Rarities

Brought back to Australia by Downies

Recently reappearing on the market, having been brought back to Australia by Downies after held for decades in a European collection, the 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal is a crucial piece of early Australiana. One of Australia’s earliest works of medallic art, with a quite remarkable history, this gigantic 73mm silver medal is also a truly great Australian rarity.

The man behind the medal – Laurence Halloran

Orphaned at a young age, Halloran joined the Royal Navy in 1780, but deserted two and a half years later after brutally stabbing another sailor to death with a sword. He was acquitted of the charge of murder at the Exeter Assizes in 1783, and then, somewhat perversely, turned his hand to the role of educator. As it happens, he successfully ran private schools for more than a decade thereafter, before his school at Alphington, near Exeter, was closed due to insolvency. It would not be the first time that Halloran would experience serious financial difficulties.

Posing as a chaplain, which was another intriguing theme underpinning his life, Halloran rejoined the Royal Navy in 1798, serving as secretary to Lord Northesk, third in command under Admiral Horatio Nelson. Halloran was present at the famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, serving upon the Britannia during Nelson’s famous victory against the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. He then set off for South Africa, being appointed chaplain to the military forces at the Cape of Good Hope. Although this new endeavour started well, he fell out with the commander of the colonial military. Resigning his commission in protest, the end of his African sojourn came when he was heavily fined and banished from the colony for defamatory libel, following the publication of a satire on ‘South African Characteristics’.

Halloran found life difficult when he returned to England from South Africa, and struggled to find employment. As a result, he turned to forging official documents in a bid to continue his bogus career as a chaplain. Having been found in possession of ‘copper plate for making impressions of Deacons’ and Priests’ orders’, he was convicted of forgery, and sentenced to seven years penal servitude in the colony of New South Wales.

Friends in high places: Halloran in Australia

Arriving in Sydney upon the transport Baring in June 1819, Halloran discovered that an old friend from South Africa, John Thomas Campbell, was the Vice-Regal Secretary. Exploiting the connection, Halloran had Campbell recommend him to Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who almost immediately issued Halloran a ‘ticket of leave’. It was also Macquarie who played a key role in helping Halloran, in 1819, establish a school – known at the time as ‘Dr Halloran’s Establishment’.

The forefather of Sydney Grammar School, today one of Australia’s leading private schools, Halloran’s establishment was very successful. Indeed, Governor Macquarie stated at the time that Halloran was ‘the best and most admired instructor of youth in the Colony’. Alas, Halloran’s unrelenting penchant for writing libellous material saw him constantly in trouble with the law. This led to financial problems, and although he moved the premises of the school frequently, in an attempt to avoid his creditors, Halloran was jailed for debt several times in the 1820s. Governor Darling appointed Halloran as Sydney coroner in 1828, but, true to form, he lost his position after threatening to publish defamatory material about the Sydney archdeacon!

The birth of the Silver Medal

Whilst headmaster of the school, Halloran had prize medals created from 1819 until at least 1826. From the first year of issue, the 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal was awarded to Robert Campbell – a man who was ultimately active in politics, and part of the successful drive to end convict transportation. Recognised as one of Australia’s earliest examples of medallic art, the medal was the work of Samuel Clayton – another remarkable figure in this amazing tale of early Australia!

Like Halloran, Clayton was both born in Ireland and transported to the colony as a convicted forger. To the surprise of his peers in Dublin, where he was a highly respected citizen, an admired engraver and an upstanding Freemason, Clayton was sentenced to seven years penal servitude for producing counterfeit revenue stamps in a large-scale fraud operation. Arriving in Sydney in December 1816, he was given a conditional pardon in January 1818, and set about establishing a career as a painter and engraver.

Even before he was officially pardoned, Clayton had carved his name into Australian history by creating the printing plates for Australia’s first banknotes – issued by Australia’s first bank, the Bank of New South Wales, in 1817. Interestingly, he was also the founder of the first regular Freemason lodge in the colony, and is therefore known as Australia’s ‘Father of Freemasonry’!

Known as the finest silversmith in the colony in the years after his arrival from Ireland, he also created the prize medals for Laurence Halloran’s school. As you will see from the image above, ‘S. Clayton’ is emblazoned upon the imposing 73mm diameter flan of the 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal awarded to Robert Campbell.

Underpinned by such a remarkable history, combined with both breathtaking rarity, immense beauty and the connection with one of Australia’s most prestigious schools, the 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal is a crucial artefact from the earliest days of modern Australia.

The 1819 Sydney Halloran School Prize Silver Medal is featured in Downies' Rarities catalogue! For more images of the medal, click here to view it on our website. 

The image of Laurence Hynes Halloran above is courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales ML 1057 from a painting by Augustus Earle, c. 1825.

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Downies Auction 320 Prices Realised 321 Consignments

A grand event for Australian numismatics, Downies Australian Coin Auctions Sale 320 was an outstanding success!

