19th century Australian coin discovered in charity shop sells for £7.5K

A 19th Century Australian coin discovered by a coin enthusiast in a charity shop has been sold at auction for £7,500.

Oxfam volunteer John Turner, 70, found the coin while looking through a bag of coins that had been donated to the Oxfam shop in High Street, Orpington.

Mr Turner lives in Bromley and works at the Oxfam in High Street, Bromley, but regularly visits the charity shop’s nine other branches across South London.

He said: “The coins appeared to be largely what I would describe as ‘holiday money’, with some, but little or no collectable value. 

“Having sorted the ‘easy’ items into various categories, and priced a few items, I was left with a small silver-grey coloured item I had never seen before, inscribed New South Wales 1813 Fifteen Pence.”

Mr Turner looked up the inscription online and discovered the story behind the coin.

The Oxfam Shop in Orpington, where Mr Turner discovered the coin (Picture: Oxfam and Hua Liu)

The Governor of the New South Wales (NSW) Penal Colony commissioned a reformed forger, who had been transported from England, to make coins for local circulation from 40,000 Spanish silver ‘pieces of eight’, by punching out the centres to form ‘holey’ dollars , and counter-stamping them with NSW inscriptions. 

These were then Australia’s first coins, before Australia was officially formed as a country. Only an estimated 1,000 of each coin still exist, the majority having been melted down in the 1840s.

Mr Turner said: “Searches of auction site results, mainly in Australia, but some UK, showed a wide variety of prices.

“My guess was that if the coin was genuine, it might be worth at least £5,000.”

The bags from Orpington had not been marked as eligible for Gift Aid, meaning that there was no way to trace the donor.

Mr Turner informed the Orpington deputy manager of his find and Oxfam referred the coin to Noonans auctioneers, who confirmed it was genuine.

The coin was sold at Noonans auction house for a hammer price of £7,500 (Picture: Noonans)

On Wednesday, the coin was sold at Noonans auction house in Mayfair for a hammer price of £7,500 in a sale of Coins and Historical Medals.

It was estimated to fetch £5,000-7,000 and was bought by a dealer from the USA. 

After the sale, Mr Turner said: “As a volunteer of nearly 10 years, it is not every day you make discoveries like these.”

“When I first found the coin, I had no idea what it was, but I am so glad I persevered with the research. 

“I am thrilled that it has sold at such a brilliant price – especially knowing that all the money raised will go towards Oxfam.”

Pictured top: The coin which has sold for £7,500 (Picture: Oxfam)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.