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 July 2020
Uncirculated with highly lustrous surfaces on both obverse and reverse and one of only three known at this supreme quality level
The Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins
The miracle that is numismatics. This coin is a prized piece and has everything a collector could ask for. Supreme quality. Extreme rarity. Respected pedigree. And the ultimate historical standing. The 1852 Type I Adelaide Pound, better known as the Cracked Die Adelaide Pound, has an exalted position in Australia’s currency history as the nation’s first gold coin. Furthermore it was minted in the very first production run of Adelaide Pounds. What we know today is that forty Cracked Die Adelaide Pounds are in collector’s hands and most of them have circulated with more than fifty per cent heavily circulated. The reality is that of the forty known Cracked Dies, only three are Uncirculated and this coin is one of the three, formerly part of the Madrid Collection of Australian Rare Coins.
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Uncirculated 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I, one of three known at this supreme quality level. 

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, more intricate and featuring a scalloped inner border abutting a beaded inner circle. (The reverse design mirrored the crown obverse 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 making it one of the least available of Australia's classic coin rarities.

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, that same pressure resulted in the coins having 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.

Most Type I Adelaide Pounds have circulated with the biggest proportion, more than fifty per cent, well circulated and in a quality level of poor to Good Very Fine.

The reality is that of the forty recorded Type I Adelaide Pounds, only three are Uncirculated.


Uncirculated 1852 Adelaide Pound Type I, one of three known at this supreme quality level. 

The 1852 Adelaide Pound holds a very special place in Australia's history as the nation's first gold coin. It was minted 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 and each 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.

The intention was that the 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 particular coin survived the production process, and more than a century and a half later still be in a glorious original state is almost impossible to fathom.

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PO Box 1060 Hawksburn Victoria Australia 3142

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