Australia’s most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!

Whilst we’re busy celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 50p coin here in the UK, celebrations are also taking place half a world away as Australia marks 50 years since the introduction of the 12-sided 50 cent coin this year.

First issued in 1969 as a replacement for the round 50 cent, the new 12-sided design has since become Australia’s most distinctive decimal coin.

Australia's most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!
Australia’s 12 sided 50 cent coin

Australia’s first 50 cent

In 1966, as part of the changeover to decimal currency, Australia introduced the round 50 cent, which was made up of 80% silver and 20% copper. This high silver content soon meant that the coin was actually worth more than its face value and so was withdrawn from circulation and replaced with the new 12-sided cupro-nickel design in 1969.

Although the coin was withdrawn from circulation, many millions are thought to have been hoarded by the Australian public and can now be seen listed on eBay for upwards of 10 times the original face value.

Australia's most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!

Celebrating 50 years since the 12 sided 50 cent

To celebrate the significant anniversary of the introduction of the 12-sided 50 cent, The Royal Australian Mint have released a special commemorative coin set, featuring a Gold-Plated 50 cent coin in celebration of the golden anniversary year.

Australia's most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!
Australian 2019 50 cent coin set

But the special Gold-Plated coin within this set isn’t the only thing which makes it unique…

This set actually showcases the five effigies of Her Majesty the Queen that have featured on Australia’s 50 cent coins since 1969.

Arnold Machin

Australia's most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!
Arnold Machin’s portrait of Her Majesty the Queen – 2019 Australian Gold Plated 50 cent

The Gold-Plated 50 cent coin features the very first effigy of Her Majesty the Queen to be used on a 50 cent coin.

Designed by British artist and sculptor Arnold Machin, and approved in 1964, this effigy was first used on the Australian round 1966 50 cent coin, meaning it preceded the first use of this portrait on UK coins in 1968.

This portrait featured on Australia’s coinage from 1966 to 1984.

Raphael Maklouf

Australia's most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!
Raphael Maklouf’s portrait of Her Majesty the Queen – 2019 Australian 50 cent

Raphael Maklouf’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was chosen from 17 artists invited by the British Royal Mint to replace Arnold Machin’s portrait.

Unlike the previous portraits of Her Majesty, Maklouf’s design featured the Queen wearing a necklace and earrings. The designer’s initials ‘RDM’ can be seen at the Queen’s neck.

This portrait featured on Australia’s coinage from 1985 to 1997.

Ian Rank-Broadley

Australia's most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!
Ian Rank-Broadley’s portrait of Her Majesty the Queen – 2019 Australian 50 cent

The next portrait of Queen Elizabeth was introduced following a competition to redesign the obverse of the UK’s 1997 Golden Wedding Crown. Ian Rank-Broadley’s submission was of such a high standard that it led to a redesign of the obverse for all UK circulation coins in 1998.

It was introduced on Australia’s coinage, including the 50 cent coin, the following year.

This portrait featured on Australia’s coinage from 1999 to 2018.

Vladimir Gottwald

Australia's most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!
Vladimir Gottwald’s portrait of Her Majesty the Queen – 2019 Australian 50 cent

Amongst the designs submitted into the competition to redesign the obverse of the UK’s 1997 Golden Wedding Crown was Vladimir Gottwald’s portrait of the Queen.

Gottwald’s design was approved as a one-off use to commemorate the Royal visit in 2000, making him the first Australian designer to have his portrait on the obverse of an Australian coin since the 1910-1936 effigy of King George V.

This portrait featured on the Australian 50 cent for one year only in 2000.

Jody Clark

Australia's most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!
Jody Clark’s portrait of Her Majesty the Queen – 2019 Australian 50 cent

Jody Clark’s portrait of Her Majesty the Queen has featured on UK coins since 2015, but it wasn’t until 2018 that an adapted version of this coin was introduced on Australia’s coinage.

Unlike the UK version, this adaptation features Queen Elizabeth’s shoulders, as well as the Victorian coronation necklace.

You might recognise this most recent portrait from British Isles coinage, in particular the highly popular Isle of Man TT £2 coins.

Limited edition set

Just 20,000 of this prestigious set have been minted, making it significantly collectable and ideal for numismatists.

It’s truly fascinating to take a look at the different coinage from countries across the world and the milestone moments in their numismatic history.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this set is a fantastic way for Australia to celebrate this significant anniversary.


Own the LIMITED EDITION Gold Plated 50 cent

Australia's most distinctive decimal coin turns 50!

You can now secure these coins within a bespoke presentation pack, perfect to display and protect these unique coins, which are sure to be snapped up by collectors.

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3 Comments

  1. Tony on July 11, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Great timing for this article on Australian coins with the World Cup semi final today, what a result! 😀

  2. Mike Bentley on July 11, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    ps – The Vladimir Gottwald portrait was only used on a Commemorative 50 cent coin (Royal Visit 2000) not the standard 50 cent coin.

  3. Mike Bentley on July 11, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    The Makleouf portrait was used until 1998 on Australian 50 cent coins. (It was used until 2000 on the $5 Sydney Olympic Coins).

    2017 was not the last year of the Rank-Broadly portrait on 50 cent coins. It has been used on the 2018 and 2019 coins. The Jody Clark portrait has only just started to be used on Australian coins and the 2019 50 cent with that portrait has not yet been released into general circulation.

    The RAM are issuing bags of 20 of the 2019 JC & IRB coins at the Pop Up Shops it runs at various places around our vast country. So 2019 will be a crossover year with both Rank-Broadley and Clark portraits being used. So only three of the coins in this set will not be going into circulation not four.

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