One of the classic television comedies from the 1960s was “the Beverly Hillbillies” which centred on the changing fortunes of Jed Clampett who went from a poor mountaineer who “barely kept his family fed” to a wealthy oil baron after “black gold” or “Texas Tea” bubbled from the earth after it was struck by a stray bullet from his squirrel gun.
Have you ever wondered what Australia would have looked like if Captain Cook hadn’t sailed into Botany Bay on the 29th April, 1770?
It’s likely that this vast island continent would have been populated from the north and would now be a thriving Asian nation home to over 100 million people living in the hot humid reaches of its northern environs that we Australians of European heritage tend to avoid.
This month Smalls Auctions offers a selection of highly important Roman coins including a number of very desirable Gold Aurei.
We begin with a Silver Denarius of Rome’s most famous citizen, Julius Caesar, a brilliant general and politician whose autocratic rule led to his assassination in 44 B.C. The conspirators Cassius and Brutus were defeated in 42 B.C. by his great- nephew Octavian who issued this Silver Denarius in the same year.
To coincide with the launch of the App this month, Smalls Auctions has pulled together an extraordinary field of Australian Pre-decimal coins including nine coins that rank as the finest or equal finest graded. These are all ‘Group 1’ candidates for those familiar with racing parlance. That is not to say that the other coins on offer are not in the running, with a further thirteen coins just missing out in a photo-finish for the top spot – but still being ranked in the two top grades.
In our 5th May Sale, Smalls Auctions offers the first Australian 1923 Halfpenny that has been graded in Uncirculated or Mint State quality by both major grading services. The coin, ex the ‘Benchmark Collection’ was originally graded by NGC as MS62 BN, a grade which has recently been confirmed by PCGS which also graded it MS62 BN.
The story behind the production of the 1923 Halfpenny remained a mystery for many years, and for a long time it was thought to be an unrecorded mintage of the Sydney Mint. However, the truth is equally intriguing.
Max Cullen is not only a well-known Australian actor but through the years has also produced a series of sardonic sketches that have perfectly captured the Australian character – warts and all.
He honed his artistic skills at the renowned Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney’s Rocks district and, with classmate Brett Whiteley in tow, would leave the studio to sketch real Australians in often unsettling surrounds, such as the local “derelicts at (a nearby) soup kitchen”.
By 1930 Australia was caught up in the maelstrom of the world-wide ‘Great Depression’ and with its economy in rapid retreat had little need to strike more coins. Besides a small mintage of halfpennies, no other coins were struck for circulation that year, a confusing fact that should raise the eyebrows of anyone lucky enough to have a 1930 Penny in their collection. Folklore has produced many colourful stories about how the 1930 Penny came to be struck but the answer in fact is far simpler.
Although the Australian Treasury saw no need to top up the country’s penny supply, the Melbourne Mint took it upon itself to produce three 1930-dated reverse dies in July of that year and, on August 13, used one to strike twelve specimens all with an Indian obverse taken from a master die it had received directly from the London Mint in 1922.
Provenance is often the stamp of approval collectors seek when they are considering the purchase of a coin, banknote or collectable.
If it can be established that an item once formed part of a famous collection then the new owner can feel satisfied that the new addition to their collection makes the grade. If the previous owner was famous or a holder of high office then the reflected glory can also add value to their collection.
In the early morning of the 2nd April 1882 the Spanish passenger liner ‘Yrurac Bat’ was hugging the Spanish Coast as it approached Cape Finisterre the last landfall before it took on the perils of the Atlantic crossing on its south-west journey to Havana.
At the same time travelling north up the coast on its journey to Southampton was the Royal Mail Steamer ‘Douro’ having made a port of call at Lisbon in Portugal to disembark passengers who had travelled onboard from South America.
In our last sale we featured a specimen of the Turkish 50,000 Livre banknote which is considered one of the world’s greatest banknote rarities. Remarkably it had turned up in Australia in an old family album holding a total of 144 specimen notes spanning the war years 1915 to 1918. It is almost certain that the notes in the album were once the reference collection of Huseiyn Cahid the Vice-President of the Ottoman Parliament who was responsible for vetting new banknote designs.