Could this Adelaide Pound have been Joshua Payne’s prototype for coins struck using the second die?
It cannot be ruled out. With this coin Payne achieved the ultimate, a pristine crown, strength in the legend 'Government Assay Office Adelaide' and compelling edges.
It is minting perfection and has already been earmarked for an Exhibition in Canberra in 2024.
To understand the miraculous state of this Adelaide Pound it is necessary to provide a snapshot of activities at the Assay Office.
History records that disaster struck during the early stages of the minting of the 1852 Adelaide Pound. Die-maker and engraver Joshua Payne later confirmed that staff had struggled to find the correct pressure levels to exert on the dies to execute a strong overall design.
In the early stages of production, pressure was applied to the edges to ensure that the denticles and legend were strong.
The upside to this decision is that your classic Adelaide Pound from the first production run (Type I) has almost perfect edges and beautiful strong denticles, akin to a picture frame.
The downside to this decision was that the reverse die developed a crack in the legend during the striking of the first forty coins. A further downside occurred. With pressure exerted on the edges, the force applied to the central part of the design - the crown - was softened.
So in summary, an Adelaide Pound from the first production run (Type I) will have strong edges but a soft, poorly executed crown.
Relaxing the pressure in the second production run of Adelaide Pounds lengthened the die usage but created its own shortcomings. For once the pressure was reduced on the edges, the perfection that was achieved in the denticles and legend of the first run of Adelaide Pounds was simply not achievable.
Adelaide Pounds from the second production run will have weakness in the edges and weakness in the 'Assay Office' area of the legend. But, the crown design will invariably be well executed with flattened areas simply due to usage.
So in summary, an Adelaide Pound from the second production run (Type II) will have weak edges, weak legend but a strong crown.
The photographs reveal that this Adelaide Pound has it all. Strong denticles, strong legend and perfectly struck crown. To quote Barrie Winsor (2012), "If an Adelaide Pound had been struck to proof quality, then this coin is it."
You would be forgiven for thinking that this Adelaide Pound came from the first production run, the denticles and legend are so strong. The marvel of this coin is that the crown has been brilliantly executed and we point out the well defined pleats in the cloth, the cross on the orb at the top of the crown, the pearls and the ermine in the lower band. This is perfection in coining.
Reverse of the 1852 Adelaide Pound featuring a scalloped inner border indicating that this coin was struck in the second production run.