Bill of Exchange addressed to John Madden Esq in London signed over by David Collins

Bill of Exchange to John Madden in London signed over by David Collins…
Bill of Exchange addressed to John Madden Esq in London signed over by David Collins

Sydney: 19 March 1795.

Quarto, single leaf, 2pp., manuscript in ink on paper.

Rare and early Bill of Exchange signed by David Collins

An ephemeral example of the emerging New South Wales economy with a rare association. David Collins' own account of the new settlement (An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, 1798/1802) described in detail the ad hoc and haphazard method of payments that arose in the wake of the British Government's establishment of a remote penal settlement. As Judge Advocate, Collins was in a unique position to observe the difficulties associated with the shortage of any form of standard currency: Spanish coins (or any foreign currency when available), barter (notably rum), promissory notes and bills of exchange -- all were used. Later, as Lieutenant Governor of Tasmania, Collins was expected to meet the pay of superintendents and overseers from the proceeds of goods sent to the Hobart Commissariat for barter, and finding this impossible, ventured to issue "Colonial notes". It was not until the arrival of Macquarie and the creation of the Bank of New South Wales in 1817 and, after his departure, of the dollar standard, that a colonial monetary system along English lines was formalised.

An ephemeral example of the emerging New South Wales economy with a rare association. David Collins' own account of the new settlement (An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, 1798/1802) described in detail the ad hoc and haphazard method of payments that arose in the wake of the British Government's establishment of a remote penal settlement. As Judge Advocate, Collins was in a unique position to observe the difficulties associated with the shortage of any form of standard currency: Spanish coins (or any foreign currency when available), barter (notably rum), promissory notes and bills of exchange -- all were used. Later, as Lieutenant Governor of Tasmania, Collins was expected to meet the pay of superintendents and overseers from the proceeds of goods sent to the Hobart Commissariat for barter, and finding this impossible, ventured to issue "Colonial notes". It was not until the arrival of Macquarie and the creation of the Bank of New South Wales in 1817 and, after his departure, of the dollar standard, that a colonial monetary system along English lines was formalised.

The monetary history of the Colony tracked broader social development and this Bill of Exchange narrates its early beginnings. 'Apart from Commissary's and Paymaster's bills the available foreign exchange was limited to the scanty coin and few private bills. Private bills could only be drawn by those who had credit balances in London, that is, mainly the military and civil officers, and the rare settlers who had left balances behind them'. Collins, with a stroke of his pen, was one of these. These instructions to pay him, signed by "Thos. Smyth" (perhaps a First Fleet marine later recorded as a storekeeper and merchant; see Gillen, The Founders of Australia) is made to John Madden Esq. in London. On the verso, in Collins' hand, are the words, "Pay the within Contents to - Charles Cox, Esq": perhaps the same Cox of whom William Balmain cast aspersions in a letter to D'Arcy Wentworth in 1802 " Beware of Cox's bills—Treasury ones are good, send as many of Cox's to pay merchants as you like, but none on private account". [See Butlin, Foundations of the Australian Monetary System].

A particularly early private Bill of Exchange and a rare example of Collins' signature.

Provenance: Private collection (Sydney).

Price (AUD): $6,400.00  other currencies     Ref: #4504547

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