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The 1930 Penny


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The 1930 Penny is the first choice for most buyers looking to make a rare coin purchase. Struck during the Great depression, it is a collector favourite. And because it is such a recognised and respected coin it is a comfortable choice.

The 1930 Penny is a part of Australian folklore. Struck during the Great Depression, the coin is today a national icon and its star status has made it one of Australia’s most valuable coins. And our most popular. It is unrivalled for popularity, enjoying a constant stream of demand unmatched by any other coin rarity.

Collectors acquire a 1930 Penny for lots of reasons. Taking a nostalgic journey back to their youth. Holding the coin as a family heirloom to pass on to future generations. Or to have simply as an investment.

For those looking for nostalgia, the buying of a 1930 Penny is pure passion and excitement, living out and realising a childhood dream of owning Australia’s most famous coin. Rekindling childhood memories. Or evoking family memories.

For others it is acquired as an investment. Or a family heirloom to pass on to children or grandchildren. History shows us that buying a 1930 Penny can be a very sound investment decision, particularly over the long term. It is a solid coin. Financially reliable. Everyone knows about it and the coin comes with a solid reputation for growth.

One of the great advantages of buying a 1930 Penny is that you can have the pleasure of ownership and make money along the way.  

The coin is an industry phenomenon, for in a market that is quality focused it is interesting to note that the 1930 Penny is keenly sought irrespective of its quality ranking. And growth over the mid to long term has been significant across all quality levels.

What is most interesting is that the 1930 Penny stumbled into fame. A review of records at the Melbourne Mint confirms that apart from the six 1930 Pennies struck to proof quality, no pennies were struck for circulation in that year.

The suggestion is that a few circulating strikes may have been minted at the same time as the Proof version, set aside and inadvertently issued years later by mistake. The suspected mintage is 1500. That no one has a definite answer as to how it was minted, only adds to the romance and the mystery that has shaped the image and profile of Australia’s 1930 Penny.

The 1930 Penny was not discovered until the 1940s, allowing at least a decade of circulation before collectors even knew of their existence. Which means that most of the 1930 Pennies had been handled, mishandled, potentially dropped, scratched, or rattled around in change.

So, all 1930 Pennies have undergone circulation, with the majority very well circulated and much used. Struck during the Great Depression and with unemployment tipping 30 per cent, the notion that coins could be saved or kept as a collectible was nonsensical. Any coin that came into a family's hands was used.

It is a simple fact that the point at which the 1930 Penny became a collectible - and was taken out of circulation - determines the extent of wear that the coin sustained. And shapes its price.


Steps to acquiring the 1930 Penny

It's a fact that all 1930 Pennies have undergone circulation, with the majority very well used. Struck in 1930, during the Great Depression and with unemployment tipping 30 per cent, the notion that coins could be saved or kept as a collectible was nonsensical. Any coin that came into a family's hands was used.

The point at which the 1930 Penny became a collectible, and was taken out of circulation, determines the extent of wear the coin sustained. And hence its price.

1. Set your budget.

As with all purchase decisions, the first step is to set your budget for 1930 Pennies are available across a broad range of prices. The minimum price you can expect to pay for a 'nice' coin is $25,000.

2. Explore your quality options.

The Classic 1930 Penny
The most popular entry level for buyers is a $25,000 - $30,000 coijn and we refer to it as the 'Classic' 1930 Penny. Circulated - but nice to the eye. A coin that is technically classified from ‘Fine’ up to ‘Good Fine’ on the obverse (the King’s head) with six pearls evident in the King’s Crown. A hint of the central diamond, or one side of the central diamond, also is visible. In summary, the ‘Classic’ 1930 Penny is a well circulated evenly toned piece and following our buying tips, should be overall, aesthetically pleasing.

The Diamond 1930 Penny
The next most popular entry level for 1930 buyers is the $35,000 - $60,000 range. This a price range that delivers the ‘Diamond’ 1930 Penny. A coin that to the naked eye, has its design details relatively intact, and is technically classified from ‘About Very Fine’ to ‘Very Fine’ with the central diamond and six pearls evident in the Kings Crown. The 'Diamond' 1930 Penny was taken out of circulation and became a collectible earlier in its life than the 'Classic'. Evenly toned and again aesthetically pleasing.

The Diamond & Pearl 1930 Penny
A 1930 Penny that has undergone minimal circulation and became a collectible very early on in its life will be graded a minimum of 'Good Very Fine' and up to the finest known at 'About Uncirculated'. We refer to it as the 'Diamond & Pearl' 1930 Penny. The 'Diamond and Pearl' 1930 Penny is extremely rare, perhaps forty to fifty would be available. The coin will have a starting price of $65,000 moving up to $450,000 if you are contemplating the finest known.

