Steel Halfpenny die, manufactured by W.J. Taylor of London in 1854. Used by the Kangaroo Office of Melbourne to mint, halfpenny tokens which promoted their Gold pieces of 1/4, 1/2, 1 and 2 ounces which were manufactured for sale at the 1854 Melbourne Exhibition.

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

Physical Description

A steel die 48 mm high with a main diameter of 54 mm and a working surface diameter of 28 mm. The die features a promotion for the Gold pieces of 1/4, 1/2, 1 and 2 ounces which the Kangaroo Office manufactured for sale at the 1854 Melbourne Exhibition. The maker's name W.J. Taylor is stamped into the shoulder of the die. A piece of paper has been glued around the circumferance and written in ink (in Chitty's hand?) is : "makers name" - apparently an instruction for early Twentieth Century strikes.

Obverse Description

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


This die was manufactured in London by W.J. Taylor in 1853 and sent to Melbourne on the Kangaroo together with a press that Taylor had used at the 1851 Exhibition to manufacture mementoes. It was used in Melbourne in 1854 to make copper halfpenny trade tokens promoting the gold pieces of 1/4, 1/2, 1 and 2 ounces that were manufactured for sale at the Melbourne 1854 Exhibition, it is possible that these tokens were even made at the Exhibition. The die passed to Thomas Stokes in 1857 among the equipment acquired with the press from Reginald Scaife. Original strikes of the tokens are quite rare and in the early Twentieth Century Alfred Chitty arranged for the production of re-srtikes, a piece of paper glued to the circumference of the die relates to that era when used to strike the rare variation without the makers name. Chitty donated the re-strike in 1922 (NU 3050)

More Information