The Australian Numismatic Society


Pre & Post Cook – the mapping of Australia, a numismatic perspective.
Peter Lane

For centuries maps depicting Australia have appeared on coins and medals although rarely if at all have they been studied by scholars. Perhaps this is because of their limited contribution to cartography as they mainly were used in a political sense or collectors and academics are simply unaware of their existence. All the pieces are scarce and some very rare.
Rather than telling the story of mapping and charting our coastline which has been recorded elsewhere many times I have focused on the circumstance why the coins and medals were issued. There are no catalogues on this subject. This article also records two associated pieces for the sake of completeness. The specimens date from 149 AD, when the concept of a southern land was first thought of and up to the mid-1820s when the world coastlines were virtually fully mapped. The specimens illustrated here are not a full listing of this topic but is a representative one.
The Examples

Antoninus Pius, bronze drachm, Alexandria Mint, Egypt, Year 12 of reign (circa 148/149 AD).
Obverse: laureate head of Antoninus Pius, facing right.
  Click on images for a larger version
Reverse: Egyptian shrine with two columns capitals of papyrus head, supporting rounded pediment, disk and uraei on; within a seated statue of Isis, right, wearing horns, disk and plumes, suckling Harpokrates who wears skhent.
Click on image for a larger version
metal: bronze
size: 33mm
mint: Alexandria, Egypt

A world map was drawn in Alexandria in 150AD and is known as the Ptolemy map after the cartographer Claudius Ptolemy who created it. This world map was the first to show a great southern land mass. This map was lost and rediscovered in Italy in the middle ages. Claudius Ptolemy would have used coins like this one as they circulated where he lived during his lifetime.

Drake medal (hand engraved) circa 1580
Obverse: Map of the western hemisphere, regions named latitude and longitude lines. Australia-Antarctica shown as one land mass and this mass is recorded as ICORNI STRAITS/COGNITA/TARICVS. The large island to the north is named NO. GUINEA. The map records the route taken by Sir Francis Drake when he circumnavigated the globe.

  Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: Map of the eastern hemisphere, regions named latitude and longitude lines. Australia-Antarctica shown as one land mass and this mass is recorded as TERRA AV/NVNDVN. Two small islands to the north of Australia are recorded as PETAN and IAUA MINOR (Java) . The map records the route taken by Sir Francis Drake when he circumnavigated the globe.
(Photo Courtesy, Dixson Library, State Library of NSW; ZDN/M1144a & b)
metal: silver
size: 68mm
engraver: attributed to Michael Mercator,  born circa 1565-1570, died 1600

Other contenders to have engraved the medal are Jocodus Hondius 1563-1612 born Wakken (Belgium) arrived in England 1584 left 1594 and lived remainder of his life in Amsterdam and 'F.G' a french engraver, possibly associated with Richard Hakluyt. The main argument in favour of Mercator is that one medal has his name on it.

The date of the Drake medal has always been circa 1580. I suggest it may have been created later perhaps 1584 to 1600, as the main engraver contender would have only been 10 or 15 years of age in 1580, and Jocodus Hondius only 17.

The Drake medal of which only nine are known was engraved to celebrate the first circumnavigation of the globe by Sir Francis Drake. Australia is shown as a great southern land mass, at that time still unchartered. The two islands that seem to be tucked in the Gulf of Carpentaria (not yet recorded by Europeans) are named Petan and Laua [Java] minor (the larger of the two and is thought to be Lombok or possibly Bali).

1669 Hesse-Kassel thaler
Obverse: An armorial shield with hat above, all seeing eye with JOHOVA in Hebrew above, ropes around the shield, Inscription around HEDWIG SOPHIA. V:G:G:L:Z:H:G:A:C:S:P:M:Z:B:W:V:U. REGENTIN  (Hedwig Sophia, By the grace of God, Landgrave of Hesse, born of the electoral line of the Margraves of Brandenburg, widow, guardian and Regent.)
  Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: A winged heart, sword cutting a cord from world, around rim DISSOLVOR ANNO 1669.
metal: silver

Princess Hedwig Sophia was born in 1623and was the younger daughter of George Wilhelm, Margrave of Brandenburg (1619 – 1640), and his wife Charlotte Elisabeth of Palatine-Rhine. In 1649 Hedwig Sophia married Landgrave Wilhelm VI of Hesse-Kassel and became his landgravine consort. She bore him six children and with the death of her husband, the Electress ruled for six years as regent from 1663 to 1669 for her eldest son William VII (1663 – 1670) who died without issue and was succeeded by his next brother Karl in1670.
1670 Charles II British Colonization medal

Obverse: conjoined busts of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza facing right, he wearing a breast plate and her draped. Around,  CAROLVS.  ET. CATHARINA. REX. ET. REGINA [Charles and Catherine king and queen]. 
 Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: a globe depicting all the continents; Antarctic and Australia (west coast only) joined as one land mass. Around: DIFFVSVS IN ORBE BRITANNVS 1670  [Briton spread over the world].
Metal: silver
Size: 41mm
Engraver: John Roettier 1631-1703, born Antwerp, arrived in England 1661.
Reference: Betts 44.
This medal may allude to the dowry brought with Charles’s marriage to Catherine, which laid the foundation of the British Empire in India or possibly to the acquisition of territory notably in North America and Asia.
Charles II (1630 –1685) in 1660 was restored as king of England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1670 he married Catherine of Braganza (1638- 1705). Catherine was born into the House of Braganza, the most senior noble house in Portugal which became Portugal's royal house after Catherine's father, John, 8th Duke of Braganza, was proclaimed King John IV, after deposing the House of Habsburg, in 1640.

