The temporary tattoo on the face of New Zealand’s Lefeaux £50

In 1901, genteel New Zealand chose not to join up with the ‘wild colonial boys’ in a Federated Australia and continued on as a colonial outpost of the British Empire up until the mid-1940s. It had signed on to the League of Nations in 1920 not in its own right but as a Dominion of the British Empire, and although the Balfour Declaration of 1926 which was legislated in the Statute of Westminster in 1931 offered it independence over all its military and foreign affairs, it did not completely cut the apron strings of ‘Mother England’ until 1947.

“The Siege of Frank Sinatra” – The Stage Players – Where are they now?

An unrepentant Frank Sinatra was heard to comment after his disastrous 1974 tour that “a funny thing happened in Australia. I made one mistake. I got off the plane.”

Sinatra had returned serve to the Australian Press calling its women journalists “buck and a half – hookers” after they had captioned his female travelling companions as “Sinatra’s Molls.”

It is regarded as a national sport in Australia to cut a tall poppy down to size and, with the journalists’ demands for an apology unanswered, retribution was swift starting with the forced cancellation of the remainder of his tour dates and a union ban slapped on the movement of his private jet. Sinatra stuck to his guns and snuck out of Melbourne on a commercial flight eventually holing up at Sydney’s Boulevarde Hotel while the Australian Press laid siege outside.

The ‘unique’ 1939 ‘Kangaroo’ Proof Halfpenny

Smalls Auctions Auction No 24 Saturday 4th November 2017 Australia 1939 Proof Half Penny Coin Front

It is hard to claim that a coin is unique when there is a published mintage of 100 but, there is much more to this ‘Kangaroo’ tale than meets the eye.

In 1938 the Melbourne Mint had begun striking coin denominations of George VI featuring the new designs that would have been adopted for his brother Edward VIII if he hadn’t abdicated and run off with an American divorcee.

The Florin at last featured the ‘Australian Coat of Arms’ of 1912 which replaced the ‘Armorial Ensigns of the Commonwealth of Australia’ which appeared on the reverses of all our sterling silver coins since 1910. The new Shilling now featured on the reverse, a ‘Ram’s head’ and the Threepence ‘sheaths of wheat’ representing Australia’s major industries, while the ‘Commonwealth of Australia’ reverse which was used on the copper coins was replaced on the Penny with a ‘Kangaroo’ showcasing our native fauna.

Psst – I’ve got a great investment proposition for you !

One of the largest exports from New South Wales in the late 19thcentury was coal, and so it was not surprising that speculators would start scratching around looking for ways to get in on the action.

Coal was first discovered in the rugged sea cliffs of the Illawarra south of Sydney in May 1797, and in the same year in Hunter Region north of Sydney. The northern deposits were much more accessible and quickly provided the Colony with its first exports and the beginnings of an important new industry, which in turn led to the establishment of the Port City of Newcastle to service what was to become one of the World’s greatest coal fields.

When the bubble bursts the buck stops !

Smalls Auctions No 24 November 4th 2017 Australia Commercial Bank of Sydney 5 Pound Note Front

The 1880s in New South Wales was a period of great prosperity buoyed by high prices paid for wool and coal its two major exports. From 1874 to 1890 European investors poured £44,000,000 of private capital into the Colony to capitalise on the ‘boom’ which was matched by £36,000,000 of money borrowed by the Government to build new railways, roads and bridges.

Before the ‘Apple’ there was the ‘Bell’ !

If you were to ask a ‘millennial’ to name the world’s greatest invention it is more likely that the answer would be the ‘telephone’ rather than the ‘wheel’ such is the prominence of the smartphone in modern life.

The humble telephone started in Australia in 1879 with a single wire service that linked two branches of a Melbourne firm. This was quickly followed in 1880 with the first telephone exchange in Melbourne using the inventions of the Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell and the American Thomas Alva Edison.

Before Australia’s Federation the six states and New Zealand were independent British colonies responsible for their own rights, and it was not until 1901 that the Department of the Post-Master General was established to administer the new nation’s postal and telegraphy (telephone) services. Over time the telephone services devolved into “Telecom Australia” which was rebadged as “Telstra” in 1995 and eventually privatised through a series of public share offerings.

1931 ‘Indian Obverse’ – Aligned 1′ Penny – a super-sub off the bench !

Smalls Auctions Sale 23 October 7th 2017 Australia 1931 Aligned 1 Penny Coin PCGS MS63BN

Just like a star player in professional football, a rare coin can hog the limelight and the money when it comes onto the ‘transfer’ market. However, what surrounds a star purchase is equally important, as you need more than one player to field a team just as you need more than one rare coin to have a collection.

These days variety collectors are fully versed on the rarity of the 1931 ‘Indian Obverse – Dropped 1’ Penny, but few know that the 1931 ‘Indian Obverse – Aligned 1’ Penny is also a top tier player when you are talking about Uncirculated grades.

The remarkable ‘Benchmark’ 1931 ‘Dropped 1 – Indian Obverse’ Penny

Smalls Auctions October 7th 2017 Australia Dropped 1 Indian Obverse 1931 Penny Coin Graded PCGS AU58

When I first started selling Australian Pre-decimal coins way back in 1977, someone quietly whispered to me that there was a coin “much much rarer” than the famed 1930 Penny, but which was largely unknown. The coin was the elusive 1931 ‘Dropped 1’ Penny, which folklore suggested was the product of the opposing 1930 Penny dies being recommissioned after the ‘0’ was removed from the lightly used reverse die and a ‘1’ added haphazardly in its place. The clincher of course was that, like the 1930 Penny, this variety had to have an ‘Indian’ obverse, a quick test that was also applied for picking a ‘dud’ 1930 Penny with an altered last digit, as dealers were adamant that there were “no 1930 ‘English’ obverse pennies.”

Mira’s ‘missing’ NSW 1813 ‘B6’ Dump

Smalls Auctions October 7th 2017 Autralian Dump Coin Front

In 1974 the late Dr W.D. Mira introduced an alpha numeric system to re-classify all known NSW 1813 dumps into distinctive types and, was able on a cursory examination, to fit them neatly into four combinations. Fourteen years later in his 1988 publication “The Holey Dollars of New South Wales” he had determined that about 70% of surviving dumps were of the A1 type, 25% were D2, with the C4 and E3 types making up the remaining 2% and 3% respectively.

Although loosely classified, the four basic varieties of the dumps were already well documented, and as early as 1893 an example that can be identified as Mira’s C4 Type was displayed by Coleman P. Hyman at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago as part of the display of the “Coins, Coinages and Currency of Australasia.”

The NSW 1813 ‘E3’ Dump – an experiment or a forgery?

Sale 23 Smalls Auctions October 7th 2017 Australia 1813 E3 Dump Back

Although now fully accepted as early experimental strikes, the very rare E3 Dump and the extremely rare C4 Dump, have at times been looked upon warily as possible contemporary forgeries. Only a handful of each are known and generally in poor grades, and so the surviving examples can look a little like works in progress when compared to the more finished A1 and D2 types. However, comparisons of the coins’ format and similarities in the lettering used on the four types leaves little doubt that they were all the product of William Henshall, with the C4 and E3 types being obvious attempts at early design.