Silver 8 reales counterstamped as 5 shillings, with a hole


British Museum

British Museum

Port Jackson in New South Wales, founded in 1788, was the first British settlement on the Australian continent. Like many later settlements, it was mainly constructed and inhabited by individuals convicted of offences committed in Britain and transported to Australia. Initially the only money in circulation in the settlements was the few coins the convicts and their guards carried in their pockets. As a response to the lack of coin, alternative means of trade sprung up, in which commodities such as rum, pork, tobacco and tea were used as currencies.Some coins arrived in the colony as a result of ships trading goods in the area, but with the stock of coins low, the British government found it necessary to send supplies of Spanish coins to the colony. In Britain, similar Spanish coins were counterstamped by local industrialists, but in Australia, as in some British colonies in the West Indies, the coins were identified as official currency by having a hole cut into their centre. A legend around the edge of the hole showed the value of the coin and the place where it circulated. This particular example circulated with a value of five shillings (sixty pence), while the disc, or 'dump', cut from the centre was itself worth fifteen pence.

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  • Title: Silver 8 reales counterstamped as 5 shillings, with a hole
  • Date Created: 1806/1806
  • Physical Dimensions: Weight: 21.450g; Diameter: 40.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: E.4217.A
  • Production place: Made in New South Wales
  • Material: silver
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Charles III