The 1919 pennies

Australian pennies dated 1919 were minted in Melbourne using working dies supplied from London. This was the first year that pennies were minted in Australia. All 1919 pennies feature the London obverse and Birmingham reverse.

The 1919 bronze penny was almost never issued25. At that time the Melbourne Mint was well prepared to issue square nickel pennies and halfpennies and had not ordered bronze dies from the Royal Mint until February 1919. The dies didn't arrive until August of that year and it was soon discovered that insufficient had been ordered to meet the demand. Technicians at the Melbourne Mint used a pair of working dies to create punches and thence to press further working dies.


The 1919 penny occurs in several varieties but probably somewhat fewer than reported by some writers.

For a start, there are three distinct dot varieties:

No dot
Dot under lower scroll
Dot under lower scroll and above upper scroll
and there are two distinct orientations of the final 9 in the date. Dean1 and Locke report three orientations of the final 9:
Final 9 leans left
Final 9 upright
Final 9 leans right
but from careful examination of 36 coins I have formed the opinion that the third orientation is just the result of distortion of a working punch or die(s) via the same process which is responsible for fishtailing (curved base lettering). I arrived at this conclusion after making 36 separate computer images, all carefully aligned and sized, then viewing selected images in sequence as a slow movie. I was able to separate the images into just two groups based on the orientation of the date figures; the first group contained just nine coins with the final 9 sloping noticeably to the left, the second group comprised the remaining 27 coins with the final 9 in a more upright position. It is tempting to speculate that the specimens described by others as having a right-sloping final 9 were struck from the Melbourne dies but I have not investigated this possibility.

Even with the simplification, the 1919 penny is a very complex issue. Ignoring fishtailing and right-sloping nines and the fine differences between coins struck from dies supplied by the Royal Mint and those from dies cloned in Melbourne, the distinct varieties include at least the following:



No dot, upright final 9.


No dot. Final 9 slopes left.


Dot below bottom scroll. Final 9 upright.


Dot below bottom scroll. Final 9 leans left.

(The dot really is there!)


Dot below bottom scroll and above top scroll. Final 9 upright.

Obviously there may be a sixth variety, i.e. one with two dots and a left-sloping final 9.

In my sample of 36 coins, 14 were without any dot, 20 had a dot below the lower scroll and 2 had two dots. Of the nine coins with a left-sloping final 9, 3 had a dot under the bottom scroll.

The count of double-dot coins is biased because I had specifically purchased one of those. The other 35 coins in my collection were not selectively acquired. Even so, not too much can be inferred from such a small sample.

Enlargements of the date

Upright final 9.

Final 9 slopes left.


[ Home Page | Pennies | Australian coins ]


Most recent revision: 14th September 2002
Copyright ©2002, Triton Technologies International Ltd, all rights reserved.