Ask most collectors - or most Australians for that matter - what is Australia's rarest penny and they will respond with the answer, 'the 1930 Penny'.
The correct answer is however the 1945 Penny struck at the Melbourne Mint.
Only four coins were struck to test new master tools before new dies were prepared for the Perth Mint. The Melbourne Mint retained the four prized coins.
In 1978 the Melbourne Mint Collection was transferred to the Museum of Victoria, the collection included the four Proof 1945 Pennies.
Very little was known about Australia's rarest penny until 1988, when the Museum of Victoria decided to sell off one of their coins at auction as part of the nation's Bicentennial celebrations. As you would imagine, collectors pounced. The opportunity to acquire Australia's rarest and most prestigious penny too good to resist, the coin selling for $16,100 on an estimate of $8000. (Interestingly a well above average Holey Dollar sold for the same amount in the very same auction)
In 2009, the Museum of Victoria was again tempted to sell off a second example. It was this coin and, for the record, a far finer piece than that offered in 1988. Again, as you would expect, it fetched a new price record.
It is a fact that Australians love their pennies more than any other coin. Even the zeal for the sovereign (which is very strong) pales into significance when compared to the penny.
Now within the penny series, there are six dates that stand out for their rarity ... 1925, 1930, 1931, 1937, 1945 and 1946.
Of these six dates the 1930, 1937 and 1945 Pennies are regarded as being elite coins.
Elite coins earn their notoriety, partially, through their rarity. A coin does not however achieve an elite (or pinnacle) status on the basis of rarity alone. Those coins that are pinnacles of the industry represent a chapter in Australia's history.
In the case of the 1930 Penny, the era we are talking about is the Great Depression. The 1937 Penny represents the abdication of Edward VIII from the throne. And the 1945 Penny, the cessation of World War II.
Aside from the status of being Australia's rarest penny, this coin, with full brilliant mint red, is the finest George VI copper proof we have ever seen. It is simply spectacular.