News & Views

Proof Coins from the Perth Mint 1940 - 1954.


Well preserved proof coins of the Perth Mint are unrivalled for quality. The coins not only display superb levels of detail in their design, but qualities and colours that are simply unmatched by those of the Melbourne Mint. Each coin is a work of art, as individual, and as beautiful, as an opal.

To facilitate the rapid conversion of gold into currency (sovereigns and half sovereigns), the British Government authorised the establishment of the Sydney Mint in 1855, the Melbourne Mint in 1872 and the Perth Mint in 1899.

The Perth Mint remained a gold producing mint from the year of its opening until 1931 when Australia struck its last sovereign and the coining presses at the Mint ground to a halt. The Mint endured a nine-year period of nil coin production.

That the Melbourne Mint was striking Australia’s Commonwealth coins and that Australia was in the midst of a depression simply meant that the minting facilities at Perth were excess to requirements.

The onset of war created a window of opportunity and in 1940 the Perth Mint took up the reins for striking Australia’s circulating copper coins for the Commonwealth Government. The Mint continued to strike copper coins until 1964, when two years later Australia converted to decimal currency.

In accordance with minting traditions the Perth Mint struck proof record pieces of those coins being struck for circulation. Some of the pieces were archived. Some were gifted to prominent Australian and overseas institutions fulfilling the ideology of proofs being struck as display pieces.

The Royal Mint London, the British Museum, Royal Mint Melbourne, Japan Mint, National Gallery SA, Art Gallery WA and the Australian War Memorial were just some of the institutions to receive Perth proofs.

There was no hint of commercialism in the production of these pieces. Posterity, the preservation of Australia’s coining heritage … that and a passion for numismatics were the driving forces behind their striking. The collector market per se was denied access to them.

John Sharples, the former Curator of Australia’s Numismatic Archives, published an article in the 1995 NAA Journal on the Perth Mint Proof Record coins.

He examined the distribution of proof specimens recorded in Perth Mint communications and records over the period 1940 – 1954.

1948 Penny

He concluded that the numbers struck were as follows:

Date Penny Halfpenny
1940 5  
1941 7  
1942 11  
1943 12  
1944 12  
1945 11 8
1946   13
1947 19 13
1948 16 18
1949 16  
1950 15 15
1951 14 8
1952 15 16
1953 20 20
1954    15

The Proof Record pieces of the Perth Mint form an integral part of our currency heritage and, whilst the historical aspect may seem to be simply a passionate reason for purchase, it is this historical edge (and their exclusivity) that underpins their strong investment performance.

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