With the passing of King George V and coronation of King George VI all Australian coinage received a new effigy obverse and most coinage also received a new reverse design including the Half Penny but unfortunately the new reverse design would not be used until part way through 1939. These two reverses provide the two types for the series:
Type 1 Reverse – 1938 to 1939
Type 2 Reverse – 1939 to 1952
Coins in the series were primarily minted at the Melbourne & Perth Mints. But, during World War II Australia was experiencing coin shortages and to assist some coins were minted at the Bombay Mint in India.
By 1951, Australia was facing another coin shortage and a request was sent to the Royal Mint of London to produce half penny coinage in addition to what was already being produced by the Perth Mint.
The obverse, designed & engraved by T.H. Paget, features the bust of George the VI facing left. At the bottom of George's neck are the designer’s initials “HP”. On the outer periphery are the words "GEORGIVS VI D:G: BR : OMN : REX F:D: IND : IMP" (latin for "George VI, by Grace of God, King of all the Britons, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India") though this would later be changed to just "GEORGIVS VI D:G: BR : OMN : REX FIEDI DEF" (latin for "George VI, by Grace of God, King of all the Britons, Defender of the Faith").
The reverse, designed by George Kruger Gray, features a kangaroo in leaping stride. On the outer periphery is the denomination “HALF PENNY”, country name “AUSTRALIA” and year of issue. Located just below the kangaroo's tail are the designer’s initials “KG”.
Perth mint half pennies feature a dot mint mark after the “Y” in “PENNY”. Some Perth issues in 1945 & 1951 did not have a dot. The Perth mint mark would change one last time in 1952 when the dot was moved after the last “A” in “AUSTRALIA”.
Bombay mint half pennies featured dots before the “H” in “HALF” and after the “Y” in “PENNY” as well as the mint mark 'I' under the bust on the obverse.
Melbourne minted pennies carried no mint marks.
Coins minted in London carried the mint mark “PL” after the “Y” in “PENNY”.
|Type 1 Reverse||Type 2 Reverse|
|Bombay Obverse Mint Mark|
|London Reverse Mint Mark|
Over the course of the series there was one major change that created two varieties. When India became an independent country in 1947 it caused a change in the obverse legend in 1949 to remove “IND:IMP” from all commonwealth coinage.
Variety 1 – 1938-1948 Old Legend
Variety 2 - 1949-1952 New Legend
General Market Notes
Excluding proofs & errors, the key to the series is the 1939 Type 2 Reverse issue while the semi-keys are the 1942 and 1944 Melbourne issues.