Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Lottery Win

Inspired by my discoveries last week in the expanded collection of Illawarra newspapers available on Trove, I have been search for other people who resided in the area. I found a little article which mentioned the younger sister of Alice Halsey the child bride from an earlier post.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW 1842 - 1954) Tuesday 8 November 1910 page 11 article15165214-7-001

Carrie was the 13 year old witness to her sister's marriage in 1880, and married herself three years later to David Owen. Here she is, the wife of a miner winning the Eight Hour Art Union prize. A tiara valued at £500.

I wonder what she thought. Did she wear it ? Did they keep it ? If they did, does the family still have it ? Or did they sell it ? Did it make a change to their lives ?

I learned something else, as I researched this post. In 1910 the Labor Government introduced a national currency to Australia. Up until then it had been made up of all sorts. The private banks had issued paper money denominated in pounds as far back as 1817. Earlier than that foreign currency was used, or goods were traded - rum being acceptable currency. Australia's first coinage was issued in 1813 in New South Wales by punching out the middle of a Spanish dollar. This produced two coins. The holey dollar was worth five shillings sterling, and the dump (the piece from the middle) one shilling and three pence. They were only able to be used in New South Wales. Pound coins, sovereigns and half sovereigns came later. In the lead up to Federation the currency in the colonies was made up of British silver and copper coins, Australian minted sovereigns (worth £1), half sovereigns, locally minted copper trade tokens (although these were suppressed by 1881) and private bank notes. Wikipedia has lots more information about this.

I found an article about the new money on Trove in The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 2 December 1910, page 6. It is quite wordy, so I have just used the link instead of the whole article.

The new national currency was based on an Australian pound, made up of 20 shillings, and each shilling made up of 12 pence. It was fixed, as it had been since colonisation, to the value of British sterling; so pound for pound. The Reserve Bank of Australia has a great inflation calculator on their website. According to their calculation with inflation £500 would be worth $AUD61783 today. This doesn't take into account what the mineral worth of a piece of jewellery such as this might be though. 

Still I daresay for a most of us today, an extra $60K would be a welcome windfall. I imagine it could have made quite a difference to  Carrie's family. Sadly she passed away only five years later. I hope if she kept it, that it was handed on to her only surviving daughter Ethel.

This post forms part of Trove Tuesday as suggested by Amy, from Branches, Leaves & Pollen .

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