What are Commemorative Coins.? Basic Lesson 3

1993 $1 Royal Melbourne Show

Packaging used to house the 1993 $1 Landcare coin


Commemorative circulating coins are minted by the Royal Australian Mint (RAM) and have a unique design celebrating an important event or anniversary. They are therefore the non standard designs, but are still released for use as circulating currency and are legal tender.  These are the main types:


  1. Commemorative circulating coins minted for use as currency can be found in your loose change. These are minted for circulation and distributed the same way as standard  currency coins,  mainly through the bank system,  although some go to coin dealers who add value by putting them in special packaging to sell through retail outlets.  For example, the Landcare coin shown above.  These are type of commemorative coins that we will be discussing in this blog.  We will be offering blogs on the other types, below, in later editions.
  2. NCLT coins (non circulating legal tender coins)
  3.  Silver commemorative coins
  4. Coins minted just for the collector market


The minting of commemorative coins has been a relatively recent practice gaining momentum with the introduction of decimal currency in 1966.

Before that time there were only four coins which were florins that had commemorative themes:

  1. 1927 Parliament House
  2. 1934-35 Centenary Florin
  3. 1951 Federation Florin
  4. 1954 Royal Visit

In 1966 the mint minted around 2000 of better quality 50 cent silver rounds for a private dealer. However, it was not until 1970 that the first decimal commemorative coin was minted.  This was a portrait of Captain Cook which celebrated the arrival of the 1st fleet on a 50 cent piece.


The 1986 Year of Peace Dollar was released marking the first commemorative $1.  In 1995 the first 20 cent commemorative was released marking the founding of the United Nations.  After that, various commemoratives  were then regularly released.
As well as releasing these coins for circulation the mint marketed them by attractively packaging and promoting them through their retail outlets and Coin fairs.
Many coin dealers purchased these coins and packaged them in their own brand packaging .  Private companies got in on the act and used coins as promotional material.

1982 Comm Games Big Sister

Example of private company using coins as promotional material


Coin in Folder


Example of Coin on Folder the 1997 Kingsford Smith

In 1995 the RAM began releasing the $1 commemoratives on cardboard folders. These had various mint marks and were usually released for the many coin shows or special events held in capital cities.  They were often minted on mobile presses. The common mint mark’s are C S B A M (for Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne). These coins on folders have become a popular collectible item.


In the last 3 years the mint has issued $2 coloured commemoratives.


Coloured $2.00 mint roll

The $2 coloured have preformed very well and I would expect this to continue.  Mint rolls I expect will give the best returns.

We have a large range of Australian decimal coins in our store so have a look at Silver Spirit Coins.

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