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Public Happiness Sterling 1804 : Pro bono publico

Date: 1804
Overall: 20 mm, 0.002 kg
Medium: Silver
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of the Andrew Thyne Reid Trust
Classification:Coins and medals
Object Name: Token
Object No: 00025240
Related Place:South Head,

User Terms

    A silver shilling token minted in Dublin, Ireland, in 1804 due the shortage of coins. One side features a cauldron on a tripod with words 'PUBLIC HAPPINESS' around th edge. The other side shows Hibernia placing a crown on a pedestal with the inscription 'Health to the King' with 'Pro Bono Publico' above. Part of the material from the historic shipwreck DUNBAR. The DUNBAR Collection was retrieved under the auspices of an amnesty enacted through the jurisdiction of the Historic Shipwrecks Act, 1976.
    SignificanceThis shilling is representative of currency produced in the United Kingdom and used in the colony of New South Wales during the mid-19th century. It is also associated with the tragic loss of the DUNBAR on 20 August 1857, the worst peace-time merchant shipping tragedy in the history of New South Wales.
    HistorySilversmiths and bankers in Dublin were the first to strike silver tokens in 1804. In 1811, England and Wales followed suit. These tokens are typically of fine silver, but are light weight according to the standards of the time; 5 shillings and 2 pence coins per ounce of fine silver. But it was these standards that had prevented the mint from issuing coins, as they could not afford the silver at market prices and then issue coins only for them to be melted immediately by the unscrupulous.

    There are about 300 different issues up to the end of 1812 and a solitary issue from Wales in 1813, by which the problems of an unregulated token coinage had appeared, with counterfeiting, reduced silver quality, reduced weight and some issuers refusing to redeem their tokens. The tokens were finally made illegal on 19th December 1813.

    Dublin token issued in 1804. The issuer of these pieces is not yet known, but the weight and silver are good, so the legend "Pro Bono Publico" is quite appropriate.

    In 1804, the Bank of Ireland introduced silver tokens for 6 shillings which were overstrikes on Spanish dollars. These were followed by 5, 10 and 30 pence Irish tokens. The last halfpennies and pennies were minted in 1823.
    Related Sites South Head

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