Struck At The Perth Mint Coin – In 2010 I saw my first Perth Mint “test strike” of metal on the auction lots of a well-known Queensland auction house. It was single-sided, made of aluminum and had the reverse design of a 10-ounce kookaburra coin. At this point, I can’t remember what year the “test strike” was, but it was in the early 1990s. In the years since, I’ve seen several pop up from time to time at auctions and on eBay, where they’ve managed to sell between $200 and $500 dollars and mostly date from the early 1990s. It always amazed me how so many “test hits” escaped the wild, and I always assumed they weren’t test hits at all, but paperweights for what the felt had been removed. The Perth Mint makes Coin Shaped Paperweights (see here for an example) and according to emails I sent to the Perth Mint, they have been doing so for a long time.
However, the design of these “test attacks” did not match the paperweights I could find. The “test strikes” were claimed to be 1 kilo or 10oz, 2oz or 1oz silver coins and as far as I could tell every paperweight the Perth Mint has sold has been gold plated. Unsolved Mystery I gave up on the idea that the “test photos” were paperweights, and maybe they actually were test photos. Until January 2015 this year when I was in Sydney at the Wynyard Coin offices and I saw this:
Struck At The Perth Mint Coin
It is a lovely marketing board (we now know they are called Portfolio Boards) showing all the coins available at the Perth Mint in 1993. Made of white metal. I couldn’t get one to hold it, but I highly doubt that the items the silver coins represent were silver any more than those the gold or platinum coins represent were gold or platinum! Here is a closer picture:
Australia 2005 Kangaroo One Dollar Coin
As far as I’m concerned, the mystery is solved about the Perth Mint’s so-called uniface proof strikes that were struck in aluminium. These are almost certainly pieces removed from these nice Perth Mint Port Folio boards.
A reader of this blog has sent us some promotional items from the Perth Mint which you can see below. He bought them at a coin shop in Melbourne. The largest uniface element weighs 7.32g and has a diameter of 25.05mm. It represents the 1/2 ounce platinum coin of 1994 and when purchased was described by the coin dealer as being from a Perth Mint billboard similar to the one shown above. The smallest item with the buffered overalls is 15.82mm in diameter and weighs 2.41g. When purchased, it was described as a promotional item given by the Perth Mint to international dealers to promote their 2004 Lunar Coin Programme.
Now there is an important observation to make about these two elements. Neither is aluminum as they are too heavy for their size to be made of that metal. It is unknown what they are made of, we will be emailing the Perth Mint soon to ask what they are made of. We’ll also have to scramble to get our hands on the 1oz and 2oz promotional pieces to see what they’re made of!
We have been in contact with Pauline Burns, the Perth Mint’s main customer service office. This is what he said about the two points shown above:
Australia 1979 10 Cent Struck On 5 Cent Planchet Error
I have forwarded your email to our marketing department and confirm the following. The Monkey Medallion was silver and was made by the Perth Mint solely as a promotional piece. 2004 was the first mint hit Colored Australian Lunar. Koala facsimiles are silver-plated copper; they were pasted on portfolio boards for display at various conventions etc. They were manufactured for several years. Sincerely, Pauline Burns Senior Customer Service Officer The Perth Mint
So that answers the question about the little padographic item, it’s silver and it was hit as a promotional item. Pauline also provided some Perth Mint production documents with her email calling the item the Miniature Silver Monkey Medallion which was struck in 999 silver and had a nominal mass of 2g (although our item weighed about 0.5g more) . It confirms what is also the largest “Koala Facsimile”, a silver-plated copper object designed for a “Portfolio Board”. One question remains though, what about the uniface aluminum test shocks that spawned this entire blog article? Well, we sent another email to Pauline and she replied very quickly with:
Marketing has confirmed that the koalas were silver-plated copper, the kookaburras were silver-plated aluminum and the kangaroos were gold-plated copper.
Bingo. There is our answer, facsimile uniface kookaburras for Portfolio boards are silver aluminium. The facsimiles of gold kangaroos and platinum koalas are copper plated! Mystery solved!
Silver Year Of The Dog 10 Oz Bullion Coin
As part of our project to create an online index for Australian Coin Review magazine, we have just confirmed that this Perth Mint facsimile security problem has existed for over 20 years. On page 9 of the October 1994 issue of
There is an article entitled “All That Glitters” about galvanized bronze facsimile coins made for the Monex Deposit Company in the United States. The article says:
They are the same size as a one ounce gold nugget and a one ounce platinum koala. The reverse design is also identical, right down to the metal specification.
It appears that these facsimile coins also had an identical obverse design, and the only way to pick them out from the real McCoy was to collect them, as they only weighed about half an ounce instead of a full ounce. But here’s the rub, someone showed them as real bars:
George V Perth Sovereign
Naturally, a bright spark has loaded two California merchants with a few pairs of these pieces among a host of other bullion, and one of the merchants is a little pissed off.
It turns out that the Perth Mint thought that the difference in weight would be enough to make the origin of these objects obvious. No. The article goes on to say that the Perth Mint would include “Replica Not Gold (or Platinum)” on the reverse of promotional items from then on. While not exactly the same problem as uniface billboards, it does highlight the dangers of objects that are not clearly marked for what they really are.
On a recent trip to Melbourne we saw a facsimile of a 1 kilo Platinum Koala from 1993 in the window of a major dealer. It wasn’t for sale, but the dealer kindly agreed to lend it to us so we could take a picture of it. We asked the shop owner if he knew what the item was about, he said:
. Eureka! The message seems to be getting out about the true origin of these items. Although it wasn’t quite right, it is silver aluminum. You can see our picture of the ad below, it is 73mm in diameter and weighs 111 grams. Interestingly, it still has double-sided tape on the back so it can be attached to a billboard.
Tuvalu James Bond 007 1oz .9999 Silver Black Coloured Bu Coin
For those who like a bit of math, the specific gravity of platinum is 21.45, while that of aluminum ranges from 2.5 to 2.8. Since the size of the plate above is the same as a real 1 kilo platinum coin, this means that if it is actually minted in aluminium, it should weigh between 115 and 131 grams. Which is just a few grams more than this facsimile weighs.
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Perth Mint Bar Features Kangaroos
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