Port Philip copper pattern token leads sale

Australian token sale totals $453,949
Published : 10/30/11
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When an effort to fulfill coinage needs in Australia in the 1850s went awry, a limited number of patterns somehow survived.

One of those pattern pieces, struck in copper, was among the highlights of a collection of 19th century Australasian tokens offered by Baldwin’s in an Oct. 4 auction.

The token, an 1851 pattern copper halfpenny, was struck at the famous Port Philip Kangaroo Office during the same venture that led to the creation of some famed gold rarities.

The token advertises the office’s service, which converted gold dust and nuggets into locally struck pieces with British denominations. It is cataloged as Andrews 782 in the 1921 book Australasian Tokens & Coins by Arthur Andrews.

The effort failed to develop before the shortage of gold coinage balanced out and “a glut of English sovereigns” accumulated in the banks of Melbourne, according to Andrews. The entrepreneurs behind the token coinage, after having expended thousands of dollars, sold the machinery and abandoned the project.

An example in the Baldwin’s auction, displaying “striking weakness at the centre of the obverse and a couple of minute reverse imperfections,” otherwise grading Extremely Fine, realized £6,136 ($9,521 U.S.), including the 18 percent buyer’s fee.

The token was one of the marquee lots in the auction, the firm’s 72nd sale, which realized a total £292,557 ($453,949 U.S.). The total for all three auctions cumulatively reached £1,327,375 ($2,070,175 U.S.). All prices reported here include the buyer’s fee.

A total of 624 lots from 738 offered (or 84.5 percent) sold in auction No. 72, the third and final auction conducted by Baldwin’s in connection with the annual Coinex show.

All lots from the auction can be viewed for free at www.baldwin.co.uk/auction-72.

For more information, telephone Baldwin’s at (011) 44 20 7930 9808, email the firm at auctions@baldwin.co.uk or visit its website, www.baldwin.co.uk.

Some additional highlights:

Australia, New South Wales, 1855 copper penny token, William Jamberoo Allen, “better than Very Fine,” £5,192, ($8,056 U.S.).

Australia, Melbourne, 1860 copper halfpenny token mule, John Andrew & Co. (drapers), About Extremely Fine, £5,428, ($8,422 U.S.).

Australia, Wangaratta, Victoria, 1862 copper penny token, James Dixon (storekeeper), later restrike, Good EF, £4,484, ($6,958 U.S.).

Australia, Hobart, Tasmania, undated copper penny token, O.H. Hedberg (oil and color stores), “of the highest rarity,” “flawless example with superb toning,” Uncirculated, £6,136, ($9,521 U.S.).

Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, undated copper halfpenny, mule with UNITED STATES side, W.J. Taylor, “exceedingly rare,” “flawless Proof,” £3,540 ($5,493 U.S.).

Australia, undated Australia/Canada copper penny mule token, “thought to be the second of only two known,” obverse VF, reverse Good Fine, £6,608 ($10,253 U.S.).

New Zealand, Wellington, undated (circa 1860) pattern copper mule penny token, Lipman Levy (shoemaker and importer), “some darker patches on the obverse, otherwise” EF, £4,956, ($7,690 U.S.). ■

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