1919 Kookaburra Square Penny design type 5

1919 Kookaburra Square Penny design type 5
1919 Kookaburra Square Penny design type 5
Choice Uncirculated with a deeply etched design, proof-like fields and attractive toning
Sold by private treaty to Coinworks 2003. Exhibited Melbourne 2007, 'Kookas In The Cathedral' ANZ Gothic Bank. Photographed and featured in the Greg McDonald Coins and Banknotes Pocket Guide
The Kookaburra Square Pennies were struck at the Melbourne Mint in 1919, 1920 and 1921. Four different styles were trialed in 1919, involving modification to both the obverse and the reverse designs. They are each designated numerical codes - Type 3, 4, 5 and 6 - for ease of reference. And as a point for comparison. This 1919 Kookaburra Square Penny features the design type 5. An extremely rare piece, we have recorded the sale of only three 1919 Type 5 Square Pennies over the last 50 years, this coin being one of them. There is however another aspect to the Type 5 that adds to its collector appeal. It has a unique design. No other Square Penny bears the kookaburra design of the Type 5. This coin has a deeply etched design, proof-like mirror fields and attractive toning and was chosen as the representative example of its type in the 'Kookas in the Cathedral' Exhibition held at the ANZ Gothic Bank in 2007.
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When the Kookaburra Square Penny was created, Australians were recovering from the war and determined to lessen the ties with Great Britain.

The mood even filtered through to our coinage! The Government planned to introduce a square penny with our native bird on the reverse. And the monarch minus his crown on the obverse! Provocative and contentious but uniquely Australian.

Australia entered a modern age post World War I. For many Australians, it was a time for breaking out socially, of questioning and changing old values and behaviour and enjoying the good life. It was a time of great change. People forgot the old and embraced the new in an attempt to leave the hardship and struggles of the war behind them.

New technology was being created, like toasters and cars, things that today we take for granted. The fashion world was exploding, great changes were embraced in styles of dress. Australians were identifying with their own culture, keen to lessen the emotional and cultural ties with Great Britain.

Creating a new, totally Australian coinage was a part of the deal which is why the Government floated the idea of the Kookaburra Penny envisaging a coin that would be unique to Australia.

The Government's plan was to discard the British-styled penny and halfpenny and to create a coin with a typically Australian design featuring the nation's native bird, the kookaburra. To maximise impact, a new shape was planned with the move from circular to square. And bronze was to be discarded and a new metal taken up, that of cupro-nickel.

Tests began at the Melbourne Mint in 1919 and continued for three years, ending in 1921.

Today there are approximately 200 kookaburra coins held by private collectors, making it on a par for rarity with the 1813 Holey Dollar, the nation's first silver coin. And the 1852 Adelaide Pound, the nation's first gold coin.

The best thing for collectors is that the 200 kookaburra pennies do not bear the same design. The Melbourne Mint tested thirteen different styles introducing enormous interest, personal choice and procurement challenges into the series, for some designs are far rarer than others.

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The 1919 Kookaburra Penny type 5 with a unique bird design. Highly detailed motif offset by reflective mirror fields.


The 1919 Kookaburra Penny type 5 with a highly detailed portrait of George V (minus the crown), offset by reflective mirror fields.

read more on the history of the square penny series


PO Box 1060 Hawksburn Victoria Australia 3142

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