March 9 - 15, 2014: Issue 153

   The Australian Florin – Worth More than 20 Cents to Collectors

               The Australian Florin – Worth More then 20 Cents to Collectors

The Australian florin was a coin used in the Commonwealth of Australia before  decimalisation. The florin was first minted in 1910, to the same size and weight as the United Kingdom florin. Florins minted from 1910 to 1945 were produced with a .925 sterling silver content, weighing 11.31 g (0.3364 troy ounces) with an actual silver weight (ASW) of 10.46 grams (0.3363 ozt). Florins minted between 1946 and 1963 were produced with a .500 silver content, weighing 11.31 g with an ASW of 5.65 g (0.1818 ozt). The florin was worth 24 pence, two shillings or a tenth of a pound. The coin was minted until 1963, with some years of omission. When Australia decimalised on 14 February 1966 the florin was equal to 20¢.

During World War II, between 1942-1944, florin production was supplemented by coinage produced at the San Francisco branch of the United States Mint. These coins bear a small "S" mint mark below the Australian coat of arms.

The image on the reverse of the coin was the Coat of Arms of Australia (except for commemorative coins). This comes in two forms, all with the kangaroo, emu and the shield containing the coat of arms. Those issued between 1910 and 1936 have a star above the Coat of Arms, and the Southern Cross within the shield. Those issued between 1938 and 1963 have the royal crown above, the six states represented in the shield and wattle plant as a background.

The word ‘florin’ comes from the name of a gold coin first issued at Florence, Italy, in 1252. It is also noted as: A guilder.  A British coin worth two shillings. Any of several gold coins similar to the Florentine florin, formerly used in Europe. The word is from Middle English, from Old French, from Old Italian fiorino, from fiore, flower (from the lily on the coins), from Latin flōs, flōr-, flower.

With the high percentage of silver in these coins you may think it worth selling them by weight but with silver around $21 per troy ounce, whereas gold is around $1300 per troy ounce, you would do better with the original gold florins. (One troy ounce has a little more than 31 grams in it.)

It is still the coin itself that will produce the most if reselling or keeping for investment. For example, a 1928 Florin, if in mint condition, will sell for around $1350.00 Australian dollars, or if it has been used and shows signs of wear, will sell from between $8.00 to $300.00.

A 1940 Florin could fetch up to $165.00 if in mint condition. The amount of coins distributed (8.41 million were minted for 1940 version) and the rarity are what drive prices higher. Earlier versions, like the 1913 Florin of which only 1.2million were minted, may costs up to $12 600.00 for one in mint condition, and for one in a less then ‘mint’ condition, prices range from $35.00 up to $2000.00.

Even the 1954 version will fetch $32.00 – a lot more than it’s ‘20 cents’ face value!

A few insights on florins from the pages of the past shows the florin was used as a special commemorative coin for events, just as our coins are nowadays, that social events as ‘florin Afternoons and Evenings’ were popular fundraisers while critiques of the florin, and its modifications, were subjects for discussion:

Melbourne. Friday.
Trades people have regarded with suspicion a new type of florin which has lately appeared in Australia. It is slightly discolored and lacks the ring of the Australian coin. This is one of the new coins issued by the British Treasury on a remodelled basis and  contains much less silver than the old British coin or the present Australian coin. The florin, however, is legal tender and worth its full face value. The silver contents of the new coin are only one-half, whereas the silver in the Australian florin represents 37-40ths of the metal.
Steps are being taken, with the consent of the Imperial Government, to reinstate, the system of gradual withdrawals without reissues. By this means Australian coinage will gradually again assume the monopoly of the Commonwealth circulation.
NEW BRITISH FLORIN CON REGARDED WITH SUSPICION. (1921, December 30). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from

Right: Reverse of the 1927 Australian florin commemorating the opening of the original Parliament House.Designed by George Kruger Gray.

