NGC Registry Updated NGC Registry

POLDAN - GREAT BRITAIN - A complete set of choice Victorian Florins .

Set Type: Florin, Victoria, 1849-1901, Circulation Issue
Last Modified: 11/11/2019
Views: 1843

Rank: 1
Score: 104210
Leading by: 93873
Points to Higher Rank: N/A
3    9   
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Set Description:

3rd December 2019
There was no update last year as my set did not change but I was fortunate this year to secure a top grade 1866 coin, a date seemingly much scarcer than hitherto believed. As usual, this appeared at Heritage, but as ever competition is so keen!
So my updated rankings are as follows :
SOLE 1st - 15 - -2
JOINT 1st - 21 - -1
SOLE 2nd - 4 - nc
JOINT 2nd - 10 - +3
JOINT 3rd - 3 - nc
TOTAL 53 coins
Although there has been little significant registry movement there have been a few remarkable additions including an AU58 1854 coin which featured in the Spink Firebird auction a few months ago, and another MS64 1863 coin has appeared to accompany mine.
There has been very little auction activity in the top grades although there have been a few PCGS coins in top grades appearing for sale at fancy prices which might or might not cross-over.
Certainly choice material is in very short supply but I remain hopeful of improving my grades further, but time may not be on my side. Perhaps, as that famous actor said, “ this is as good as it gets ! “
14th November 2017.

As at today’s date, my coins occupy the following places in the NGC Population Report, but I continue to strive to acquire better specimens, though this is becoming more and more difficult each year ; I have however managed to acquire a few more choice specimens during the year, but prices for earlier date MS65 coins are now regularly topping £1000 !
SOLE 1ST…..17 coins ( up 3 from last year )
JOINT 1ST….22 coins
SOLE 2ND….4 coins
JOINT 2ND….7 coins
JOINT 3RD….3 coins
TOTAL ….53 coins

Unto the Nation :
By the grace of God
From Victoria Queen of Great Britain
Britain's First Decimal Coin –


born 1848
died 1967,

a child before it’s time

The silver florin was Britain's first decimal coin and as such in very conservative times faced an immediate challenge in securing it’s place in the nation’s affections.

Following and influenced by the French Revolution, a European movement towards decimalisation developed. During the early part of Victoria's reign, the decimal question became an important social and political subject. In 1824 Lord Wrottesley's proposal for decimal currency was rejected by Parliament, and there were subsequently other reports and commissions in 1853, 1857, and 1918. In 1847 a motion was introduced in Parliament calling for the introduction of a decimal currency and the striking of coins of one-tenth and one-hundredth of a pound. The motion was subsequently withdrawn on the understanding that a one-tenth pound coin would be produced to test public opinion. Many trial pattern pieces were produced, and there was much debate about what new denominations should be introduced.

There was considerable discussion about what the coin should be called, with centum, decade, and dime being among the suggestions, before florin was eventually settled upon, partly because of its connection with old English coinage, and partly because other European countries also had coins of approximately the same size and weight called florins. A gold florin was first issued during the reign of Edward III in 1344 at a value of six shillings. The name derives from Italian, either fiorino (little flower) or Firenze (Florence), and was inspired by similar continental coins.

A proof pattern coin was initially struck in limited numbers in 1848 with varying designs and initially differing names such as centum as above for the denomination. Eventually, it was decided that a new coin, to be called the florin, could be easily introduced. It fitted easily into the existing monetary system, being worth two shillings (2/-), or one tenth of a pound.

It was produced in quantity for general circulation the next year 1849, but was unpopular at first because the wording "DEI GRATIA" or its abbreviation "D.G." had been omitted from the design. The obverse, designed by William Wyon, of the Godless florin has the inscription VICTORIA REGINA 1849, with Victoria's crowned bust draped left. The reverse was designed by William Dyce and is inscribed ONE FLORIN ONE TENTH OF A POUND - it depicts four crowned shields in the shape of a cross with a rose in the centre of the cross. The shield pointing north has three lions on it the shield pointing east has a single lion on it, south has three lions on it and west has a harp on it. Dividing the shields are a rose to the top left corner, a thistle in the top right corner, a shamrock in the bottom left corner and a rose in the bottom right corner The coin, with a diameter 28 mm and weighing 11.3gm, was also unusual in another respect - the queen, Victoria, was portrayed wearing a crown for the first time since the reign of Charles II. The "godless florin" may have also been minted in 1850 and 1851 with the date 1849.

It seems to be human nature to resist change; new coins and money in particular are always criticised when they first appear. I suppose most people prefer to be familiar with the money in their pockets. The translation from Latin means "by the Grace of God", and the new coin was criticised heavily for being "Godless and graceless", and is still known to this day as the "Godless" florin.

In 1851, the florin was redesigned in a most unusual way. The diameter was increased to 30 millimetres, and all the lettering on the coin was in Gothic script, resulting in it being known as the Gothic florin. The date was rendered in Roman numerals. The inscription on the obverse read (e.g.) victoria d g britt reg f d mdcccli ( F D – Fidei Defensor, defender of faith), while the reverse read one florin one tenth of a pound. The Gothic Florin was produced each year until 1887 (mdccclxxxvii).

So this new design was introduced, and in 1852 the beautiful "gothic" design, similar to that on the crown of 1847, was introduced into circulation, and it continued in production, with a few minor changes, until Victoria's Golden Jubilee year, 1887.The furore over the "godless" design almost sunk the florin but the new gothic design rescued and revived its chances of success.

