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50 cents 2004 and 2005 - Student designs

By CAA    |   Saturday, 20 January 2024

50 cents 2004 and 2005 - Student designs

In 2004 and 2005, two primary school student coin design competitions created by the Royal Australian Mint occured.

50 cents 2004 - Student design

The final design, with over 2,500 designs submitted, was selected by Australians who participated in the voting on the Mint's website choosing from amongst the final top five designs submitted.

104 best designs decided by the Royal Australian Mint were:

The winning design in 2004 by John Serrano, a year 5/6 student (2003) at St Peter's Primary School, East Keilor, Victoria, addressed the the Australia with artistic merit, commemorative appropriateness and suitability for minting. John's hand-drawn design incorporates threee Australian icons; a koala holding onto a gum tree, a lorikeet with wings out-stretched and a wombat.

Commemorative appropriateness

The coin needed to stand as a lasting tribute to the ideas and talents of young Australian students. The coin, issued as a collector coin, the design needed to be appealing to coin collectors. Either as collector coins or as circulating coins, if found overseas, the design also needed to represent and portray Australia.

Suitability for minting

When considering the mintability of a design, the selection panel was seeking a design that is capable of being reproduced on a coin. It should be remembered that coin designs have areas of relief where part of the image is raised and other areas that are incuse (recessed). It is desirable to avoid the raised areas extending right to the rim of the coin.

What might look impressive on a large sketch may barely be visible when reduced to the actual size of the coin. A more simple design therefore was more appropriate than a very "busy" design.

A technical consideration was also the location of the high and low areas of the design in relation to the high and low areas of the effigy of the Queen on the other side of the coin, so that large areas in relief are not directly opposite on each side of the coin.

Competition specifications, Royal Australian Mint, May 6, 2003

Series specification
  • The series will comprise individual commemorative coins, released progressively on an annual or bi-annual basis starting from 2004. The number of years that this series will last has not yet been decided but one of the factors that will be considered in deciding how long the series will last is the public’s interest in this series. The designs for 2004 are to be prepared bystudents who are in primary schools during the calender year 2003, and are to represent what they consider to be special about Australia. Designs for the next issue in this series will be drawn from secondary schools and the following series from tertiary institutions. There will be one design selected for each coin per year.
  • The coin is to be :
    • of 50c denomination, and legal tender; and
    • The same material and dimensions as the standard 50 cent coin (currently cupro-nickel, 31.65 mm in diameter).
  • The designs will potentially be released on three types of coins, at the Mint’s sole discretion:
    • a proof collector coin;
    • an uncirculated collector coin; and
    • a coin that will go into general circulation
    The proof coins will be issued in limited numbers, but there will be no predetermined limit on the numbers of uncirculated or circulating coins to be produced, if they are in fact produced.
Scope of competition
  • The selected designs will be used on one side (the Reverse) of Australia’s 50c coin. The other (Obverse) side of our coins bears the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, and is not the subject of this competition.
  • Designs are to take account of the size of the coin on which they will eventually be produced. The designs must be submitted in black and white only, on A4 size paper in accordance with the attached template. Please note that coloured designs will not be accepted.
  • Designs must be drawn by hand. Designs generated by computer will not be accepted.
  • Designs must incorporate figures ‘50’ to indicate the denomination of the coin, 50c.
  • Designs may be accompanied by written descriptions, not to exceed 100 words per design. To facilitate impartial assessment, neither the design drawings nor any accompanying descriptions should be signed or otherwise attributed on the design side. However, on the back of the paper used to draw the design should be shown the designer’s full name, school, school address, school phone and fax numbers. All entries will be coded on receipt, in such as way as to ensure the identity of the originator is recorded but not revealed to the judges until after the relevant stage of the selection process (see below).
  • Ownership and copyright in a design lodged as an entry to this competition will pass to the Commonwealth on its selection. The parents or guardians of the students whose designs are selected will be required to sign agreements giving ownership of intellectual property rights in the designs to the Commonwealth.
  • Entries will not be returned. Clear copies will be accepted as initial entries, in the event that entrants wish to retain the originals of their designs until after the selection process.
Selection process
  • Stage 1
    The first stage of the selection process takes place in each school, and detailed arrangements are at the discretion of the school.The aim is for the schools to select a maximum of three entries from each school, for submission to the Royal Australian Mint.
  • Stage 2
    The second stage involves selection by a panel appointed by and including the Controller of the Mint, technical and marketing staff from the Mint as well as selected members of the public, of a final set of 5 designs.
  • Stage 3
    The third and final stage involves selection by the Minister responsible for the Mint, of one of the five designs chosen at stage two, above, assisted on technical matters by a representative of the Royal Australian Mint. The Minister will select one design to be featured on the coin for the respective year.
  • Finalisation
    Detail adjustments to a shortlisted design may be requested by the selection panel. Adjustments for technical reasons will be at the sole discretion of the Mint, but the winning designer will be notified where a significant adjustment is needed.
Selection criteria

