Author Topic: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia  (Read 1017 times)

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Offline <k>

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Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« on: October 13, 2017, 04:26:17 PM »
On 1 January 1901, Australia became independent as a dominion within the British Empire. Her official title was the Commonwealth of Australia. At that time Australia still used British coinage.

Below you see the flag of Australia.

Offline <k>

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 04:47:20 PM »
In 1910 Australia issued the first coins of its first official national coinage: the sixpence, the shilling and the florin. The Australian pound was fixed in value to the British pound.

The common obverse of the coins carried an effigy of King Edward VII. The effigy was the work of English numismatic artist George William de Saulles. By now, only British coins were allowed to show the King uncrowned. This was done simply in order to distinguish British (or "Homeland") coins from the other coins of the Empire.

The abbreviated Latin legend on the obverse translated as "Edward VII, by the grace of god, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India." The phrase "All the Britains" refers to the other members of the Empire apart from Britain. This title was given to them by Britain in gratitude for their participation in the Boer War. It is of course a patronising title, and it fell out of fashion in later decades.

The image below is courtesy of Downies, the long established and well known Australian auction house, whose web site is well worth a visit.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 11:00:41 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 04:50:39 PM »
Each of the three denominations issued in 1910 featured the coat of arms on the reverse. Traditionally only the highest denomination of a coinage usually showed the coat of arms, so this was rather unusual. It was also somewhat disappointing, since three different designs would have been more interesting.

Below you see the reverse of the six pence. The image is again courtesy of Downies.

Offline <k>

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2017, 04:53:10 PM »
Below you see the reverse of the shilling. The image is again courtesy of Downies.

The arms are supported by a kangaroo and emu, two of Australia's most unusual and distinctive animals.

The Commonwealth Star (also known as the Federation Star, the Seven Point Star, or the Star of Federation) appears above the arms. It is a seven-pointed star symbolising the Federation of Australia, which came into force on 1 January 1901.

Six points of the Star represent the six original states of the Commonwealth of Australia, while the seventh point represents the territories and any future states. The original Star had only six points; however, the proclamation in 1905 of the Territory of Papua led to the addition of the seventh point in 1908 to represent it and future territories.

Offline <k>

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2017, 04:56:01 PM »
Below you see the reverse of the florin. The image is again courtesy of Downies.

Curiously, the coin is given a double denomination: ONE FLORIN - TWO SHILLINGS.

See also: Double denominations.

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2017, 05:00:14 PM »
The coins were all in 92.5% silver and were of the same size and weight as their British counterparts. Because King Edward VII died in May 1910, these first coins are one year types and therefore scarce and accordingly expensive.

Unlike Britain, Australia did not introduce a half crown. Its face value of two shillings and six pence was not considered helpful, and additionally Australia was already thinking ahead to the time when it could decimalise. A florin was one tenth of a pound, but the half crown, as an eighth of a pound, was not a useful denomination in a decimal system.

 
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 11:00:18 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2017, 05:22:42 PM »
In 1911 the final two denominations were issued: the halfpenny and the penny. Unlike the UK, Australia did not issue a farthing. The crowned effigy of King George V, which now appeared on the obverse of all the coins, was the work of Australian sculptor and medallist Bertram Mackennal.

The reverse design was stark and simple and was used for both denominations. Unlike on the silver coinage, the reverse legends included the words "COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA".

Offline <k>

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2017, 05:25:59 PM »
The penny.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 11:57:19 AM by <k> »

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 05:31:24 PM »

After the First World War, Australia briefly experimented with producing smaller halfpenny and penny coins, square in shape and depicting a kookaburra. For more detail, see: Australian kookaburra d and 1d patterns of 1919-21.

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 05:32:43 PM »
In 1926 Australia experimented with the idea of creating a new series of designs for its pre-decimal circulation coins. These unrealised designs were created by Royal Mint engraver George Kruger-Gray. For more detail, see: Australia: Rejected pre-decimal designs of 1926.

Offline <k>

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2017, 05:48:59 PM »
In 1927 Australia issued a commemorative florin to celebrate the opening of Parliament House. The reverse design was by English numismatic artist, George Kruger-Gray. The effigy of the king is by Bertram MacKennal. The coup is different from that on the circulation coins, making this a unique effigy.

This was the first of four commemorative florins to appear over the years. By contrast, Australia issued only one commemorative crown.

Images courtesy of Downies.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 11:23:45 AM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2017, 06:15:20 PM »
In 1934 Australia issued a commemorative florin to celebrate the centennial of Victoria and Melbourne. The reverse design was once more by George Kruger-Gray. English numismatic artist Percy Metcalfe provided a new effigy of the King.

Interestingly, this very same obverse was also used as the obverse of the first Southern Rhodesian circulation coinage, issued in 1932, and as the obverse of the first New Zealand circulation coinage, issued in 1933. However, in Australia this obverse and effigy appeared on this commemorative florin only.

Apparently the 1934 florin is also the subject of Chinese forgeries that can be hard to detect without looking very closely. My thanks to Martin Purdy, a former member of the forum, known as translateltd, for this information, and also for pointing out the other uses of the Metcalfe effigy.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 10:50:25 PM by <k> »

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2017, 06:28:06 PM »
King George V died in January 1936. The new king, Edward VIII, decided that the Dominions would henceforth be allowed to use the uncrowned effigy on their coinage, if they so chose. The Dominions considered that they were equals of Britain, even though Britain was first among equals, and that therefore they should not have to use the crowned effigy as the mere colonies were required to do. The crowned / uncrowned effigy had unexpectedly become an issue of status and to an extent, race: Dominions (ruled by people of British and European descent versus the colonies).

Edward VIII abdicated in December 1936, and no coins bearing his portrait were issued in Australia or anywhere else, though British patterns do of course exist. King George VI, however, decided to implement Edward's policy of allowing the Dominions to use the uncrowned effigy.

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2017, 06:28:56 PM »

This is Australia's only crown. This version, which is also found with the date of 1937, was originally minted to celebrate the coronation of George VI. Because of its popularity, and because the Australian treasury hoped it would become a regular circulation coin, it was minted again in 1938, though with much less success.

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Re: Predecimal coinage of the Commonwealth of Australia
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2017, 06:29:49 PM »

It is interesting to compare the Australian crown with this wreath crown, issued in the UK from 1927 to 1936. The reverse of both coins was designed by Royal Mint engraver George Kruger-Gray.