Australia's first unique coins | State Library of New South Wales

Australia's first unique coins

Holey dollar and the dump

In the early 19th century, there was a shortage of coins in the colony of New South Wales. Governor Macquarie's solution to the problem involved recycling Spanish currency to create the first uniquely Australian coinage.

Macquarie directed William Henshall, a convicted forger, to cut out the circular centre piece from each of the 40 000 Spanish dollars that arrived in the colony in 1812.  The outer ring of the Spanish dollar became known as the 'holey dollar'. The cut out centre piece was named the 'dump'. 

On 1 July 1813, Governor Macquarie issued a proclamation establishing the validity of the colony's holey dollar and dump. He also set their value at five shillings for the holey dollar and 15 pence for the dump.

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Left: Holey dollar, 1813, silver coin, R 277 
Right: Dump, 1813, silver coin, R 277