Comprising more than 3,500 lots, our last auction for 2015 was highlighted by a number of exquisite English Hammered pieces, which as expected sold well above estimate. We saw nearly a million dollars’ worth of material go under the hammer with 87% of lots sold – once again emphasising our industry leading clearance rates. Prices realised are now available online.

Highlights included:

Lot 2683 - Charles I (1625-1649) Pound, Oxford Mint Lot 2666 - Charles I Oxford Pound Est. $7,500 - Sold $16,000

Lot 2669 Lot 2669 - Newark Besieged Shilling Est. $1,500 - Sold $2,600

Lot 2687 - Newark Besieged (1645-May 1646) Ninepence 1646 (S3144; N2641) Lot 2670 - Newark Besieged Ninepence Est. $2,000 - Sold $3,200

Lot 2689 - English Civil War, Pontefract Besieged (June 1648-March 1648/9) Round Shilling 1648 Lot 2672 - Pontefract Besieged Round Shilling Est. $5,000 - Sold $8,000

Lot 2690 - English Civil War, Pontefract Besieged (June 1648-March 1648/9) Octagonal Shilling 1648 Lot 2673 -Pontefract Besieged Octagonal Shilling Est. $5,000 - Sold $8,500

Preparations for our next auction are already well underway. To be held at Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne on the 3rd and 4th of May 2016, consignments for Sale 321 are now being accepted. Please contact us today to arrange an appointment at our Melbourne head office, at either of our retail stores, or in your home or office. Consignments close early March.

Downies Presents The Royal Australian Mint's Master Collection

An auction unlike any other in Australian history, Downies is delighted to present the Royal Australian Mint’s Master Collection – an assembly of ‘production standard master’ coins used to ensure the highest possible quality in the creation of Australia’s decimal coinage.

Royal Australian Mint Master Collection Catalogue

Uniquely Australian and never offered before!

The Royal Australian Mint holds just a single example of every issued Australian circulating and collector coin type as a production standard master coin. Each master coin is not included in the official mintage figure and has never previously been offered for public or private sale. With over 1,100 Royal Australian Mint master coins on offer, our next auction represents an outstanding opportunity for collectors to secure an important piece of the RAM’s proud 50-year history.

What makes these coins so special?

Two samples are selected from the first batch of coins struck. One of those samples is then selected as the quality standard and stored at the Mint’s quality control area. This coin is marked in red to identify them as the quality standard. The other coin is used by the Mint’s production team on the factory floor in order to check the quality of a sample taken from each subsequent batch of coins struck. After 5 years the coin used by the production team is destroyed, leaving only the coin stored in the quality control. This is therefore the only legal tender coin from a particular strike to not be included in the overall mintage figures, making it unique and of specific significance.

Updated Auction dates – Tuesday May 26 - Thursday May 28

To accommodate this unprecedented offering from the Royal Australian Mint, we have moved our next Downies Australian Coin Auctions sale to May 26 to 28 – to be held at the Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne’s east. Viewing of the auction will take place at Downies Head Office in Mitcham for 5 days from May 20. Visit our Contact Us Page for location details.

The Royal Australian Mint's Master Collection Catalogue

You can view the complete list of items from the Master Collection at our Auction 319A Page, where you will find downloadable PDFs of the catalogue itself, as well as a website version that includes pictures of every coin offered in the Master Collection.

Downies Presents The Royal Australian Mint's Master Collection

An auction unlike any other in Australian history, Downies is delighted to present the Royal Australian Mint’s Master Collection – an assembly of ‘production standard master’ coins used to ensure the highest possible quality in the creation of Australia’s decimal coinage.

Royal Australian Mint Master Collection Catalogue

Uniquely Australian and never offered before!

The Royal Australian Mint holds just a single example of every issued Australian circulating and collector coin type as a production standard master coin. Each master coin is not included in the official mintage figure and has never previously been offered for public or private sale. With over 1,100 Royal Australian Mint master coins on offer, our next auction represents an outstanding opportunity for collectors to secure an important piece of the RAM’s proud 50-year history.

What makes these coins so special?

Two samples are selected from the first batch of coins struck. One of those samples is then selected as the quality standard and stored at the Mint’s quality control area. This coin is marked in red to identify them as the quality standard. The other coin is used by the Mint’s production team on the factory floor in order to check the quality of a sample taken from each subsequent batch of coins struck. After 5 years the coin used by the production team is destroyed, leaving only the coin stored in the quality control. This is therefore the only legal tender coin from a particular strike to not be included in the overall mintage figures, making it unique and of specific significance.

Updated Auction dates – Tuesday May 26 - Thursday May 28

To accommodate this unprecedented offering from the Royal Australian Mint, we have moved our next Downies Australian Coin Auctions sale to May 26 to 28 – to be held at the Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne’s east. Viewing of the auction will take place at Downies Head Office in Mitcham for 5 days from May 20. Visit our Contact Us Page for location details.

The Royal Australian Mint's Master Collection Catalogue

You can view the complete list of items from the Master Collection at our Auction 319A Page, where you will find downloadable PDFs of the catalogue itself, as well as a website version that includes pictures of every coin offered in the Master Collection.

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