New South Wales: Coins Issued and Used

Showing only circulating coin types (regular coinage plus circulating commemoratives).

New South Wales (1788 - 1901)
Information about what currencies were issued by New South Wales, with lists of coinage, as well as periods when foreign-issued currencies were used.
Currency: Pound Sterling (pre-decimal). Used in New South Wales: (1788 - 1901)
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
PeriodPound Sterling
Used1788 - 1901
Description

New South Wales was a colony of the British Empire from 1788 to 1901. In the earlier part of the period, the colony of New South Wales was much larger than the present-day state of New South Wales, as it included what would become the separate British colonies of Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and New Zealand.

Throughout the existence of New South Wales as a separate colony - i.e. before the Federation of Australia in 1901- Imperial coinage (pre-decimal British pounds) was its main currency.

Currency: NSW Pound. Used in New South Wales: (1813 - 1829)
CurrencyNSW Pound
PeriodHoley Dollar
Used1813 - 1829
Description

The colony of New South Wales had two periods when its own distinct coinage was minted.

To overcome a shortage of coins, Governor Lachlan Macquarie took the initiative of using £10,000 in Spanish dollars sent by the British government to produce local coins by punching out their centres and stamping the two resulting pieces with new values: five shillings for the outer rim pieces (now known as "holey dollars"), and fifteen pence for the central plug (now known as a "dump"). Apart from doubling the amount of physical coins in circulation, this also had the effect of making them unsuitable for export, so they stayed in the colony. Of the 40,000 Spanish dollars imported, 39,910 holey dollars and 39,910 dumps were made, with the balance assumed to have been spoiled during the conversion process. On 1 July 1813 Governor Macquarie issued a proclamation "that the said Silver Money shall be a legal Tender" and that set their value. The converted coins went into circulation in 1814. From 1822 the government began to recall the coins and replace them with Imperial sterling coinage. By the time the holey dollar was finally demonetised in 1829, most of the 40,000 coins in circulation had been exchanged for legal tender and melted down into bullion. Experts estimate that only 350 Holey dollars and 1500 dumps remain.

Currency: NSW Pound. Used in New South Wales: (1855 - 1870)
CurrencyNSW Pound
PeriodAustralian Sovereign
Used1855 - 1870
Description

The colony of New South Wales had two periods when its own distinct coinage was minted.

The second period was between 1855 and 1870. The Sydney Mint was opened as the first branch of the Royal Mint on 14 May 1855 and the first coins were struck on 23rd of June that year. The Sydney Mint produced gold sovereigns and half sovereigns from dies supplied by the Royal Mint, and engraved by James Wyon. The British Government required that these coins be different to those minted in England. The obverse was soon "localised" though, with a sprig of banksia being added to the fillet in Victoria's portrait. Confusingly from our modern point of view, the coins had AUSTRALIA promptly displayed on the reverse, even though Australia only came into being as a country in 1901.

Originally these coins were regarded as legal tender in New South Wales but in 1857 the British Treasury amended the ordinance to include "all the colonies of Australasia". This served to annoy both Melbourne and Adelaide which were petitoning for thier own mints, they reacted by spreading rumours that the Sydney coins were inferior to their British conterparts. A "snap" inspection by the home authorities revealed that since the coins where alloyed with silver as well as copper , they were in fact actually worth even more. By this time they were already circulating in Newfoundland and India and even unofficially in England itself. In Febuary 1866, the Sydney Mint Sovereigns and Half-Sovereigns were declared legal tender throughout the United Kingdom by Royal Proclamation.

In 1870 it was decided that there should only be one type of sovereign. The Australian obverse and reverse were abolished and the Sydney Mint (as well as the subsequently opened Melbourne Mint and Perth Mint) only struck Imperial-design sovereigns thereafter.

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