A marvelous collection of Australian coinage will be going up for auction. -EditorOne of the most important private collections of Australian historical coins and medals is about to go under the hammer in Melbourne.
The collection belongs to 80-year-old retired dentist Dr John Chapman, and includes what's claimed to be the first piece of Australian colonial art, the Charlotte Medal.
It was handcrafted by a convict while his ship, the Charlotte, sank at anchor in Botany Bay in January, 1788.
"It's really intimate records of early Australian history. Little records enclosed in metal, really," Dr Chapman says.
These so-called little records are actually some of the most important pieces of Australian Colonial art, and its shining glory is the spectacular Charlotte Medal.
"It's the most wonderful piece I own, because apart from being a medal, it's the first piece of colonial art that exists," he said.
Fashioned from a metal kidney dish while the Charlotte sat at anchor with the First Fleet at Botany Bay in January, 1788, this gleaming metal disk predates white settlement, the work of an expert engraver and notorious forger, the convict Thomas Barrett.
Also opened to the highest bidder is a rare 1813 holy dollar.
"It is the first Australian coin - or the first coin produced in Australia. Most of them were eventually melted down," Mr Sharples said.
It was also the piece that gave Dr Chapman the collecting bug back in the 1960s.
"I knew nothing about numismatics or medals or coins or anything, but I wanted a holy dollar, and I saw one advertised by a dealer in Port Phillip arcade," he said.
"So I raced in there and I said, 'You're selling the holy dollar?' 'Yes,' [he said]. I said, 'I want the best one', and he brought them out. I said, 'Right, I'll have those'."
Mr Sharples said the purchase, seemingly out of the blue, is stuff of collector legend.
To read the complete article (and view a great video), see: Collector's 700 'little records' to go to auction (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/07/11/2300747.htm)
To read a related article, see: Expert in fakes sells the final work of the First Fleet's great larrikin forger (http://www.theage.com.au/national/expert-in-fakes-sells
Wayne Homren, Editor
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