The coin will have a complete and strong central diamond that almost leaps right out of the coin. Eight pearls are evident in the King’s Crown in varying degrees of strength, from smudges or hints up the highest quality examples that show a complete seventh and eighth pearl. This is an elite coin that became a collectible very early in its life and is of the highest rarity. Waiting lists are the norm for a 1930 Penny of this calibre.

3. But remember, irrespective of the quality, pick a coin that is pleasing to look at.

Irrespective of the quality level and the dollar level, if you are a potential buyer of a 1930 Penny then the best advice we can offer you is to only consider a coin that is visually very attractive and that has no obvious defects from its time in circulation. The simple point - of acquiring a 1930 Penny that looks 'good' - really counts when, further down the track, it comes time for you to sell and realise on your investment.

The 1930 Penny was not discovered until the 1940s, allowing at least a decade of circulation before collectors even knew of their existence.Which means that most of the 1930 Pennies had been handled, mishandled, dropped, scratched, or rattled around in change.

Do not accept the huge unsightly gouge. Note, there will always be some signs of circulation with a 1930 Penny, but if they overwhelm the overall aesthetics of the coin, then in our view, do not buy it. Storage, how well a coin has been preserved, is also a contributing factor to the value of a 1930 Penny. If there are tell-tale signs of poor storage, the coin should be knocked back. The very reason why we reject more 1930 Pennies than we accept.

Our attitude with 1930 Pennies is clear. There are a number of 1930 Pennies around, but not all of them are worth owning.


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A Diamond & Pearl 1930 Penny
Quality Good Extremely Fine - Value today $200,000

This ‘Diamond and Pearl’ 1930 Penny is graded Good Extremely Fine and has a complete central diamond and eight clear pearls.

Of the one thousand-plus 1930 Pennies in existence today, we rate this coin as Number 3 in the pecking order.

It is the presence of the eight pearls in the crown that makes this coin particularly special, identifying it as a leading 1930 Penny and an exception to those most commonly sighted.

The coin has a complete central diamond that 'knocks you in the eye' and eight clear pearls. The upper and lower band in the crown are complete.

The oval to the left of the diamond is strongly three-dimensional and complete. Note the detail in the king's robes and the moustache.


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A Diamond & Pearl 1930 Penny
Quality Good Very Fine - Value today $75,000

It's a fact that all 1930 Pennies have undergone circulation, with the majority very well circulated and much used.

Struck during the Great Depression and with unemployment tipping 30 per cent, the notion that coins could be saved or kept as a collectible was nonsensical. Any coin that came into a family's hands was used.

It is a simple fact that the point at which the 1930 Penny became a collectible - and was taken out of circulation - determines the extent of wear that the coin sustained. And shapes its price.

This 1930 Penny is graded Good Very Fine and would be in the top fifty examples.

The obverse has a complete central diamond, six clear pearls and the smudging of the seventh and eighth pearls. Wear has started to occur in the upper and lower band in the position of the seventh and eight pearls. A flattening process has also started in the oval to the left of the crown.


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A Diamond 1930 Penny
Quality Very Fine - Value today $60,000

This is a 'Diamond' 1930 Penny with a complete central diamond and six clear pearls.

It is noted that the seventh and eighth pearls, one of the first areas of the design to sustain friction, have been flattened.

Wear has occurred in the upper and lower band in the position of the seventh and eight pearls. Wear has also occurred in the oval to the left of the crown.

There is significant wear to the robes, moustache and eyebrow.

These comments need to be taken in the spirit in which they are intended for they are not criticisms. They are provided as a point of comparison only. 

At Very Fine this coin rests in the top 100-plus examples and is three grades higher than your average 1930 Penny.


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A Classic 1930 Penny
Quality Fine to Good Fine - Value $30,000

The most popular entry point for 1930 Penny buyers is at the grading level of Fine to Good Fine.

This is your average circulated coin.

The central diamond is obliterated or perhaps just showing the top right-hand side only.

Six pearls are evident in varying strengths. The seventh and eight pearl are totally flattened. And the oval to left of the central diamond is half showing.

Obvious wear is creeping into the rest of the band in the crown, the pearls and the remaining oval.

At least 500 1930 Pennies would become available (over time) at this quality level.

