Author Topic: Legends on George VI coins  (Read 530 times)

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Offline andyg

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Legends on George VI coins
« on: July 25, 2021, 05:40:21 PM »
I was wondering why coins from George VI didn't follow a set pattern for the wording?
Why did some places include BR:OMN or FID DEF - yet others didn't?
Why did some use Latin, yet other English?
Maybe someone could add something further?

a brief search through Krause reveals the following,
Pre-1948
GEORGE VI D:G : BR:OMN:REX F:D : IND IMP
Australia
British West Africa (3d/6d/1s/2s)
Great Britain*
Jersey

GEORGIVS VI D:G : REX ET IND:IMP:
Canada
Newfoundland
Cyprus (Silver)

GEORGIVS VI REX ET IND:IMP
British West Africa (¼-½-1 d)
East Africa (Bronze)

GEORGIVS VI REX ET INDIAE IMPERATOR
East Africa (Silver)

GEORGIVS VI REX IMPERATOR
Cyprus (Bronze)
South Africa

GEORGE VI KING AND EMPEROR OF INDIA
British Honduras
British Guyana
Ceylon
Hong Kong
Jamaica
Malaya (Silver)
Mauritius (Bronze)

GEORGE VI KING EMPEROR
Fiji
India
Malaya (Bronze)
Mauritius (Silver)
New Zealand
Seychelles
Southern Rhodesia


Post 1948-
GEORGE VI D:G : BR:OMN:REX FID: DEF.
Australia
British West Africa (3d/6d/1s/2s)
Great Britain*
Jersey

GEORGIVS VI DEI GRATIA REX
Canada

GEORGIVS SEXTVS DEI GRATIA REX :
Cyprus (Bronze + Silver)

GEORGIVS SEXTVS REX
British West Africa (¼-½-1 d)
East Africa (Bronze + Silver)
South Africa

KING GEORGE THE SIXTH
British Honduras
Ceylon
Fiji
Hong Kong
Jamaica
Malaya
Mauritius
New Zealand
Seychelles
Southern Rhodesia

*Kruger-gray’s designs had FID DEF + IND IMP on the obverse.
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

Offline <k>

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2021, 01:16:56 AM »
So here we have the UK, the head of the Empire (and first among equals, with regard to the Dominions). Then there are the Dominions: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa. These were all self-governing. Southern Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) was only ever a British protectorate and never a Dominion. However, because 5 percent of its population was white, it was expected that it would become a Dominion, so it was always - anomalously - treated as a Dominion. It was therefore handled by the Dominions office and not the Colonial office. Nowadays Dominions are known as Commonwealth realms: self-governing countries under the Crown. Newfoundland was briefly a Dominion:

In 1907, Newfoundland became the Dominion of Newfoundland, a Dominion of the British Empire. Due to economic hardship in 1934 it suspended its self-government and accepted rule by a royal commission. Together with Labrador, an area on the mainland, it confederated with Canada in 1949 as the province of Newfoundland.

As for the rest, they were colonies. Nowadays British possessions, such as Bermuda and Gibraltar, are known as British overseas territories.

However, when we split these countries and territories into Dominions and colonies, we see that their coin legends do not reflect this division in any way. The Empire was not a dictatorship, and the 'Sinatra doctrine' was applied where possible: the UK let them do it THEIR way! So, they were evidently free to use different legends. No doubt each legend had to be approved by the monarch. The question then remains, who in the Dominions and colonies decided on the form of the legends? Presumably it would be somebody in the Treasury, in conjunction with the governors, whoever they might be. That is my guess.
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Offline <k>

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2021, 01:27:22 AM »
We see that many of these countries and territories used Latin legends, but many did not. Presumably plain English, as used by for instance New Zealand, was considered more modern. The UK was more traditional and stuck to Latin. As FosseWay often points out, English is not the only indigenous language in the UK (there is Welsh; Gaelic on some of the Scottish islands; and 0.2% of the Northern Irish speak Erse as their first language). Therefore Latin is used in preference to these four languages. However, in the UK, the denominations are shown in English only.