THE CANBERRA FLORIN. The new florin being coined by Royal Mint in commemoration of the opening of Parliament. The head side , bears the King’s profile, and the- tail side an engraving of Canberra Parliament House. The design was kept secret for months. ~About 2,000,000 will be released simultaneously by banks on May 9.
THE CANBERRA FLORIN. (1927, April 5). The Register(Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 10. Retrieved from

CENTENARY FLORIN. Commemoration Coins Face Value of £7,500
CANBERRA, October 8.
Authority has been given by the Federal Government for the minting of a florin to commemorate the Victorian Centenary. The minting of the Centenary florin will be begun at the Royal Mint in Melbourne on Wednesday, and the Governor of Victoria (Lord Huntingfield)will strike the first of the new coins.
The issue of the Centenary florin will be limited to coins having a face value of £7,500.The florin will be the same size as the ordinary Australian florin. On its obverse side it will bear a crowned effigy of King George V., and on the reverse side will be a horseman carrying a flaming torch.
CENTENARY FLORIN. (1934, October 9). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from

We went to find out ‘why a horseman with a flaming torch’ and found one in mint condition currently for sale at AU $7,823.84 while even a version that has clearly been used will command $449.00. According to most reports the official Centenary symbol was a torchbearer mounted on a prancing horse.
Museum Victoria tells us: “ the alternative Name for this coin was Melbourne Centenary Florin. They were Issued to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Victoria (1834) and the foundation of Melbourne (1935). The coins were sold at a premium of one shilling to help finance the celebrations. 75,000 were struck, but at the end of the event 21,000 remained unsold and were melted. It features the centenary logo of an equestrian figure, slightly modified to fit the circular format of a coin (the logo was set in an oval)."

Some sources state Sales of the florins were so lack lustre that as the time of the final events approached in June 1935, just 15,000 coins had been sold. Mention was made in the Melbourne newspaper that “a local company has an option on 30,000” coins. The department store of Foy & Gibson distributed numerous Melbourne Centenary Florins in small paper pouches to their customers, and so it is thought this was the company referred to. - See more at HERE

The Torchbearer motif was used on stamps as well:
Centenary Stamps
Mr. C. B. Nicholson, deputy organiser of the Centenary celebrations, reminds citizens that Centenary stamps, which bear the official emblem, an equestrian torch-bearer, are on sale at Id. each at all news agents throughout the metropolitan area. They should be affixed to letters next to the usual postage stamp. The cost is so 'small that everyone can help the Centenary Council's appeal by small or large purchases of these stamps.
Centenary Sidelights. (1934, October 18). The Argus(Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 15. Retrieved from

Florin Evenings and Afternoons examples throughout the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s as a means for raising funds for worthwhile causes:

FLORIN AFTERNOON. A florin afternoon will be held tomorrow (Thursday), at  three' o'clock, in St. Peters’ Parish Hall, East. Maitland, In aid of the plain and fancy stall of St.. Peters’ bazaar. FLORIN AFTERNOON. (1924, August 13). The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939), p. 4. Retrieved from

FLORIN AFTERNOON-A florin afternoon, will be held on September 11 at the Church of England Girls Hostel. See advt. FLORIN AFTERNOON. (1943, July 16). The Charleville Times(Brisbane, Qld. : 1896 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from

AUSTRALIAN COINAGE DESIGN. INACCURACIES IN THE DESIGN of the Australian florin, which will be corrected in the new issue, to bear the effigy of King Edward VIII., and a reproduction of the Commonwealth coat of arms. The Federal Treasurer (Mr. Casey) said the design of Australian coinage was not one of which Australians should feel proud. Tentative designs had been prepared, but modifications were necessary before adoption. AUSTRALIAN COINAGE DESIGN. (1936, October 19). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from article30117658                                                                                                        

As you can see from our photo of the 1950’s range of Florins we own, this design was not modified. A small item in 1937 states the tail turning up was by design;
NEW FLORIN. The design (top) for the new two - shilling piece. The reverse side will show the head of the King without a crown. The proposed new coin is shown compared with the present issue. It will be noticed that the tail of the kangaroo on the new coin is turned up instead of down. NEW FLORIN. (1937, December 24). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 1. Retrieved from

The new florin, showing the Australian coat of arms.
"Handsome Coin"
"One of the most handsome coins I have ever seen," was the comment of the master of the Royal Mint(Mr. E. T. Clucas) last night on the new Commonwealth florin.
The first of the new coins was struck yesterday by Mrs. R. G. Casey, the wife of the Federal Treasurer (Mr. Casey). The reverse side of the design shows the new coat of arms, representative of all  the States, supported by an emu and a kangaroo.
Mr. Clucas said that officers of the Mint had been particularly pleased with the manner in which the design had been shown in bold relief on the coin. A feature was the detail of the design. It was a coin of which Australia would be proud. The obverse side of the coin bears the head of King George VI.
FLORIN PRAISED. (1938, February 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 9. Retrieved from

