An Important Group of Ephemera relating to Thomas Graham, Master of the Mint

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Date of Auction: 4th December 2019

Sold for £800

Estimate: £200 - £300

ALS from William Gladstone at 11 Downing Street, London, 25 November 1862, to Thomas Graham, Esq, regarding Queen Victoria’s approval of coins for Hong Kong, 1pp. Very fine; in a marbled paper holder £200-£300


The text reads: “My Dear Sir, Her Majesty has been pleased to approve of the Coins proposed for the Colony of Hong Kong. Very faithfully yours, W. Gladstone.”

Because of the difficulties of integrating the British Imperial sterling system with the local standard, based on the Mexican dollar and used as the basis for trade with China, Hong Kong decided to adopt the latter as legal tender throughout the colony in 1861. The Royal Mint was authorised to prepare designs for the three smallest denominations, a silver 10 cents, bronze 1 cent and bronze 1 mil. A number of patterns were prepared in 1862, coupling Wyon’s head of the Queen in uncrowned (British) and crowned (Indian) forms with reverses in a mix of British and Chinese characters. The approved designs to which Gladstone’s letter refers were authorised by an Order in Council on 9 January 1863 and struck at the Mint; it was not until April 1863 that permission was granted for the erection of a branch mint in the colony, which itself proved to be a financial failure