1852 Adelaide Pound

1852 Adelaide Pound about EF rev large B&B April 2018
1852 Adelaide Pound about EF obv large April 2018
1852 Adelaide Pound
1852 Adelaide Pound
about Extremely Fine
Private Collection Queensland
The 1852 Adelaide Pound holds a very special place in the nation’s history as the nation’s first gold coin struck from 22 carat gold brought from the Victorian goldfields. It was minted at the Government Assay Office in Adelaide. Its historical standing, as Australia's first gold coin, ensures that it will always be sought after and underpins its investment value. Its investment value is also preserved by its rarity for the industry estimates that 250 examples are available to collectors, across all quality levels.
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1852 Adelaide Pound about EF obv large April 2018
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Considering its scarcity, finding an Adelaide Pound that doesn’t break the bank can be challenging which is why we are so excited by this coin.

The coin has fared extremely well during its time in circulation, is well presented and is offered in a price range that is suitable to most collector's budgets.

The prime rule in selecting an Adelaide Pound is to pick a coin that is visually very attractive.

The aesthetics, the look of an Adelaide Pound to the naked eye, is an important part of the selection process. This simple point will really count when, further down the track, it comes time for you to liquidate your coin and realise on your investment.

It must be remembered that the Adelaide Assay Office was opened 166 years ago as a refinery to strike gold ingots. Except for ensuring the accuracy of the weight and purity of gold in the coin, there was minimal care regarding the overall striking and the eye appeal of the coin.

The coins were to be used as currency, traded in commerce. Not preserved as collectables.

Gold also is a relatively soft metal and the rigours of circulation have treated many Adelaide Pounds harshly.

This 1852 Adelaide Pound passes our selection test with flying colours and is as per the photographs shown above and at right.  It is a coin that you would be proud to show your family and friends. 

  • The coin is graded about Extremely Fine which indicates that it has undergone some circulation with slight wear to the high points.
  • The coin has strength in the edges. And the legend 'Government Assay office' is strong.
  • History records that the striking of the Adelaide Pound was fraught with problems. Pressure cracked the first die. Relaxing the pressure on the second die, while it increased the design detail in the crown, interfered with the execution of the edges and the legend 'Assay Office'. Many examples struck with the second die show weakness in the edges, with some areas of the legend almost non-existent.
  • The final scrutiny involves the fields. The rigours of circulation have treated this coin very kindly.

This Adelaide Pound is presented in a handsome black presentation case, with accompanying photographs and Certificate of Authenticity.

Coinworks also has available

1852 Adelaide Pound cracked die
The history of the Adelaide Pound

The history of the Adelaide Pound.

When the Victorian gold fields opened up in 1851, over 8000 South Australians headed east, taking with them not only manpower but also cash resources. About two thirds of the available coin exited the state.

As the two main pillars of national activity, labour and capital literally walked out, prices plummeted, property plunged, mining scrip nosedived, and Adelaide took on the air of a ghost town with row after row of tenantless houses.

The general pessimism lessened in January 1852, when about £50,000 of gold arrived in the colony and calls were made for the establishment of a mint and the issuing of gold coins.

This was in direct violation of the Royal Prerogative. The colony had no authority to issue coins. Despite the controversy, the Governor of South Australia, Sir Henry Fox Young introduced the Bullion Act into Parliament on the 28 January 1852.

It was one of the quickest proceedings on record, with the entire proceedings taking less than two hours to pass.

The Bullion Act allowed the receiving, assaying and stamping of gold into ingots. The ingots were never intended to form a currency but could be used by the banks to increase their note circulation, based on the amount of assayed gold deposited.

The Act compelled the banks to increase their note circulation to meet all assayed gold deposited, effectively depriving them of control over their currency issues. The notes were payable in Sterling or coin, which put huge pressure on the banks to import sovereigns to support their note issues.

The first Assay Office opened on 10 February 1852. Its activities were supported by a state government initiative to provide armed escorts to bring back the gold from the Victorian diggings.

By the time the first escort arrived, a second assay office had been established, and Joshua Payne was appointed die-sinker and engraver.

​By the end of August 1852, over £1 million worth of gold had been received at the assay offices.

But the banks were still under enormous pressure, being forced to import sovereigns to meet the extent of their note circulation. 

On 23rd November 1852 the government responded to agitation from both the banks and the public for the minting of gold coins and passed the second part of the Bullion Act.

Within a week 600 gold coins (known today as the 1852 Adelaide Pound) had been delivered to the South Australian Banking Company, 100 of which were sent to London.

The Bullion Act had a lifetime of only twelve months. By the time the legislative amendments were passed to enact the production of gold coins, the Act had less than three months to run. Consequently, only a small number of Adelaide Pounds were struck (24,768) and very few circulated.

When it was discovered that the intrinsic value of the gold contained in each piece exceeded its nominal value, the clear majority were promptly exported to London and melted down.

That goes a long way towards explaining why so few Adelaide Pounds survive today (approximately 250) and why the highest-quality examples command such high prices.  

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