Coins

The most secure coin in the world? How The Royal Mint is fighting back at crime!

The discovery of a multi-million dollar international counterfeiting and smuggling ring has prompted The Royal Mint to redesign their 1 pound coins. A Dutch crime organisation, who had set up their own modern minting facility complete with legitimate sounding company name and credentials, had been targeting the UK pound coins for some time before British detectives were able to track the counterfeit coins back to their Amsterdam origins. Estimates are that £45 million worth of counterfeit £1 pound coins circulate in the UK economy today and it is this figure that spurred the Mint on to reform this everyday circulating coin.

According to a story in The Independant "British police tipped off their Dutch counterparts, who raided the premises at the European Central Mint (ECM) and arrested the owner, after discovering machines capable of producing hundreds of coins per minute."

There is even talk that the counterfeiting extends beyond the UK pound coin and into the realm of Euro currency.

The Royal Mint released a statement on March 19 stating they have “developed world-leading anti-counterfeiting technology which will enable Her Majesty’s Treasury to modernise the United Kingdom’s circulating currency with the production of a brand new £1 coin.

OnePound

As shown in the image above, the coin will feature a unique 12 sided shape, reminiscent of the UK’s own pre-decimal threepence coin and Australia’s 50 cent coin. The coin will be struck from two different coloured metals and contain an iSIS security feature, developed specifically by the Royal Mint themselves.

A public design competition will get underway at a later date to determine the design for the face of the coin, expected to be released into circulation in 2017. The obverse will feature the traditional Queen’s head motif with name and year of issue.

With a clean slate being offered on the reverse design we ask you, what would you like to see emblazoned on the new £1 release?

The Royal Australian Mint’s First Ever Triangle Coin?

It has been exactly one year since the Royal Australian Mint announced the groundbreaking 2013 $5 Parliament House Triangular Silver Proof on March 18th, 2013. The very first 3-sided Australian legal tender coin, this sensational release naturally attracted interest from news media around the world. It was exciting to see an Australian numismatic collectable receive such extensive international publicity – with the triangle coin selling out as a result – even if a few under-prepared news reporters frustratingly got some obvious details about coin collecting wrong.

Twelve months on from that groundbreaking announcement, we thought we’d take a look at the history of triangle coins around the world.

2008 Canadian 50c Triangle Coin – Milk Delivery 2008 Canadian 50c Triangle Coin – Milk Delivery

In 2008, The Royal Canadian Mint broke new ground by striking its very first triangle shaped coin. That coin was the 2008 50c Milk Delivery coin, featuring a beautiful translucent enamel effect. Public demand for this triangle coin was monumental, and it sold out at an astonishing pace. The second triangle coin came a year later, with the release of the 2009 50c Six String Nation Guitar coin, which featured a selective hologram, making the guitar strings appear as if they are resonating!

1996 Bermuda Triangle $30 Gold 1/2oz Proof 1996 Bermuda Triangle $30 Gold 1/2oz Proof

Fittingly, Bermuda has issued the odd triangle coin over the years too. Most recently, these were minted by The Royal Mint and, unsurprisingly, many feature ships or… shipwrecks!

The demand for these coins got us wondering about other triangle shaped coins. Along the way we learned a little known fact about the 2013 Parliament House Triangle Coin – it’s not the first triangle coin struck by the RAM! After a bit of research we discovered that the Cook Islands became the first modern country to issue a circulating three-sided coin! And guess what? From at least 2003, and possibly earlier, their $2 coin was struck by our very own Royal Australian Mint!

2003 Cook Islands $2 Triangluar Coin 2003 Cook Islands $2 Triangular Coin

And so, whilst triangles are a rare occurrence in Numismatics, there are a few out there. Perhaps, given the success of last year’s Australian legal tender triangle coin, we may even see another one soon?

We certainly hope so! While we wait, a question: what do you think would make a good theme for another Australian triangle shaped coin?

Mule Madness!

The following was penned by Downies employee Jimmy…

If you read my previous blog post – on the incuse Millennium 50c I found in my change – you would be aware that I have only worked at Downies for a short period of time. Before this, I had only a slight interest in coins, but not much more than occasionally noticing an interesting one in my change, and setting it aside.

$1 Mule Obverse

I never really bothered looking up information, such as mintage figures, or design details. However, as I mentioned in my last blog, I started flipping through the pages of my Maccas guide just after I started working here, and discovered that there was a lot more to our everyday money than a few random coins with different designs.

One of the more appealing circulating coins I mentioned in my previous blog is the 2000 $1/10c Mule. What exactly is this coin, I hear you ask? Well, for those that don’t know, a ‘mule’ is a coin struck with obverse and reverse dies that were not meant to be paired together. In this case, the coin was created using the reverse die of a 2000 $1 coin and the obverse die of a 2000 10c piece. This results in a double ring on the obverse side, as seen in the picture below.

