A rare Australian silver coin with a hole drilled in it and dating from 1813 has sold at auction in England for 98,400 ($174,223), more than double its starting price.
The “holey dollar” was created from a silver Charles IV eight reales piece minted in Mexico in 1806.
These “pieces of eight” were used as currency around the world and were often adapted for local circulation, in this case in the new colony of New South Wales.
The drilled coin was struck with a design stating it had a value of five shillings and was issued in NSW in 1813.
The coin is also stamped with the letter “H” standing for the name of the engraver and maker William Henshall, a convict who had been transported for counterfeiting coins in England.
The drilled-out centre of the coin became what is called a “dump” valued at 18 pence.
The specimen of Australia’s first currency belonged to Lord Strickland who was NSW governor between 1913 and 1917 and until now has been in the collection of his family.
The auction was held at specialist auctioneer’s Morton and Eden in London where the coin provoked enthusiastic bidding and finally sold to a private collector bidding over the phone for 98,400. It had been expected to fetch between 40,000 and 60,000.
Auctioneer James Morton said in a statement that usually coins were spoiled by having holes put in them.
“But this is a fantastic example of Australia’s celebrated “holey dollar” with all the details really clear. The fact that it is a previously unrecorded specimen adds to the appeal for collectors.” AAP