Our Story

Inspiring collectors since 1932…

In 1932, sixteen year old Phil Downie established the Palmerston North Stamp Company in New Zealand. His business quickly grew to support leading stamp collectors across the world.

More than just stamps

After moving to Australia, Phil opened the Myer Philatelic Bureau in 1939, working alongside his wife Zita from the Myer store in Bourke Street, Melbourne. Even Phil’s service in the Second World War didn’t put a halt on proceedings: Zita simply ran the bureau by herself! Downies’ fledging philatelic business quickly grew to become an Australian industry leader, and eventually expanded into all fields of collectables, including coins, banknotes and militaria.

Under the hammer

In 1963, Phil launched his auction business. The first public sale of stamps and coins was held at Amethyst Hall in Melbourne, and attracted over fifty bidders. Known today as Downies Australian Coin Auctions (ACA), Downies’ auction department attracts hundreds of participants to its regular public sales, with collectors attending in person, or bidding online or by post. In 2005, Downies was appointed by the Reserve Bank of Australia to auction its entire collection of rare gold coins, in the most famous sale of its kind in Australian numismatic history. Australia’s longest running numismatic auction house, Downies ACA will celebrate its 55th anniversary in 2018.

Pioneers in print

Downies became a multi-generational family business when Phil’s son Ken joined the company in 1977. Ken’s vision and passion for numismatics created a greater focus on coins, both new and old. In 1984, he introduced the monthly journal Spotlight on Numismatics, which would later became Money, a magazine which is still in print today! With insight into new releases and rare treasures of old, monthly editions of Money have forged a reputation as numismatic canon. They’re even archived by the State Library of Victoria!

A strong retail tradition

Since new outlets opened in Melbourne and Sydney in the 1990s, Downies has been able to share our love of collecting with an even wider audience – and regular appearances at shows and expos across the country certainly help! Downies’ presence on the Melbourne retail landscape was formally recognised in 2017, when Ken was awarded a Lord Mayor’s Commendation for “40 years leading one of our city’s long-standing retail traditions”.

Looking forward to the future

With a third generation of the family now entering the business, Downies’ proud history continues, as does our focus on the future. Thanks to advances in technology and our continued growth, we can now bring more treasured collectables to more people, more often. We’re looking forward to helping more people collect the things they love.