It’s late in the 18th century and you’re trying to establish a colony in a new country, but there is a serious coin shortage. What do you do?
If you were British settlers in Australia almost 250 years ago, you simply took an existing Spanish coin, punched the middle out of it and used the two resulting pieces as separate coins.
This is how Australia’s most iconic piece of coinage was born.
The Holey Dollar
The middle was punched out of Spanish dollars, creating two parts: a small coin, known as a “dump” in Australia and a “holey dollar”.
The holey dollar was one of the first coins struck in Australia and they were not demonetised until 1829.
High prices achieved at auction
Last month saw two examples of a holey dollar sell at auction. One sold for £33,000 in London and the other achieved an incredible £180,000 at an auction in Berlin.
The difference in price can be put down to rarity. The holey dollar sold in London originated from a more common host coin – an 1807 Carlos IV silver 8-real coin.
Rarer examples can command staggering prices, with the record set at A$550,000 (£290,000) last year. That was a “Madrid Holey Dollar” used in New South Wales in the 1800s. Only six exist today.
Looking for a classic Australian coin?
The Victorian Australian Sovereign is a coin that changed 468 years of tradition, being the first Sovereign struck outside of the United Kingdom in 1855.
Good examples are hard to find, but we have a couple available today.