1860 Aborigine Threepence, an iconic piece of Australiana

1860 Aborigine Threepence, an iconic piece of Australiana
1860 Aborigine Threepence, an iconic piece of Australiana
Extremely Fine
Private collection New South Wales
An indigenous Australian first appeared on the nation’s currency in 1860, the piece fondly referred to today as the Aborigine Threepence. It would be another 128 years before Australia would acknowledge the contribution of Indigenous Australians to our society when a portrait of a tribal elder appeared on our Two Dollar coins created especially for the Bicentenary in 1988. Famous and also extremely rare, the Aborigine Threepence has the highest rarity ranking of R10. A minuscule eight pieces are known, with this piece acknowledged as one of the finest available.
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The 1860 Aborigine Threepence was minted by jewellers Julius Hogarth and Conrad Erichsen.

Scandinavian citizens, Hogarth was a sculptor and silversmith. Erichsen an engraver.

Both migrated to Australia to make their fortunes on the gold fields reaching Sydney on 11 December 1852.

Failing to realise their ambitions, they utilised their skills and went into partnership as silversmiths opening their first enterprise at 255 George Street Sydney.

The firm quickly gained a reputation in the development of ‘Australiana’ themed decoration on metalwork and jewellery, which actively promoted the use of indigenous Australian floral and faunal elements and indigenous figures.

They achieved great success during the 1850s notably through the vice-regal patronage of Governors Young and Denison.


The works of Hogarth and Erichsen are held by the following institutions to name but a few:

  • The National Library of Australia, Canberra 
  • The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  • The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

That Coinworks chose to include an example of the 1860 Aborigine Threepence in its 2007 ‘Dollars & Dumps’ Exhibition speaks volumes on the standing of the piece.

The Aborigine Threepence has a rarity and historical significance that puts it right up there with the nation’s greatest Holey Dollars. It is Australia’s most famous token. The design is iconic.

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