2000 One Dollar/Ten Cent Mule Error Extremely FineNow, unfortunately, I didn’t find this coin in my change. This is one of two examples we have in stock here at Downies. The chances of finding one in change are remote indeed. Maccas listed the mintage at 400 until 2010, when it was changed to “unknown”. Many people have attempted to estimate the mintage, with figures ranging from 400 to 6,000 thrown about, but it seems unlikely that we will ever be sure about the actual number struck. There is no doubt, however, that this coin is extremely rare!

In my opinion, one of the more appealing things about this coin is the fact that it is a circulating coin. This means that, somewhere around Australia, right now, there’s someone with a 2000 $1/10c Mule in their pocket, unaware of its value. These rare coins will continue to circulate, and it therefore remains a possibility that you or I will discover one in our change one day. It is this tantalising prospect that keeps me checking my change every day!

Are any of our readers on the lookout for this particular coin? Or better yet, has anyone been lucky enough to find one in their change?

Insane Incuse Investigation!

The following was penned by Downies employee Jimmy...

On Saturday last week, I ventured to the shops to buy a coffee. Upon receiving my change, I instinctively started to sort through the coins, looking for anything interesting. This is a relatively new habit of mine, only picked up since I started working at Downies last October. Even then, ‘checking my change’ – and provoking worried looks from shop assistants thinking they had over-charged me – is something I have only started doing consistently since flipping through a McDonald’s Guide to Australian Coins & Banknotes.

‘Maccas’, as it is known, reveals the wealth of Australian coin types that one might find in change, and I started to keep a mental list of things I wanted to look for – from rare Errors such as the 2000 $1 Mule, to the odd varieties such as the 1966 Wavy 20c, to commemoratives such as the 2000 Millennium 50c. Indeed, it was the Millennium 50c that was staring at me when I got my change that particular Saturday – but not just any Millennium 50c. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be an ‘Incused Millennium 50c’!

Incused Millennium 50c Incused Millennium 50c

Distinguished by a recessed Union Jack and larger star, the Incused Millennium 50c is the rarer of the two Millennium 50c types. Approximately 16,630,000 Millennium Flag 50c coins were struck by the Royal Australian Mint, with the rare incuse type accounting for only 1-2% of the overall mintage! Seldom found in change, this unique type is naturally highly sought after by collectors.

I had been keeping my eyes open for the 2000 Millennium 50c in the days before my trip to the coffee shop, as I had only just learned of the existence of the 2000 Incused Millennium 50c. I had spotted two examples of the Millennium 50c, but, alas, both were standard types. I resigned myself to the fact that the Incuse Millennium 50c was going to be a tough one to find, and my hopes of finding one would probably have to be filed with my ambitious dreams of finding a 1966 Wavy 20c and 2000 Mule $1. Amazingly, it was just a few days later that I had one in my hands!

This was my first real experience with finding an unusual, potentially valuable coin in my change, and let me tell you, it sparked my interest enormously! I now have quite a large pile of commemorative coins at home, and am always searching through my change to find something interesting that others may have overlooked. I feel that this is just the beginning…

Which brings up the question: Have you found any interesting coins in your change?
Let us know below in the comments :)

At The Block: What treasures will be found in Downies coin Auction 314?

The second sale in Downies Australian Coin Auctions’ 50th anniversary year is ramping up. Viewings commenced on Tuesday the 3rd of July and are currently underway, with Sale 314 itself running from July 9th to 11th. Interest is obviously high thanks to the ongoing anniversary celebrations, but there is another reason. In the first sale of the year, Sale 313, two extremely rare, if not unique, previously undiscovered  mules* were found – an numismatists around the globe wait with bated breath to see if a similar discovery will be made in Sale 314.

The first of the two mules in question was a halfpenny mule with a British obverse partnered with a New Zealand reverse, dated 1965 and graded brown EF, is pictured below:

Halfpenny 1965 muled with British Halfpenny obverse

The second, truly astonishing, mule was an Australian 50c piece with the appropriate 1977 Elizabeth II obverse, but the standard Stuart Devlin coat of arms reverse. Every 1977 50c piece was intended to bear a special commemorative design to celebrate the silver jubilee of the Queen and the coin in question simply should not exist – and there are no records in standard collecting guides of it doing so prior to Sale 313 this year.

Fifty Cents 1977 coat-of-arms reverse instead of the normal silver jubilee reverse (weight 15.41gms)

Esteemed numismatic writer Dr. Kerry Rodgers recently wrote an excellent article on the matter – published on Numismaster.com here.

As for Sale 314 – what will it bring? Could Australian numismatics be lucky enough to discover yet more heretofore unknown rarities? Let us know what you think in the comments.

*For those who are wondering, in numismatics a ‘mule’ is a coin “whose obverse die is not matched with its official or regular reverse die” (take from McDonald’s Coin guide).

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.

February Footy Fever!

Footy Season has started!

An irresistible opportunity for fanatical football followers and passionate collectors alike, we are celebrating the start of the 2013 AFL season this weekend with some absolutely devastating discounts! Extremely exclusive, and officially licensed AFL products, the 2012 AFL Premiership Collection and the 2012 $1 AFL Premiership 1oz Silver Proof can now be yours at below the Official Issue Price! But only while stocks last!

