The 1930 Penny was discovered by collectors in the 1940s.
That the coin had endured at least ten years of circulation before it was discovered means that all surviving examples show wear.
Dealers responded to the discovery of the 1930 Penny by offering to pay up to 10/- for an example.
However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the coin became a national symbol. Newspapers were instrumental in creating that image, television played a lesser role.
Lists of Australian coins and their market prices and headlines such as “Have you cashed in on Australia’s coin craze yet?” and “A Penny could be worth £500” appeared in the 60s in the daily newspapers.
The nation’s rare coin market reacted in a frenzy as thousands cashed in on the opportunity to make big money.
In 1964, the Sydney Sunday Telegraph published a guide to the latest prices on Australian coins. It was the first time that such a list had been published and, while most pennies were fetching a small premium over face value, the 1930 Penny was listed at £50 in Fine condition (today that same coin would be worth more than $20,000).
By 1965, a Fine 1930 Penny had more than doubled in price to £120.
Before the arrival of decimal currency in 1966, no Australian could look at a penny without glancing at the date, just in case it was the elusive ‘1930’. A product of the Depression, it was everyone’s chance to make big money fast.
By decimal changeover, the price had moved to £255 ($510) and the 1930 Penny had captured the imagination of collectors and non-collectors alike.
The craze was fuelled on the one hand by the lure of quick money and on the other by the pressure of the collector market for supplies.
Decimal currency changeover posed an imminent and very real danger to coin collectors - the melting down of undiscovered rare pieces. Collectors were keen to complete sets of all coins minted in Australia.
There are no pennies being checked in schoolyards anymore, but for many collectors the journey to acquire our most famous penny still goes on.