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 its pristine original state is impossible to fathom. The coin simply glows.
Also perplexing. This coin is yet another one of the nation's top (very top) colonial coin rarities that left Australia's shores and ended up in one of the very best coin collections in the U.K. and the U.S.A. In the case of this coin, American Mortimer Hammel.
The Adelaide Pound was struck in November 1852 at the Government Assay Office, Adelaide.
The Assay office had opened nine months earlier on 10 February 1852, its sole purpose to assay gold nuggets brought from the Victorian goldfields and to re-shape them into ingots.
No minting expertise was required in the casting of the ingots.
While they conformed to a shape and style, they were crude and rough and ready, the critical element that they recorded the exact purity and weight of the gold supplied so that they could be exchanged for banknotes at a rate of £3/11s per ounce.
Every ingot had its own unique shape and size depending on the weight of gold assayed.
Nine months later, following agitation from Adelaide’s business community, legislation was passed that authorised the Government Assay Office to strike gold coins.
Suddenly precision was required. The design was intricate, created by colonial die-sinker and engraver, Joshua Payne. So, it was always going to be a tough ask for a factory to start churning out currency to a defined weight and design.
In the very first run, disaster struck. And the die cracked.
The coins that survived out of this first run are referred to as the Cracked Die Adelaide Pounds.
They are also referred to as the Type 1 Adelaide Pounds, the numerical reference indicating that the coin came from the very first production run.
The potential difficulties of striking coins must have been anticipated because a second die had been prepared as a back-up. The striking of the Adelaide Pounds re-commenced with a recorded mintage of 24,648.
The coins from the second run are referred to as the Type 2 Adelaide Pounds.
The crack is not the only differentiating feature between the Type 1 and Type 2 Adelaide Pounds. They have a different reverse design.
The Type 1 has a beaded inner circular design on the reverse. The Type 2 has a crenelated inner circle.
What we know today is that forty of the Cracked Die Adelaide Pounds are in collector’s hands. And perhaps six times that figure of the second die examples.
Both rare. But the Cracked Die excruciatingly rare.
With only forty examples available to collectors, the Cracked Die will always be an elusive coin. And most of them have circulated with the biggest proportion (more than fifty per cent) well circulated. In a quality level of poor to Good Very Fine.
The reality is that of the forty recorded Cracked Dies, only two are Uncirculated. The Mortimer Hammel coin offered here. And the Nobleman piece, acquired from the Quartermaster Collection and held by a Coinworks client.