Rare Aussie doughnut coin auctioned for over $150,000. Why holey dollar is so valuable

An Australian coin dealer said he had a personal history with the rare coin he just sold in Sydney.

An extremely rare holey dollar coin has been bought for $150,600 at an auction in Sydney.

The unique piece of history was part of the first batch of currency ever minted in Australia and went under the hammer for $130,000 after “a lot of bidding”. The price was pushed up by a “buyer’s premium”.

The coin was auctioned by numismatist Jim Noble for more than his $120,000 prediction. The sale of the doughnut-shaped coin was a full-circle moment for the enthusiast, who told Yahoo Finance he’d sold the piece of silver decades earlier.

“I sold that to the owner in 1981 for $22,000. It’s been a long time. We met for the first time 42 years ago and now his hair has gone from black to white,” Noble said.

Coin called holey dollar forged from Spanish coins.
Coins like the holey dollar are a part of Australian history, being the first currency minted in the country. (Source: Jim Noble)

If we consider inflation, $22,000 is just over $105,000 in today’s terms.

“There’s money to make in coins if you take the right advice,” Noble earlier told Yahoo Finance.

The record sale for one of these was for a Madrid holey dollar, which sold to a Queensland buyer for $550,000 in 2015.


Why is the holey dollar so valuable?

The history of the holey dollar involves convict counterfeit forger William Henshall who cut the centre out of 40,000 Spanish reales imported to Australia by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1812.

As coins were used to trade with merchant ships, many left Australian shores so there was a shortage.

To double the 40,000 coins, they were counter stamped and the outer ring became the holey dollar, worth five shillings. The centre, known as the dump, was worth 15 pence.

There are only about 300 holey dollars left in existence, with about 100 in museums, including the National Museum.

"Holey dollars speak eloquently of the creative and improvisatory attempts to create an orderly administration in colonial Australia," National Museum director Andrew Sayer said.

Most of the "iconic" coins were recalled and melted down into bullion when they were replaced with sterling coinage from 1822.

Interestingly, the holey dollar and dump are technically worth nothing. Well, they are obviously worth a bit, but are also the only Australian coins in history to have been “demonetised”.

“Some coins which are no longer in circulation, such as Australia’s pre-decimal coins and the 1 and 2 cent coins are still ‘legal tender'," the Royal Australian Mint said.

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