The Ultimate Kookaburra Pair - 1921 Kookaburra Square Halfpenny and 1921 Kookaburra Square Penny

The Ultimate Kookaburra Pair - 1921 Kookaburra Square Halfpenny and 1921 Kookaburra Square Penny
The Ultimate Kookaburra Pair - 1921 Kookaburra Square Halfpenny and 1921 Kookaburra Square Penny
SOLD 10/5/2023
Choice Uncirculated and beautifully matched both by design and in quality
The Type 2, 1921 Kookaburra Halfpenny. And the Type 12, 1921 Kookaburra Penny. Both coins share the same obverse portrait designed by Australian sculptor and medallist Bertram Mackennal. And they share the same reverse design of a plump kookaburra resting on a branch. Given the extreme rarity of the Halfpenny, having the two coins together is a rare opportunity. That the two coins are matched for quality makes this an extraordinarily rare opportunity. WE CHECKED. The last time a matched pair of Kookaburra Halfpenny and Kookaburra Penny appeared at auction was in 1993.
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The offering of a 1921 Square Halfpenny and a 1921 Square Penny is exciting and this is the very first time in Coinworks' trading history that we have presented the two coins together as a matched pair.

A matched pair by virtue of the design. And a matched pair by virtue of the quality.

And if you do the math, you will quickly realise that there is a substantial investment dollar saving when you buy the pair.

For the buyer contemplating a Square Penny purchase, three considerations should be foremost.

The first consideration is the quality. The Square Pennies were test pieces and were not struck to the heady controls of a proof striking. As the coins were passed to the public for opinions and comments, many have been mishandled.

Our comments are as follows. The penny and the halfpenny are superb for quality. Even our photographer (of fifteen years) commented on their obvious quality traits and the ease with which he could photograph them. Whereas most type 12 square pennies are found today harshly toned and visually somewhat challenging, this kookaburra penny is fabulous. And the halfpenny, being small in size, is invariably found with a weak strike. You can clearly see the eye of George V and the eye of the kookaburra on the halfpenny. And the toning is matched on both coins.

The second consideration is the design type. It is true that the style of the kookaburra and the style of lettering is critical to assessing the rarity of the coin.

Our comments are as follows. It is statement of fact that all Kookaburra Square Pennies and Halfpennies are rare, but some designs are far rarer than others. But with that rarity comes a higher price tag.

The Kookaburra halfpennies were struck in 1920 and 1921. The 1920 is known by only three examples. Given its importance and its rarity, the 1920 Kookaburra Halfpenny is a $300,000-plus item.

The extreme rarity and value of the 1920 Halfpenny places huge importance on the 1921 Halfpenny. With nine known examples of the '21 halfpenny, it is relatively speaking available and very affordable.

The 1921 Square Penny is the perfect starting point for the buyer keen to acquire a coin out of the series. With about 35 to 40 known, it is still scarce (compared to the 1500 1930 Pennies around). But is priced below a well circulated 1930 Penny.

The third consideration is the price and our comments are as follows.

A Choice Uncirculated 1921 Kookaburra Square Halfpenny matched with a Choice Uncirculated 1921 Kookaburra Penny for $95,000! That's an investment bargain!


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Choice Uncirculated 1921 Type 2 Kookaburra Halfpenny.
Strong design detail. Strength in the legend, even to the kookaburra's eye which is like a tiny pearl. Nice edges. 


Choice Uncirculated 1921 Type 2 Kookaburra Halfpenny.
Strong detail in the legend and in the portrait of George V.
Notice George V's eye! 



Choice Uncirculated 1921 Kookaburra Type 12 Square Penny.
Even our photographer (of fifteen years) commented on its obvious quality traits.


Choice Uncirculated 1921 Kookaburra Type 12 Square Penny.
Just a fabulous coin!

Australia entered a modern age post World War I and for many Australians, it was a time for breaking out, of questioning and changing old values and behaviour and enjoying the good life.

It was a time of great change. People forgot the old and embraced the new in an attempt to leave the hardship and struggles of the war behind them.

New technology was being created, like toasters and cars, things that today we take for granted. The fashion world was exploding, Australians embracing great change in their styles of dress.

Australians were identifying with their own culture, keen to lessen the emotional and cultural ties with Great Britain.

Creating a new, totally Australian coinage was a part of the deal which is why the Government floated the idea of the Kookaburra Penny and Kookaburra Halfpenny envisaging a coin that would be unique to Australia.

The Government's plan was to discard the British-styled penny and halfpenny and to create a coin with a typically Australian design featuring the nation's native bird, the kookaburra. To maximise impact, a new shape was planned with the move from circular to square. And bronze was to be discarded and a new metal taken up, that of cupro-nickel.

Tests began at the Melbourne Mint in 1919 and continued for three years. Sadly, in 1921 the scheme fell apart. The response to Australia’s square coinage was poor with widespread public resistance to change and people generally rejecting the small size of the coins.

However, the final decision not to proceed seems to have been based mainly on another consideration – the large number of vending machines then in operation requiring a circular coin.

The Kookaburra Pennies and Halfpennies that remain today are relics of our past, and the sentiment that they stir up in the current market is collector sentiment, driven by their novel shape. And with only 200 pennies and about 12 halfpennies believed to exist, collector thirst is driven by their extreme rarity.

And the best thing for collectors is that the 200-plus kookaburra coins  do not bear the same design.

Overall, the Melbourne Mint tested thirteen different styles introducing enormous interest, personal choice and procurement challenges into the series, for some designs are far rarer than others.


PO Box 1060 Hawksburn Victoria Australia 3142

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