1920 Kookaburra Square Penny design type 10, the 'Crowned Head' Kookaburra Penny

1920 Kookaburra Square Penny design type 10, the 'Crowned Head' Kookaburra Penny
1920 Kookaburra Square Penny design type 10, the 'Crowned Head' Kookaburra Penny
Choice Uncirculated, a sculpted three dimensional design and proof-like mirror fields.
Sold by private treaty to Coinworks 2001. Exhibited Melbourne 2007, 'Kookas In The Cathedral' ANZ Gothic Bank. Photographed and featured in the Greg McDonald Coins and Banknotes Pocket Guide
The Australian Government was avant-garde with its plan to discard the British styled bronze pennies and halfpennies and replace them with a kookaburra square coinage. Radical. Unorthodox. The stirrings of a Republican movement? With the monarch not wearing a crown, some would have argued it was downright improper and a grave breach of royal protocols. To ensure the new coinage received the royal nod, our local politicians tested one (and only one) design that depicted the monarch wearing a crown. Designed by Australian sculptor and medallist, Bertram Mackennal it is known as the ‘Crowned Head’ Kookaburra Penny and it is an elite coin. Struck in 1920, the glamour year of the numismatic industry, it is extremely rare and we have recorded the sale of only three examples, this coin being one of them. Proof-like on both obverse and reverse and well struck, this coin 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.


Obverse of the 1920 Kookaburra Square Penny features the monarch wearing a crown and a square legend. Only the Type 9 and Type 10 kookaburra pennies have a square legend, the balance are circular.


Reverse of the 1920 'Crowned Head' Kookaburra Square Penny features a design that is shared with the Type 7 and Type 9: a bird that is assertive and decidedly alert.


PO Box 1060 Hawksburn Victoria Australia 3142

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