2012 AFL Premiership Collection – SAVE A$50!

2012 AFL Premiership Collection

An officially licensed AFL product, the 2012 AFL Premiership Collection forms a prestigious keepsake of Sydney's memorable triumph. Headlined by the Royal Australian Mint's superbly struck .999 fine 2012 $1 AFL Premiers 1oz Silver Proof, this outstanding work of Australian sporting memorabilia also comprises a miniature replica of the 2012 AFL Premiership Cup, plus a replica of the 2012 AFL Premiers Medallion presented to the players of the winning side.

Strictly limited to an edition of 5,000 sets – each presented in a lavish timber case with a Certificate of Authenticity – this official AFL collection is normally A$295. A sensational celebratory saving, we will knock off a massive A$50 from the regular retail! Act now – only while stocks last!

2012 $1 AFL Premiership 1oz Silver Proof – SAVE A$15!

2012 $1 AFL Premiership 1oz Silver Proof

A must-have for footy fans and Silver Proof collectors alike, we also have the 2012 $1 AFL Premiership 1oz Silver Proof available individually – at under the Official Issue Price!

Struck to the apex of Proof quality from a troy ounce of .999 fine silver, the limited edition of this official Australian legal tender issue has been restricted to a mere 1,500 coins – each beautifully presented within an official RAM case. Normally A$115, this officially licensed AFL product can now be yours for less than A$100!

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 Downies.com’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.

gb-commy

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 Downies.com.

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

The END is nigh! Armageddon commemorated with coins

With a whiff of sulphur hanging in the air, mingling with the tortured screams of non-believers, the lines have been drawn on the final battlefield for the fight between good and evil – Armageddon!

The end of the world is currently firmly in the public consciousness, thanks to the link between the date December 21st, 2012 and the end of the Mesoamerican/Mayan long count calendar. A somewhat recent concern, many believe the ending of this calendar marks some sort of apocalyptic event. This view is not shared by scholars studying Mesoamerican culture, who argue that the Mayans expected the cycle to start again, much like the ending of a year in our standard calendar just means we need to buy a replacement for the fridge.

The end of the world has long been a subject of fascination throughout human history, with some going so far as to ascribe a location to the event. A place that has been the particular focus of much Western prophesying and speculation about the end of the world – dating back to the Book of Revelation – is over 10,000km away on the other side of the earth from Central America. Tel Meggido – the Hebrew name for the place commonly referred to as Armageddon and the location of the final battle according to the Bible – is of great cultural and archaeological significance.

Israel 2012 2NIS Armageddon 28.8g Silver Proof

Dating back to 7000 BCE, Tel Meggido has been the site of thirty different cities! A “tel” (or “tell” in English) is a settlement mound – a site where multiple settlements have built upon those existing previously through history; they are often places of great archaeological importance.  Occupying a position of strategic importance for numerous kingdoms, especially Assyria and Egypt, during the Canaanite and Israelite periods, Tel Meggido has already been pivotal in a number of great conflicts and trade routes through the ages.

In approximately the 15th Century BCE, the “Battle of Meggido” took place between Egyptian forces, led by Pharoah Thutmose III, and Canaanite states. This battle was important for a number of reasons; victory at this battle marked the start of the Egyptian Empires’ largest period of expansion, for example, and it was arguably the first reliably recorded battle in history. More recently, in 1918 during the First World War, Tel Meggido was the site of a battle between the Allied Egyptian Expeditionary Force and the Ottoman Yildirim Army Group, with the Allies gaining significant ground. Tel Meggido has also been the site of great cities at various times through the ages; for more information, see the Wikipedia entry on Tel Meggido.

Due to this fascinating and significant history, UNESCO decreed Tel Meggido a World Heritage Site in 2005. The Bank of Israel has chosen Tel Meggido as the subject of its fourth coin in the ‘UNESCO World Heritage Sites’ series and it has been struck by The Holy Land Mint.

Israel 2012 10NIS Armageddon 1/2oz Gold Proof

The legal tender coin is issued in both silver and gold, with the silver available in 1 and 2 New Shekel denominations, and the gold available in a 10 New Shekel variety. Extraordinarily exclusive given the global significance of the theme, only 1,800 of the silver 1 New Shekel have been made, with mintages for the silver 2 New Shekel and the gold 10 New Shekel a mere 2,800 and a miniscule 555 respectively. The obverse of the coin features an 8th century BCE seal found during an archaeological dig. The reverse features a jug, and the surprisingly advanced aqueduct system discovered at this most remarkable location.

Whether or not you believe the world will end in a month’s time or not, Tel Meggido remains a site of immense archaeological and cultural significance. It is a fitting world heritage location and subject for tribute in coin form. If you are interested in acquiring these special coins commemorating such a remarkable location, visit Downies.com. You might want to get your orders in by December 21st, just in case…

Israel 2012 10NIS Armageddon 1/2oz Gold Proof

Israel 2012 2NIS Armageddon 28.8g Silver Proof

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