Q & A : Proclamation of 19th November 1800, when was it repealed?

August 27, 2009

Hi, just wondered if you could clarify some things re Governor King's Proclamation of 1800.

Firstly I'd suggest looking for a copy of "Foundations of the Australian Monetary System 1788-1851" (Sydney University Press) by S.J. Butlin as this seems to be one of the best sources for information on colonial currency. Sorry I am no expert on the field and will do my best to answer the questions you've asked, but please take them with caution, they are based only on my knowledge and research.

1. Did this relate solely to NSW

Given that Tasmania was not settled by Europeans until 1803, the General Order (the proclamation of Governor King) of 1800 didn't explicitly cover Tasmania. Tasmania was under the control of the colony of NSW until 1825 so you could argue that the order did cover Tasmania. This is backed up by a proclamation made by Bligh in 1807 that prohibited the use of 'currency' (promissory notes). Part of this proclamation said 'the value of coins established is still in full force' which of course covered the valuation imposed by Governor King. Bligh extended this proclamation to Tasmania in 1809 so King's proclamation was indeed in effect there.

2. when was this Proclamation repealed - was it 15th August 1829 and again was it only for NSW.

I don't know when (or even if it was) specifically repealed. However 15 August 1829 was the day that it was ordered in the Colony of NSW that no foreign coin should be accepted for official payments. 10 days or so earlier it was announced in the Sydney Gazette that fines to the Government could only be paid in sterling currency. The reason for the announcement was that 55,000 pounds of currency arrived in the colony and another 20,000 was due the next month so the need for foreign curreny was over. It was also announced at the same time that the call up of holey dollars would cease at the end of September.

Apparently this was only for NSW (I am not sure what happened in Tasmania). The reason being is that the Tasmanian colony separated from NSW at almost the same time that the Spanish dollar standard was being abandoned in NSW and the two colonies adopted the sterling standard by different means.

3. should we therefore have sub sets of proclamation coins by each colony eg I believe Tasmania had its own proclamation

Well that's the beauty of coin collecting, if you can find a separate proclamation for Tasmania (and I am not aware of one) then by all means you can have subsets of proclamation coins. Personally I don't stick to the strict letter of Kings proclamation. The 1799 half penny and farthing circulated much more heavily than the silver and gold coins of King's proclamation so I personally think they need to be in any proclamation collection. The fines for removing coins and inflated values failed to keep silver and gold in the colony, copper stayed though, it just wasn't worth while taking it out and exporting it to England!

4. should coins with a date before 1829 such as a spanish dollar be considered as possibly a "Proclamation coin" even though none of these coins have any provenance as ever having been used within Australia

Spanish dollars were in the proclamation though. If you're talking about other coins (like the Brazilian 960 Reis, or overstruck 2 rupees or similar) then probably not. It would be fair to say that any sort of widely used trade coinage of the time would have been seen here though, such as 8R fractions, ½ rupees, or 3 guilders or ducatoons. These traded through Asia and it's reasonable to assume they got here too. So if they interest you then I dont see why they couldn't form part of an Australian colonial coin collection.

5. Is there or should there be a definitive list of Proclamation coins which specifies the coin, obverse and reverse designs, mint marks, assayers mark and date range.

Not that I am aware of. Just King's original document. Any 'definitive' list made up by academics is open to challenge and opinion. If you know of a list and you are happy with the evidence and support behind it then by all means use that. Personally I don't collect coins that way, I collect them because they interest me and for the history behind them rather than the academic interest they hold. Andrew Crellin, owner of Sterling and Currency Coins and author of a well known (and very pretty) book on Australian proclamation coins has an interesting article on What is a Proclamation Coin. It's well worth the read and urges collectors to think outside of the 10 coins covered by Governor King.

Any help in these areas would be greatly appreciated by myself and I think by many others as many claims are made about a coin being a proclamation coin without any substantive or definitive evidence.

You're more than welcome, it's been interesting doing some reading to find some answers to your questions!

Posted by mnemtsas at August 27, 2009 1:26 PM
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