Australia Penny: 1938-1952 George VI


Quick Coinage Facts

Years Minted: 1937-1952
Composition: 0.97 copper, 0.025 zinc, 0.005 tin
Diameter Type: 30.8 mm
Weight: 9.4 grams
Total Series Mintage: 354,387,800 (circulation)
Obverse Design: Bust Design
Reverse Design: Kangaroo
Unique Features: Plain (smooth)


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 Penny. Of all redesigned reverses the penny & half penny (which bears the same design) symbolize Australia like none before it. In the same aspect that the Native American Indian designs are identified with United States coinage the Kangaroo says nothing stronger than Australia.

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 penny coinage in addition to what was already being produced by the Melbourne 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 “PENNY”, country name “AUSTRALIA” and year of issue. Located just above the kangaroo's tail are the designer's initials “KG”. Perth mint pennies feature a dot mint mark after the “Y” in “PENNY” and no dot before “PENNY” though early issues (1940 & some 1941) did not have the dot but instead are recognizable by the designer's initials which have a dot between the letters “K.G”. The Perth mint mark would change one last time in 1952 when the dot was moved after the last “A” in “AUSTRALIA”. Bombay mint pennies featured dots before and after “PENNY” as well as the mint mark 'I' under the bust on the obverse. Melbourne minted pennies carried no mint marks.

Obverse Reverse
Perth Mint Mark (dot after "Y")

Major Varieties

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 1946 issue while the semi-key is the 1940 (K.G) Perth issue.

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