The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 27, Number 6, February 11, 2024, Article 21


In the better-late-than-never department, here's a Noonan's press release that didn't make it into last week's issue - the piece has already been sold. Great find, though. -Editor

  Lot 753 - NEW SOUTH WALES, Fifteen Pence or Dump, 1813

Oxfam Volunteer and coin enthusiast John Turner was looking through a bag of coins that had been donated to Oxfam's shop in Orpington when he spotted what he thought could be a rare coin. It was taken to Noonans Mayfair for a second opinion where it was confirmed that it was an Australian New South Wales Fifteen Pence or Dump dating from 1813. It is estimated to fetched £5,000-7,000 and will be offered in a two-day sale of Coins and Historical Medals on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 6 and 7, 2024.

John who is in his mid 70s, has volunteered for Oxfam for the past 10 years since he retired from banking. He lives in Bromley area and is based at his local Bromley shop in South East London, however there are 8-9 shops in South London that he visits regularly.

He explained: I started collecting British coins when I was a teenager (some time ago now!) and more latterly also British Empire money, so I had some knowledge to build on; but I have learned a lot from volunteering!

He added: In April 2023 I was invited to sort some donations of loose material in bags at the Orpington shop. On a cursory examination, these appeared to be largely what I would describe as ‘holiday money', with some, but little or no collectable value. Having sorted the ‘easy' items into various categories, and priced a few items requiring some look up, I was left with a small silver-grey coloured item I had never seen before, inscribed New South Wales 1813 Fifteen Pence. Using the internet as my first line of enquiry, I found two such items that had sold for between £30 and £50, described as ‘most likely Becker copies'. Not a value to be ignored, but a copy of what?

After considerable online investigation, John revealed the story of how the Governor of the New South Wales Penal Colony commissioned a reformed forger, who had been transported from England, to make coins for local circulation from 40,000 Spanish silver ‘pieces of eight', by punching out the centres (to form the dump), the outside coin forming ‘holey' dollars, and counterstamping them with NSW inscriptions. These were then Australia's first coins, before Australia was officially formed as a country. Opinion seemed to be that only around 1,000 of each coin still existed, the majority having been melted down in the 1840s.

He continued: Searches of auction site results, mainly in Australia, but some UK, showed a wide variety of realised, prices, but one UK site showed a sale of over £2,000 for a ‘rough' example (not a numismatic term, but meaning one in significantly poorer condition than ours). Australian results were considerably higher. My guess was that IF the coin was genuine (a very big if!) it might be worth at least £5,000. However, this was well beyond my competence to judge, and given how it turned up, made it somehow unlikely. The bags from Orpington had not been marked as eligible for Gift Aid, meaning that there was no way of tracing the donor.

After this research, I told the Orpington Deputy Manager that we should tell the Area Manager potentially what we might have. This eventually led to Oxfam referring the coin to Noonans, who were able to confirm the coin as genuine.

He finished by adding: It is brilliant to know the money raised from the coin will go towards Oxfam's much-needed work to tackle poverty around the world.

As Shelley Hitch, Valuer at Oxfam added: The Orpington area manager passed the coin to me as she knew I had a relationship with several auction houses and Noonans kindly don't charge Oxfam any commission. Volunteers like John are so valuable to Oxfam, and this is a great discovery. It means even more to know that the money raised will go towards vital funds to help tackle poverty across the globe.

Tim Wilkes, Head of Coin Department at Noonans also commented: The market for these early Australian pieces is very strong and we hope that this piece will do well.

To visit the Noonan's website, see:

WBNA E-Sylum ad 2024-02-11 Sale 55

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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