Digger Coins #2, The Great War: 1 Penny (Australia, 1917)-Article

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

This coin is a pre-decimal World War I Era (1914-1918 Australian Penny, dated 1918. The Australian Penny represented the second smallest denomination, of the pre-decimal Australian Pound. With the Half-Penny representing the smaller denomination. Notably Australia skipped producing the traditional Farthing (¼ Penny), produced by Great Britain and Ireland.


This variant of the pre-decimal Penny entered circulation in 1911 and was last minted in 1936. It ceased being legal currency on 14 February 1966, replaced by the decimal Australian One Cent (Penny). The coin is a smooth-edged design made of bronze (95.5% copper/2% zinc/0.5% tin) and weighs 9.45 g. Its dimensions are 30.8 mm wide and 1.80 mm thick, roughly the size of a US Half-Dollar.


Observe

The observe features a crowned portrait of King George V, in leftward profile. This imagine is surrounded by wrap-around Latin text, "GEORGIUS V DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REX FID:DEF:IND:IMP:". Translated as "George the Fifth by the Grace of God King of all the Britain's Defender of the Faith Emperor of India".


Like many typical British and Commonwealth coins. This coin features a raised rim, lined with a beaded interior. This beaded interior is featured on both observe and reverse sides.


Reverse

The reverse features the text "ONE PENNY" in large letters, expressing the coins value. Small decorative embellishments can be seen above and below this text. Beyond is a ring of raised dots, surrounded a double row of thin rims. This decorative border separates additional wrap-around text, noting the coin's issuing body and mint year. In this example, it reads the "COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA * 1917".


Pre-Decimal Australian Pound Guide

4 Crown=1 Australian Pound

8 Half Crown=1 Australian Pound

10 Florin=1 Australian Pound

20 Shilling=1 Australian Pound

240 Penny=1 Australian Pound

480 Half Pence=1 Australian Pound


Size Comparison

A WWI-era  Australian Penny with a US Half Dollar for scale.
A WWI-era Australian Penny with a US Half Dollar for scale.

Additional Notes

  • The coin was designed by Australian sculptor Sir Bertram Mackennal (1863- 1931).

  • Sir Mackennal was famous for being the first Australian to be knighted, in 1921.

  • Sir Mackennal designed most period coinage and stamps bearing King George V likeness.

  • Sir Mackennal was commissioned to design posthumous statures of the late George V.

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