The 1920 Square Penny Type 7 is a world class rarity with perhaps twelve examples available to collectors.
Translating that number into availability we suggest that the buyer that passes on this coin will have to wait at least one to two years for another example to come onto the market.
And this example is superb for quality, well struck, the edges uniform and the design highly detailed.
Visually impactful, the coin has superb proof-like surfaces, most unusual for a coin struck from cupro-nickel.
The rumblings of a Republican movement were heard in 1919 when the Australian Labor Government decided to discard the traditional British penny and halfpenny designs and replace the coins with square coinage featuring the kookaburra.
The change to incorporate Australia's native bird onto our coinage was politically motivated.
A wave of nationalism was sweeping the country post World War I and the Government saw political advantage in tapping into the mood of the people by introducing a uniquely Australian flavour to our coinage.
A 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 believed would be accepted.
A new metal was also used. The square kookaburra coins were tested in cupro-nickel.
Trials commenced at the Melbourne Mint in 1919 and continued until 1921 with the test pieces ultimately passed to dignitaries and Government officials to assess their reaction.
It is believed that over the three year period 200 pieces, of various designs, were produced.
The response to Australia’s square coinage was however poor. There was widespread public resistance to change, while the elderly rejected the small size of the coins.
However, the final decision not to proceed seems to have been based mainly on another consideration. The large number of vending machines then in operation requiring a circular coin.
The impetus for change was further eroded when William Watt, the most influential advocate of the nickel kookaburras, suddenly resigned his position as Treasurer before the necessary regulations were in place.
The kookaburra coins never went into production and Australia lost a great opportunity to go its own way. But with only the 200 prototypes to show as evidence of the Government’s grand scheme, Australian coinage gained another wonderful collector piece. And a prized coin rarity.
For many collectors the fascination with the Square Penny and Halfpenny takes them on a journey to acquire more than one example.
The coins are engaging and their rarity offers collectors the challenge they so often seek.