For many years after the first Australian colony being New South Wales , was founded in 1788. Australiadid not have its own currency and had to rely on the coins of other countries. During the early days of the colony, goods such as wheat were sometimes used as a currency because of the shortage of coins.
Spanish dollars were sometimes cut into "pieces of eight", quarters, and then into 2/3 and 1/3 segments, with the 2/3 segments (1/6 of original coin) being "shillings" and the 1/3 segments (1/12 of original coin) "sixpences". In 1791 Governor Phillip of New South Walesfixed the value of the Spanish dollar to equal five shillings.
The settlers did have some George III one-penny coins, which were referred to as "Cartwheel pennies". These were the first British coins to be officially exported to the Australian colonies, and so can be considered Australia\'s first official coins. They were dated 1797 and 1799, with Britannia on one side and King George III on the other.
SILVER FLORIN of 1939.
In 1936, King George V died and left his throne to his elder son, Edward. But due to a love affair, the latter preferred to leave the throne. When King Edward VIII abdicated only a few months of reign, he left the throne to his brother, George VI. In all the British Commonwealth, the new king’s portrait appeared on the coins and sometimes the coin itself suffered some design modifications.
In Australia, in 1936, Edward, due to his short reign, didn’t mint any coins, as well as in UK.
The production of the new types of coins started only 2 years after, in 1938.
The new coin was similar as style with the George Vth coins but with major difference.
For example, the silver florin (2 shillings or 1/6 of a pound) was depicting on one side the coat of arms of Australia, with a star above and the legend ONE FLORIN-TWO SHILLINGS. On the obverse, the king was crowned.
The new type was the similar but the legend was replaced with ONE FLORIN, and the country name was added in bottom together with the year. Also the coat of arms was given a crown on top, instead of the 6 ray star. On the obverse, the portrait of the king was looking in the same side but instead of George Vth old face, with crown, the much younger portrait of the new king appeared, without a crown.
The coin was same size as the old ones, was made of silver 92,5 %, with a weight of 11,31 g, 28,5 mm. The coin can be found in Krause Standard Catalogue under the position of KM#40.
In 1938, the mintage was only 2990000 pieces and a special proof strike, with an unknown number.
The next year brought a problem. The 1939 florin was minted in only 630000 pcs, the lowest mintage of this type of florins. The reasons?
One of them is that the production of these coins in the previous years was large enough to supply the market. Also the market had the 10 s. (or 5 florins) banknote that made the payment with large quantity of florins unnecessary.
The outbreak of the World War II also created a large problem in coinage. The need of metal for the war industry was primordial. But what metal was more precious? Silver for use as precious metal or other metals like copper or nichel, vital in the armament production?
It seems that both are important. For example US minted a special 5 cent coin, “the nickel”, marked with P, in which composition they preferred to put silver rather than nichel. In Great Britain, a silver coin of 3 penny circulated alongside with a nichel-brass coin.
This coin is desirable for every collector of Australian coins. The 2009 edition of Krause Standard Catalogue gives a value of 30 US $ for a vf and a 250 $ for a XF, 1000 in UNC and 1700 in BUNC, the highest values for a George VI florin.
But usually these values are below the market price, a market with a high demand of this coin.
Australian Coin The Holy Dollar.
Ever since the first European set foot in Australia, the need for money influenced the economic life of the new settlement.
Especially in the first years, the economy was based on the English coins, brought from The United Kingdom. The value of the coins was nominally the same as in the UK and the system the same.
But as every new settlement, soon the need for money for everyday life created a great demand for coins, especially in precious metal.
In the colony of New South Wales, founded in 1788, the need was so urgent that the measures were radical
The governor Lachlan Macquarie, former major-general and the last aristocratic governor of New South Wales (1810-1821), tried to solve this problem soon after his arrival (1810-1811).
He realized that if he will try to use English coins, he will be forced to bring them from the UK. But the problems that this demand will cause will be much bigger then the benefit itself. First of all, the distance between the 2 lands is very large and the naval route dangerous, especially in some seasons. A demand will be positively satisfied only after a long period of time.
Also, in this moment, the UK is fighting Napoleon with all the power, including the financial one. And Napoleon ruled the entire Europe, at the heights of his power.
Macquarie asked the closest British possession for help. In India, the East India Company had enough financial power to help him.
The sum asked for the New South Wales was 10000 pounds. But East India Company wasn’t able to satisfy exactly this demand. Why? Because they didn’t worked with pounds because in the region that it operates, the main coin was the Spanish silver thaler of 8 reals ( or coloquial the tolar =dollar).
The Spanish dollar was used frequently in this region. Also a mint in Phillipines produced nice quality pieces and it wasn’t so war. And The Company had large quantities available.
So on the 26th of November 1812, a ship from Madras brought 40000 Spanish silver coins.
The Spanish 8 real was equal as value with a 5 shilling coin or the crown (1/4 of a pound). Macquarie decided that a circulation of these coins, as they are, in the region will cause a problem.
Why? First off all, this region is not Spanish. Second, people are used with the British monetary system. And most important, they need small coins also, not only large and high value coins.
He decided to mint this coin in a special way. The coin was given a central hole that cut the Spanish coat of arms and king’s effigy. The hole was given with a special tool.
On the edges of the hole, a text was stamped. It wrote NEW SOUTH WALES- 1813/5 SHILLINGS.
The Spanish 8 reals coin brought here were originally minted from 1782-1810 (with only one from 1757, very rare) and produced in various mints from the Spanish colonies (Mexico, Bolivia, Peru) or even Spain (Sevilla Mint).
The state won also. A fully weight 8 reals was equal to a 5 shilling coins. But now the new coin was 25 % lighter. This meant that the 25% silver content ( the holes…) remained to the state and also no one will try to export this coin anywhere else, where this coin will have a 25 % less value.
With the silver holes, the benefit of the states, a small coin was minted, for use in small transaction. The coin had the value of 15 pence, or 1 ¼ shilling.
The coin was minted from the holes. It depicts on one side a crown and the legend NEW SOUTH WALES 1813 and on the other side FIFTEEN/PENCE. Depending on the edge, varieties are known.
These coins solved the coin circulation problem.
They were used by the population until 1822. Then, they were officially replaced with British coins. A short period of time, probably not after 1825-1830, they were used local.
People changed it in most of the cases. They were aware that the coins were not equal to a official crown and they asked for the fully weigh coins.
The mintage was low, 40000 pcs for each value. It is estimated that today only 350 Holey dollars and around 1500 Holes can be found by collectors. The prices are high, usually thousands of dllars in wear condition. And probably tens of thousands for a high degree conservation state. A KM 2.5, Holey dollar, F-, minted on a Mexican 8 real 1757, the rarest of all, realized 16,000 US$ in Spink Auction, many years ago.
The importance of these coins is high. These are the first Australian coins, minted at the first Australian mint. A must have for every Australian