News

Eminent Colonials Auction

Location: 1st Floor, RACV Club, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Date: Monday 27th August 2012
Time: 7pm

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The most famous example of Australia’s first coin, the Holey Dollar, goes under the hammer on 27 August in Melbourne at the RACV Club on Bourke Street at 7pm.

Known as the ‘Hannibal Head’ Holey Dollar, it was created in New South Wales in 1813 from an 1810 Silver Dollar that had been minted at the Lima Mint in Peru.

Eminent Colonials Auction

This coin is the only example of its type in private hands. The only other known example is housed in the State Library of New South Wales.

The Hannibal Head Holey Dollar was last offered at public auction in 1988 and sold after the auction for $39,000. Solid interest is expected from private collectors, investors and institutions at the pre-auction estimate of $450,000.

Also offered at the Coinworks Eminent Colonials Auction one of the finest 1813 Colonial Dumps and the finest example of Australia’s first gold coin, the 1852 Adelaide Pound.

The three rare coins have national significance and are expected to fetch in excess of one million dollars. (See Fact Sheet below)

The ‘Hannibal Head’ Holey Dollar is rich in history. In 1808, while Napoleon was invading Spain after defeating the Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, mints in Mexico and Lima were still busily turning out Spanish silver dollars.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie made the most of Spanish spare change by acquiring 40,000 silver dollars to alleviate Australia's coin shortage.

Macquarie enlisted the services of a convicted forger, William Henshall, to cut a hole in the centre of each silver dollar. The resulting ‘donut form’ was over-stamped with the words New South Wales, the value Five Shillings and the date 1813 to create Australia’s very first coin, the 1813 Holey Dollar. The centrepiece that fell out of the hole wasn’t discarded. Over-stamped it became the 1813 Colonial Dump: the diminutive partner to the Holey Dollar with a value of fifteen pence.

What makes the ‘Hannibal Head’ Holey Dollar so special is that the original Spanish Dollar ‘holed’ by William Henshall had been minted in 1810 at the Lima Mint in Peru with a portrait design that protested Joseph Bonaparte’s ascension to the Spanish throne. And it is the only example privately held.

Discovered in Tasmania in 1881 near Hobart, the coin was subsequently presented to Sir John Henry Lefroy, Governor of Van Diemen’s Land 1880 – 1881.

One of Australia’s well known and highly regarded auctioneers, Warren Joel of ByJoel, will officiate. No buyer’s premium applies in the auction of these rare coins.

Approved Valuer of Australian coins under the Commonwealth Government’s Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme and Professional Numismatist (now retired), Barrie Winsor believes that the coin has the potential to far exceed its auction estimate. “It’s Australia’s very first coin. And this is the most famous of them all with only one example available to buyers. Let’s not forget that next year is the 200th anniversary of its striking.”

“This is a coin that will attract worldwide interest”.

“That the Macquarie Bank chose as its logo a stylised version of the Holey Dollar reflects the respect with which this coin is held”.

Catalogues are available by registering on our web site or phone 03 9642 3133

Fact Sheet

‘Hannibal Head’ Holey Dollar

  • Unique in private hands. The only other known example is housed in the State Library of New South Wales
  • One of the finest known of all the surviving Holey Dollars
  • Discovered in 1881, 20km north of Hobart in what was believed to be a ‘Bushrangers’ hoard and presented to General Sir J H Lefroy, the then Governor of Tasmania
  • The coin’s discovery was written up in several newspaper articles published in the early 1880s: the Hobart Mercury (1883) and the Sydney Morning Herald (1884)
  • First offered at an Australian public auction in March 1988. The coin was passed in and sold after the auction for $39,000
  • Held from 1988 to 2007 by a Queensland collector
  • Acquired by  Coinworks in 2007 and sold to the current vendor
  • Auction estimate $450,000 - $500,000

1813 Colonial Dump

  • One of the finest Colonial Dumps … in the top six of the known surviving specimens
  • Acquired by renowned collector H M Lingford in 1934 from Spink London
  • First publicly offered in Australia in 1985, Spink Auctions, selling for $13,200
  • Offered a decade later at Auction selling for $25,300
  • Sold to current vendor in 1997
  • Auction estimate $200,000 - $250,000

1852 Adelaide Pound

  • Finest known example of Australia’s very first gold coin
  • Purchased in 1962 by Harold Hastings Deering for £80 (Deering owned Sydney’s first franchise for Ford Motor vehicles in 1935)
  • Sold to current vendor in 2005
  • Auction estimate $300,000 - $350,000

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