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Australian Fifty Cent Coins


Recollections, research, rumours, rants, roots and rewards on collecting Australian 50c pieces.

[1]: Coin-Web,

[2]: Mintage Figures 1966 - 1999, Pocket Guide to Australian Coins and Banknotes, Greg McDonald, 1st to 12th Editions.

[3]: XXX XXXX, Mint Employee, Conversations with Phil Graney and Tony Jordan, late 2004

A private firm called Nuphil Associates cut a deal with the RAM and ordered Specimen 50c coins for a Postal Numismatic Cover. Since the mint did not have the capacity to manufacture this type of coin, Nuphil assisted financially for the specialist press to be bought and installed at the mint.
[Editors Note: Later evidence shows a different picture, see notes lower]
Nuphil made what is known as the "Yarralumla Covers". One story has it that the Yarralumla Post Office was chosen simply because it was convenient to the mint when they picked up the coins.
[Editors Note: Later evidence supports this]
Here we have 2 different versions of events, one version is that the Mint struck more coins than Nuphil's original order of 1500 coins, the other is Nuphil ordered 2000 and then only had 1650 envelopes, either way the end result was an excess number of coins.
According to a mint employee, some of the remaining coins were sold to Sydney dealers with the rest simply placed into the till of the Mint Shop to be used as common change. Some employees did swap their pocket change to rescue a few of these coins.

[4]: Ray Dobson, Correspondence Jan - Feb 2006, founding member Nuphil Associates Ltd

I searched on Google for info regarding the above coins and found your site about the 1969 Specimen strikes.
At that time I was a partner in Nuphil Associates Ltd of Christchurch, NZ. There were only 2 of us in the company, Varian J. Wilson and myself, W. Ray Dobson. Varian did the actual work in producing the covers in Canberra with the help of Ray Whelan of Healesville, Vic.
..........I could take a day or 2 to put my thoughts in order and send you a full account and include a copy of our Newsletter re these covers and a scan of one of my covers.
Ray Dobson.
PS. I am 80 now so like to take my time over things. Varian died some years ago.

I have reprinted Nuphil's Newsletter #1 which deals with this cover and have added colour scans of both sides of one of my covers (#0001) together with some more about Nuphil and the cover.
You may use this in any way you like and publish my name, email and postal addresses, phone #, etc, etc.
One of these covers was sold in Downie's auction # 288 (Item #1014). They said the issue was limited to 1,200 examples.

Just some additional info about the above. I was looking through some very old Nuphil Associates Ltd material when I found an advert we had placed in Lynn's Stamp Weekly in the US sometime in 1970.
It seems we had prepared 1,330 covers so there must have been at least that number of 1969 50c Specimen coins.
We offered them at $US7.50 each! In 1970 the exchange rate was $Aust1.00 = $US1.11 so they probably sold at $7.00 in Australia.

Further correspondence received May 2006.

In 1969 a partner, Varian j. Wilson, in a Christchurch, New Zealand firm, Nuphil Associates Ltd, arranged with the RAM, Canberra to prepare a Philatelic Numismatic Cover (PNC) containing the new 50c coin to be released that year. On arrival at the Mint Varian found that, in order to fill his order for the coins, a special striking of the coins had been made and were available for him to prepare the covers. However, he was not permitted to take the coins away from the Mint until the official release date but was given facilities to prepare the covers there. This he, with the assistance of a Victorian coin-dealer, Ray Whelan of Healesville, did over a number of days working while the Mint was open.

On 1st September, 1969, they took the covers to the Yarralumla Post Office for postmarking. They were then delivered to Nuphil Associates Ltd, PO Box 962, Canberra City, where they were backstamped on the same date.

Nuphil Associates Ltd was a very small company consisting of myself, W. Ray Dobson, and Varian J. Wilson. Varian was a semi-retired clinical psychologist so was in a position to travel while I had a busy pharmacy to run so was somewhat tied. Varian and I had met through our mutual interest in coin collecting and had set up our company to prepare PNCs to mark New Zealand's change to decimal currency in 1967. We had established a fiendly relationship with a Victorian coin dealer, Ray Whelan, of Healesville who assisted Varian in preparing the covers in Canberra and would be responsible for the sale of them in Australia.

I regret I am unable to throw any light on the question of how many coins were struck in the special striking but, from an advert we placed in a US publication, Lynn's Stamp News, in 1969 or 1970 it seems we prepared 1,330 covers. These were priced at $US7.50 each which would equate to about $Aust7.00 at that time. That there was an excess of coins over covers produced I do know as, on his return, Varian gave me 6 of the coins in unstamped and unpostmarked covers, which I have since sold. He also gave me 4 of the covers (#s 0001, 0089, 0090, 0091) which I still have today.

Two points I would like to mention. It has been suggested that we (Nuphil Associates Ltd) financially assisted the RAM to install a specialist press to strike the Specimen coins. This cannot be true as we were cash-strapped to the extent we had difficulty in paying for Varian's trip to Canberra and buying the coins and certainly had nothing left over. There is a faint possibility that Ray Whelan financed this but I have no recollection of any such deal. It has also been suggested that mounting the coins in card and covering them in plastic has caused them to lose their original bright, lustrous state and turn a dull, steel grey. This could well be true as the coins in my covers are all in this dull state and, as suggested, "not very appealing at all". What the coins were like when I received them in 1969 I cannot now remember.

I have not heard of the covers being referred to as the "Yarralumla Covers" but can well imagine Varian posting them there if it was the most convenient post office to the RAM. We referred to them as "Nu27" as they were the 27th cover we had produced The covers were originally sold mainly in Australia and the US, very few in New Zealand.

