A small number of 1916 halfpennies were struck with the obverse die for an Indian
quarter anna. The existence of these coins was not known until the end of June 1965
when Cecil Poole found one in Adelaide. The discovery was announced in the Adelaide
Advertiser on 14/7/65:
Biggest Find in Coin HistoryIn the 10th edition (1976) of Renniks4b the whole of page 8 is devoted to the the authenticity the mule halfpenny. The tone of the article is somewhat defensive, suggesting that Skinner must have received quite a bit of negative feedback as a result of his endorsement. Support for such a conjecture is lent by the long string of articles and letters appearing in Australian Coin Review from November 1965 until the issue was finally settled in January 1967 after the coins had been authenticated by the British Museum and Spink & Son. (Apparently an earlier authentication June 1966 by the Royal Australian Mint did not satisfy numismatists.)
An authority on coins has hailed the Adelaide discovery of an incorrectly minted 1916 halfpenny as the biggest find in the history of Australian coinage.
The halfpenny is minted on the obverse side like an Indian halfpenny of the same period. It was found by Mr. C. C. Poole of Norma Street, Mile End, while searching for another coin in his collection. He noticed that the obverse side had an English language inscription around the edge instead of the usual Latin inscription. The chain around the King's neck also showed an elephant.
Mr D. H. Skinner, author of the Australian Commonwealth Coinage Guide said yesterday he had no doubt the coin was authentic.
Mr Skinner said the 1916 bronze Australian coins were minted at Calcutta. Obviously, some Australian halfpennies had been minted with the Indian obverse die.
He said the rare Australian 1930 penny had been discovered soon after it was minted. "Now we have a coin, minted nearly half a century ago, just being discovered as a collector's item."
Mr Skinner valued the halfpenny at at least £150.
It is not clear whether the striking of these coins was deliberate or accidental.
According to Myatt and Hanley16,
about 250 of these coins were struck of which 60 or so were given away and the rest
were included with the production mintage. If this assertion is correct then the
mixing of dies may well have been deliberate but the authors do not give the source
of their information. Furthermore, no specimen has turned up in India or England,
so casting doubt on the authors' claim. All coins known have been pulled from circulation.
If the Myatt & Hanley assertion is true then there would have been 190 mules
in amongst 3.6 million coins which translates to one in every 19,000. Given that
the number of 1916 halfpennies still in existence is probably well below 100,000
and that the mule is not particularly noticeable then the chance that another will
surface is quite low.
At least five of these extraordinary coins are known to exist, and the number
may be as high as seven. As mentioned, the first publicised discovery was that of
Cecil Poole. The second which came to light as a result of the press article was
owned by Darcy Koschade of Fullarton, Victoria and was subsequently bought by Dion
Skinner. In the November 1965 issue of ACR, Skinner revealed that Mr Koschade had
inherited the coin upon the death of his brother, Robert, in January 1947. The recollection
of the Koschade family was that Robert had found the coin in the period 1930 to
1933 and had regarded it as his prize possession.
The first four coins discovered were:
One of the very few known examples of the H16C mule.
The quarter anna coin is similar in size to the Australian halfpenny and the
obverses look quite similar but there are several differences. The quarter anna
The pictures below show the differences.
Full coin views of obverses of an Australian halfpenny and of a quarter anna.|
Note that the quarter anna obverse illustrated here is from a coin dated 1933
and is slightly different from the 1916 obverse. Can you pick the difference?
Crown headbands on the halfpenny (top) and the quarter anna. Note that "pearls"
are present on the halfpenny but not on the quarter anna.|
Elephant lurking in the regalia|
Reverse of a 1933 quarter anna.|