As 2014 draws to a close, Coinworks managing director Belinda Downie reflects on a year of great challenges and immense company triumph in a two-part interview conducted by business journalist Anthony Black.
It was a year when Coinworks proudly sold Australia’s first ever Commonwealth of Australia banknote to a private collector for almost $1 million in May.
The original Ten Shillings note was hand numbered M000001 at an official ceremony in Melbourne on May 1, 1913. Judith Denman, daughter of Lord Thomas Denman, Governor General of Australia between 1911 and 1914, originally owned the note.
News of its impending sale more than 100 years later generated significant media interest, with a constant flow of stories appearing in major daily newspapers, on television and on radio across Australia. Private collectors and the wider community could hardly have been more informed about the Commonwealth of Australia’s Number One note and the sale became a conversation piece.
Several months later, Coinworks was appointed to sell a sequential pair of Australia’s first Commonwealth Ten Shillings numbered M000004 and M000005. These notes had belonged to former Australian Prime Minister Andrew Fisher (1908-1915) and were sold to a private collector for $400,000 in October.
The notes were sold with an official letter and envelope from the Commonwealth of Australia, Prime Minister’s Office, hand signed by Fisher. Prior to the sale in October, Fisher’s banknotes, letter and envelope had been sold as separate items. Coinworks, at its own volition and cost, re-united the banknotes with the memorabilia to preserve Fisher’s history and his memory.
Indeed, it was Fisher’s legacy as a great nation builder that captured the imagination of the press, collectors and noted historian David Day, whose extensive book on Fisher was published in 2008. In an interview for Coinworks, Day says Fisher’s banknotes are among the great iconic pieces of Australian history.
“Fisher’s banknotes are up there with the Eureka flag,” Day says.
A combination of historical significance and offering rare quality pieces continues to underpin the Coinworks way of doing business. The Commonwealth of Australia’s first ever banknote is simply unique and Fisher’s notes numbered 4 and 5 are not only rare, but drenched in Australian history. The three notes were presented in top quality condition and the recent buyers join a rare and distinguished provenance.
Belinda Downie meticulously researches the provenance of pieces before offering them for sale. There are no short cuts – not after almost 40 years in the numismatics industry.
Belinda says: “It’s all about having respect for the product and its history. We must be more than satisfied that our clients are buying quality and significantly historical pieces for a fair price. Our long and enviable reputation as a quality rare coins and banknotes dealer remains dear to us, and will never be compromised for a quick sale or dollar.
“The buyer of the Commonwealth of Australia’s Number One note was first attracted to the product because of its history. Now, did the purchaser of Andrew Fisher’s original property buy a pair of banknotes or history? The answer is history.”
In November a new client joined Coinworks ever expanding client base and expended $500,000 to acquire a quality Holey Dollar (in the top 15 per cent of privately held specimens), one of the finest Colonial Dumps and an 1852 Cracked Die Adelaide Pound.
“Passionate about history, our client wanted heirloom pieces for his family, and believed the quality we offered placed the coins in the heirloom category,” Belinda says. “We are hearing our clients use the word heirloom so much more these days.”
Another client recently travelled from Brisbane to view his securely stored collection. In the past 12 months, the client has bought a Gold Taylor Pattern for $375,000, a choice uncirculated Adelaide Pound for $170,000 and a Dump for $240,000. His 30-year-old daughter, who will one day be the beneficiary, also made the journey to view the quality with her own eyes.
In what has been a most satisfying November for Coinworks businesswise, it sold six out of seven top quality gold coins within a week of releasing a dedicated brochure. These included an 1856 Half Sovereign for $59,500; an 1857 Half Sovereign for $25,000; an 1887 Sovereign for $29,500; an 1887 Half Sovereign for $19,500, an 1891 Half Sovereign for $9500 and an 1896 Half Sovereign for $9500.
The coins were formerly owned by Queenslander Tom Hadley. That name in itself is a seriously solid recommendation for purchase.
Hadley loved gold coins. He wanted completion with his collection and he only ever wanted the very best quality. It took more than 22 years for Hadley to accumulate his gold coin collection to a level that satisfied his collector aspirations.
“So they had quality and they had elite provenance on their side,” Belinda says.
MORE ON 2014 SALES AND BELINDA’S REFLECTIONS IN ANOTHER ARTICLE TO FOLLOW SOON.