AUSTRALIAN JUBILEE FLORIN. This special jubilee florin will be in circulation about the end of this month. The Prime Minister- (Mr. Menzies) said last night that the Melbourne Mint was now producing the coins from dies flown out from the London Mint. The reverse (pictured) showed a mace and the sword of justice crossed against a background of the Southern Cross, surmounted by the Imperial crown, and including a seven-pointed star. The obverse showed the King's head as on existing coinage. The reverse design was the work of a noted Victorian sculptor, Mr. W. Leslie Bowles.  AUSTRALIAN JUBILEE FLORIN. (1951, November 22). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from

SPECIAL FLORIN The Melbourne Mint soon will begin producing a special florin to commemorate the Royal visit. SPECIAL FLORIN. (1953, December 24). Goulburn Evening Post (NSW : 1940 - 1957), p. 1 Edition: Daily and Evening. Retrieved from

Right: Reverse of the 1954 Australian florin commemorating the first visit of a reigning monarch to Australia, designed by Leslie Bowles.
The New Florin
Sir,-The Queen's head on the new Australian florin is the work of Mrs. Mary Gillick, and is that chosen by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, headed by the Duke of 'Edinburgh. The fault referred to by Mr. 'R. G. Howard ("Herald," June 16) does not lie in the design for the likeness to the Queen, but, I think, in the Australian reproduction of the design. I have before me an illustrated article from the English "Country Life" of November 28, 1952, showing (the new coinage. On the English florin the head is finely and deeply engraved, and is in every way a satisfying portrait.
(Miss) NORA KEMP. Hornsby.

The New Florin. (1953, June 18). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from

For their historic value, to teach young ones that sometimes twenty cents is worth more then twenty cents, to feel how heavy silver may be in the hand, it's well worth going back through your collections of old coins and seeing if you wish to trade any for a holiday or keep them for all the memories they hold in your hand.

Extras and Incidentals:

As stated above Australian currency was decimalised on 14 February 1966 and the florin then equated to 20 cents in the new system. This was not the first time decimalising our currency was discussed:

FUGITIVE NOTES. By L.L.B. Decimal Coinage. The Federal Parliament has no doubt followed the wisest course in merely adopting. the report of the Decimal Coinage Committee, leavingit .for the Imperial authorities to make the initial practical move towards a unification of our systemn of coinage. It is curious that Great Britain has for so long clung to the effete and clumsy systems of coinage and weight and measures, the latter of which are the pet aversion alike of the school-boy and the commercial man. The nations of Europe, as well as Canada and America, have long since fallen into line by adopting the simple and readily understood decimal coinage without suffering any of those regrets or inconveniences which are alleged against it by the advocates of our British. system. The Federal Committee reports strongly in favour menided to the House of Commons by the British Decimal Coinage Commission 50 years ago. Briefly put, the Committe advises that the existing coins from sixpence upwards be retained, though possibly .the half crown may have to go, as it is not needed; that the existing florin be divided into 100 cents., that the threepenny piece be replaced by a new coin worth 10 cents, equal to two two-fifths of a penny of our present money, and that for the, present- bronze coins there should be substituted three new ones, to be known as the cent, 2 cents, and 4cents. Thus we should have 100cents equal to 1 florin, 10 florins equal to-I pound. The great advantage of the suggested decimal system is .that, though it alters the smaller coinage, it leaves the larger untouched; and seeing that our external commerce is conducted on the basis of the British sovereign, any alteration in that direction would involve consequences too serious to think of incurring voluntarily. The experience of other countries in converting their coinage leads us to believe that the benefits of the new system would be speedily in a country such as Australia, whose- the standard of education is certainly higher than it was in the nations which introduced the decimal system a quarter of a century ago. FUGITIVE NOTES. (1903, July 10). Fitzroy City Press (Vic. : 1881 - 1920), p. 3. Retrieved from


