On the 50th anniversary of Australian decimal currency, the Royal Australian Mint’s released a special series of coins commemorating the earlier, pre-decimal currency of the country. The modern circulating designs were joined by depictions of Australia's pre decimal coins on the obverse.
The story of Australian currency runs parallel with the nation's history of progression. As early European settlers improvised a monetary system, international coins, promissory notes and the infamous rum trade were all visible in the early 1800s. The first coins "minted" in Australia were created by removing a piece from the centre of a Spanish dollar, forming two separate coins known as the Holey Dollar and Dump.
The gold rush of the mid-19th Century resulted in many unofficial tokens and ingots until the Sydney Mint opened in 1855, producing sovereigns which were largely identical to their British counterparts. This English influence remained strong and the new national currency of 1910 inevitably emulated English pounds, shillings and pence.
On 14 February 1966, the changeover to decimal currency transformed the nation, as Australia joined a worldwide currency trend. The uniquely Australian images of the decimal coins are still cherished on their 50th anniversary.
As a tribute to Australia's coin history, each coin of the Changeover series features depictions of coin designs from today and years past. The fifty cent coin shows George Kruger Gray's iconic Ram's Head design which was used on One Shilling coins between 1938 and 1963. Unlike earlier commemorative fifty cent coins, the commemorative design is on the obverse, while the reverse has the traditional Coat of Arms design.