N.S.W. Holey Dollar (Five Shillings) 1813
See the Holey Dollar Statistics and Early Australian Coinage articles for more information.
Beware of Holey Dollar forgeries and reproductions.
Of the 39,910 originally produced, it is estimated that approximately 350 Holey Dollars remain, many of which cannot be identified because details are obliterated. The following table lists 276 known Holey Dollars by their host Spanish 8 Reales (dollar) coin.
Notes:The valuation of a Holey Dollar is a complex task because of the variety of factors which combine to make each piece unique. Factors which must be taken into consideration include:
Indicative Valuation :
A simple coding system has been developed to record the positioning of the counterstamps. The positions of the N of NEW SOUTH WALES and the F of FIVE SHILLINGS are shown as numbers corresponding to locations on a clockface when the matrix (the original coin) is held upright. The first mentioned is the counterstamp on the obverse of the matrix, the second is that on the reverse.
The rarity of the Holey dollar ensures that whenever a new specimen is discovered, even if it is in relatively poor condition, it can be extremely valuable. The following are stories of the discovery of some holey dollars:
The Most Famous of Them All: In 1881, a bushranger's hoard was found in Tasmania and brought to the then governor of the State, J. H. Lefroy. He kept some of the more interesting specimens in the collection, and today one of those coins is the most valuable Holey Dollar known. This specimen is of the particular type known as the Hannibal Head. The eight reale coin from which it was struck was made in Lima, Peru, during the reign of Ferdinand the seventh. The sculptor did not know what the king looked like, so he took a guess as to the reigning monarch's likeness. King Ferdinand could not have been very popular, because the portrait the sculptor produced was less than flattering.
Rare Tap Washer: In around 1970, a doctor by the name of Warren Smith was treating a patient in a country town in New South Wales. When he had finished, he went to the tank stand to wash his hands. While he was busy rinsing off he happened to glance at the rather unusual tap washer. Being a coin collector, he instantly recognised it as a Holey Dollar. He bought the coin from his patient, and later sold it at auction.
Gardener's Bonanza: Another of these valuable coins was discovered in 1979 when a householder and his son were doing some routine gardening. The boy was given the job of raking the gravel driveway, and as he did the chore he raked up a fortune - a Holey Dollar worth $15,000. His father rewarded him with the object of his heart's desire - a BMX bicycle.
Washday Wonder: Because of their shape - with a hole in the middle - Holey Dollars have been used in many different ways. One was once used as a washer on a clothes hoist. One coin expert remarked that every rotation of the hoist probably rubbed about a thousand dollars off the value of the coin. But worn as it was, its rarity still made it a comparatively valuable piece.
Strange But True: A Holey Dollar has been found as recently as 1985, washed up on a river bank south of Sydney. It was found along with an eight reale coin. This particular Holey Dollar was worth in excess of $10,000.
Holey dollars have been found in a ploughed field, in a fire gutted home in Liverpool, New South Wales, and around the neck of a Malaysian fisherman, who was wearing it as a keepsake. All these coins are now worth tens of thousands of dollars.
The Holey Dollar and Dump Collection Book issued by the Perth Mint - 1990.
'The Holey Dollars of N.S.W. - W J D Mira & W J Noble, 1988.
Note: Dr Mira has advised that the number of known surviving Holey Dollars was 296 as at August, 1999.
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