Duchess of Portsmouth medal circa 1673
Obverse: Duchess facing right, around, LVCIA DVCHISS PORTSMOVTHEMSIS [Lucy, Duchess of Portsmouth]
  Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: Cupid seated, facing right, around, OMNIA VINCIT [[love] conquers all].
metal: silver
size: 28
engraver: George Bower (1664–1689)
mint: Royal Mint London.

This satirical medal commemorates the title of Duchess of Portsmouth having been conferred on the 19 August 1673 on Louise de Kérouaille (1649-1734). The Duchess was a mistress of Charles II of England. He gave her the titles of Baroness Petersfield, Countess of Fareham and Duchess of Portsmouth. Around 1675 she brought to Charles' attention a young Frenchman who proposed a solution to the longitude problem. While the Frenchman's proposal was ineffective, it led Charles to establish the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

1680 Queen Christina medal
Obverse: Head of Christina facing right, around:  REGINA CHRISTINA. On truncation: IH [engravers initials]
  Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: Eastern Hemisphere, around:  NE MI BISOGNA NE MI BASTA [I do not need it, it is not enough for me.]
metal: bronze
size: 36mm
engraver: Giovanni Hamerani 1649-1705
Mint: Rome
Christina was born 1622 in Stockholm and died in 1689 in Rome. She was queen regent of Sweden from 1632, abdicating her throne in 1654 and converted from Lutheran to Roman Catholicism later in 1654. She spent her later years in Rome and was a benefactor of arts. She is one of the few women buried in the Vatican grotto. Christina’s first cousin on her mother’s side was Hedwig Sophia of Brandenburg who issued the 1669 Hesse-Kassel thaler.

1684 Naples ducato
Obverse: Bust of Charles II bareheaded and draped bust, armored collar of the Golden Fleece, facing right. Around, CAROLVS . II D.G. HISPANIAR. NEAP. REX. [Charles II Spain, by the grace of god king of Naples.] Below bust IM [engraver’s initials].
   Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: A western and eastern hemisphere with a mace between, a crown above, with a ribbon above with the words, UNVS. NON. SVFFICIT. [one not sufficient] Below, AG/A. and 1684.
Metal: silver
Engraver: IM (John Montemein)
Mint: Naples, mint officers: AG [Andrea Giovane] and A [Marco Antonio Ariani]
Reference: Davenport 4045
This coin is believed to be one of the inspirations for the later pillar dollar of Latin America. Charles II’s (1661-1700) father died in 1665 and his mother acted as regent until she died 1696 due originally to his age then his mental incapacity, (due to inbreeding) and then he ruled in his own right until his death in 1700. His realm included Southern Netherlands, Spain’s overseas empire in the Americas, Naples and Sicily. The two hemispheres may allude to his territories around the world.

1769 Mexico Mint hemisphere dollar (8 reales)
Obverse: Crowned Spanish coat-of-arms, assayers’ initials and value on either side.
Latin Legend:  CAROLVS . III . D . G . HISPAN . ET IND . REX  [Charles III by the Grace of God, King of the Spain and the Indies] MF [Assayers initials] 8

Reverse: Crowned hemispheres, between crowned and banner-entwined pillars, all set on ocean.  Around: VTRAQUE VNUM [On both sides Unity]   [mint mark] I769 

Photo Courtesy Noble Numismatics, sale 92, lot 2774

metal: silver
mint: Mexico City

This specimen was struck the year before Captain Cook discovered the east coast of Australia. In 1813 New South Wales holey dollars were struck from Spanish dollars but only one is known to be struck from ‘hemisphere’ dollars. The hemisphere dollars were minted from 1732 to 1772 at Mexico City, Santiago, Lima, Guatemala, Bogotá and Potosi mints.

1800 New Century medal
Obverse: Angel on right holding a parchment with the word ERFAHRUNG [discovery] on it. A bearded angel with walking stick on left, another parchment below the other with the word AUSTRALIEN on it, a scientific instrument and books to the right. Around top, DIE BESTE LEHRERIN [the best teacher]. In exergue engravers name, C.I. KRUGER. F.
  Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: A globe with the words SACHSEN [Saxony]  BRAN [Brandenburg] BOEHM [Bohemia] all surrounded by sea, at base a plaque with ‘1800’. At top DAS SCHEIDENDE IAHRHUNDERT [turn of the century]
metal: silver
size: 40mm
engraver: CI Kruger
Mint: Dresden (Saxony)

This medal alludes to the future scientific importance of Australia as seen in 1800 by Germans. Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-1798), author and naturalist, who sailed with Captain James Cook, was appointed to a chair at the University of Halle, at the time in the Electorate of Saxony and the capital was Dresden where the medal was minted. This may have created the focus on Australia. Forster had translated, edited or reviewed many accounts of voyages to the Pacific including those of Arthur Phillip, John Hunter and John White.

