World Coins

Pattern silver medal shows coin that might have been

Hungarian-born sculptor Andor Meszaros created potential designs for Australia’s 1966 decimal currency, but his were not selected. When an Australian numismatic magazine later held its own contest, his Goose dollar pattern design (which had been proposed for the 20-cent coin) won, and silver medals were struck and sold.

Image courtesy of Downies Australian Coin Auctions.

Some of the joy of pattern collecting resides in the ability to experience the “what if” or ponder “what might have been” with a given coin series or issue.

Pattern pieces, and their unofficial brethren, fantasies, can be found all over the world, as the process to select and adopt new designs follows a similar linear path in most places.

One famous fantasy piece from Australia is offered as part of Downies Australian Coin Auctions’ sale No. 323, scheduled for March 15 to 17. 

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The dollar fantasy was created by Hungarian-born sculptor Andor Meszaros, one of the six artists selected by the government-created Advisory Panel on Coin Design to compete to design Australia’s new decimal coins, which were adopted Feb. 14, 1966.

Meszaros lost out to British designer/artist Stuart Devlin, but his would-be designs endure in numismatic history in Australia.

When Australian Coin Review magazine sponsored a contest in its December 1966 issue “for the best reverse design for a crown sized coin of Australia,” Meszaros entered with a design modified from the one he had proposed for a 20-cent coin, showing a goose in flight. 

Meszaros added the word AUSTRALIA, a crown and the date 1967, and removed the denomination indicator numeral 20, since this was to be a private issue and not a government release. 

Contest entries arrived from around the world, including the United States, and were published in the August 1967 issue. The contest winner, Meszaros’ design, was announced in the November 1967 issue.

Magazine editors had promised that, if the winning entry was of sufficient quality, examples of the design would be struck for collectors. Meszaros’ design, which included an obverse representation of wattle based on the design he had submitted for the 2-cent coin, was struck in Proof and Uncirculated .999 fine silver versions.

A total of 750 examples in Proof were sold for $13.50 each, and 1,500 examples of the Uncirculated finish version were sold at $10 each.

Interestingly, Australia did not adopt a dollar until 1984, when another Devlin design (the famous “mob of roos”) was selected for the reverse. If Australia had issued Meszaros’ Goose dollar design in 1967, it would have been the second goose on a silver coin in the Commonwealth that year, after the release of Canada’s iconic dollar marking that nation’s Centennial.

The Downies auction features an example designated as Specimen (or Uncirculated). 

It has an estimate of $1,500 Australian ($1,154 U.S.). 

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