The Melbourne Mint was established in 1872 as an overseas Branch of the Royal Mint London, the purpose to strike sovereigns and half sovereigns. In 1916, the Melbourne Mint diversified its coining repertoire. While continuing to strike the nation's gold coins, it also minted coins of the newly formed Commonwealth of Australia.
The Melbourne Mint ceased its coining operations in 1964.
In keeping with Royal Mint traditions, the Melbourne Mint struck proofs of those coins its was minting for circulation, be they gold, silver or copper. They are collectively referred to as Coins of Record.
The term, COIN OF RECORD, is to a large extent self-explanatory. It is a coin that has been minted to put on record a date. Or to record a design.
What is not self-explanatory is that Coins of Record were struck as presentation pieces, to proof quality. And were struck in the most minute numbers, thereby satisfying the requirements of the mint rather than the wants of collectors.
Forget the notion of striking one thousand proofs, as collectors are accustomed to today. Let's talk about striking ten coins ... or maybe less!
For today’s collectors the Coins of Record offer a wonderful link to the past and are extremely rare, two reasons that make them so popular.
One of Australia’s most famous Coins of Record is the Proof 1930 Penny. Only six examples of the Proof 1930 Penny were struck, one of which was retained by the mint with one each being sent to the British Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia, where they both still reside.
How three examples out of the mintage of six ended up in collector’s hands is still unclear. The might of influential collectors, we suggest.
There was no commercial angle in the production of Coins of Record. The mints were not out to make money from the exercise. Quite the reverse, striking a proof coin in our pre-decimal era was a very labour intensive (and hence costly) exercise that would have dented the mints annual budget quite considerably.
The prime reason why so few coins were struck.