This 1860 Aborigine Threepence is culturally significant and is presented in superb mint state, ex Sir Marcus Clark K.B.E Collection.
When James R Lawson Auctioneers sold the collection of the late Sir Marcus Clark in July 1954, his 1860 Aborigine Threepence (this coin) was placed in the sale alongside his Holey Dollars and his Dumps, such was the respect with which it was held.
Selling for £38, the Aborigine Threepence fetched more than twice that of an EF Dump (£18) and nearly double that of an Extremely Fine Cracked Die (£20) and a 1921 Square Halfpenny (£22).
And there is a reason. The threepence is far rarer. And the design is culturally significant as the only colonial piece to bear the design of an indigenous Australian.
The design of the 1860 Aborigine Threepence has made it an industry icon.
Struck in silver, a minuscule eight pieces of the 1860 Aborigine Threepence are known, with this piece acknowledged as the absolute finest. Presented as struck, in a mint state, the surfaces are proof-like.
As you would expect of a piece of this calibre, it comes with a well-documented pedigree, the property of foremost collector Sir Marcus Clark whose reputation for acquiring the very best is indelibly printed into the chronicles of numismatic history.
The sale of the Marcus Clark Collection in 1954 by auctioneers James Lawson Pty Ltd records the first public appearance of the Aborigine Threepence, where it sold for £38.
The piece was auctioned 27 years later, and in a fiercely contested bidding war, it sold for $23,000 on a pre-auction estimate of $12,500.
The third appearance was in July 2007. The front cover item of a 400-page catalogue, it stirred up serious buyer interest selling for $92,000 against a pre-auction estimate of $75,000.
Julius Hogarth and Conrad Erichsen set up as jewellers in 1852 in a small shop at 394 George Street (near Liverpool Street). Relocating several times in the same street, their final location was 312 George Street on the south east corner of Hunter Street in what was formerly Skinners Hotel.
Hogarth is reputed to have designed and engraved the dies, while Erichsen is said to have actually made them. History records that Erichsen was quite a drinker and in the habit of striking a token whenever his thirst got the better of him!
Messrs Hogarth and Erichsen actively promoted the use of indigenous Australian flora and fauna elements and indigenous figures into their metal work and jewellery. They achieved great success during the 1850s notably through the vice-regal patronage of Governors Young and Denison.
Their works are today held in Canberra’s National Library of Australia and National Gallery of Australia. And Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria and Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.