World Coins

Australian penny rarity tops $1 million AUD

The rarest of Australia's pennies, a Proof 1930 coin, has been sold in a private transaction for $1.15 million Australian dollars ($826,391 U.S.)

Coin images courtesy of Coinworks.

A Proof example of the most famous Australian penny has been reported as sold for $1.15 million Australian ($826,391 U.S.).

The Proof 1930 coin is one of six examples made, and one of three in private hands.

The transaction was completed in February and confirmed with Coin World in early April. The buyer wishes to remain anonymous. 

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The coin is Australia’s most valuable coin, according to Coinworks, the company handling the sale.

The same buyer in April 2018 bought the third-finest known circulating 1930 penny, a coin graded Good Extremely Fine by Coinworks. 

Buying the circulating coin “was the start of a love affair with Australia’s famous copper rarity that would eventually see him claim the ultimate prize of the Proof 1930 Penny,” the auction house said.

Records at the Melbourne Mint indicate that six pennies were struck to Proof quality in 1930. 

As a Proof piece, the coin was never intended to make its way into cash registers. Rather it was created as a collector coin, destined for a prominent collection or government archive, to be preserved for the future. 

The three privately owned Proof 1930 pennies have nicknames reflecting their original owners. These are the Hagley coin (for collector Sydney Hagley), the British Museum Duplicate, and the Old Melbourne Collection coin (the latter coin surfacing in 1997 in a collection in Melbourne).

The Proof example just sold was part of the British Museum collection until the 1980s. 

The Melbourne Mint retained one of the Proof 1930 pennies for its own archives, and when the mint closed, the coin was sent to the Museum of Victoria where it is still held. 

An example also was sent to the British Museum, where it remains, and an example was sent to the Art Gallery of South Australia, where it also remains. 

In 1962, the British Museum received a donation of a Proof 1930 penny, making it the second example held there. 

Two decades later, the British Museum decided that two Proof 1930 pennies were surplus to their requirements and exchanged one of their examples with a Sydney-based auction house, for an 1852 cracked die Adelaide pound. 

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