Rare Australian Holey Dollar sets $425,500 auction record in Sydney
The first Australian coin, the rare Holey Dollar, highlighted the nation's earliest examples
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Wednesday 29 August 2012
The most famous example of Australia's first coin, the rare Holey Dollar, has set a new auction record in Sydney.
The coin, which is known as the Hannibal Head Holey Dollar, was first created in 1813 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, after the newly founded colony of New South Wales was left with a lack of coinage.
Coins from other nations, such as Britain, Holland, India and Portugal, were in use, though the majority soon left the colony following trade with merchant ships.
Using the equivalent of £10,000 in Spanish dollars donated by the British government, Macquarie enlisted the help of convicted forger William Henshall to cut the centre out of the coins and stamp them with "New South Wales 1813" on the obverse and "Five Shillings" on the reverse.
The piece cut from the middle, known as the plug, was then valued at 15 pence, struck with a crown design, and its denomination on the reverse.
The Holey Dollar at auction, which was created from an 1810 silver dollar from Peru, sold for $425,350, setting a new auction record for a coin of its type. Following this was its counterpart, an 1813 colonial dump, which sold for £103,748.
The "Hannibal Head" element of the Holey Dollar's name comes from the original Peruvian coin, which was struck with an unflattering portrait of Joseph Bonaparte in protest of his ascension to the Spanish throne.
Also featuring in the August 27 sale was a fine example of Australia's first gold coin, the 1852 Adelaide pound, which sold for an impressive $383,909.
Many of the world's rarest coins were created out of necessity or emergency. Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering a Charles I shilling, which was struck as an emergency issue in the town of Carlisle, after it was besieged during the English civil war.
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