Sir,-It is to be hoped that some consideration will be given to the interesting letter from Mr Barnard in jour today's issue
The report of the select committee appointed by the federal Government in1907 recommended that the Commonwealth adopt a decimal system of coinage and hat the sovereign, half sovereign florin shilling, and sixpence be kept in use. The value, design, and denomination of these coins might remain unchanged, but the new issues would show the new method of count. How easy the change would be-the florin or 100 cents is one tenth of £1, the shilling at 50 cents is half a florin, and the sixpence of 25 cents is one fourth of a florin. What difficulty there is lies with the coins of lower denomination The threepenny pieces would go the way of the crown piece. The four penny piece, and the four shilling piece and would probably have to be replaced by a new coin of the value of 10 cents one tenth of a florin The bronze coinage might remain as it is, but the pennies and cents would go to the florin instead of 24 and 50 halfpennies each 2 cents instead of l8 and lOO farthings, each 1 cent, msttid of 96 We need not trouble about the that thing which is seldom seen in Australia of the halfpenny, but the value of the ubiquitous penny would be ….
Decimals are well taught in our schools and advantage could be at once taken of the change. Practically all the world including Canada and America use decimal coinage only dear old conservative England and some of her dependencies adhere to the old system Progressive Australia is about to mint her own silver coins. Why not take the opportunity of making the change to decimal coinage?
ic, R. J. LARKIN,
Flinders-street, March 27

DECIMAL COINAGE. (1908, March 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 19. Retrieved from

This discussion went on for decades until, finally the new Australian coins were revealed.
You will see the fifty cent piece was originally round. Younger readers may not have ever seen a one cent or two cent piece:

First look at decimal coins
Australian wildlife motifs will be featured in the reverse side designs of the new decimal coins which will come into use in 1966, the Treasurer, Mr. Holt, said yesterday.
The designs, which all depict Australian animal and bird-life, are the work of a young Melbourne artist, Mr. Stuart Devlin. They will be carried on the six decimal coins -one cent, two cent, five cent, 20 cent and 50 cent.
The' value of each coin will also be shown on the tail side in large figures.
The obverse or head side of each coin will carry the year and the Queens effigy,with the simple inscription "Elizabeth II Australia."
The present coins carry the date on the reverse side and the inscription "Elizabeth II Dei Gratia Regina F D." on the obverse side. Probably the most controversial feature of the new coin design is the elimination of the inscription "F.D" (defender of the faith).
In the first coinage of the present reign in 1954 the lettering F.D. was omitted. This led to considerable agitation from some churches. The letters were replaced on the 1955 coins.
Mr. Holt said the Australian wildlife theme proposed by Mr. Devlin had been accepted because of the advantage of having each of the six coins as a "family" of designs.
The wildlife theme also had the advantage of providing a link with the two supporters of the Australian coat of arms – the kangaroo and the emu.
The motifs to be shown on the six coins arc:
One cent - the feather tailed glider;
Two cent - the frilled lizard;
Five cent - the echidna, or spiny ant-eater;
Ten cent - the. lyrebird;
Twenty cent - the platypus;
Fifty cent - coat of arms.! Mr. Holt said Mr. Devlin had done a remarkably
fine job in adapting his designs to suit the circular metal shapes of the coins and in making them an integral part of each coin.
Of the motifs on the existing coins, the coat of arms at present appearing on the sixpence and the florin would be replaced by a more accurate representation on the 50 cent piece.
The kangaroo on the penny and halfpenny would be given a new dignity and a more prominent appearance as a supporter of the coat of arms.
Mr. Holt said the sheep motif at present appearing on the shilling, and the ears of wheat motif on the threepence, would not be included. This was because the sheep was not a native of Australia and the ears of wheat would not fit in with the wildlife theme.
Both of these themes, however, would be prominently displayed in the design for one of the new decimal notes.
Mr. Holt said priority would be given to the production of the two bronze coins - the one cent and two cent pieces - as these would be the only two which would not have exact equivalents in the existing system.
Small-scale production of the one-cent coin had already begun at the Melbourne Mint and this would be gradually stepped up over the next few weeks.
The other coins would follow later, but it might not be until towards the end of 1965 that a complete set of new decimal coins would become available, Mr. Holt said.
First look at decimal coins. (1964, August 25). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), p. 1. Retrieved from

People have hoarded coins for their bullion value for as long as coins have been minted. However, the collection of coins for their artistic value was a later development. Evidence from the archaeological and historical record of Ancient Rome and medievalMesopotamia indicates that coins were collected and catalogued by scholars and state treasuries. It also seems probable that individual citizens collected old, exotic or commemorative coins as an affordable, portable form of art. According to Suetonius in his De vita Caesarum (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars), written in the first century CE, the emperor Augustus sometimes presented old and exotic coins to friends and courtiers during festivals and other special occasions.

