The first Ingot on display, and shown above, is the 1852 Gold Ingot Type I.
King Farouk of Egypt, who had amassed one of the most famous coin collections in history during his reign between 1936 and 1952, owned the Ingot Type I. It was later owned by world renowned American collector John Jay Pitman before it was sold to an Australian collector for $257,800 in 1999.
The second Ingot on display, the Gold Ingot Type II, was also sold to the same Australian collector for $365,000 in 1999.
The cultural and historical importance of the ingots cannot be overstated. Both ingots were displayed at the opening of the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, in 2001 as part of an incomparable exhibition of gold artefacts from around the world. The opening of the museum was the centrepiece of Australia’s Centenary of Federation Celebrations.
1852 Gold Ingot Type I
1852 Gold Ingot Type II
In a recent conversation with now retired dealer Barrie Winsor, he recounted the time that he was in the US, in the mid-1980s, at a Coin Show. And by chance was introduced to John Jay Pitman.
He recalled how he was ‘blown away’ when Pitman nonchalantly passed him the 1852 Adelaide Ingot, placing it into Winsor’s outstretched hand. Winsor recalled that it was heavy. And it was impressive. He also commented that Pitman regarded the Ingot as his finest and favourite piece.
According to Barrie, that was the very moment he decided that the ingot had to come back to Australian shores.
And the rest, as they say, is history for in 1999 Barrie Winsor acquired the ingot on behalf of Queensland collector Tom Hadley. Coincidentally, in the very same year Winsor acquired the 1852 Type II Ingot.
The ingots symbolise Australia’s transition from a barter economy, that prevailed during its early days as a penal colony, to a monetary economy that rapidly developed post the discovery of gold in the 1850s.
Gold’s discovery in Australia led the nation on a progressive historical and financial journey that gave Australia increased recognition and a burgeoning position in the world, transforming the economy and society and marking the beginnings of a modern Australia.
The first to feel gold’s impact was South Australia, with the economy collapsing due to the exit of labour and circulating currency to Victoria’s gold fields.
Adelaide lost almost half its male population within the first three months of the first big gold strike near Ballarat. The Adelaide economy was as good as bankrupt.
South Australia’s problems were further compounded because there was no method available to convert the gold nuggets the diggers had brought back from Victoria into a form that could be used for monetary transactions. The South Australian Legislative Council was prohibited from striking coins at it did not have Royal Prerogative from London.
However, an “urgent necessity” clause paved the way for the South Australian Legislative Council to pass the 1852 Bullion Act within two hours. The Council sought to deflect Royal disapproval by striking gold ingots rather than coins.
But the gold ingots proved unsuccessful at the time because they varied enormously in shape, weight and alloy.
With South Australia so desperate for currency amid agitation from the banks and the public for the minting of gold coins, the Legislative Council made amendments to The Bullion Act, resulting in Australia’s first gold coin, the 1852 Adelaide Pound, which was minted between November 1852 and February 1853.
And while the ingots will be the highlight of Coinworks display at the Melbourne Money Expo, we will also have on show the finest Holey Dollar and finest Adelaide Pound, both of which have to be seen to be believed. And much, much more.
We hope we have given you plenty of reasons to come and say hello at the Melbourne Money Expo.
Venue: Melbourne Park Function Centre, Melbourne & Olympic Parks.
Date: Saturday 2 September, Sunday 3 September
Time: Doors open at 9am.
Entry: Gold coin donation