1813. AND THIS HOLEY DOLLAR.
In 1813, Governor Lachlan Macquarie enlisted the services of emancipated convict William Henshall to convert a shipment of 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars into Holey Dollars and Dumps.
No parameters were set on the contents of Macquarie’s shipment. He was not date specific. Any year would suffice. Nor was he quality specific. Any quality would do.
When William Henshall created this Holey Dollar, he picked up a Charles III Spanish Silver Dollar that had been struck at the Mexico Mint in 1777.
Had Henshall been a numismatist he would have marvelled that the dollar that he was now handling had hardly been used.
Given that the Spanish Silver Dollar was the world's greatest trading coin he might also have pondered as to how the coin had survived the previous thirty-six years in such a wonderful state.
Committed to the task of creating Holey Dollars from silver dollars, he cut a hole in it. And continued the minting process by over-stamping the inner circular edge with the words New South Wales, the date 1813 and the value of five shillings.
It was at this point, the application of the counter stamps, that Henshall created this 1813 Holey Dollar.
A SUPREME QUALITY HOLEY DOLLAR.
When defining the quality of a Holey Dollar, there are two elements to consider.
First up the quality of the original silver dollar. What was the extent of its circulation before it came into William Henshall's hands. And secondly the quality of the over-stamps which indicates how extensively the Holey Dollar was used after it was released into circulation in 1813.
The 1777 Spanish Silver Dollar from which this Holey Dollar was created shows the slightest circulation and has a numismatic grading of 'Extremely Fine'.
That places it in an elite category of Holey Dollars, the top eight percent.
Our analysis of the 300 surviving Holey Dollars confirms the extreme scarcity of 'Extremely Fine' quality examples.
We note that sixteen per cent of the surviving Holey Dollars are heavily circulated with the coins almost denuded of design detail. Akin to a tap washer. Numismatic grading level of 'Fair'.
Seventy-six per cent are well circulated with the design details presented in various degrees of wear. Numismatic grading level of 'About Fine' to 'Good Very Fine'.
Leaving a balance of eight per cent, with the design details intact and showing only the slightest of wear. Numismatic grading level of 'Extremely Fine' and better.
The extent of usage of the Holey Dollar after it was released into circulation is evidenced by the wear to the counter-stamps, the over-stamping around the inner circular edge … New South Wales, 1813 and Five Shillings.
The counter-stamps of this Holey Dollar are also graded in the premium quality levels of Extremely Fine.
The state of preservation of this Holey Dollar, both original coin and counter-stamps, is remarkable.
1777 AN EARLY DATE & A RECORD BREAKER.
The first point of reference in researching Holey Dollars is the book, "The Holey Dollars of New South Wales”, published in 1988 and authored by Messrs. Mira and Noble.
The book is a literary “google” of the surviving Holey Dollars, presenting background information and photographs.
At the time of going to print, 276 Holey Dollars were recorded and presented in a 92-page catalogue.
The Holey Dollars are listed in numerical order of the year in which the original Spanish Dollar was minted.
And the year 1777 is one of the earliest.
The earliest year is 1757 which appears on a heavily circulated Ferdinand VI Holey Dollar, followed by 1773, an average circulated Charles III Holey Dollar that is housed in the Mitchell Library.
And then this supreme quality Charles III Holey Dollar created from a silver dollar minted in 1777.
The range of dates on the surviving Holey Dollars covers 1757 up to and including 1810 with more than 50 per cent of surviving Holey Dollars created from silver dollars minted post-1800.
Jacques Schulman Auction, Amsterdam, 30 March 1914.
Künker Auction, Berlin, 4 February 2016.
Now it is a fact that the year in which the Spanish Silver Dollar was minted is significant when it comes to assessing a Holey Dollar’s value.
This conundrum is best demonstrated by an example.
Consider two Holey Dollars, the first created from a Charles III 1777 Spanish Dollar, the second struck from a Charles IIII 1807 Spanish Dollar.
Both the same high quality, Extremely Fine, so both elite coins.
We ask the question. Which Holey Dollar is the more remarkable and hence the more valuable?
The obvious answer is the former. The 1777 silver dollar had thirty-six years of potential circulation before William Henshall got his hands on it. The latter having only six years of circulation before it was holed and over stamped by Henshall.
That the original coin, dated 1777, shows minimal circulation is the very reason why we say that this coin is in a miraculous state.
And the sole reason why it achieved a record breaking price when it was offered at Künker's Auction in 2016.