Obsolete coins and notes

October 4th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader, David Buckingham, has sent me a copy of an request he made to the asking how many obsolete coins and notes have they received in the last three years. The  will still take old , even when no longer legal tender. In fact a couple of years ago I did a clean up of old coins at my place and took them to the reserve Bank who direct credited the value to my bank account.

What is surprising is how many old notes and coins are out there. Here is the number of coins and note returned from 2011 on:

  • 1c coins – 142,276
  • 2c coins – 154,760
  • 5c coins – 1,789,596
  • $1 notes – 25,285
  • $2 notes – 41,330

But the RBNZ is still getting some pre-decimal currency is. They also have received:

  • 10/- notes – 167
  • £1 notes – 187
  • £5 notes – 188
  • £10 notes – 8

And some old coins:

  • Halfpennies – 7,080
  • Pennies – 13,352
  • Threepennies – 90,676
  • Halfcrowns – 31,320

Amazing how long old currency stays in circulation.

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15 Responses to “Obsolete coins and notes”

  1. bc (1,395 comments) says:

    I’ve still got a few old coins around the house. I’ve given them to the kids to use as play money.
    There seems to be a disproportionate amount of old 20c coins for some reason – those old coins were massive!

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  2. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    Surely the older coins (and notes especially) would be worth more than equivalent value to a collector?

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  3. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    When the half crown was withdrawn in the 60s, they were dumped in Wellington harbour, ostensibly because it wasn’t worth processing the silver, of which they were made. What seemed unbelievable then … seems unbelievable now.

    Not sure of the technical definition of “circulation” but this old money was in old drawers not circulation.

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  4. Camryn (481 comments) says:

    I’d pay over the odds for a few old notes or coins in good condition. I’m not a collector and they’d never be so rare as to be truly collectable anyway… just a nice thing to have.

    My dad gave me a fruit bowl made of welded together pre-decimal NZ coins at one point. I’m sure it cost him more than the face value of the coins.

    In short… think laterally. Don’t just give them back to the RBNZ to get destroyed unless you’re talking a worthwhile stash of old notes or something,

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  5. alwyn (439 comments) says:

    Dennis @ 2.45pm
    Apart from a 1949 Crown (5 shillings) the last New Zealand coins to have any silver content were from 1946. Coins up to that year contained 50% silver. Since 1947 our coinage hasn’t contained any precious metals.
    I’m surprised about your story of dumping them though. The zinc would be worth something, although not face value.
    Incidentally a coin dealer will readily give you twenty times the face value for the 1946 and earlier stuff (silver coins only), at least there is one in Wellington that offered us that rate on a lot we found in a deceased estate house. They then melt it down for the silver

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  6. Steve (North Shore) (4,537 comments) says:

    How many rare or collectable coins are turning up? 1935 3d, 1947 broken wing 6d, 1946 flatback kiwi florin, QE2 strapless florin. A shilling had something special once – can’t remember (Broken taiaha?)

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  7. Ricardo (57 comments) says:

    Ah the halfcrown! What wealth we had with one of those in our pocket. Icecream, milkshakes, jaffas, all were real possibilities to be looked forward to when we had a halfcrown.

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  8. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    @alwyn. Many of the half crowns in use did contain silver and I remember discussing it with a friend who had also studied chemistry. The authorities said it was too difficult to separate the silver.

    Incidentally we sometimes spent Christmas holidays on Waihi Beach in the 50s, and never needed pocket money. We always picked up sufficient threepences and sixpences to finance the cinema and icecreams. Being small and light they fell out of adults’ pockets when they sat down on the sand. They were silver, and valuable.

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  9. Viking2 (11,681 comments) says:

    Half a crown was Friday lunch, fish and chips or pies, donuts and icecream.

    Barely buy a couple of jelly babes these days.

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  10. Fletch (6,529 comments) says:

    I reckon the Labour Govt made a mint out of selling off the old nickel coinage and replacing it with these new coins made from cheaper material. I think I remember reading they sold the old stuff to Canada.

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  11. s.russell (1,650 comments) says:

    If I had 4c at the age of ten I would have bought an icecream. That’s what an icecream cost back then. Now, if I had four cents I’d keep it somewhere – if nothing else to give to great grandchildren (or similar) when I’m 94. I certainly would not give it to the RB to be destroyed.

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  12. Tauhei Notts (1,687 comments) says:

    13,000 pennies.
    We need them at our club for the two up school.

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  13. Left Right and Centre (3,014 comments) says:

    Cool post. Pound notes turning up – amazing!! Heaps of them too.

    What are they doing floating around? Why would you hand one of those in? Keep it – nostalgic value and relative rarity.

    When I drove buses I’d keep the pre-decimal coins and anything of interest but I ended up with bank bags full of them. I’d get some just about every day.

    One day…. coins and notes will be gone, and any of it will be collectible.

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  14. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    I don’t reckon the majority of these would have been in circulation, especially the old notes? In good condition they would be worth a bit. I’ve not seen any of these old coins in circulation for ages. I’ve never been given an old penny in change. I presume someone uses them at the supermarket, or other place, and they are immediately withdrawn from circulation?

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  15. Johnq2 (1 comment) says:

    I don’t know if anyone will read this, but let me tell you where these coins come from – coin dealers from around the world buy them from the public for around 60% of their value. When they have enough, or someone comes by and mentions that they are going to NZ, then the dealers contact their network and offload them onto the person for about 80% of the value, making a profit in their home currency. The person then flies to NZ and exchanges them for face value, again making a profit. A lot of these come from liquidators when old people pass away and are found to have a huge treasure chest under their bed of semi-worthless 1c coins etc, which the beneficiaries of the will have no interest in dealing with.

    The problem with NZ is that it’s so far from anywhere else and expensive to get to, so the coins pile up until someone comes along who has business trips to make, or occasionally flight attendants will do this (but it gets boring and is heavy!) In Europe this is much more common, especially when the Euro replaced a lot of currencies, as you can bring 50kg with you in a trench coat and several luggages on a bus. If you have a car, you can bring 500kg worth, especially German Mark as they will exchange many thousands of euros in cash with no questions asked. When flying to NZ, you can take at most 7kg on the plane, and maybe 20kg of pennies and cents in your luggage (because it doesn’t matter if it gets stolen, it’s only like $50)

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