Copper Halfpenny token, minted by the Kangaroo Office, Melbourne, circa 1854, using dies manufactured by W.J. Taylor in London. The token is surcharged 'Wills'
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.
A copper halfpenny trade token (28 mm diameter). It features the stock Kangaroo Office halfpenny designs of a kangaroo and a seated figure of Australia and refers to W.J. Taylor, who manufactured the dies, at the 1851 London Exhibition. Cleaned and partly re-toned. This token is surcharged WILLS and has been damaged
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
Australia seated on rock facing to left holding an olive branch extended in her right hand and resting a staff on her left forearm; above, AUSTRALIA. surcharged WILLS
Transfer from National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Dr W E Roth, 15/3/1976
circa 1854 AD
Obverse: MELBOURNE W.J. TAYLOR MEDALLIST TO THE GREAT EXHIBITION 1851 Reverse: AUSTRALIA surcharged WILLS
Type of item
8.04 g (Weight)
[Book] Heyde, Gilbert C. & Skinner, Dion H. 1967. Unofficial Coins of Colonial Australia and New Zealand., No. 573
[Book] Andrews, Arthur. 1921. Australasian Tokens and Coins., No. 246 and No. 1242
[Article] Sharples, John P. 1993. A Catalogue of the Trade Tokens of Victoria 1848 to 1862. Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia. vol.7: p.1-77., V. 170