When the clipper ship Dunbar wrecked near the coast of Sydney Harbour on Aug. 20, 1857, it was one of the largest maritime disasters in Australian history. All but one of the passengers and crew perished.
A year later, a lighthouse was built nearby to assist vessels to avoid a similar fate.
The wreck shook the young colony, because the ship was carrying residents returning to Australia after visiting London, and many of the victims were well known in the nascent, Victorian-era city, according to a 2007 article in the Sydney Morning Herald marking the anniversary.
Also on board were tradesmen tokens, substitutes for small change with advertising for the merchants that issued them.
A penny token and halfpenny token recovered from the wreck of the Dunbar are among thousands of lots offered in Downies Australian Coin Auctions’ July 8 to 10 sale, the firm's 317th auction. The tokens are offered as a single lot.
The 1857 pieces were intended to be issued by Hanks & Lloyd whose proprietors, J.G. Hanks and A. Lloyd, operated the Australian Tea Mart in Sydney.
The so-called “Peace and Plenty” tokens, so named for the legend on the reverses, were made by W.J. Taylor.
Both examples in the auction are Very Fine to Extremely Fine though they exhibit the saltwater deterioriation that is typical for examples recovered from the wreck. The auction firm reports that examples of the tokens on the wreck washed up and were found by beachcombers for many years after.
The pair is estimated at $75 Australian.