The Esso Play Coins of Australia

The Esso “Play Coins” of Australia.

By: MICC Lifetime member #001

Every so often, plastic tokens with obverses similar to the above show up, leading us to wonder what they are. They are actually a sort of play money given away to children by the Esso Oil Company stations in Australia in 1966 to familiarize them with the new decimal coins that were just starting to appear – or would do so shortly.

Altogether, there were six denominations, two in brown plastic to represent the bronze coins and four in silvery white to represent the higher ones. All of them displayed the same obverse: the cartoon head of the Esso Tiger surrounded by the legend . ESSO EXTRA . PUTS A TIGER IN YOUR TANK while the reverses all showed the designs as they would appear surrounded by the legend AUSTRALIAN (Number) CENT TOKEN. In size, reverse design and colour, the six were as follow:

Esso Plastic Token ~ Obverse

Esso Plastic Token ~ Reverse

As issued in 1966, the actual 1- and 2-cent denominations were in bronze, the 5-, 10- and 20-cent pieces in copper-nickel and the 50-cent coin in silver (.800 fine). The latter was withdrawn soon after and replaced in 1969 by a 10-sided copper-nickel piece of similar design.

Not forgetting Mom and Dad, a card was passed out by Esso along with the sets that featured a conversion table and how to figure the new denominations in old Australian pounds, shillings and pence. One is illustrated below.


Previously printed in the MICC Numismatic Journal Vol-02, Issue-10