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Australian Fifty Cent Coins

1966 Round Silver 50c

80.0% Silver

The 1966 circular, .800 fine silver Australian 50 cent coin is a one year type.
It was introduced on the 14th of February 1966 with all other decimal currency but since it had no pre-decimal equivalent the public was slow to accept the "new half-dollars".
From its introduction up to mid 1968 there was many calls for it to be scrapped and for a crown sized $1 coin to be issued, there was even suggestions made to introduce a Half-dollar note.
The Royal Australian Mint in Canberra struck over 36 million 50 cent pieces before rising silver prices halted production with the Mint announcing in late 1967 that they were no longer releasing them into circulation. A quarter of a million pieces(?), held at the mint when the directive to cease production was announced, never saw the light of day. Although a report by the Decimal Committee shows 5.3 million pieces were still held by Treasury at the end of June 1967. They were duly melted down. Since that time a gradual recall and melting down of all pieces which make their way back to the mint has occurred, at a handsome profit to the Government.
The end to silver in circulating coins worldwide was well known and even accepted by the public, so many took the announcement to cease issuing the silver 50c as the death of the denomination altogether, there was even a competition held by The Australian Coin Review Magazine to design a Crown sized dollar coin as a not to subtle hint to the government of the time as to which direction they thought our coins should go.
It was replaced with a copper-nickel dodecagonal (12 sided) issue in 1969, no fifty cent coins having been minted for 1967 or 1968, although the 1966 dated 50c were still being made in 1967. A number of 1966 and 1967 dated patterns exist in both the round and dodecagonal format.
The silver for these coins came from the old sterling silver coinage as it was removed from circulation by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The impending change saw many hoards of coins emerge on fears they they soon would become "worthless".
There is only a very small difference (0.2 grams) in the amount of silver in the pre-1946 florins and the 1966 50c.

1966 Australian 50c
Many millions remain in existence as hoarding this coin has become a national pastime. They remain a very collectible item in uncirculated condition, but are now regarded as little more than a bullion coin in lesser grade. Each coin contains approximately one third ounce of silver. The value of the coin continues to generate confusion among the general public. Today, they are worth around $7 each*. During the silver boom of the early 1980's, their intrinsic value reached highs of $11 to $15.

*Feb 2009 Silver: AUD$20.79 oz
Average 2001 Silver: AUD$7.00 oz

On many 1966 50c coins, including proofs (according to some decimal researchers) there are the remains or "remnants" of the Double Bar can be found. With over 3,000 sets of dies being used it is inevitable that some variation exists.
Unlike later double bars these are very indistinct and difficult to see. These should be considered differently to the double bars (Ghost Bars perhaps?), a separate variety almost. Double Bars are quite distinct and young sharp eyed persons can easily spot them. To class these the same as something only visible under magnification should be re-considered.
There is proper double bars on 1966 50c coins but they are on a very, very rare version, the 1966 London Pattern.

More information on later Double Bars can be found here.
More information on the 1966 London Pattern
This is what proper double bars look like on a 1966 50¢.

Picture courtesy of Andrew Crellin of Sterling & Currency

Nominal Specifications

Denomination: 50 cents
Metal: 80% Silver
20% Copper
Silver Content: 0.3416 oz
Mass: 13.28 grams
Diameter: 31.50 mm
Reverse: Stuart Devlin
Obverse: Arnold Machin