The 1922 threepence

Mint mark
16mm (5/8")
1.41g (1/20 oz)
Ag 92.5%, Cu 7.5%

There is one well-known variety of the 1922 threepence, the 22/1 overdate.

Reverse of 1922 threepence


Standard issue.


Overdate. Approximately 800 specimens thought to exist.

In a discussion of overdates starting on page 19 of their book16, Myatt and Hanley state that in 1969 the Royal Australian Mint superimposed photographs of 1921 and 1922 threepences to produce a composite image which was significantly different from the supposed overdate. Furthermore, since two master punches for 1922 had been supplied by the Royal Mint in January 1922, there had been no imperative for the Melbourne Mint to engage in a redating exercise. The conclusion offered by the R.A.M. was that the 22/1 threepence is the result of chipping of the die surface under pressure.

This explanation has not been accepted by the numismatic community. The Melbourne mint die records do confirm the receipt of 1922 tools but the issue is not exactly clear. On 11/1/22 in a new die account book started that year the Melbourne mint recorded four 1921 threepenny reverse dies in stock and an entry for 31/1/22 shows five 1922 threepenny reverses. Interestingly, the 31/1/22 entry was made after two entries for February. The date on the first February entry is illegible but if I were to guess I'd say it was 7/2/22. The second entry is for 13/2/22.

Workshops Die Account
No of
1st blow
4 Jan
Obv 3d
Rev 3d (1921)
16 Jan
Penny rev for Perth (1921)
11 Jan
Obv 3d
Rev 3d (1921)
? Feb
Rev penny dies for Perth (1922)
13 Feb
Rev shilling dies 1922 - London punch
31 Jan
Obv 3d
Rev 3d (1922)
Rev 1d (1922)
? Feb
Obv 1d
Rev 1d (1921)
About all we get from this concerning the 1922 threepenny reverse is that the Melbourne Mint had five in stock at the end of January 1922, presumably pressed from a hub which had been received from London at some earlier time. This lends support to the RAM claim that the Melbourne Mint had no need of redating.

If, despite the RAM findings, the overdate is genuine then there are at least two plausible explanations. The first possibility is that an engraver or technician at the Melbourne mint may have manually overpunched a 2 onto an annealed 1921 working die; the second is that a 1921 die was hobbed with a 1922 punch. In either case, the 1921 die would have to have been one without the M mint mark. In an article published in the September 2003 issue of Australasian Coin and Banknote magazine33 I argue that the first of these explanations is probably correct, i.e. that the 1922/1 threepence is a genuine overdate produced by hand-stamping a 2 onto one of the seven 1921 reverse dies in stock in mid-January 1922, perhaps as an experiment to test the possibility of using some of the newly-pressed but obsolete reverse dies.

Overdate compared with ordinary threepences

This shows the relationship between the date on an ordinary 1922 threepence and that on a 1922/1 overdate threepence. Note that the dates are identical within the limits of the display method. This supports the idea that the overdate threepence may have been produced by hobbing a 1921 working die with a 1922 punch but doesn't rule out the manual overpunch explanation.

This image is an attempt to show the position of the 1 on a 1921 threepence compared with the underdate on a 1922/1 threepence. This was the technique used by the Royal Australian Mint to refute the overdate. This picture, like the one produced by the R.A.M., is not particularly convincing.

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Most recent revision: 22nd August 2004 - updated commentary on
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