Coinworks has just sold the Proof 1923 Halfpenny for a world record price of $500,000. The only proof example of Australia’s rarest halfpenny available to collectors, the iconic copper was quickly snapped up by a prominent Sydney family.
The family’s story is not merely one of Australian history, but how a passion for collecting can comfortably co-exist with informed investment.
One member of the family spearheads the interest in rare coins, that interest commencing at the age of seven when the grandmother died, leaving a small tin of sovereigns. The grandmother’s gift seeded a collecting spirit that endures to this day; the sovereigns still part of the family’s holding.
The family members share a passion for history, their forebears having arrived as free settlers in the penal colony of New South Wales in 1855. Driven by that passion and their quest for rarity, the family has acquired some of Australia’s greatest coins, guided in their choices by Coinworks.
Because Australians love their coppers, the Proof 1923 Halfpenny will take a special place in their holding. But it won’t be the only talking point in a collection that includes another very famous copper, the Proof 1930 Penny.
Top silver coins are well represented by the 1920 Pattern Star Florin and 1920 Pattern Star Shilling, the 1919 Pattern Shilling, 1788 Holey Dollar and Dumps and a cased 1916 Specimen-Proof Set. Gold has not been forgotten with a superb 1852 Adelaide Pound and the 1855 Proof Sovereign and Half Sovereign pair.
While the half million paid for the Proof 1923 Halfpenny may seem to be a bit mind numbing, the coin has been acquired at a price level that will embrace growth.
The Proof 1923 Halfpenny made its first public appearance at an Australian auction in July 1998 sharing the catalogue’s front cover with another great rarity, the 1924 £1000 banknote. While the 1923 Proof Halfpenny sold for $89,100 in July ‘98, the same auction enticed a buyer to pay $94,600 for the £1000. As a point of comparison, that same £1000 banknote sold in 2007 for 1.22 million. (12.8 times the price paid in ‘98) You do the math!
And there are plenty more examples out of this July 1998 auction to suggest that the new buyer has spent their half million wisely. A Proof 1923 Penny sold in the same auction for $9900. Value today is $100,000.
We sold a Proof 1951 Perth Penny a few months ago for $53,000; the same coin selling in 1998 for $7040. So too the Type 9 Square Penny that was bought for $16,500 and now commands $160,000. Which tells us that, in the main, top proofs and patterns are today valued between seven to ten times the prices realised in July 1998.
Over the years the family has made some very gutsy decisions with their buys, such as the purchase of the Proof 1930 Penny for $620,000. They admit that at the time they were shocked at the price being asked for a single coin. And yet, many years on, they have spent a comparable amount to acquire its small denomination counterpart, the Proof 1923 Halfpenny.
They have never veered from their buying principles. The family chooses their coins as they choose their real estate … wisely. That means targeting those coins that combine historical relevance with high quality and rarity in the knowledge that it is these coins that will ultimately fulfil the family’s investment objectives.
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