MACQUARIES300. A project that will educate and inspire.


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The Holey Dollar is the nation’s first coin, minted in 1813 by order of Governor Lachlan Macquarie to provide a medium of exchange in the penal colony of New South Wales. The coin is a national treasure.

As Macquarie had no access to metal coin blanks to create his currency, he improvised and acquired 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars as a substitute for blanks.

To make his new coinage unique to the colony he employed emancipated convict William Henshall to cut a hole in each silver dollar, over-stamping each piece around the edge of the hole with the date 1813, the value Five Shillings and the issuing authority of New South Wales. That's the point at which the holed silver dollar became the 1813 Holey Dollar, the nation's first circulating coin.

While the original intention was to create 40,000 Holey Dollars from 40,000 silver dollars, spoilage and the despatch of samples back to Great Britain saw a slightly reduced number of Holey Dollars - 39,910 - released into circulation.

The industry estimates that 300 Holey Dollars survive today with at least a third held in museums in Australia and around the globe, the balance owned by private collectors.

As the nation's first coinage was created from a Spanish Silver Dollar, each Holey Dollar is unique. No two coins are the same.

And each Holey Dollar has its own story to tell.

What was the date on the Spanish Silver Dollar? Who was the Spanish King at the time? And where was it minted? In Spain or one of the Spanish colonies in South America. And was it well used or did it arrive in the colony relatively unscathed?

Treasures need to be recorded for today’s audience and for future generations. And the information needs to be accessible on the worldwide web. Such is the demand for Holey Dollars, that a well worn example, one that resembles a washer, is worth $50,000. The finest Holey Dollars command in excess of half a million dollars.

Coinworks is spearheading a project titled, MACQUARIES300. The plan is to produce an on-line photographic register of the surviving 300 Holey Dollars. It will be a project of national significance and will attract positive media exposure.

We want to send a clear message. That Holey Dollars are an integral part of Australia's historical and financial landscape. And that Holey Dollars - and coins in general - are worth owning as the heirlooms of the future.


It has been done before. So it can be done again.

In 1988 the Australian Numismatic Society in association with the Mint & Barracks Museum Sydney sponsored the compilation of a pictorial record of the surviving Holey Dollars. The result was a 92-page book detailing 274 Holey Dollars, with black and white photographs of each coin supported by a brief synopsis.

A lot has happened since this book was published. At least seventeen previously unrecorded Holey Dollars have been unearthed. Photography has come a long way. The book is now out of print and available only on the secondary market.

it is time for an update. To incorporate colour photographs and have the information accessible on the worldwide web. And we are taking on the mantra that if it has been done before it can be done again.

WHERE DO WE START?

This is an exciting project. And there will be feelings of great satisfaction and excitement when a coin is discovered, perhaps one with an interesting story attached to it. Coins such as the William Long Holey Dollar, discovered in 2017 in Canada.

A Website

The following domain names have been registered to host the MACQUARIES300 on-line catalogue.

  • 1813holeydollar.com
  • 1813holeydollar.net
  • macquaries300.com
  • lachlanmacquaries300.com

It is now time to build the site and start the Macquaries300 register.

Institutions and Associations

Contacting institutions and associations will be made easy with emails. And the support of such a revered institution as the Royal Australian Mint.

The Royal Australian Mint Canberra

In 2019, Coinworks conducted an Exhibition of Holey Dollars in Canberra. The Exhibition, conducted in partnership with the Royal Australian Mint, ran for two months and was extremely successful. A link to the Souvenir Catalogue is posted here.

Preliminary discussions were held in 2020 with the Royal Australian Mint regarding MACQUARIES300. Those discussions were however interrupted due to COVID but are set to resume.

At the very least the Royal Australian Mint indicated they could assist us in making contact with public institutions. 

We would also like to discuss the potential of using the Royal Australian Mint facilities to launch the project.

Institutions and Associations

Contacting institutions and associations will be made easy with emails. And the support of such a revered institution as the Royal Australian Mint.

Private Collectors

Most collectors will have bought their Holey Dollar from a dealer, so the dealer network will be critical to the success of the project.

We also know that the majority of Holey Dollars are held by Australian collectors. And that since 1988 there have been at least twenty Holey Dollars that have  over the last 40 years, It is the hidden gems in private collections that will require a focused campaign of publicity and advertising through radio, press and television. Social media will also play a strong role

It will be financially challenging and to off-set the costs we are seeking sponsorship. Or a grant.

As the anonymity of owners is available, unless requested otherwise, we perceive no difficulties in owners coming forward. It is the process by which they become aware that will be costly and needs to be carefully managed.

