1813 Holey Dollar

1813 Holey Dollar
1813 Holey Dollar
1813 Holey Dollar
$ 145,000
Sold November 2015
Very Fine / Good Very Fine
Philip Spalding
This particular Holey Dollar is a stand out piece. Extremely rare, it is one of only eight privately held examples that depict the portrait of Charles III and the legend of Charles IV. (To put this into perspective, about 125 privately held Holey Dollars depict the portrait of Charles IIII and the legend of Charles IIII.) Furthermore it comes with an immaculate provenance. It was a prized possession of the late Philip Spalding respected numismatist and author of ‘The World of the Holey Dollar’
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This Holey Dollar was struck from a silver dollar dated 1789 and depicts the portrait of the deceased monarch King Charles III, who died one year earlier, in 1788. It also features the legend Carolus IV, to acknowledge the new monarch.

This Holey Dollar is one of only eight privately held examples that depict the portrait of Charles III and the legend Carolus IV and is one of the rarest types of Holey Dollars.

The mints of the Spanish colonies were prolific producers of silver coinage. Eager to maintain production of silver coins to flow into Spanish coffers, a Royal decree granted the colonial mints the right to continue striking coins with the portrait of the deceased King Charles III. The legend was however amended to the non-traditional Carolus IV to acknowledge the new monarch Charles IIII.

In 1791, the official portrait of Charles IIII appeared on the Spanish Silver Dollar for the first time and the legend reverted to the traditional format of Charles IIII.

This Holey Dollar chronicles the limitations of communications in this era and the challenges of the colonial mints wishing to maintain silver coin production while at the same time observing the currency protocols necessitated for the passing of a monarch.

This particular Holey Dollar was photographed and detailed in Spalding’s book ‘The World of the Holey Dollar’. It was highly regarded by Spalding to the extent that it was featured in his book, in the chapter titled ‘The Top Dollars’, page 210.

It also is photographed and referenced as 1789/2 in the Mira Noble book ‘The Holey Dollars of New South Wales’ published in 1988.

Philip Spalding was passionate about Australia’s first coin, the 1813 Holey Dollar. And he owned many examples.

His passion however extended far beyond ownership. He authored what is still to this day regarded as the ultimate reference on the history of Australia’s Holey Dollar. Published in 1973, ‘The World of the Holey Dollar’ is viewed as his greatest legacy.

His contributions to the industry, and the nation, was further evidenced with a donation to the State Library of New South Wales of one of the finest pieces from his collection. The coin was the very famous Charles IIII Seville Mint Holey Dollar. It is one of only two Holey Dollars that has ties to the mint in Seville, Spain.


The narrative of the 1813 Holey Dollar, is as much about the Spanish Empire, as it is about Governor Macquarie’s attempt to introduce Australia’s first circulating coinage. It is a story that takes us on a journey through time and across continents.

The Holey Dollar, and let’s not forget its partner the Dump, are Australia’s first coins. Both were created in 1813 and involved a two part minting process. The first part of the process occurred when convicted forger William Henshall cut a hole in the centre of 40,000 Spanish Dollars, imported by Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

In so doing Henshall created two pieces of silver out of each single dollar: the first piece having a donut configuration and the second the inner circular disc that was punched out of the centre of the donut.

The second phase of the minting process required Henshall to officially over-stamp the two pieces of silver with the date, 1813, the value and the issuing authority of New South Wales.

This was the point at which the two pieces of the mutilated silver dollar were converted into the Holey Dollar and Dump and became Australia’s very first coins.

Macquarie wasn’t fussy about his shipment of 40,000 Spanish silver dollars. No protocols were set down for their quality or their dates. Nor did he care whether they were minted in Spain or the Spanish colonies of Mexico, Peru or Bolivia.

The silver dollars imported by Macquarie, and ultimately the Holey Dollars that were created from them, chart the course of the Spanish monarchs commencing with Ferdinand VI, Charles III, Charles IIII, Ferdinand VII including the tumultuous period when Ferdinand VII exited the throne in 1808 to be replaced by Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte.


PO Box 1060 Hawksburn Victoria Australia 3142

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