Australia’s First Million Dollar Penny and First Coin

by on November 27, 2007 · 4 comments

Two firsts meet — Australia’s very first coin and its very first million dollar coin — at the Coinworks Dollars & Dumps Exhibition in Melbourne.

The Australian Proof 1930 Penny is valued at more than one million dollars. Alongside the penny, and not to be short-changed by much in comparative uniqueness, if at all, is the first Australian coin, the 1788 Holey Dollar.

These two coins have been described as iconic. It’s easy to see why. The Proof 1930 Penny, 1778 Holey Dollar and several other rare coins make up an over $4 million presentation from Coinworks. That presentation can be viewed through November 30.

History of the Holey Dollar, Dump and 1778 Holey Dollar

Fewer than 300 Holey Dollars are known to exist. These coins were originally made using various imported Silver Spanish Dollars. Holes were punched through the dollars, creating two Australian coins. The ring became the Holey Dollar while the punched out portion became the Dump.

The Australian 1788 Holey Dollar. Notice the original 1788 outer rim versus the punched out center and very inner rim stamped in 1813. This is part of what defines the coin as a Holey Dollar. (Images courtesy of Coinworks.)

When you look at a Holey Dollar, the outer rim looks just like the original coin, with date and all, while the innermost portion contains the newer stamping, with newer date and markings.. Once "changed", the coin became five shillings, or the Holey Dollar.

The smaller disc or punched out hole became fifteen pence, or the "Dump".

The history of the Holey Dollar is fascinating and the possible variations of the coin are just as intriguing to the collector’s mind. Because the coins were imported, Holey Dollars can have differing dates, monarch portraits, originating mints, condition and even metallic compositions. That’s only one part of the coin’s "make-up". The other part is the inner Australian stamping and its uniqueness.

The 1778 Holey Dollar on exhibit experienced 35 years of circulation before getting punched and converted to an Australian dollar. However, as you can see, the very outer ring shows very good detail just as the inner, re-stamped ring. That alone makes it extremely rare.

The Australian Proof 1930 Penny

The Proof 1930 Penny is spectacular looking.

The Australian Proof 1930 Penny. Only six were made and each is worth at least $1 million dollars. (Images courtesy of Coinworks.)

Coinworks describes an interesting history for the coin:

  • Only six were made, and all are accounted for
  • They were intended as showpieces – a perfected 1930 Penny
  • Each were struck at the Melbourne Mint
  • Polished blanks and specially treated dies were used in making them

The six coins are each worth over $1 million. According to Coinworks, one is held by the British Museum, a second by the Museum of Victoria, and a third by the Art Gallery of South Australia. The remaining three coins are held by private collectors.

The location and time of the Dollars & Dumps Exhibition

It’s possible to see the Dollars & Dumps Exhibition at:

Dollars & Dumps in the Cathedral
November 27 – 30, 2007
The Cathedral Room, ANZ Gothic Bank
Collins Street Melbourne 10.00 – 4.00pm daily

Admission by gold coin donation to Whitelion

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

abdullah September 2, 2009 at 11:50 pm

i got 2 brand new lincoln pennies ..i have been wondering if i save it will it be valuable later on in life?

maria May 24, 2010 at 8:17 pm

I have a 1946 wheat penny that includes the “one cent” description on the back, do you think it has any value?

JeffK May 26, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Maria – this may not have been the best place to put your question, it being an article about Australian coins, but fortunately I stumbled onto it. Anyway, to answer your question about a 1946 US cent: All Lincoln cents minted from 1909 to 1958 had that famous “wheat ear” design on the back so your coin isn’t unusual. Many people collect “wheaties” because they’re a classic design and don’t often turn up in circulation anymore.

Most Lincoln cents from the 1940s and 1950s were made in enormous quantities and a lot of them were saved when the Memorial design came out in 1959. As a result the great majority of cents from that time period don’t have much extra value, I’m afraid. In average circulated condition (some wear but all details visible) a 1946 cent might retail for anywhere from a dime to a quarter. Even nice uncirculated ones go for a dollar or so. It would cost more to sell it than it’s worth, so my suggestion would be to hang onto it as a conversation piece/curiosity and a reminder of a very different time in American history.

If you have additional coins questions there are many other sites with specific categories and experts who can answer them –,, and a board I work for, are just a few.

MS.JERRY ANN MOORE December 7, 2010 at 7:52 am


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