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1939 Proof Halfpenny Melbourne Mint


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1939 Proof Halfpenny Melbourne Mint
COIN
1939 Proof Halfpenny Melbourne Mint
STATUS
$17,500
QUALITY
Superb FDC with full copper brilliance on both obverse and reverse and surfaces that reflect stunning colours
PROVENANCE
Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins
COMMENTS
Mystery surrounds the striking of the 1939 Proof Halfpenny. So, what do we know about the coin? The 1939 Proof Halfpenny was struck at the Melbourne Mint and the mintage was believed to be 100, in line with those proofs struck in the previous year. As this was a commercial exercise, the mint was not gifting the coins, but selling them at a one shilling premium over face value. We also know that with the outbreak of war the Melbourne Mint allocated its resources to supporting the war effort rather than fostering its commercial sales. Records show that none were sold. The minuscule sightings confirm that a small number were sold, the most likely buyer New Zealand dealer Henry Williams, the person responsible for financing the proofs of 1934 and 1935. Throughout history, extraordinary events have impacted on currency creating what we refer to as numismatic stars. And this 1939 Proof Halfpenny is one such star. A key element of the series of proofs struck between 1916 and 1953, it also is one of the rarest. We estimate you would sight one such example on the market every four to five years. And one as glorious as this coin, once or twice a decade.
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The Melbourne Mint commenced striking Australia’s Commonwealth coins for Treasury in 1916.  

And so, we ask … how many proofs did the mint strike for collectors in 1916?

Given that the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra is today striking circulating coins for Treasury and proof coins of its circulating currency for collectors, it is a natural assumption that the Melbourne Mint would have been doing the same and on an annual basis.

Answer. There were no proof coins struck for collectors in 1916.

The Melbourne Mint’s first proof issue, created with the intention of selling to collectors, occurred in 1927. That's eleven years after the mint began striking Australia’s Commonwealth currency. The coin was, the now famous, Proof Canberra Florin.

The mint would again, seven years later, strike proofs. This time a set of six proof coins of each of the denominations from the halfpenny through to the florin. The 1934 Six Coin Proof Set.

That’s two issues over eighteen years.

This sporadic approach to striking proofs for collectors was consistent with the mint’s policy of striking circulating coins for Treasury. And not catering to the whims of collectors.

Collectors would again be offered a taste of proof coining in 1935, 1937 and 1938 and 1939, the very last year of proof coining in this era of ad-hoc proof strikes.

And it is noted that not every denomination was offered to collectors in each of these years.

The chart below documents those proof issues that were struck by the Melbourne Mint between 1916 and 1953.

The mintages are based on mint records, including records of sales.

1927 proof florin only, suggested mintage 400

1934 – every denomination from proof halfpenny through to proof florin, suggested mintage 50

• 1935 – proof penny and proof halfpenny only, suggested mintage 125

• 1937 – proof crown only, suggested mintage 100

• 1938 – every denomination including the proof crown, suggested mintage 68 proof sets & 52 proof crowns

• 1939 – proof halfpenny only, suggested mintage 40

The details above highlight the extreme rarity of the 1939 Proof Halfpenny.


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