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Rare Australian penny sells for $1.15 million

The 1930 Proof Penny. Images: Supplied, Getty

A rare Australian penny dubbed the ‘King of Coins’ has sold to a Sydney collector for a record price of $1.15 milion, after being one of only six made.

South Yarra coin dealer, Coinworks announced the sale today, saying the sale confirms the value of the Proof 1930 Penny as Australia’s most valuable coin. The dealer said it also made it the world’s most valuable penny.

“The Proof 1930 Penny is the greatest coin in all of Australian numismatics,” said Coinworks managing director, Belinda Downie.

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“It is simply a phenomenal coin in an exceptional state of preservation, and for the buyer represents an investment that guarantees their place in history.”

Why is it so valuable?

The penny was produced as a presentation piece during the height of the Great Depression, with only six made.

Melbourne Mint records show Australia wasn’t making pennies in 1930 due to the deflationary spiral of the Great Depression, although it is now known that around 1,500 pennies were in fact made in 1930, and are now considered rare treasures.

Of those 1500 only six were proof coins; showpiece records of coins produced for circulation, and before 1966 only made at the discretion of the Mint Master.

One of the six showpiece coins was kept by the Melbourne Mint, where the coins were made, while another was sent to the British Museum and another to the Art Gallery of South Australia.

The remaining three went to private collectors.

The coins were considered valuable due to their rarity and the fact that they were produced according to the highest standards.

The other 1,500 1930 pennies triggered a frenzy in 1966 when Australia moved to a decimal currency system and coin collectors began to have great difficulty in building complete collections.

Newspaper headlines at the time read: “A Penny could be worth £500,” as Australians began to understand that only 1,500 1930 pennies had ever entered circulation.

Coinworks described the craze as the original get-rich-quick scheme, with school-children scrutinising their lunch money and all Australians refusing to part with a penny without first checking the date.

Today, the 1930 pennies still fetch high prices on eBay, with one currently on sale for $17,490.

Image: eBay

But of the Proof pennies, the $1.15 million coin is likely the finest, Downie added.

“If the Proof 1930 Penny is the King of Australian rare coins, then this example is the King of Kings for its widely regarded as the finest of the three privately held proof 1930 Pennies,” said Downie.

“Buyers are appreciating the overwhelming rarity of top Australian coins and recognising the investment opportunities that their offering presents.”

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