Mintmark coins struck by the Royal Australian Mint in 1999.

1992 $1 Barcelona Olympics Al-Br

1992-$1-Barcelona-Olympics-Al-BrStruck in tiny numbers, with the mintage concluding at just 43,496, this one-year-only numismatic tribute to the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 was not issued for circulation and, like the Anzacs $1 coin above, should never have been secured from change.

2007 $1 Ashes Al-Br

2007-$1-Ashes-Al-Br-Marking the 125th anniversary of the Battle for the Ashes between Australia and England, the 2007 $1 Ashes Al-Br was not issued for circulation and has a tiny mintage of a mere 49,438.

1998 $1 Florey C Mintmark Al-Br

1998-$1-Florey-C-Mintmark-Al-BrPart of the Royal Australian Mint’s long-running, ever-popular Mintmark $1 Series, the 1998 $1 Florey C Mintmark Al-Br had a mintage of 77,035. Not issued for general circulation, this coin should never be found in change!

2008 $1 Coat of Arms S Privymark Al-Br

2008-$1-Coat-of-Arms-S-Privymark-Al-Br-Celebrating the centenary of Australia’s Coat of Arms, approved by King Edward VII in 1908, the Royal Australian Mint’s 2008 $1 S Privymark Al-Br had a tiny mintage of just 48,365, and was not issued for circulation.

An important thing to note is that Christen’s coins are some exceedingly rare finds, none of which were ever intended for circulation and in reality you should never expect to find these in change.


Alex has also found some interesting commemorative and standard types while overseas, including the above penny that when combined with the other British definitives for the year forms the "shield." It shows that this stuff is out there – if you happen to be in Britain that is! The only way to guarantee you get the whole set of British coins in pristine Uncirculated or Proof quality is to buy the Great Britain 2013 Mint Set or Great Britain 2013 Premium Proof Set – you can get both from

More updates to come – in the meantime, tell us about your own collecting in the comments below:

The choice change challenge: Aussie coins in change


From time immemorial, mankind has asked important questions, questions that speak to the heart of what it means to be alive, to be human and to be a collector.

  • How hard is collecting from change, really?
  • What can I find?
  • Will they be worth any money?
  • How can I compete with my work colleagues and lord it over them when I win and blame chance when I don’t?

These important questions and more are being answered by Alex and George here in the office. On the 21st of November, 2012, they took up this challenge: collect a full set of circulating Australian decimal commemorative coins, just from the change they get from everyday transactions. Inspired by Alex finding a 1988 50c First Fleet commemorative in Uncirculated condition (catalogue value is $25!) in his change, Alex and George decided to make the process a competition.

The goals of the competition are threefold. First, it’s a race between two friends for bragging rights. Second, as both Alex and George have been in the coin industry for a long time, they wanted to research exactly how long it would take to assemble a complete collection. Third, the process should be entertaining and informative for readers of the blog! We’ll be checking in with them over the coming months to see how they go and keeping you up-to-date on their progress.

Both are off to a great start, with some highlights of their endeavours below:

Competitor 20c Series 50c Series $1 Series $2 Series
Alex 3 7 11 0
George 1 8 10 1

George's major highlight has been his discovery of the extremely low-mintage NSW and NT 2001 Federation 50c coins (mintages of 3.042m and 2m respectively), with Alex rightly pleased with unearthing a better-than-usually-seen quality example of the 1997 Smithy $1.


As you can see, collecting from circulation can be rapidly rewarding, and an interesting collection doesn’t have to take long or cost the earth to acquire.

A good step to take to complete (or start) your collection is secure an Official Mint or Proof Set, for absolutely pristine examples of decimal currency (if you are interested, check out the 2013 Australian Mint Set here and the 2013 Australian Proof Set here). Not only is it a great idea to complete your collection this way, but having the absolutely perfect example of each coin allows you to compare the coins you find against the perfect standard and can help you get a feel for grades and how coins wear down in circulation.

So, how about you – do you collect from circulation? If so, what is your favourite find? Leave your comments below and we’ll hear more about Alex and George soon.

The Penny has dropped: Canada to stop minting the 1 cent piece

In a major break with tradition, Canada is doing away with the humble penny. Citing cost of production and weakened buying power due to inflation, the Canadian Government is to phase the 1 cent piece out of circulation from February 2013. 2012 is the last year the penny will be struck for circulation and the change is causing quite a stir amongst numismatists, for a number of reasons. It’s also leading some to speculate that the Australian 5 cent piece could be next.

A coin with a fascinating history, the Canadian penny denomination was, from 1858 to 1908, struck in England and shipped to Canada for use in circulation. The penny would ultimately become one of Canada’s first domestically produced coins, with the recently opened Royal Canadian Mint first striking the denomination in 1908. With several dates from the penny series attaining notoriety due to interesting background events or great rarity, this denomination has gained a significant following worldwide. For example, a 1923 King George V penny in Brilliant, Uncirculated condition could potentially realise upwards of $2,000 at auction, signifying interest in the history of the Canadian penny.

Canadian Penny - Reverse

Perhaps the most famous example of that history is the 1936 dot cent. After the Death of George V in early 1936, dies were made that featured King Edward VIII, for use in 1937. Upon Edward’s abdication those dies became unusable, so the existing 1936 dies were used, with the addition of a dot under the date to distinguish them. Once new designs were available, the 1936 dot cent was destroyed. With only three known to exist and a recent sale fetching $400,000, it’s a prime example of the important place in numismatics of lower denomination coinage generally, and the Canadian Penny in particular.

Despite this rich history, the financial reality is that the 1 cent piece in Canada has proven too costly to produce. With a production cost 1.6 cents per coin, plus the cost of handling the millions of coins in circulation borne by banks and businesses, the Canadian government has decided to ditch the nation’s lowest denomination coin.

This change has driven demand for commemorative sets, as any change in circulating currency is, rightfully, watched very closely by numismatists worldwide. Demand for Canadian pennies of all kinds will only increase as they become progressively scarce.

This end of an era is part of a growing trend followed by a number of countries to remove their lowest face-value coins from circulation, and it raises the question: should Australia stop producing the 5 cent piece? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

1 2 3 4 5