The 1852 Adelaide Pound holds a very special place in Australia's history as the nation's first gold coin. It is a classic Australian numismatic rarity, as is the 1813 Holey Dollar and 1813 Dump, the Square Penny and the 1930 Penny.
Its status as Australia’s first gold coin ensures that it will always be sought after and strengthens its investment value. Its investment value is also enhanced by its rarity for we estimate that perhaps 250 examples are available to collectors, across all quality levels.
While there may be a natural assumption that special care and attention would have been applied during the minting process of the Adelaide Pound. This was certainly NOT the case.
The Adelaide Assay Office was opened one hundred and sixty-eight years ago as a refinery to strike gold ingots. Except for ensuring the accuracy of the weight and purity of gold in the Adelaide Pound, there was minimal care regarding the overall striking and its eye appeal. The coins were hammered out and hurled down an assembly line, more than likely into a barrel or bucket.
The Adelaide Pounds were to be used as currency, traded in commerce. Not preserved as collectables. And, as gold is a relatively soft metal, the rigours of circulation have treated most Adelaide Pounds harshly.
We also know from historical records, the striking of the Adelaide Pound was fraught with problems. During the first run of coins, the reverse die cracked. A second die was used, with a different design, and to minimise the risk of further cracking, the pressure was reduced.
While the reduced pressure extended the life of the dies, it created its own set of problems in the execution of the design detail. The very reason why we always consider the strength of the strike as well as the grading level and aesthetics.
Knowing the rough and ready way in which the Adelaide Pounds were struck. And the problems that occurred within the Assay Office during the minting process, we always consider three aspects whenever we are checking out an Adelaide Pound that has been struck with the second die.
The first consideration is the grading level.
Well circulated Adelaide Pounds are reasonably available, with expectations that a collector would sight a few examples each year. Once a buyer moves up the quality scale however, the pool of available examples rapidly diminishes.
Uncirculated Adelaide Pounds, such as the coin on offer here, are extremely rare and would become available perhaps once every few years.
The second aspect we note is the Adelaide Pound's eye appeal. For us, irrespective of the quality, the coin has to look good. We don't like heavy knocks. And we don't like gouges.
The photographs clearly demonstrate the eye appeal of this coin. The fields are lustrous. The cross on the orb of the crown and the fleur de lis are complete and untouched.
Thirdly, we look at the strength of the strike. Given the difficulties that occurred during the minting of the nation's first coin, we examine just how well the design was executed.
There is strength in the legend in the ASSAY area which is not always seen. The ermine in the lower band of the crown is visible. The pleats in the fabric in the crown also are highly detailed.
1852 Adelaide Pound obverse with a fully struck up crown and strength in the legend
1852 Adelaide Pound reverse with a scalloped inner border abutting a beaded inner circle