Though it is not the rarest Australian coin, the 1930 bronze penny
has attained legendary status thanks to its uncertain history.
An example being offered in Downies Australian Coin Auctions’ July 8
to 10 auction is notable for something else, however.
The holed example of the famed rarity was worn during World War II
by an Australian Digger (soldier), who carried the piece with his “dog
tags.” The soldier “knew it was a rare coin and placed great faith in
it bringing him good luck,” according to the auction firm.
“He and his regimental unit mates called it his ‘Lucky Penny’ and he
attributed it to getting him through the war and home alive.”
That genuine example of the circulating coin, which is one of
perhaps as many as 700 known to exist today, is estimated at $1,250 in
It's estimate is less than one-tenth the $15,000 estimate for a Good
Fine example (without holes) in the lot preceding it. The story of the
holed version, though, may also attract bidders.
What makes the 1930 penny so valuable?
Melbourne Mint documents do not record an official mintage of 1930
pennies, but experts suggest one theory, that tour guides at the
facility had access to a few dies for the 1930 penny and used them to
demonstrate the minting process. Visitors could then acquire examples
of the 1930 penny by exchanging one of their pennies for the new coin.
Another theory states that the 1930 pennies were experimental pieces
that were set aside. When the 1931 order for coins arrived, because
the order didn’t specify a date, the 1930 cents were shipped with the
Whatever the reason for the coin’s striking, amidst the Great
Depression even a penny was a lot of money, and that’s why most of the
surviving circulation examples are found with wear.
Estimates of the surviving number of circulation examples top out at
around 700. Six Proof examples are also reported to exist, according
To learn more about the auction, email Downies
Australian Coin Auctions or visit its website.