PCGS Specials

HomeWorld CoinsAustralia 2016 Gaol Bird Convict Love Token $1 Copper Unc. Coin

Australia 2016 Gaol Bird Convict Love Token $1 Copper Unc. Coin

Australia 2016 Gaol Bird Convict Love Token $1 copper uncirculated coin

The 2016 Convict Love Token One Dollar coin series is an Australian commemorative initiative that hearkens back to the roots of Australia’s founding as a nation.

In 1788, England began sending criminals to Australia to serve their sentence in an attempt to colonize the new, rugged territory. Most of the criminals were small-time crooks, though several had faced the death penalty before their sentences were commuted.

Over time, more than 160,000 people would be shipped to the continent in this manner.

The voyage to Australia was dangerous, and so was life in the new colony. The settlement was sparsely populated and absent most conveniences until a gold rush in 1851 brought thousands of new settlers to the fledgling colony.

While many were eligible to return to England after a period of roughly seven to 14 years, the grim reality was that few individuals, once there, could afford to go back. Most were forced to stay. With beloved family and friends thousands of miles away, some convicts carved small tokens to maintain an attachment to those they were forced to leave behind. Most of these convict “love tokens” were fashioned from cartwheel copper pennies that had been smoothed down to provide a blank canvas for engraving special designs and messages to loved ones.

Three examples of these convict love tokens are being honored as bronze one-dollar coins. Along with the “Gaol bird” (jailbird) token, the Royal Australian Mint is releasing two other coins: a replica of the “Forget Me Not” token and a coin inscribed with the words “When This You See, Remember Me”. The series is limited to a total mintage of 30,000 coins, with 10,000 allotted for each type.


The obverse of the Gaol Bird love token features a right-facing image of Queen Elizabeth II; the portrait was made by designer Ian Rank-Broadley and has appeared since 1998. To the right of the Queen are the inscriptions AUSTRALIA and the date, 2016. Her name, QUEEN ELIZABETH II, is inscribed to her left; below is the denomination, represented as 1 DOLLAR.

Ian Rank-Broadley’s initials IRB are inscribed directly under the truncation of the Queen’s neck.

obverse, Australia 2016 Gaol Bird Convict Love Token $1 copper uncirculated coin


The reverse of the dollar bears the appearance of a planed-down old copper penny, with a simple image of a chain-tethered fowl, evocative of the longtime phrase “jail bird.” The left-facing bird, a chain clamped around its neck, resembles a turkey or a guinea, and below the fowl lay claw marks in the dirt among sparse patches of grass.

The original Gaol Bird token was designed by one Thomas Tilley, who was jailed for theft and sent to Australia in the 1780s. The original Gaol Bird token resides in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

Designer(s):  Since 1998, Ian Rank-Broadley’s fourth effigy of Queen Elizabeth has served with distinction as the obverse for coins of the UK and the Commonwealth (View Designer’s Profile). Thomas Tilley designed the original love token at some point during his incarceration in Australia but before his settlement in Port Jackson (now called Sydney).

Coin Specifications:

Country:  Australia
Year Of Issue:  2016
Denomination:  One Dollar (AUD)
Mint Mark:
Mintage:  10,000
Alloy:  Copper (Cu)
Weight:  14.30 g
Diameter:   33.04 mm
Edge: Plain/Smooth
OBV Designer  Ian Rank-Broadley
REV Designer Thomas Tilley
Quality: Uncirculated


CoinWeek IQ
CoinWeek IQ
With CoinWeek IQ, the editors and writers of CoinWeek dig deeper than the usual numismatic article. CoinWeek IQ provides collectors and numismatists with in-depth information, pedigree histories, and market analysis of U.S. coins and currency.

Related Articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Great Collection Coin Auctions

L and C New Arrivals

David Lawrence Rare Coins Auctions