Australian Silver Shillings

Posted by on November 12, 2012
SC AUS 1912 Australian 1 Silver Shilling obverse 300x290 Australian Silver Shillings

1912 Australian 1 Silver Shilling - obverse

Australian Silver Shillings has two different silver contents.  The shillings struck from 1910 through 1944 are sterling silver or 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper and contain a total of 0.1680 troy ounces of silver.  Then the silver shillings minted in 1946 through 1963 are 50% silver with an alloy of 40% copper, 5% nickel and 5% zinc.  These 50% silver shillings contain a total of 0.0908 troy ounces of silver.  All of Australia’s silver shillings are 23.5 millimeters in diameter, have a gross weight of 5.65 grams, and have a milled reeded edge.  One shilling was worth 12 pence and 20 shillings equal to one pound sterling before the United Kingdom adopted its current decimal system currency.

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Australia’s coins were initially minted in London at the Royal Mint with the private mint in Heaton taking up the slack in production.  All of the coins struck in the Heaton mint have an “H” mint mark under the coins’ date.  The first Australian coins minted in Australia were struck in 1916.  All four silver denominations were struck that year by the Royal branch mint in Melbourne which had just opened.  It was not until 1921 that the Sydney’s mint started minting Australia’s silver coins.

The Australian shilling’s obverse has the UK’s customary design.  The Monarch’s head or bust portrait is facing either right or left alternating from reign to reign.  Their title is the legend, encircling their profile, and running along the coin’s rim.

SC AUS 1912 Australian 1 Silver Shilling reverse 300x293 Australian Silver Shillings

1912 Australian 1 Silver Shilling - reverse

There were two reverse designs used.  The first was used from 1910 through 1936 and has the Australian coat of arms in the center with a seven point star above it.  “ONE SHILLING” arches above the central design along the coins upper rim.  A kangaroo is on the left side of the coat of arms and an emu is on the right.  A flat landscape is in the background and a ribbon scroll is under this with the inscription “ADVANCE AUSTRALIA” in smaller lettering.  Under the ribbon is the date along the rim with the mint mark under everything.  There are fleur-de-lis on either side of the date facing away from the date.

The second reverse design was used from 1938 through 1963 has the Australian Merino Sheep’s head on it with “AUSTRALIA” arching along the top rim.  Along the lower rim is “SHILLING-” and the date.  There is a seven pointed star on either side of the coin along its central axis.

SC AUS 1943 S One Silver Shilling 300x145 Australian Silver Shillings

1943 S Australia 1 Silver Shilling

For various reasons there were no shillings issued in Australia for the years; 1919, 1923, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1937, 1945, 1947, 1949, and 1951.  There are a couple of pattern shillings that were struck in 1937 and never released.  As a matter of fact the only coin minted in 1937 by Australia’s mints was the new silver crown.  King George V had passed in 1936 and Australia’s mints were preoccupied with revising their coin designs to commemorate his first son’s, Edward VII, ascension to the throne.

However Edward was planning to marry an American, Mrs. Wallis Simpson, who was divorced, remarried, and in the process of getting a second divorce.  Edward’s decision to continue his relationship with Mrs. Simpson raised objections from the Church of England due to its policy against divorcees remarrying when their ex-spouses are still alive.  Also the Prime Ministers of England and the Commonwealths had constitutional concerns that led to their objections.  Edward VII abdicated and his younger brother George VI was crowned King.  It was during this period that Australia had replaced the coat of arms on the reverse of their coinage with various native animals.  The shilling’s reverse was changed in 1937 and from 1938 through 1963 the head of a Merino sheep was used.

SC AUS 1958 Australian 1 Silver Shilling obverse 300x296 Australian Silver Shillings

1958 Australian 1 Silver Shilling obverse

During World War II Australia had some of their coins minted in the United States and from 1942 through 1944 the US mint in San Francisco minted Shillings with a “S” mint mark on them.  In 1946 the silver content was reduced to 50% in order to help back off the war debt.  In 1947 India was granted its independence and in 1950 “IND IMP” was removed from the obverse title of King George VI’s title and the “F.D.” was extended to “FIDEI DEF” (defender of the faith).

Queen Elizabeth II took the throne in 1953 and neither “F.D.” nor “FIDEI DEF” appeared on her coins in 1953 and 1954.  This caused quite a stir and “F: D:” was added to her legend.  Silver was dropped from all of Australia’s circulating shilling coins after 1963.

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