This 1920 Square Penny is highly detailed, well struck and has been brilliantly preserved, held in the one collection since 1995. And doesn’t it show? The coin has superb quality characteristics, proof-like surfaces.
The coin was struck at the Melbourne Mint and is evidence of the Labor Government’s grand plan in the 1920s to overhaul the nation’s coinage, and break away from British designs by introducing a uniquely Australian Penny and Halfpenny. Some say it was the rumblings of a Republican movement way ahead of its time.
The mood of the nation had changed after World War I. A laughing kookaburra design and the depiction of the monarch without a crown were two of the elements of the new coinage that while highly contentious and provocative, the Government hoped would be accepted, caught up in the wave of nationalism that was sweeping the nation post World War I.
Trials of the intended square coinage began at the Melbourne Mint in 1919 and continued for a further two years. Four different coin designs were tested in 1919 and we refer to them as the Type 3, 4, 5 and 6. Five were tested in 1920 and they are referred to as the Type 7, 8, 9, 10 and 13. Only two designs were tested in 1921 and we refer to them as the Type 11 and Type 12.
The test pieces were given to dignitaries and Government officials to assess reaction … the very reason why so many Square Pennies today show signs of mishandling. And exemplary examples such as this coin are seldom seen. In fact we ask the question … “When did you last see a Square Penny ascribed a quality level of Choice Uncirculated?”
The swell of popularity for the Square Penny began in the 1950s and the demand for the coin continues to this very day.
Shape, innovative metal, history, rarity and growth … all factors that have combined to make the Square Penny an iconic Australian coin rarity.