Bronze, Halfpenny Token, minted by the Kangaroo Office of Melbourne, circa 1854. It was issued by the Kangaroo Office to promote their 1/4 ounce, 1/2 ounce, 1 ounce and 2 ounce gold pieces.
W. J. Taylor and his business partners established the Kangaroo Office to take advantage of the explosive economic growth in Australia following the discovery of gold in 1851. They hoped to buy gold at greatly reduced prices from the gold fields and then release it at full value in the form of quarter-ounce, half-ounce, one ounce and two ounce gold coins. However due to the time required to travel between London and Melbourne, once the Kangaroo Office was ready for business in 1854, an increase in the number of British sovereigns, had seen the price of gold rise, and the potential profits for the Kangaroo Office sharply decline. Not deterred, in late 1954 Taylor prepare dies for a series of pattern copper tokens that it was hoped could be produced in Melbourne by the Kangaroo Office for circulation within Australia. It appears that this did not succeed, and in 1855 Taylor began to create shilling and sixpence patterns in silver. However the Kangaroo Office again failed to obtain authority to strike and circulate these silver tokens and in 1857 the Kangaroo Office closed.
Previous collections: National Gallery of Victoria
A copper trade token halfpenny (28 mm diameter) featuring a kangaroo seated on tail in grassy field facing right, around above, MELBOURNE; in exergue in four lines W.J. TAYLOR MEDALLIST TO THE GREAT EXHIBITION 1851 with an advertisment for the Kangaroo Office Gold pieces on the reverse
Legend in ten lines, the first and last curved; PIECES OF 1/4 1/2 1 & 2 OZ / PURE / AUSTRALIAN / GOLD / ISSUED AT THE / KANGAROO OFFICE / PORT PHILLIP / NATIVE GOLD / EXCHANGED / ON THE BEST TERMS
Kangaroo seated on tail in grassy field facing right, around above, MELBOURNE; in exergue in four lines W.J. TAYLOR MEDALLIST TO THE GREAT EXHIBITION 1851
Transfer from National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), 15/3/1976
circa 1854 AD
Obverse: MELBOURNE W.J. TAYLOR MEDALLIST TO THE GREAT EXHIBITION 1851 Reverse: PIECES OF 1/4 1/2 1 & 2 OZ PURE AUSTRALIAN GOLD ISSUED AT THE KANGAROO OFFICE PORT PHILLIP NATIVE GOLD EXCHANGED ON THE BEST TERMS
Type of item
7.559 g (Weight)
Two obverse dies promoting the Kangaroo Office Gold pieces were manufactured by Taylor in London and brought to Melbourne on the Kangaroo. Both original dies are held by the museum (NU 35981 and NU 35757). The dies are difficult to differentiate by relative positioning of the letters, but the exact position of a central bead is definitave. On die NU 35757 it is at the top of the letters of the line ISSUED AT THE between the D and A while on NU 35981 it falls below the line. This token was struck with NU 35757. For Twentieth century re-strike of the type see NU 4661.
[Book] Andrews, Arthur. 1921. Australasian Tokens and Coins., No. 782
[Book] Heyde, Gilbert C. & Skinner, Dion H. 1967. Unofficial Coins of Colonial Australia and New Zealand., Related to No. 63