I am looking to invest in a 1930 Penny

The fabulous rise of the 1930 Penny.

The 1930 Penny is a part of Australian folklore. The coin is a national icon and its star status has made it one of Australia’s most valuable coins.

What is most interesting is that the 1930 Penny stumbled into fame. A review of records at the Melbourne Mint confirms that apart from the six 1930 Pennies struck to proof quality, no pennies were struck for circulation in that year.

Many theories have been put forward as to the accidental minting of the 1930 Penny.

One theory suggests that a few circulating strikes may have been minted at the same time as the Proof version, set aside and inadvertently issued years later by mistake.

The more popular explanation is also the more romantic. Mint policy dictated that the dies were prepared in readiness for the striking of a penny in 1930. The Depression and the lack of economic growth meant that, apart from striking a small number of halfpennies and gold sovereigns, the Melbourne Mint became a tourist attraction. It is thought that a mint guide minted small batches of 1930 pennies for tourists as souvenirs of their visit.

The suspected mintage is about 1500 coins.

The accidental minting of the 1930 Penny was not discovered until the 1940s, dealers responding to the discovery by offering to pay up to 10/- for an example. However, it was not until the 1960s that the 1930 Penny 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 close to $25,000.)

By 1965, a Fine 1930 Penny had more than doubled in price to £120. By decimal changeover, the price had moved to £255 ($510) and the 1930 Penny had captured the imagination of collectors and non-collectors alike.

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.

The craze was driven 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 keen to complete sets of all coins minted in Australia rushed to acquire the elusive pieces at rapidly escalating prices.

We are well into the decimal era now, so no one checks for pennies in schoolyards anymore. But, the backs of old couches and the deep recesses of old furniture are still to this day routinely checked. Just in case.


THE 1930 PENNY - FAQ

I have a 1930 Penny. I would like to know what it is worth.

First up take photographs of both sides of the coin. Make sure the date ‘1930’ is clear and visible.

Then take a close-up photograph of the King’s ‘crown’ on the head side of the coin. 

Email the photographs to info@coinworks.com.au for an assessment and valuation. 

Alternatively, you can call 03 9642 3133 and make an appointment with one of the Coinworks team. 

My Penny has the date '1930' but features a lady on a seat. What is it worth?

The Australian 1930 Penny shows COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA around the edge of the ‘tail’ side of the coin. 

The penny with Britannia seated is British.

The coin was produced at the Royal Mint London and the mintage was a gargantuan 29,097,600.

In used condition the British 1930 Penny has no real commercial value.  

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Can I sell my 1930 Penny through Coinworks?

Absolutely. And Coinworks can offer you two options.

We can purchase the coin outright. Or sell the coin on your behalf on a consignment basis at a fixed commission rate. 

 

Either way we will have to physically sight the coin. And we will require background information as to where it was obtained.

Please contact us to arrange an appointment.
03 9642 3133
 

Are there other dates in the Australian penny series that are valuable?

Yes. The years 1925 and 1946 are also considered scarce and valuable. However, they are nowhere near as valuable or rare as the 1930 Penny. 

An average condition 1925 Penny would be valued in the range of $100 - $150. 
 

An average condition 1946 Penny would be valued in the range of $50 - $60.

An average condition 1930 Penny can be a $15,000 - $20,000-plus proposition.

Will it help if I clean my 1930 Penny and make it look brand new?

Rule of thumb. Do not touch your coins! Cleaning can impact very heavily on the potential value of any coin.

Coins are best left in their original unaltered state. 

I would like to buy a 1930 Penny. Should I wait for an Uncirculated example to become available?

The 1930 Penny was discovered in the 1940s, at least ten years after it was struck, so all 1930 Pennies have circulated. Added to this, the coin was struck during the Great Depression and very few people could at the time afford to put their coin aside as a keepsake.

All 1930 Pennies have been used. And the majority, very well used which equates to a numismatic quality grading of Fine. None are Uncirculated.

Our advice to people wanting to acquire a 1930 Penny is to select a coin that suits their budget.

And as time passes and your budget increase, trade back your 1930 Penny on a higher quality example. 

How many 1930 Pennies are believed to have been struck?

The industry believes that 1500 were originally struck at the Melbourne Mint.

I think I have a Proof 1930 Penny. How can I be sure?

The Melbourne Mint has a record that indicates six examples of the Proof 1930 Penny were struck.

And they are all accounted for.

Three examples reside in Museums and public institutions. The remaining three are currently held with Coinworks clients, one in Melbourne and two in Sydney. 


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