A 5c coin floating in your wallet or the back of your couch could be worth more than $3000, thanks to a rare minting error.
Perth-based coin expert and commerce teacher Joel Kandiah said Aussies should keep an eye out for 5c coins made in 2007 which feature an image of the Queen’s head on both sides.
Mr Kandiah said the error occurred when two ‘head dies’ were mistakenly pressed on a blank 5c coin at the Royal Australian Mint, and could fetch its finder around $3000 to $5000, depending on the condition.
“There were a lot of 5c coins minted in 2007,” he told news.com.au.
“When the mint sets up its press to make coins, the top of the die is the head side and the bottom is the tail side. But what happened here, is the bottom die was also the tail side so it spit out a double headed 5c coin.”
Mr Kandiah, who has 130,000 followers on his The History of Money TikTok account, said errors at the Royal Australian Mint are “very rare”, resulting in the coin’s high value.
“The mint has very high-quality assurance and quality control processes so it is near impossible to find an error, you’re looking at less than 0.1 per cent, if not less than that,” he explained.
But that doesn’t mean they never happen.
Mr Kandiah said a double-headed 5c coin was found as recently as last year, and the coin typically appears for sale on the market once or twice a year.
“Some of them have been trying to retail up to $5000,” he said.
Mr Kandiah, who is yet to personally find a double-headed 5c coin, said the mint has not confirmed how many of the error-riddled coins were made or released to the public.
However, he said there’s “definitely” still a chance you could come across one in your spare change.
“The machines print 600 coins a minute and [the mint] try to check through all the coins and find the errors and take them out — so they might have taken a bunch of the errors out, but there’s a good chance there’s still a big chunk of them out there,” he said.
“And I think, given the few that we found already, I think there’s a good chance that there’s going be a lot more out there.”
Other high-value coins in circulation
There are a number of other coins to keep an eye out for, including the 2000 $1 ‘mule’ coin or the 1966 Wavy Baseline 20c, both of which could be worth thousands.
However, Mr Kandiah, who has been collecting coins since he was five, said one coin that has fallen under the radar is the 2014 $2 Remembrance Day coin, which could be worth anywhere between $25 to $40, depending on its condition
Also known as the green dove coin, it was the third ever coloured $2 coin released in Australia, after the 2012 red poppy and the 2013 coronation coins.
With only 1.85 million green dove coins made, it’s a rare find and Mr Kandiah expects its popularity among collectors will only increase.
“It’s a very unique coin and it didn’t have as much of a profile around it, especially when it first came out and not many people took notice of it,” he said.
“But demand for the coin has increased quite significantly because the red poppy and coronation demand has climbed. So in terms of the next coin that’s going to come up in terms of popularity, the green dove is going be a very popular coin for people to find.”
Others to look out for include the 1985 50c coin and 1988 20c coin.
“Those are two coins that people have been sleeping on and I think if more people get into the hobby, we’re going to start seeing it go up [in price] a little bit more,” he said.
Mr Kandiah said the 50c and 20c pieces are rare finds due to the reduced number of silver coins produced in the mid-1980s.
“Around the early 80s we went through large periods of high inflation, so between the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, tens of millions of coins were minted. When we hit 1985-1986, inflation was starting to come down and the need to mint more coins reduced,” he explained.
“The 1985 50c coin only had a million mintage, which is a very small amount of coins.”
While it’s not “crazy valuable” compared to other coins, Mr Kandiah said “if you find one you’re guaranteed 10 bucks straight away and if it was in great condition you’re getting $60”.
However, the 1988 20c coin is incredibly rare, with only 200,000 made.
“It’s probably the smallest mintage of all decimal coins ever minted,” he said. “So if you do find one, you’re going to get between $20 and $50, depending on the condition.”
What will happen when King Charles III coins begin circulating?
Australian coins featuring the effigy of King Charles are set to enter circulation by the end of the year.
Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh told ABC radio this week, “I’m keen to make sure we get a lot of those new coins out, because I know for the vast majority of Australians, this will be the first time they hold a coin in their hand which has a King rather than a Queen on it.”
However, Mr Kandiah doesn’t expect the circulation of the coins will effect the value of rare coins bearing the Queen’s effigy.
“The coins that were rare before will still remain rare and the ones that weren’t are not going to become rare,” he said.
“The average age of a coin is 30 years so for at least another couple of decades we’re going to see King Charles coins and Queen Elizabeth coins co-circulate.”
How to sell valuable coins
If you’ve come across a rare coin there are a number of ways you can go about selling it.
If you want to make some cash quickly, Mr Kandiah said a coin dealer is the best option.
He recommended finding a dealer from the Australasian Numismatic Dealers Association website, which upholds a code of practice.
“The only thing is because they’re dealers, they’re going to buy and sell it, so obviously, they’re not going to give you the market price upfront, they’re going to give you maybe 20 to 30 per cent below because they need to make the profit themselves on the sale later on,” he warned.
He also suggested eBay as it’s a “bit of a wild west”, particularly when it comes to selling rarer coins.
Other options include Facebook groups, including Australian Speciality Coins and Collectors of Australia, as well as auction houses that specialise in coins.
“You will get market value and it will take time, but auction houses might be your best option,” he said.