The 1813 Holey dollar was returned to the American Numismatic Association’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum on Oct. 23.
The Holey dollar is an 1813 Australian coin struck on a 1788 Spanish-American real piece of Charles III from Mexico City. It has a large hole punched out of it; around the hole is an added legend “NEW SOUTH WALES 1813” on the obverse and “FIVE SHILLINGS” on the reverse. Australia’s first domestic coin, around 350 Holey dollars survive today.
The Spanish real was widely used by many countries as international currency because of its uniformity and milling characteristics. Some countries, like Australia, countersigned the Spanish dollar so it could be used as their local currency. The Spanish dollar remained legal tender in the U.S. until the Coinage Act of 1857.
“We are delighted to have the Holey dollar returned to our museum collection,” said ANA Executive Director Jeff Shevlin.
The historically significant coin was among more than 300 stolen from the museum by former ANA Collection Manager Wyatt Yeager, who was sentenced in April to 27 months in federal prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $948,505 in restitution.
Yeager sold the Holey dollar in a July 2007 auction in Melbourne, Australia.
Coinworks, Ltd., the Australian numismatic firm that returned the Holey Dollar to the ANA, acquired the coin from an Australian auction house in July 2007. The company specializes in Australian rare coins and notes.
“Coinworks is an organization that prides itself on its strong ethic and commitment to the industry. That Coinworks initiated the discussions regarding the return of the 1813 Holey dollar to its rightful owner (ANA) is a clear demonstration of the principles by which we operate,” said Belinda Downie of Coinworks.
Other recovered coins
The ANA has also recovered several other stolen coins, including a gold pattern from The Netherlands, several Mexican Reales from the 15th to 17th centuries, a Tetradrachm of Lysimachus from Thrace, and coins from Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica and Peru.
Upon their return, the coins were photographed, cataloged and returned to the Money Museum's vaults.
Additional security measures
The ANA upgraded its security and surveillance systems following the theft, and continues to enhance security measures. In the coming months, the museum also will hire additional part-time staff to catalog and photograph the ANA’s museum collection and make museum resources available online to members.
“This project will take several years, but it is intended to secure this valuable ANA resource,” Shevlin said.
If you have additional information or tips about coins stolen from the ANA collection, please contact 719-482-9841.
The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 28,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.