[5]: Rennik's 21st Edition, Break down of Sets, Page 105

Blue Card - 77,250

Blue Wallet - 15,809

RBA Wallet - 12,260

VIP Wallet - 520

Operation Fast Buck Wallet - 70

There are additional notes from a participant in Operation Fast Buck here

[6]: XXX XXXXX, Employee, Royal Australian Mint, Conversations with Phil Graney Early 2006

2100 Specimen coins made, Nuphil paid for mint employees, equipment and time to manufacture the specimen coins. More coins than required struck due to increased productivity, (ie more were made in time allotted than originally planned) Nuphil declined to take these coins. Some were sold to dealers, the remainder placed in till of Mint Shop. Since release some covers have been found with the specimen coins replaced with the usual Unc versions. The specimen coin has a satin finish with much better strike characteristics than all other Unc coins.

[7]: Collectors Note 1966 Mint Set 50c

Coins are quite often found toned from these sets, if possible grab one of the sets that have been stored in 2x2's since release.
Beware of dipped coins.

[8]: Mint Set numbers include Baby Sets, same coins different packaging.

Coins are manufactured and packaged same way for both types of set, the addition of a medallion to the Baby Sets is about only real difference.

[9]: 1994 IYOF PNC

All are wide date variety in PNC, reports of normal version have been made but none has ever been offered for sale

[10]: Released in a joint issue by the RAM and Australia Post as a Postal Numismatic Cover. ( PNC )

See PNC pages for more info

[11]: Mint Set numbers include Baby Sets and 20 Coin Set, same coins different packaging.

Mint Sets : 90,822
Baby Sets : 32,494
20 Coin Set : 21,040

[12]: Mint Set numbers comprise 3 Coin Set, 20 Coin Set and 2 coin shippers. same coins different packaging.

20 Coin Set : 21,040
2 coin shippers for above set
Plus State 3 coin Sets
The 20 Coin Set was sold with NSW 20c, 50c plus Federation $1 and 50c included, the remaining coins were shipped to customers throughout release program which spanned most of 2001.
See also Note 21 this page.

[13]: Mintage Figures, 1999 - Present, Royal Australian Mint Annual Reports.

[14]: Dennis Hughes(disco123), Decimal Researcher, Royal Australian Mint Forum, Late 2002

First to report story of truck fire/accident destroying large portion of issue, no confirmation since.
From memory the claim was around half were destroyed in a truck crash and subsequent fire.

Editor's Note: The actual numbers of these offered for sale in the period late 2002 to early 2006 would seem to bear witness that these are scarcer than official mintage figures would indicate.
This release went under the radar until the announcement in late 2002 that this design was not to enter circulation as previously stated, the backlog of 2001 State 50c meant there was no requirement.

[15]: Aluminium Bronze 50c only released in PNC

[16]: Joint Release, Australia Post, Royal Mail, Royal Mint and Royal Australian Mint

Contains Specimen Unc 50p and Unc Standard Coat of Arms 50c
Released at Stamp Show in Sydney in April 2005 with no publicity, later publicised and sold by Mint in June/July 2005.

5,000 meant to be Australian portion of release, many collectors have hoarded these, including ordering directly from Royal Mint, making mockery of Australian portion.

[17]: Mint Set numbers include Baby Set and Baby Card , same coins different packaging.

The Baby Card was released and sold by Australia Post, contains 50c coin. Some question marketing a baby memento showing a funeral.

[18]:Round Silver Proof 50c 2006, released in Silver Proof Set.

Carries 2006 dated Arnold Machin portrait of QEII, 8 coin set all 99.9% silver.

[19]: Wayne Roberts : Aussie Coin & Banknote Forum, Feb 2006

Wayne has researched mintages back to 1984(?) so far and is doing great things for decimal research, great for checking your own work against as well as filling in many of the earlier gaps.

[20]:Round Silver Proof 50c 2006, released in Proof Set.

Carries Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of QEII, 80% silver same as original 1966 issue.
Baby Proof set has 12 sided proof in copper nickel

[21]: RAM : Annual Reports 2000/2001, 2001/2002, 2002/2003

The RAM reports that 19,996 20 coin Unc sets were made in 00/01 then a further 1,044 made in 01/02. They report these as being made with the full 20 coins but then list the coins they had to ship to customers ( 2 coin shippers) to complete the set....
As customers ordered the 20 Coin set throughout the release program, the set would be shipped with coins already released included with balance to come in "2 coin shippers". This makes it difficult to ascertain actual numbers of coins.
Actual numbers may never be known but the NSW figures would be most correct and therefore could be considered absolute ceiling for other issues.
For NSW the 20 CoF set plus 3 coin set numbers used. Remaining States, mintage figures derided from 3 coin set and 2 coin shippers.

[22]:London Pattern 50c 1966.

A 1966 50c with real double bars !!!
Andrew Crellin of Sterling & Currency has written some articles, one in his blog and another for CAB
Both articles will be reproduced on this site soon<tm>

[23]:Round Gold Proof 50c 2006.

Released for 40th Anniversary of Decimal Currency, sold out very quickly.

[24]:2 Coin Set

The sets contain both a Royal Visit and Royal Birthday coin

[25]:Annual Reports 2006, 2007

2006 report states 34 million, for some reason RAM decided to round off circulation figures to nearest million, will try to get accurate figures, then in 2007 report they have a further 28,859,000 being made.
This needs investigation, as this is by far the largest amount of 50c coins ever released in one year for circulation.

[26]:Annual Report 2006

A figure of 10,000 uncirculated 50c coins is given, no mention made of other coins for Australia Post booklet so these could be for them, will try to confirm.