Even in the UK, however, we have seen various arrangements of the Latin abbreviations on the coins. After 1953, BRITT. OMN. was dropped from the UK legends. And nowadays, the form of the legend, or the order and/or length of the abbreviations, on the obverse of the circulating commemorative 2 pound coins is varied almost from year to year. So there is some leeway allowed in the legends and apparently always has been.
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Offline <k>

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2021, 01:29:38 AM »
As for where this topic should go, it would probably fit best in the UK predecimal board. There is no board for Commonwealth and/or Empire related topics that cover more than the UK as their subject, so in this case, the UK predecimal board is probably the best fit, since the UK was head of the Empire.
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Offline andyg

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2021, 06:08:09 PM »
Thanks ,k.
I was expecting some sort of pattern when I started out....!
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

Offline <k>

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2021, 07:36:47 PM »
It's interesting to see the legends compared in one place. It does show that more variety was allowed than we might imagine. I'm thinking now of our member africancoins and his knowledge of the Bombay Mint in Imperial times. Perhaps he knows how communications about coins passed between India and the UK?
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Offline <k>

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2021, 07:46:03 PM »
With regard to differences on the Imperial coins, I remember how at first the colonies and dependencies were not allowed to use the uncrowned portrait of the monarch on their coins. Then in 1964, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) asked permission to use the new Machin effigy on their coins. The UK government was unsure how to respond and therefore asked the Queen. She decreed that any part of the Commonwealth, whether a self-governing country or a dependency, should be allowed to use the new portrait if they wanted to. As a result, when the UK went decimal, Jersey and the Isle of Man were also allowed to use the same portrait of the monarch as the UK, for the first time in the 20th century. Guernsey still used its coat of arms and not the royal portrait at that time.

However, we see that from the mid-1980s onward that new uniformity began to disappear. The crown dependencies and overseas territories no longer felt they had to change their coin portraits in lockstep with the UK. Gibraltar is a good example of that. So once more, we do not really have a system. Instead, everybody does their own thing.
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Offline FosseWay

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2021, 03:30:27 PM »
I think it's pretty much as <k> suggested - a combination of the "Sinatra doctrine" (I like that  ;D) and the point in time when the colony/dominion in question started issuing its own coins.

There might be some other factors in play though. There's a parallel phenomenon to be observed regarding the use of crowned and uncrowned portraits in the period from 1902 until whenever a given territory stopped using the Gillick portrait of Elizabeth II. The UK and the Dominions use the uncrowned versions, while the other colonies and dependencies use the crowned ones. I'm sure I've read somewhere that this was the result of a conscious decision, the thinking being that the image of the crown would instil suitable respect in the natives in places where most of the population were not white and of Anglo-Saxon origin, whereas the "homeland" version was more suitable for use in the (white, British-dominated) Dominions. Sometimes there are anomalies, as with Jersey's use of crowned portraits.

That, as I say, was probably a conscious decision. To what extent there was similar conscious thinking regarding the legends I don't know, but it isn't too hard to imagine a thought process where a simple, explicit and fully written out legend "GEORGE VI KING AND EMPEROR" might be considered more punchy and more graspable by "the natives" than "GEORGE VI D G BR OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP", which even if you know Latin might be impenetrable.

Also, I'm not sure of the status of the title Fidei Defensor/Defender of the Faith outside England and Wales, or certainly the UK. It was granted by the Pope to a king of England (Henry VIII, ironically enough) and was then "repurposed" by said Henry to consolidate his position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. In other words, it's very much associated with the established Church of England, which only has that status in England AFAIK. It therefore may not be strictly relevant anywhere else - I'm not sure. Certainly Canadian coins, which do carry the monarch's titles in Latin, omit FID DEF.

Offline <k>

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2021, 03:42:38 PM »
Sometimes there are anomalies, as with Jersey's use of crowned portraits.

It's not an anomaly. Only the Dominions were allowed to use the uncrowned effigy, beginning in 1937. Colonies and dependencies were still required to use the crowned effigy. Jersey was and is a crown dependency - not a Dominion or Commonwealth realm.
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Offline FosseWay

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2021, 03:53:28 PM »
It's not an anomaly. Only the Dominions were allowed to use the uncrowned effigy, beginning in 1937. Colonies and dependencies were still required to use the crowned effigy. Jersey was and is a crown dependency - not a Dominion or Commonwealth realm.

OK - a better example of an anomaly is the use of the uncrowned portrait of Edward VII on Indian coins. But I do find it somewhat odd that Jersey should be forced to use the crowned portraits, when Guernsey didn't use any whatsoever!

Offline <k>

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2021, 03:59:56 PM »
If Jersey WANTED to use a royal portrait at all, it was required to use the crowned one. However, it did not have to use a royal portrait if it did not want to. It could have followed Guernsey's example, had it wanted to.
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Offline Mister T

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Re: Legends on George VI coins
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2021, 01:43:12 AM »
The British ones are different because parts of the legend on the reverse.

With regards to English vs Latin - the first Australian pattern had an English legend (see https://www.coincuriosity.com/view/1909-australian-pattern-florin.html) but I'm sure I read somewhere about negotiations to use Latin (as Australia ultimately did).