That historians have traced a business transaction involving the 1823 Macintosh & Degraves Shilling back to 1848 attests to the importance of this iconic piece of Australiana. The transaction was a purchase for the esteemed London National Collection.
Fondly referred to as the ‘Smiling Rat’, the design was reputedly based on a drawing that was sent back to London in the late 1780s, said to be the first depiction of an Australian kangaroo.
It is our first Australian token and the only piece to be struck in this denomination.
When Hugh McIntosh and Peter Degraves organised the striking of this token for the Cascade Saw Mills in 1823, they could hardly have foreseen that it would one day become a prized collector piece.
The token is remarkable for a number of reasons, all of which adds to its value today.
That we don’t know the full story has tantalised numismatists and historians for decades.
Does it really matter? Definitely not – after all, it simply adds to the magic.