Australian Holey Dollar sets $508,266 world record in Melbourne

A Melbourne auctioneer has announced that the world record for an Australian Holey Dollar at auction has been beaten.

Australia Holey Dollar auction record
Most of the coins originate from the Mexico Mint, with only 20 known originating from the Lima Mint

On March 6, a private collector paid an impressive $508,266 for the piece, topping 2011's record of $498,000 by 2%. The Holey Dollar is one of Australia's earliest coins, with the example sold this week said to be the finest.

"This Holey Dollar was created from a Spanish Silver Dollar that had been minted at the Lima Mint in Peru in 1808," explained managing director Belinda Downie.

"Only 20 of the 200 specimens held by private collectors have ties to the Lima Mint. And this is the absolute finest of them all."

The auction house states that the incrementing price of the Holey Dollar reflects collectors' strong interest in the nation's history, with 2013 being the 200th anniversary of the striking.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie first created the coin in 1813, as a result of New South Wales' lack of coinage. Using the equivalent of £10,000 in Spanish dollars donated by the British government, he enlisted the help of convicted forger William Henshall to cut out the centre 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 and put into circulation.

In 2012, the same auction house set the record for a different type of Holey Dollar, known as the Hannibal Head, at $425,350.

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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