1923 Australian Half Penny Sells for $500,000
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
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
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
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 realized in July
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