Coinworks can provide photographs of at least fifty Holey Dollars out of the two hundred privately held examples.

Once the project gets underway it will take on a life of its own as we regularly update the website with the number of coins recorded and include photos of the newly discovered examples.

Coinworks is an industry leader equipped to deliver on our promises.

Coinworks has worked with leading Australian companies and organisations in our quest to promote the industry.

Our most recent foray was in 2019. A joint partnership with the Royal Australian Mint staging the "ALL THAT IS HOLEY" Exhibition honouring the nation’s first coins, the Holey Dollar and Dump. A link to the Souvenir Catalogue is posted here.

We have also collaborated with the Macquarie Group in 2013 and the ANZ Bank in 2007 in staging major numismatic exhibitions.

 

Article-1-1805-Holey-Dollar-CharlesIII-38064-April-2021
Article-1-1808-Holey-Dollar-Lima-Mint-38064-April-2021
Article-1-1810-Holey-Dollar-Hannibal-Head-38064-April-2021
Article-1788-1-Holey-Dollar-Mexico-Mint-38064-April-2021
Article-1-1794-Holey-Dollar-Potosi-38064-April-2021

Sold-1810-Hannibal-Head-Holey-Dollar
sold March 2020 - 1813 Holey dollar $95,000
Sold-1805-Holey-Dollar
sold January 2020 - 1813 Holey Dollar $480,000

THE 1813 HOLEY DOLLAR - FAQS

I have a Holey Dollar. I would like to know what it is worth.

First up, take photographs of both sides of the coin.

Email them to info@coinworks.com.au for an initial assessment and valuation. 

Alternatively, you can call 03 9642 3133 and make an appointment with one of the Coinworks team. 

I am confused. The coin is always referred to as the 1813 Holey Dollar, but I cannot see the date 1813. I only see another date. An earlier date.

Australia’s first coin, the Holey Dollar was created from a Spanish Silver Dollar. And the date you see is the year in which that original Spanish Dollar was created.

History tells us that Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars to convert into Australia’s first local currency. Macquarie’s order was not date specific so any date would do. 

He then enlisted the services of a convicted forger to cut a hole in each silver dollar, thereby creating two coins out of one.

The first coin was shaped like a donut, the second a small inner circular disc that fell out of the centre of the donut. 

The donut was over stamped with the date 1813 and the value and became the Holey Dollar, the stamping occurring around the inner circular edge of the hole.

The 1813 is discrete but look closely and it is visible.

Can I sell my Holey Dollar through Coinworks?

Absolutely.

Coinworks can offer you two options here. We can purchase the coin outright. Or sell the coin on your behalf on a consignment basis at a fixed commission rate. 

Either way we will have to physically sight the coin. And we will require background information as to where it was obtained.

Please Contact us for more details. 
 

Should I clean my Holey Dollar to make it look brand new?

Rule of thumb. Do not touch your coins! Cleaning can impact very heavily on the potential value of any coin.

Coins are best left in their original unaltered state. 

My Holey Dollar is worn. Does a worn Holey Dollar have any value?

Yes. Even a well-worn 1813 Holey Dollar has value, upwards of $50,000. 

Contact us for more information. 

I want to buy a Holey Dollar. What advice can you give me.

The first decision for Holey Dollar buyers is to set your budget. Holey Dollars start from about $50,000 and can move up to $400,000-plus. 

Once you have set your budget you can consider the options that are available to Holey Dollar buyers.

Macquarie’s order for 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars did not specify dates. Any date would do. It did not specify quality. Nor did Macquarie care at which mint it was produced. 

Spain had colonised South and Central America and built mints in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Guatemala.

Holey Dollars come with variations in the date, the quality and the mint with some combinations far rarer than others. And hence more valuable.

I am considering buying a Holey Dollar. Should I wait for an Uncirculated one?

The majority of Holey Dollars come well-worn and the reason is simply that the coin from which they were created, the Spanish Silver Dollar, was at the time the world’s greatest trading coin.

So, the majority of dollars imported by Macquarie would have been well worn.

There is an Uncirculated 1813 Holey Dollar and that particular example resides with a Coinworks client. It is in every respect a miracle coin and we do not expect to see it back on the market for several decades, if ever. 

Contact us for more information.
 

How many Holey Dollars were struck and how many survive today?

Although 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars were imported and converted into Holey Dollars, 90 were spoiled during production. The balance of 39,910 were released to be used.

The Holey Dollar was withdrawn and demonetised in 1829, with many shipped off to London and melted down. 

Today there are approximately 200 Holey Dollars held by private collectors with perhaps 100 held in museums.

The figure ‘200’ is the critical one for collectors. 


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