This Holey Dollar is unique. It is the only example of a Holey Dollar to bear the date 1808 and the portrait and legend of Ferdinand VII.
It is a Holey Dollar of monumental historic significance and this is its first offering in nearly half a century.
Spain was in turmoil in 1808.
On 19 March 1808 Charles IIII of Spain abdicated the throne for his son, Ferdinand VII. He reigned for only two months and on 6 May 1808, was tricked into exile by Napoleon Bonaparte, who proclaimed his brother Joseph Bonaparte as King of Spain.
On 12 August 1808, the Mexico Mint received the new dies bearing the legend and portrait of Ferdinand VII.
Refusing to acknowledge Bonaparte as King of Spain the mint commenced production of silver dollars featuring Ferdinand’s portrait and legend. Because the mint received the dies in the latter part of 1808, very few silver dollars were struck in that year depicting Ferdinand VII.
The very reason why this Holey Dollar is the only known example struck from an 1808 Ferdinand VII Silver Dollar.
Whilst today people take to the streets to demonstrate their political views, the Mexico Mint made its own (not so quiet) stand by retaining Ferdinand VII’s legend and portrait on the Spanish coinage even though Joseph Bonaparte had in 1808 been proclaimed King of Spain.
This coin is a tangible reminder of the social and political messages conveyed by currency.
The original Spanish silver dollar from which this Holey Dollar was created is uniformly toned a beautiful gun metal blue grey.
The surfaces are reflective and glossy. Look closely and you see that the coin has original golden lustre in the legend and the date 1808.
The original coin is graded Good Extremely Fine, making it one of the finest of the 300 known Holey Dollars, comparable quality-wise to the Madrid Holey Dollar which sold in 2015 for a world record price of $550,000.
To our knowledge this is the finest Ferdinand VII Holey Dollar available to private collectors.
It is beyond doubt the finest Ferdinand VII Holey Dollar that we have handled.
The counter stamps of this Holey Dollar are highlighted by original golden lustre and beautiful toning.
They are Uncirculated, as struck, and fully detailed as to the impression of the inner denticles, lettering Five Shillings and New South Wales, date 1813, fleur de lis, double twig of leaves and tiny H. The pristine state of the counter stamps is remarkable.
That after delivering this coin to the Deputy Commissary General’s Office in January 1814 along with 39,909 other Holey Dollars, it was never used.
And that after the Holey Dollar was officially demonitised in 1829 it survived the recall, and the eventual melting pot, is simply miraculous.
This coin has an impeccable provenance. In terms of Holey Dollars the name Spalding is in our view the ultimate.
This Holey Dollar was owned by A.H. Baldwin and was acquired by private treaty in 1968 by Philip Spalding.
The coin is photographed on page 192 of Spalding’s renowned book, The World of the Holey Dollar.
There are approximately two hundred Holey Dollars held in private hands, each of which can be characterised into ‘types’ based on the monarch and the mint of the original silver dollar.
And this Holey Dollar is one of the rarest types.
Macquarie’s original order for 40,000 Spanish Dollars did not specify dates. Silver Dollars minted under Ferdinand VI, Charles III, Charles IIII and Ferdinand VII were all acceptable.
Nor did he care where they were minted, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia or Spain.
This Holey Dollar depicts the portrait and legend of Ferdinand VII. And the mintmark of the Mexico Mint.
These three traits (the portrait of Ferdinand VII, the legend of Ferdinand VII and the mint) combine to make this Holey Dollar one of the rarest of all types.
The 1813 Holey Dollar is one of Australia’s most desirable coins. Talk to those fortunate owners, either private collectors or institutions such as Macquarie Bank, National Museum of Australia and the Mitchell Library, and you quickly realise that the Holey Dollar is viewed as the jewel in their collection.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie etched his name into numismatic history forever when in 1812 he imported 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars to alleviate a currency crisis in the infant colony of New South Wales.
Concluding that the shipment of 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars would not suffice, he instructed emancipated convict William Henshall to cut a hole in the centre of each dollar, thereby creating two coins out of one: a ring dollar and a disc.
Henshall proceeded to re-stamp the holed dollar around the inner circular edge with the value of five shillings, the date 1813 and the issuing authority of New South Wales.
The holed coins were officially known as ring, pierced or colonial dollars and although ‘holey’ was undoubtedly applied to them from the outset, the actual term ‘holey dollar’ did not appear in print until the 1820s. We refer to the coin today as the 1813 Holey Dollar.
The silver disc that fell out of the hole wasn’t wasted. Henshall restamped the disc with a crown, the issuing authority of New South Wales and the lesser value of 15 pence and it became known as the Dump. The term ‘dump’ was applied officially right from the beginning; a name that continues until this day.
In creating two coins out of one, Macquarie effectively doubled the money supply. And increased their total worth by 25 per cent.
The concept of the ‘holey’ dollar or the dollar with a hole cut into it was an extension of the practice of ‘cutting’ coins into segments which was widespread at the time. At least two other colonies used ‘ring’ dollars before New South Wales – Dominica in 1798 and Trinidad in 1811.
Anyone counterfeiting ring dollars or dumps were liable to a seven year prison term; the same penalty applied for melting down. (Jewellers were said to be particularly suspect.) To prevent export, masters of ships were required to enter into a bond of £200 not to carry the coin away.
Of the 40,000 silver dollars imported by Macquarie, records indicate that 39,910 of each coin were delivered to the Deputy Commissary General’s Office with several despatched back to Britain as specimens, the balance assumed spoiled during production.
The buying power of the Holey Dollar is revealed in the Sydney Gazette where it is noted that you could buy a bottle of rum, a bushel of maize or a pound of green tea.
The New South Wales colonial administration began recalling holey dollars and dumps and replacing them with sterling coinage from 1822.
The coins were finally demonetised in 1829; the recalled specie shipped off to the Royal Mint London, melted down and sold off to the Bank of England for £5044.
About 300 Holey Dollars exist today, with a third of those held in public institutions. Private collectors own about 200 coins.