On Monday, 27 August 2012, an auction house in Australia, Coinworks Pty Ltd sold a "Hannibal Head" Holey Dollar for a record price of Aus$410,000. The auction named “Eminent Colonials” also sold two other historic coins; 1852 Adelaide Pound-Australia first gold coin for Aus$370,000 and 1813 Colonial Dump coin sold for Aus$100,000. Highest price previously paid for a Holey Dollar was in 2008, when a high quality Potosi Mint example sold for Aus$267,950. The highest price previously paid for an Adelaide Pound was in 2005, when the Eliasberg Adelaide Pound sold in New York for Aus$130,000.
"Hannibal Head" Holey Dollar
The Hannibal Head coin is the only known example in private hands, with only one other known to exist held by the State Library of New South Wales. It was one of 40,000 Spanish silver dollars obtained by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to alleviate the British colony's coin shortage in the early 1800s. Macquarie enlisted the help of a convicted forger, William Henshall, to cut a hole in the centre of each. The resulting "donut" was then stamped over with the words New South Wales, the value Five Shillings and the date 1813 to create Australia's first coin, the 1813 Holey Dollar. The piece taken out of the centre became the 1813 Colonial Dump, with a value of 15 pence. The Hannibal Head Holey Dollar is special because the original coin was minted in 1810 at the Lima Mint with a portrait design that protested Joseph Bonaparte's ascension to the Spanish throne by use of an unflattering portrait. Adding to the history, it was discovered in 1881 near Hobart in Tasmania and believed to be from the cache of a bushranger, or outlaw, who would have robbed passing travellers.
1852 Adelaide Pound
This was not really a coin, but a coin-shaped ingot guaranteed to be worth a pound. The Colony of South Australia backed their valuation by giving exact details of the purity (22 carats) and weight (5 pennyweight and 15 grains) of the piece. It was made from gold brought to South Australia from the Victorian goldfields in 1852. Although production was technically illegal, these pieces were made by the South Australian government to solve a major problem in the local economy caused by people leaving for the gold fields and taking most of the colony's money with them. By the time the written request for authority to make the pieces had arrived in England and the refusal returned to Adelaide, the Assay Office had opened, solved the problem by issuing the tokens and closed. It is difficult to exactly categorise the Adelaide Pound. It could be called a token, but it was issued in the name of the Government Assay Office. It bears a denomination of "One Pound", and has a gross weight and actual gold content slightly higher than a British gold sovereign.
Source: Museum Victoria
1813 Colonial Dump coin
The Colonial Dump with a value of 15 pence is a piece taken out of the centre of the Holey Dollar. It was restruck with a new design (a crown on the obverse, the denomination on the reverse).
The History of Holey Dollar & Colonial Dump Coin:
When the colony of New South Wales was founded in Australia in 1788, it ran into the problem of a lack of coinage. Foreign coins – including British, Dutch, Indian and Portuguese - were common in the early years, but much of this coin left the colony by way of trade with visiting merchant ships. To overcome this shortage of coins, Governor Lachlan Macquarie took the initiative of using £10,000 in Spanish dollars sent by the British government to produce suitable coins in a similar manner to that described above. These coins to the value of 40,000 Spanish dollars came on 26 November 1812 on HMS Samarang from Madras via the East India Company.
Governor Macquarie had a convicted forger named William Henshall cut the centres out of the coins and counter stamp them. The central plug (known as a dump) was valued at 15 pence, and was restruck with a new design (a crown on the obverse, the denomination on the reverse), whilst the holey dollar received an overstamp around the hole ("New South Wales 1813" on the obverse, "Five Shillings" on the reverse). This distinguished the coins as belonging to the colony of New South Wales, creating the first official currency produced specifically for circulation in NSW. The combined nominal value in NSW of the holey dollar and the dump was 6s 3p, or 25 percent more than the value of a Spanish dollar; this made it unprofitable to export the coins from the colony.
The project to convert the 40,000 Spanish coins took over a year to complete. 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. The converted coins went into circulation in 1814.
From 1822 the government began to recall the coins and replace them with 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. The rarity of the Australian holey dollar ensures that even those in relatively poor condition are valuable. There are many stories of holey dollars being found in unusual circumstances.