1802 Peace of Amiens medal
Obverse: Bust of Napoleon Bonaparte wearing Roman costume, facing left. Around: INSCRIBED TO NAPOLEON BONAPART BY D: ECCLESTON * LANCASTER * On truncation J. HANCOCK.
Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: Centre, Eastern Hemisphere, with continent’s named, EUROPE ASIA AFRICA and EASTERN OCEAN (Indian Ocean) [Australia depicted but not named, and Tasmania and the mainland were joined] Around, HE GAVE TO FRANCE LIBERTY TO THE WORLD PEACE in small letters, MDCCCII
metal: white metal
size: 58mm
engraver: John Gregory Hancock
publisher: Daniel Eccleston
reference: Nobles sale 60, lot 985
The Treaty of Amiens ended hostilities between the French Republic and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in Amiens on 25 March 1802 and the truce only lasted till 18 May 1803. During this brief cessation of hostilities, on the 8 and 9 April 1802 Matthew Flinders and Nicholas Baudin meet off the coast of South Australia at Encounter Bay, near the mouth of the Murray River, and neither were aware of the treaty but they had documents to allow their ships to travel freely as they were both on an exploring and researching expedition.
Daniel Eccleston of Lancaster 1745-1821 was an enlightened radical Quaker and enthusiastic numismatist. The illustrated medal is scarce and not recorded in most major numismatic catalogues. This is not surprising as it is a rare medal; in England at the time there was little interest in acquiring a medal depicting Napoleon as a hero.  Eccleston also issued tokens and other medals and had a lifelong interest in Aboriginal rights. This attitude and interest in numismatics is reflected in one of his other medals that depicts George Washington in a suit of armour (a warrior) and an Indian standing with head downcast, with the words ‘THE LAND WAS OURS’.

Thomason’s large Hemisphere medal, circa 1820s
Obverse: A map of the western hemisphere, with numerous place names, latitude and longitude lines with degrees recorded around the edge.
Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: A map of the eastern hemisphere, with numerous place names, latitude and longitude lines with degrees recorded around the edge. Australia is shown as one land mass (no Bass Strait). Australia is recorded as NEW HOLLAND and locations named: VAN DIEMAN’S LAND (sic), BOTANY B., C. YORK, TRYAL ROCKS, SHARKS BAY, SOUTH HEAD and ENDEAVOUR STRAIT.
Metal: white metal
Size: 74mm
Engraver: Thomas Halliday
Mint: Thomason, Birmingham
Reference: Eimer 160/1139a
The engraver Thomas Halliday (circa 1780-1854) trained as an engraver at Matthew Boulton's Soho Mint before establishing his own business in Birmingham circa 1810 to 1842. He engraved dies for many token and medallion makers.
Thomason’s factory in Birmingham was established in the early 1790s and is well known for his inventions including a corkscrew he patented in 1802. In 1807 he added a medal and token department. In 1828 his workshop finished a series of sixteen medals on scientific subjects, including hemisphere medals. Of Australian interest it is worth noting that in 1817 he struck a series of Napoleonic medals for James Mudie and this venture proved to be a large scale failure. By 1822 Sir Charles Forbes and the Colonial Office gave Mudie and his daughters, free travel to New South Wales and a land grant

Sir Edward Thomason (circa 1769 – 1849) originally worked for Matthew Boulton before setting up his own business. In 1800 he became a founding member of the Birmingham Philosophical Society.
Thomason’s small hemisphere medal, circa 1820s
Obverse: A map of the western hemisphere, with numerous place names, latitude and longitude lines with degrees recorded around the edge.
Click on image for a larger version
Reverse: A map of the eastern hemisphere, latitude and longitude lines with degrees recorded around the edge. Australia is named NEW HOLLAND and VAN DIEMANS LAND [sic], and the location of Botany B [BAY] is named. To the north of Australia, Endeavour Strait is named.
metal: white metal
size: 51mm
engraver: Thomas Halliday
mint: Thomason, Birmingham

Refer previous medal for further information.

Matt Cupper, School of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne for information on the Drake medal.
Noble Numismatics, for supplying the image of the 1769 Spanish dollar: sale 92, lot 2774
(Photo Courtesy, Dixson Library, State Library of NSW; ZDN/M1144a & b)

Peter Lane is a Life member of our Society, Honorary Numismatist at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Past President and Secretary of the Numismatic Association of Australia, a numismatic expert examiner under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986. He has focussed his research on exploration medals, hemisphere coins and medals, convict love tokens, and British military medals awarded to those who served in colonial Australia. He has written a history of the AGSA numismatic collection which was published in 2017.  He can be contacted at

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6th June 2020