Contemporary coin collecting and appreciation began around the fourteenth century. During the Renaissance, it became a fad among some members of the privileged classes, especially kings and queens. The Italian scholar and poet Petrarch is credited with being the pursuit's first and most famous aficionado. Following his lead, many European kings, princes, and other nobility kept collections of ancient coins. Some notable collectors were Pope Boniface VIII, Emperor Maximilian[disambiguation needed] of the Holy Roman Empire, Louis XIV of France, Ferdinand I, Henry IV of France and Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg, who started the Berlin Coin Cabinet (German: Münzkabinett Berlin). Perhaps because only the very wealthy could afford the pursuit, in Renaissance times coin collecting became known as the "Hobby of Kings."

In coin collecting, the condition of a coin is paramount to its value; a high-quality example is often worth many times more than a poor example. Collectors have created systems to describe the overall condition of coins.

In the early days of coin collecting—before the development of a large international coin market—extremely precise grades were not needed. Coins were described using only three adjectives: "good," "fine" or "uncirculated". By the mid 20th century, with the growing market for rare coins, the American Numismatic Association helps identify most coins in North America. It uses a 1–70 numbering scale, where 70 represents a perfect specimen and I represents a barely identifiable coin. Descriptions and numeric grades for coins (from highest to lowest) is as follows:

•    Mint State (MS) 60–70: Uncirculated (UNC)
•    About/Almost Uncirculated (AU) 50, 53, 55, 58
•    Extremely Fine (XF or EF) 40, 45
•    Very Fine (VF) 20, 25, 30, 35
•    Fine (F) 12, 15
•    Very Good (VG) 8, 10
•    Good (G) 4, 6
•    About Good (AG) 3
•    Fair (FA, FR) 2
•    Poor (PR, PO) 1

Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. While numismatists are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the exchange of goods. Early money used by people is referred to as "Odd and Curious", but the use of other goods in barter exchange is excluded, even where used as a circulating currency (e.g., cigarettes in prison). The Kyrgyz people usedhorses as the principal currency unit and gave small change in lambskins;[1] the lambskins may be suitable for numismatic study, but the horse is not. Many objects have been used for centuries, such as cowry shells, precious metals, and gems.
Today, most transactions take place by a form of payment with either inherent, standardized, or credit value. Numismatic value may be used to refer to the value in excess of the monetary value conferred by law, which is known as the "collector value."
Economic and historical studies of money's use and development are an integral part of the numismatists' study of money's physical embodiment.

First attested in English 1829, the word numismatics comes from the adjective numismatic, meaning "of coins". It was borrowed in 1792 from French numismatiques, itself a derivation from Late Latin numismatis, genitive of numisma, a variant of nomisma meaning "coin". Nomisma is a latinisation of the Greek νόμισμα (nomisma) which means "current coin/custom", which derives from νομίζω (nomizō), "to hold or own as a custom or usage, to use customarily", in turn from νόμος (nomos), "usage, custom", ultimately from νέμω (nemō), "I dispense, divide, assign, keep, hold"

Coin collecting may have existed in ancient times. Caesar Augustus gave "coins of every device, including old pieces of the kings and foreign money" as Saturnalia gifts. Petrarch, who wrote in a letter that he was often approached by vinediggers with old coins asking him to buy or to identify the ruler, is credited as the first Renaissance collector. Petrarch presented a collection of Roman coins to Emperor Charles IV in 1355.
The first book on coins was De Asse et Partibus (1514) by Guillaume Budé. During the early Renaissance ancient coins were collected by European royalty and nobility. Collectors of coins were Pope Boniface VIII, Emperor Maximilian of the Holy Roman Empire, Louis XIV of France, Ferdinand I, Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg who started the Berlin coin cabinet and Henry IV of France to name a few. Numismatics is called the "Hobby of Kings", due to its most esteemed founders.

Professional societies organized in the 19th century. The Royal Numismatic Society was founded in 1836 and immediately began publishing the journal that became the Numismatic Chronicle. The American Numismatic Society was founded in 1858 and began publishing the American Journal of Numismatics in 1866.
In 1931 the British Academy launched the Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum publishing collections of Ancient Greek coinage. The first volume of Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles was published in 1958. In the 20th century as well the coins were seen more as archaeological objects. After World War II in Germany a project, Fundmünzen der Antike (Coin finds of the Classical Period) was launched, to register every coin found within Germany. This idea found successors in many countries.

Numismatics. (2014, January 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved  from

Florin (Australian coin). (2013, December 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Researched by A J Guesdon. Copyright Pittwater Online News, 2014. All Rights Reserved.