Monday, August 4, 2014

150th Anniversary of Banking in Australia 5.4.1967

This 4c stamp on the cover commemorates the 150th Anniversary of Banking in Australia on 5th April 1967. I do have a soft corner for the postmark as it is on my birthday J.

The first bank to be established in Australia was the Bank of New South Wales, which was established in Sydney in 1817, with Edward Smith Hall as its cashier and secretary. During the 19th and early 20th century, the Bank of New South Wales opened branches throughout Australia and Oceania: at Moreton Bay (Brisbane) in 1850, then in Victoria (1851), New Zealand (1861), South Australia(1877), Western Australia (1883), Fiji (1901), Papua New Guinea (1910) and Tasmania (1910).

On the cover you see an embossed coin, a dollar in fact. A coin with a hole in it. This Holey dollar has an interesting history behind it!

Holey dollar is the name given to coins used in the early history of two British settlements: Prince Edward Island and New South Wales. The middle was punched out of Spanish dollars, creating two parts: a small coin, known as a "dump" in Australia, and a "holey dollar". This coin was one of the first coins struck in Australia. The 1813 Holey Dollar and its partner, the 1813 Colonial Dump, were the first coins struck in Australia. Not only are they extremely rare, but their fascinating history has made them two of the world’s most famous coins.

In the early 1800s, the Governor of NSW bought a house. He paid for it with 200 gallons of rum. Strange, you think? But no, this wasn’t at all unusual. Even though New South Wales had moved on from being a penal colony and was fast developing into a well established and a vibrant society, there was still no bank – and no local currency. The laws of economics being what they are, something else had to take its place as a medium of exchange, and the most commonly used alternative was liquor. Rum was selling at more than twenty times its nominal value, and its  popularity as a negotiating medium was embraced by all sections of the community – including Governor Lachlan Macquarie himself. It was, though, a clearly unsustainable situation, and in 1812, the Governor set in motion a plan to resolve the colony’s currency crisis by importing 40,000 Spanish Silver Dollars.

To stop the coins disappearing into traders’ pockets, he had them punched-out and re-stamped, making them useless outside Australia. In the process, each dollar became two coins: the large donut-like outer ring, and the punched-out inner disc. The newly created ring was re-stamped with a value of five shillings, the year 1813, and had the issuing authority of New South Wales around the inner circumference. This became the 1813 Holey Dollar. The circular inner was re-stamped with a crown, the year 1813, the issuing authority and the value of fifteen pence. This became the Colonial Dump. The coins provided a vital short-term solution to the colony’s currency crisis and remained in official circulation for 16 years, before being withdrawn in 1829 when the Sterling standard was re-imposed.

Thank you Maria.

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