CURRENCY – THE SYDNEY MINT
To stem the flow brought on by gold fever the colony administrators kept the discovery of gold secret until it was apparent that it was in the colony’s best interests to create their own mint.
Huge quantities of unrefined gold were circulating around the colony, and so as to regain control of the economy, the administrators proposed that the British government establish a Sydney branch of the Royal Mint, the first royal mint outside of England, and establish a local currency and economy.
Approval was given in 1853, and the Rum hospital’s southern wing was chosen as the site. The Sydney Mint commenced operations on the 14th May 1855, some 969 years after London’s Royal mint was founded, converting bullion from the gold fields into legal tender, with each “Sydney Sovereign” consisting of 8 grams of refined gold.
For more than ten years, all sovereigns minted in Sydney were legal tender only in the Australian colonies and New Zealand, but in February 1886 they became legal tender in the United Kingdom, and were identical to British Soverigns save for a small S that denoted the Sydney mint mark.
Goldminers transported their raw gold to the Sydney Mint in mammoth quantities and during the first five years, the Mint's coin output annually averaged over £ 1,000,000, while the amount of raw gold exported from New South Wales declined sharply and so did emigration from the colony.
During its 70 years of operation, the Mint processed 42 million ounces of gold, valued approximately at £ 156, 000, 000. (6)
Similarites to the structural elements of London’s Crystal Palace, which was built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 were employed in converting the Rum Hospital in The Sydney Royal Mint with it’s mammoth iron frame an outstanding example of mid-Victorian technology, with its use of terracotta tiles in the ceilings said to be the earliest example of fire-proofed construction in Australia.
The south wing of the General ‘Rum’ Hospital, shortly prior to the building being converted into The Sydney Mint - 1854
@kieran.wicks #question from @kieran.wicks #Wealth #GoldRushStories #RoyalMint #Colony #Gold #Emmigration #Sydney #Money #HistoryofMoney #AustralianHistory #FYP ♬ original sound - Kieran.Wicks
THE ‘RUM’ HOSPITAL - 1811
Royal Mint, Melbourne, ca. 1875
Sydney branch, Royal Mint Macquarie Street attributed to Charles Pickering
Early illustration of Hyde Park and Barracks Sydney, 1842
1855 Sydney Sovereign
The 3 wings of Sydney's General Hospital on Macquarie Street adorn the ridge over the town of Sydney in this watercolour 'Sydney in all its glory', from the sketchbook of Edward Charles Close entitled Sea Voyage, Sydney, Illawarra, Newcastle, Morpeth, c1817-1840
Men pouring metal for coins into tubes at the Sydney Mint, Sydney, ca. 1920s https://nla.gov.au:443/tarkine/nla.obj-163352911
Man working with a rolling press at the Sydney Mint, Sydney, ca. 1920s
Man working a coin press at the Sydney Mint, Sydney, ca. 1920s
Equipment for weighing coins at the Sydney Mint, ca. 1920s
Man pouring minted coins onto a benchtop at the Sydney Mint, Sydney, ca. 1920s https://nla.gov.au:443/tarkine/nla.obj-163300831