The criteria for selection will focus on:

  • artistic merit
  • commemorative appropriateness, and
  • suitability for minting.

The organisers reserve the right not to make a selection and the Mint reserves the right not to proceed to production with a winning entry, should circumstances require such a decision.

No correspondence will be entered into regarding the final design selected or reasons for nonselection of any designs submitted.

  • Designs submitted by the primary schools must be from students in those primary schools only.
  • Designs must have been done by the students themselves without adult assistance in drawing the designs.
  • By entering the competition, designers, schools, parents and guardians are accepting the rules of the competition and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Entries must be received by the Royal Australian Mint by 5pm on Friday 15 August 2003.
  • The three designs chosen by each school should be sent by Registered Mail.
  • The Mint will not be able to acknowledge receipt of designs from any particular school.

The prize for the winning entry will be $10,000 donated to the school where the successful entrant is a pupil at the time of the design being completed. Where a student is undergoing Home Tuition and does not attend a registered primary school, the prize money will be awarded to the Department of Education in the State or Territory in which that student lives at the time of submitting the entry and based on the State or Territory address shown on the design entry.

The winning designer will also be acknowledged by having his/her initials on the coins; and in publicity associated with the release of the coins.

The winners will be announced on Friday 7 November 2003.

50 cents 2004 and 2005 - Student designs

The 12 year old initials JS have been struck on the reverse of this 50c coin as personal recognition of his award winning design. Mint designer, Vladimir Gottwald, has sculpted the design to ensure the artist's drawing is accurately reproduced. The circulating coins were released in the second half of 2004.

The exceptionally high quality of entries made the short listing process extremely difficult. We are thrilled that John has had opportunity to see his the final result of his creative efforts.

- Vivienne Thom, Controller of the Royal Australian Mint

The limited mintage of silver proof coins was available for $66.00 and the uncirculated coins was priced at $4.95 making it affordable for every Australian to own this unique tribute to Australian Life.


  • Mintage: 10,577,000
  • Composition: Copper-nickel (75% Copper, 25% Nickel)
  • Weight: 15.55 g
  • Diameter: 31.51 mm
  • Thickness: 3 mm

50 cents 2004 - Price guide and values

50 cents 2005 - Student design

50 cents 2004 and 2005 - Student designs

Late 2004, the search for a winning design for a 50 cents 2005 coin themed on the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games started. One lucky student had the unique opportunity of having their initials appear on the coin and win $10,000 for his school.

The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will be the largest and most spectacular sporting event in Victoria's history. Seventy one nations, representing a third of the world's population, will participate in the Games and this competition allows young Australians to be involved in this landmark event.

- Ronald Walker, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Chairman

Controller of the Royal Australian Mint, Vivienne Thom said young designers were being asked to present original work that displays the spirit of the Commonwealth Games with an Australian theme. Entries closed Friday 15 October 2004. Six secondary students had been selected by a panel of judges. The winning entry was selected by popular vote, with the Australian public voting overwhelmingly for Kelly's design.

Kelly Just won the Royal Australian Mint's secondary school coin design competition and had the honour of her coin being minted and included in the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Coin Collection.

Dr Vivienne Thom, Controller of the Mint said:

Kelly's design conveys to the world the Australian's spirit - the love of sport and environment - it embraces the spirit of the games and Australia's unique fauna.


  • Mintage: 20,719,000
  • Composition: Copper-nickel (75% Copper, 25% Nickel)
  • Weight: 15.55 g
  • Diameter: 31.51 mm
  • Thickness: 3 mm

50 cents 2005 - Price guide and values

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