The Adelaide Assay Office Ingots

May 4, 2014

Adelaide Assay Office Ingot (Hunt-Deacon Type 5) - Image courtesy of Art Gallery of South Australia

Above you can see an image of an Adelaide Ingot that is in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia. These were made by the Adelaide Assay Office in South Australian between 4 March 1852 through to 27 November of the same year. They were produced by the Assay Office who would receive gold from miners and mining companies who were exploiting the gold fields in Victoria. They would assay and refine the gold (to approximately 23 and one eighth carats), subtract an assaying and refining fee and form the gold into an ingot which was then stamped with the weight, the fineness, and the equivalent fineness in 22 carat. According to Hunt-Deacon (pp48) the fineness varied despite the 23 1/8 carat stamp and this is reflected by three of the known Adelaide Ingots having the same weight yet different equivalent 22 carat weights.

Presumably each ingot produced was thus unique in shape and they tended to vary in weight. The aim of the ingots was to provide a recognized medium of exchange for banks within the South Australian colony. However due to their high value and non standard denominations the ingots were not successful and were soon replaced by the only marginally more successful Adelaide Pound tokens. Because of their short time of manufacture very few examples (less than 10) are extant today. When one does become available for sale expect to pay more than $1,000,000 (yes that's one million dollars).

Given that we'll never be able to afford a real one of these we've done what we think is the next best thing, we've bought a nicely executed replica which you can see below.

Adelaide Assay Office Ingot Replica by The Adelaide Mint

This replica was made by Barrie Newman of The Adelaide Mint and is executed in gold plated 0.925 fine silver. The replica is cast from a copy of an ingot which plated as Type 6 in Hunt-Deacon's work "The Ingots and Assay Office Pieces" (1954). Hunt-Deacon listed it as being in the collection of Herbert W. Taffs of London. Reference to the piece can also be found in the May 1912 proceedings of the British Numismatic Society where Mr H.W. Taffs exhibited a "gold ingot or plate issused from the Adelaide mint in 1852". We are not aware of the current location of the original ingot.

To manufacture the replica you can see above a negative silicon mould was made from the host copy and then this silicon mould was used to form wax positives. They were then used to cast the replicas using the lost wax casting method. Five replicas were cast in silver and then gold plated, six were cast in beryllium and gold plated, and 2 were cast in 18 carat gold. The reverse of the replica is marked COPY, mint-marked AM (Adelaide Mint), and the silver fineness is noted. The gold plated silver replica cost us $75 while the beryllium examples are $50. We believe that one or two of the silver and beryllium replicas are still available. If you're interested drop us an email and we'll put you in touch with Barrie at the Adelaide Mint.

It should be noted that this is the second production run of these replica ingots, with the first series comprising 6 produced in gold plated 0.925 fine silver. This original production run did not have the AM mint mark on the reverse.

Hunt-Deacon, J. (1954). The "Ingots" and "Assay Office Pieces" of South Australia . Melbourne, Australia:The Hawthorn Press Pty Ltd.

(1912) Proceedings of the British Numismatic Society. Retrieved from

Posted by mnemtsas at May 4, 2014 7:10 PM
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