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Coin Collectors NZ

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some questions that come up very regularly on the Coin Collectors NZ group.  If we’ve posted you this link, it means your question is in here somewhere.  Please check below, and feel free to post more comments if you have any further questions.

(Some of the links below refer to earlier queries posted on the group. No criticism of the original poster is implied in any of these cases – in fact, we’re pleased they asked, so we had the opportunity to prepare this response!)

– 1988 HH Aussie $2

There’s an urban myth going round that Aussie $2 coins dated 1988 with the initials HH on one side and RDM under the Queen’s head are worth a fortune.  They’re not – these features are perfectly normal. See the comments here:

– 1997 NZ “withdrawn” $2

When these were first released, after an interval of around six years since the previous issue, there were problems with dispensing machines rejecting them. There was no formal recall and there are plenty still around, but the rumour mill still claims they’re rare.  The latest John Bertrand “Premier” catalogue prices the 1997 coins exactly the same as the 1990/91/98/99 issues in uncirculated.  More information here:

– British 2p with “NEW PENCE” (other than 1983)

Follow these steps:

Does your 2p coin have a date other than 1983?  Not rare

Does your 2p coin have the date 1983 and read TWO PENCE? Not rare

Does your 2p coin have the date 1983 and read NEW PENCE? You’ve got a good one!

Occasionally you see British 2p coins offered on eBay, etc., at crazy prices in the belief they’re rare because they say NEW PENCE. Please note: ALL two pence coins between 1971 and 1981 read NEW PENCE.  The “TWO PENCE” wording was introduced in 1982 and has been used since then.  The only way your 2p coin is going to be rare is if it’s dated 1982 or later and still says NEW.  A small number were made by accident in 1983 and I believe they’re the only ones in existence. 

– Readers Digest “1752 ducat”

Looks like a gold coin, 20mm across, and is dated 1752.  Feels too light to be actual gold (2 g compared to 3.5 g for a gold ducat).

This is a Reader’s Digest giveaway, 1960s-70s, and look to be a brass alloy. Google “TU DOMINE SPES MEA 1752” for more information.  All the examples I’ve seen have the letters C A below the eagle.

It’s worth noting that genuine ones exist, with C A and other letter combinations.  Online photos are copyrighted so I can’t reproduce them here, but Google “gold ducat” “1752-ca” for details.  The copy is pretty close but there are minor differences in letter and digit shape, e.g. the 1 in the date, which is split at the base on the originals.

– Big copper coin dated 1797

You’ve probably got what’s known as a “Cartwheel” penny or twopence.  Easiest way to tell them apart is the weight – a penny weighed one ounce (about 28g, diameter 36mm) and a twopence two ounces (about 56g, diameter 41mm).  Here are some other differences in case you’re looking at a photo and aren’t sure of the size or weight:

– Ancient coins (Greek/Roman/Chinese/Mediaeval, through to a 1795 US half cent)

In the 1960s-70s, someone in Hong Kong produced a board of 16 “authentic replicas”, all with very obvious differences compared to the real thing to anyone with any experience, and all in a silvery-grey metal looking a bit like molten solder.  If we sent you this link, it means your coin is listed here.  Read on:

– “Good old Days” tokens and other fake guineas or half guineas
These look like gold and are around 20-25 mm across.  George III on one side and a “spade” shield on the other.  The quality of the king’s effigy ranges from really good to really amateurish.  There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of brass copies of these, with dates anywhere from 1701 (decades before Geo III was even born!) through to the 1800s.  And despite these dates, they were actually made between about 1870 and 1930.  Most have fake wording on the shield side, often a coded name of the issuer, with REX (“King”) thrown in just to make it look good.  Look closely – if the last four letters are B.I.R.M., that means it was made in Birmingham and it ain’t gold!

Now look again: do the first letters next to the date start M.B.F.ET H. REX …?  ALL spade guineas and half guineas start with this, so if yours doesn’t, it ain’t real and it ain’t gold!  Note that some fakes still have the right letters, which is where a close check of other details, weight, etc., is important.  Feel free to post details if yours looks like a match so we can double-check.

Here’s a quite old list of some of the more common fakes, though there are heaps more:

– Chinese “cash” coins 1644-1912:

– Help with grading NZ coins:

– What’s it worth?

Before you spend a fortune on coins/banknotes/medals/tokens you may not know a lot about, get some books or borrow them from your library.  “Buy the book before the coin” is still good advice even in the Internet Age, and I was told I should spend $10 on coin books for every $100 on coins – not a bad proportion, really.

The Internet is all very well, but there’s a lot of nonsense and urban myth out there.  Use it, but use it wisely – don’t think an item is worth X thousand dollars just because someone has put that price on it on eBay!  Check actual sales – has someone actually paid that much?  And if you can find more than one real sale, so much the better.

Here are some recommended titles that should be in every numismatic library, along with some website recommendations:

New Zealand:
The John Bertrand New Zealand Coin  & Banknote Catalogue (annual publication, includes tradesmen’s tokens and special-purpose tokens)

Errors and varieties:

Not for values but an excellent guide as to just what’s out there, see

Tokens (NZ & Australia):

A Study of Australasian Trade Tokens, by Simon Gray (2014): includes varieties and prices


Renniks Australian Coin & Banknote Values. Pretty much an annual publication.

United States:

A Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”), originally by R.S. Yeoman.  An annual priced catalogue.

United Kingdom:

COIN Yearbook (also Banknote Yearbook and Medal Yearbook), all by Token Publishing Ltd.  The COIN Yearbook is annual, the two others are slightly more irregular. Handy price guides plus other useful reference articles.

Coins of England and the United Kingdom (two volumes, one for pre-decimal issues and one for decimal issues).  An annual priced catalogue published by Spink (earlier editions by Seaby).

Tony Clayton’s website: – illustrated histories and price guides of UK coins

World coins in general:

Standard Catalog of World Coins, by F+W Media (earlier editions by Krause Publications). These are huge, phone book-sized publications, one volume per century covering the period from 1600 onwards.  They were still being published until a few years ago, but their future is uncertain at the moment.  If you want to learn to identify world coins and discover which items are scarcer, without needing recent valuations, try an edition from the 1980s, when everything was in one volume – much easier to carry around and much less shelf space needed!

Plus some general guides and introductions to coin collecting.  Lots were published in the 1960s, and don’t be put off by their age.  “COINS” by John Porteous is still an excellent read, which puts coins in their historical context over about a 2,500-year period up to the 1960s.

Coin Collectors NZ:

Don’t forget this group has a search function.  Go to the top of the page and click on the magnifying glass/search option, and see if someone’s asked about your item before.