Australia’s most rare and historic coin has been described as “absolutely magic” by an avid collector who emptied his wallet recently to purchase the significant piece.
The unique coin, from Australia’s first currency the Holey Dollars, was sold for a whopping $500,000 to the excited buyer in a sale through a Melbourne coin house.
Named the Hannibal Head, the coin is one of what is believed to be about 300 Holey Dollars still in existence and the only one baring its particular marking, making it all that more special.
It’s for this reason the collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, was so excited to snatch up the expensive piece of history.
“I am passionate about Australia’s colonial history. And the the story associated with this Holey Dollar was simply remarkable,” the anonymous buyer said in a statement.
“Found in a bushranger’s hoard and gifted to the Governor of Tasmania, Sir John Henry Lefroy, it is a unique style of Holey Dollar that is absolutely magic.”
This is the second of the Holey Dollars that the collector has purchased with the first previously owned by convict William Long and held by his descendants for more than two centuries.
The small collection of coins came to be in 1813 when Governor Lachlan Macquarie imported a shipment of 40,000 Spanish silver dollars from various parts of the Spanish empire to provide legal tender for the infant colony.
Realising that the shipment would not suffice, Macquarie decided to cut a hole in the centre of each dollar, thereby creating two coins out of one. A Holey Dollar was worth five shillings and a the other, called a Dump, was worth 15 pence.
Each remaining coin has its own unique name relating to a time in history, with the Hannibal Head named after a political act in Spain.
The Spanish Empire was in decline and King Ferdinand VII was pressured by Napoleon Bonaparte to cede the Spanish throne to his brother Joseph.
The Spanish colonial mint in Lima refused to recognise Bonaparte as King of Spain and in what can only be regarded as a political protest, created their own silver dollar with the legend of the imprisoned Ferdinand VII and an ’imaginary portrait’. The portrait was far from flattering and is referred to as the ‘Hannibal Head’ portrait.
Thrilled to see the Holey Dollar end up in the right hands, Coinworks director Belinda Downie said collectors as are often as passionate about history as they are about coins.
“We were overwhelmed by the interest in this particular piece and the strong desire for Holey Dollars in general,” she said.