The Australian two dollar coin was introduced on 20th June 1988 replacing the $2 note that was withdrawn from circulation. As with the one dollar note, the $2 note had a short service life and replacement with a coin was very cost effective. The two dollar coin has only ever been issued with the same aboriginal elder design unlike the one dollar which has had many commemorative releases. It is smaller than the dollar coin at 20.62 millimetres but a fatter little coin with interrupted reeding on it's edge. This width and the different reeding is to help those visually impaired distinguish the difference between it and the dollar coin. It's comprised of 6.6 grams of 92% copper, 6% aluminium and 2% nickel.
The reverse design is of an aboriginal elder designed by Horst Hahne. Mr Hahne used his own adaptation of a drawing of an aboriginal elder, Gwoya Jungarai (1895-1965) nicknamed One Pound Jimmy depicted by artist Ainslie Roberts. The coin is not meant to feature anyone in particular, this was just the inspiration the designer used. For the first 2 years of issue only (1988 and 1989) the designers initials HH appeared on the reverse. For all other years following it was removed. The coin also features the southern cross and native Australian flora the grass tree. The obverse differs slightly with the varying effigies of Queen Elizabeth II over the years. It was first issued with the Raphael Maklouf effigy until 1998, then the Ian Rank-Broadley design from 1999 onwards.
Interestingly in 2006 the fine silver proof year set featured the $2 coin with the original Arnold Machin portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II celebrating 40 years of decimal currency. This was the only two dollar coin minted to feature this obverse.
If you're checking your change you may notice some slight variations with the size of the font and the Queen's head on different years. These are known as large head or small head varieties. Some low mintage years to look out for are 1993 and 2000.
There have been some counterfeit examples of the $2 coins found dated 1998, 2002 and 2003. On close inspection these are easily recognizable as fakes. The Queens hair and also the aboriginal elder design are clearly of poor quality and roughly designed. Remember trading these coins is against the law even if you are given one in change.
Posted by harrisk at March 24, 2009 7:46 PM
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