Queenstowner Doug Brinsmead marvels at a silver coin dated 1844 found while gold-panning on the Shotover River at Arthurs Point.
“I thought I had a mercury battery in the pan. Then when I had a closer look, being a coin collector, I recognised it was an English threepence.”
Brinsmead, 72, speculates it was lost by a goldminer during the 1860s goldrush: “Whilst threepence, or two-and-a-half cents in decimal value, may seem a minute amount nowadays, it would have been a substantial amount 170 years ago – probably enough for a day’s food.”
Brinsmead says the silver coin would be worth $30 to $50 nowadays – “but for historical value, a lot more”.
About 30 years ago he also found an 1868 English threepence in a river in Eastern Victoria while gold-fossicking in his native Australia.