Baldwin's of St. James's   |   Auction 27   |   13 January 2019 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 196

Estimate: 190'000 USD   |   Starting price: 152'000 USD ---
World Coins, Australia, New South Wales, five shillings or ‘holey dollar’, 1813, struck on a Mexico City portrait 8 reales of Ferdinand VII, 1808TH, counterstamped NEW SOUTH WALES 1813 around central hole, rev. remnant of the classic pillars image counterstamped FIVE SHILLINGS around central hole (cf. KM.2.10), extremely fine or better, residual lustre beneath appealing toning, very rare as an example of Australia’s earliest form of money but extremely rare as a date on the host coin
*ex A. H. Baldwin, sold in 1968
Most counterstamped Holey Dollars are of other host types, and the date 1808 on this host coin may be unique – even the standard Krause reference lists 1809 as the initial date appearing on Ferdinand VII counterstamped pieces. At Mexico City, the 8-reales coinage for this Spanish king commenced late in the year. A special Holey Dollar
.The British penal colony and settlement which took the name New South Wales was of course the origin of modern Australia. Its first governor, Lachlan Macquarie, began officiating over the settlement on 1 January 1810, a short time after he arrived via an arduous sea voyage. He discovered that there was no local currency, not even much of a barter system, meaning that one of the earliest problems to be overcome, so as to put the colony on some sort of footing, was the creation of money that would be accepted locally. He arrived at what turned out to be a superb solution. Towards the end of November 1812, a ship docked at the port in Sydney Cove with some forty thousand Spanish silver 8-reales pieces, purchased for the colony by the British crown from the East India Company. Such coins had been obtained for other colonial outposts but they tended to ‘drift’ away from their issuer. Macquarie, aware of this problem, came up with an ideal way to keep the new coins in New South Wales. He got a local talent, a convicted forger then at the penal colony named William Henshall, to use his skills to punch out the centre of each Spanish coin and to apply a counterstamp to each piece identifying the place, the date and the value – the legends seen on each of the two coins here offered. Not only did this action instantly create a local coinage, but it also made one large coin into two more useful ones – one for bigger transactions (a crown of 5-shillings), and one for small change (a 15-pence piece called a Dump, in effect a coin that would be familiar to all in the colony, of the size of a British sixpence). Handily, the new combined ‘value’ of 6 shillings and 3 pence also gave the government a profit; it had paid 4 shillings and 9 pence for each of the Spanish ‘dollars’ it bought from the East India Company.
These now-local pieces of money stayed in circulation for about a decade, accounting for the worn state of most known examples. Beginning in 1822, proclamations caused the gradual recall of the Holey Dollars and the Dumps. It is now believed that all but about 300-350 dollars and perhaps as many as 1,500 dumps still exist, in all states of preservation. These coins were never meant to be kept as souvenirs or collector pieces. They were a legitimate exigency money, used hard and turned in when recalled. They were the first money made in Australia, now highly prized as historical coins.

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