A Rare Australian Coin With a Common Appearance
Australia 1977 50 Cents with Mule Coat of Arms reverse, PCGS AU55. Courtesy of PCGS.

By Jay Turner for PCGS ……
 

Recently, a circulated Australian 50 Cents coin crossed my desk. What would have the appearance of an ordinary, common coin was anything but that – it was a rarity for circulating Australian coinage. At first, what looks like a normal Australia 1977 50 Cents is a mint error with fewer than 10 known examples.

In Australia in 1977, the Royal Australian Mint produced a special circulating commemorative 50 cents coin to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. This silver jubilee issue was intended to be the only design for the 1977-dated 50 cents coins produced that year. These coins were struck in abundance, with a mintage of over 25 million pieces.

Australia 1977 50 Cents with Silver Jubilee reverse, PCGS AU55. Courtesy of PCGS.

However, a few examples of 1977 50 Cents coinage later surfaced bearing the non-commemorative Australia coat of arms design used for previous and subsequent years. This type of issue, a coin featuring an unintended design pairing, is known in numismatics as a “mule”. The term mule comes from an animal of the same name that is a hybrid, born from a pairing of a horse and a donkey.

While it is unknown how many of the 1977 mules exist, with estimates of under 10 and catalogs noting seven known examples, it is indeed a rare and desirable coin. There are speculations that the 1977 arms reverse mule was purposely made at the Mint. Another verified mule from 1977 is known where two obverse dies are paired together, leading to this theory. However, the circulated example seen here seems unlikely to happen if the intention of mint workers was to make a rarity for profit. It is likely that some sharp-eyed collector found this example in circulation and pulled it. This example was recently graded PCGS AU55.

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21 COMMENTS

    • First and foremost to have your coins properly appraised, they must first be graded. Once graded you can send them to auction or ultimately find out their worth. Hope this helps.

    • Not all coins are worth grading which is expensive. You should use books, reference guides to see if any of your coins are potentially valuable and send those to be graded.

      • Were I have a lot like the R wiltz painting that I know was sold in Australia and to someone in my city it looks exactly the same as the one sold but I can’t get people to pay interest in Australia we have coins prescription 1960 french issued to the Viet army officers number and I’ve even found the man and his history and heaps more through gift for my charity to finding in back sheds but can’t get anyone to look

  1. I’m afraid that the coin pictured graded PCGS AU55 is over-optimistic. No reputable Australian numismatist will grade that AU. It is a VF+ at best.

    I was a member of the ANA and took their course in grading 20 years ago. Have grading standards changed?

    • Sorry to disappoint you…
      There were 25million Silver jubilee coins made. They are not rare.
      The rare ones from 1977 have the queen’s portrait and the coat of arms.

  2. My husband was given a $200 coin by his Dad and it’s in mint condition still in its case – how much are they worth now

    • Those $200 coins were for collectors or people who couldn’t buy bars of gold. I know the ones, they’re those gold coins of a Koala sitting up in a tree. They’re only worth the weight of gold of what their weight is. They contain 10g of 22ct gold (91.5% pure gold). So they’re only worth a fraction of what 100% pure gold is worth.

  3. How can I get reputable and safe valuation on an American coin . Brisbane area. The only place I asked would only give gold value !

    • It’s only rare if it has the coat of arms on the opposite side to the queens head and seeing as you mentioned it’s a jubilee it’s not rare

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