Unique silver decimal
This is a bit of an unusual coin for me since it’s part of the Australian decimal coinage.
I pay attention to them for a number of reasons: not only are they .800 silver, but also a single year issue, as well as the final silver circulation coin from the antipodes – effectively the last of the real money. In addition they are the only Aussie 50 cent piece with a round design, everything after that is a dodecagon (12 sides).
Although slightly larger than the florin, the silver content is very similar to the pre 1946 issues so the ’round 50′, like those earlier florins, pretty much comes in at 3 coins to the troy ounce.
A bit of a bargain…
The silver price rose significantly in the late 1960s before easing back to a long term point still well above its traditional level, and this meant that the coin was worth quite a bit more than its face value going forward.
As a result – from the beginning – many people chose to hoard the coin and this behaviour, coupled with its high mintage of just over 36 million, means that there are plenty of high quality examples in existence.
High grade education..?
Having said that, it’s still not that easy to find one in the very high grades – say ‘Choice Uncirculated’ (MS64) – but good quality coins all the way up to ‘Uncirculated’ (MS60-63) are relatively easy to come by.
For this reason, I think it’s a great coin for learning about what exactly constitutes those higher grade categories.
With round 50s, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility to acquire a large group of nice, shiny stuff in order to pick out the absolute best and gain and understanding of what to look for if a coin is realistically going to make uncirculated or better.
Even though they are a late issue, what you would pick up in terms of assessing lustre, wear and bagmarks is still applicable and relevant to other, earlier if still ‘modern’ coin types such as Australian florins.
And with that kind of grading experience under your belt, you can approach the rarer (and usually more desirable) coins presented as being top shelf with a lot more confidence and ability… and that could really pay dividends.
Solid and reliable
In the end the humble round 50 will always attract some sort of premium above melt value, so I reckon they’re at least worth a punt on the spot price, even if you get them at the current going rate.