The extremely rare 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I

The extremely rare 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I
The extremely rare 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I
Sold May 2020
Extremely Fine
Private Collection Sydney
How would today's collectors react if Governor Lachlan Macquarie had set aside the first forty Holey Dollars. And the first forty Dumps. And produced them with an identifying mark that made them undeniably connected to the very first production run of Australia's very first coins. Over the moon I would have thought. Unwittingly that is exactly what die sinker and engraver Joshua Payne did when he set up the dies and commenced production of the nation's first gold coin at the Government Assay Office, Adelaide. The reverse die, with its simple, elegant beaded inner circle cracked, the mishap discovered only after forty-plus coins were produced. And then, when he swapped over the reverse die, he replaced it with one that had a completely different design. Joshua Payne's actions unknowingly created a rarity of the highest order, the Adelaide Pound Type I, struck during the very first production run of the nation's first gold coin. Defined by a reverse with the beaded inner circle and the tell-tale crack in the DWT area of the legend, perhaps forty examples are known. Technical shots are shown in READ MORE.
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Reverse with a beaded inner circle and the vestige of the crack that occurred in die in the DWT section of the legend.

The Adelaide Pound is the nation’s first gold coin.

It was struck in Adelaide at the South Australian Government Assay Office using gold that had been brought from the Victorian gold fields.

Minted by authority of the Bullion Act of 1852, production commenced in November of that year and finished in February of the following year when the Act expired.

South Australia produced just over 24,000 coins in that short three-month time-frame.

What we know about this particular Adelaide Pound was that it was minted during the very first production run, if not the first day then at the very least the first week. So how can we be so sure?

Adelaide Pounds from the first production run were struck using a reverse die that had a simple, elegant beaded inner circle.

The coins also reflect the disaster that occurred during those very first few hours of production, when the reverse die cracked in the DWT section of the legend. When the mishap was discovered, minting was temporarily halted.

The cracked reverse die was replaced. The important point being that the new reverse die had a different design, more intricate and featured a scalloped inner border abutting a beaded inner circle. (The reverse design mirrored the crown obverse design.)

Less than forty Adelaide Pounds out of the first production run survive today making it one of the least available of Australia's classic coin rarities.



While the downside of the pressure applied to the edges was a cracking of the reverse die. The upside is the strength in the edge denticles and the legend.

The miracle that is numismatics.

The intention was that this Adelaide Pound would circulate. And be used in every day commercial transactions, as part of a grand plan by South Australia's Governor, Sir Henry Young, to stimulate his state's ailing economy.

The coin was never given kid gloves treatment during the production process.

It was struck in what can only be described as a factory, hammered out and hurled down an assembly line, more than likely into a barrel or bucket.

How this coin survived the production process, and more than a century and a half later still be in a glorious original state is impossible to fathom. The coin is highly lustrous on both obverse and reverse.

There was an upside to the disaster that occurred during the first production run of Adelaide Pounds.

While the pressure exerted on the edges cracked the reverse die, it is noted that coins out of the first run have almost perfect edges, beautiful strong denticles framing the central crown design.

There is another upside to the cracking disaster. Because the coin was considered 'imperfect' very few examples were put aside as souvenirs, making high quality Type I Adelaide Pounds extremely scarce.

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