In the meantime production of the halfcrown ceased to allow the new coin to become established. This was a blatant manipulation of the currency as the halfcrown was a very popular coin but after 1850 no further circulation coins were minted until 1874. The halfcrown mintages were never huge but those that remained in circulation saw much more circulation than might have otherwise been the case with the consequence that prices for all the early coins in mint condition are very high.

The Gothic series, which continued until 1887, is interestingly complex, with various numbers of arcs between the legend and the rim, and no less than 3 different heads, as well as die numbers on coins dated between 1863 and 1879. These die numbers are to be found on the obverse under the Queen's bust just to the right of her brooch, except for some dies of 1877 where it is to the left.

Rare dates include the following: 1854, 1862 and 1863 .There are scarce varieties of the 1852 and 1859 coins these having no stop after the date, and rare versions of 1865 and 1866 have a colon after the date. Subsequent dates in the 1870’s have different obverse features in particular the number of arcs to the perimeter. There are differences between different catalogues regarding the relative rarities of the varieties of 1877 and 1879 gothic florins. Spink mentions 38 arcs, another 39.

The third type of Florin is the Jubilee Head Type, it was struck from 1887 to 1892. The Florin was completely redesigned for Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Victoria's portrait depicted her as being much older and wearing her new much smaller crown. (this new portrait was ridiculed at the time as it was said it made her look like a penguin). The various flora were removed from the reverse and replaced by sceptres between the shields and a Garter Star in the centre The portrait was designed by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm . The obverse inscription reads "VICTORIA DEI GRATIA". The reverse was designed and engraved by Leonard Charles Wyon - it keeps the four shields but the national plants divided them have been replaced by sceptres, the reverse inscription reads "BRITT: REG: FID: DEF:" followed by the date (no longer in Roman numerals). The Jubilee Florin was made of .925 silver the diameter was again altered to 29.5 millimetres and it weighed approximately 11.3 grams. All the inscriptions were in Latin letters and Arabic numerals with no indication of the value.

The fourth type of florin was the Old or Widow Head Type, it was struck from 1893 to 1901. The coin was again a complete re-design the portrait was by Sir Thomas Brock it depicted Victoria as being much older and wearing a mourning Veil, the obverse inscription reads "VICTORIA DEI GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP". The reverse design was by Edward Poyter and both sides were engraved by George William de Saulles. The reverse shows three shields two at the top and one just beneath them, there is also a crown placed centrally above the shields. On the top left shield are three lions, the right shield has a lion on it and the bottom shield has a harp on it. In between the top shields is a rose, to the left of the bottom shield is a thistle and to the right of the bottom shield is a shamrock. The shields are circled by a garter, the inscription on the garter reads "HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE" it is in French and it is the motto of the order of the garter and loosely translated it means "Shamed be he who thinks evil ". The inscription round the outside of the coin reads "ONE FLORIN TWO SHILLINGS" with the date at the bottom of the coin. The diameter was reduced again, to 28.5 millimetres.

It is interesting to note the changing denomination or value mark on florins. On the first florin design, the "Godless", the value is shown as "One Florin - One Tenth of a Pound" indicating clearly its decimal connection. This description continued on the gothic design until 1887. By 1887 when the Jubilee design was introduced, the mark of value was entirely removed, presumably the florin had become such a familiar coin, that it was not considered necessary to remind people of its value.

In 1893, with the introduction of the "Old Head" design, the value mark re-appeared, but this time reading "One Florin - Two Shillings", and this was continued during the reign of Edward VII, even though a brand new reverse design had been introduced, an attractive Standing Britannia design.

In 1911, on the new coins of George V, the value "One Florin" remains, but the wording "Two Shillings" disappears. With the introduction of new designs for George VI in 1937, the wording "Two Shillings" re-appears, but the words "One Florin" were removed. This continued, not only during the minor design changes of 1949, but right through the introduction of new designs for Elizabeth II, until the very last florins of 1967, the last circulation coin, and 1970, the date of the last non-circulating proof coin

After 1967 a "10 new pence" coin was issued, identical in size and weight to the old florin or two shilling piece. In this way, the florin did indeed help to pave the way for Britain's decimalisation, although it did take 122 years!

As regards being a collectible item, the florin - besides being such a very attractive coin – had low mintages overall as well as the genuinely rare dates , but the denomination and the design itself themselves lead to a scarcity of high grade coins before their time. A rather flat coin with a great abundance of detail was handy, circulated widely but the detail wore off quickly- the details of the dress and the hair being the first to wear off on the obverse. Unlike many Victorian shillings and sixpences, the date on the florins is often very clear even when the coin itself is a wreck, which tempts many buyers.

My collection here is complete as far as dates are concerned. However, I am still looking, as all serious collectors do, at improving the quality further. When I received a World Set Award ( 2nd place ) for my florin collection in 2010 this was really thrilling and was hereby somewhat belatedly in writing very gratefully acknowledged. My points value then was 62230. However, there were then some gaps which after a struggle were filled in Autumn in 2013 with choice acquisitions of the 1862 and 1863 coins which are far lovelier in the hand than the photos suggest. These two coins are just so rare in mint state! I had been hoping to hit the 100,000 points mark that year but fell just short at 99,970 – however, I have now crossed the " magic " 100,000 points barrier but am still looking for affordable upgrades. The problem is that really choice coins ie MS65 and above are very rare and increasingly expensive.....

I have summarised the coin mintages below from which it can readily be seen that these are quite small compared to modern mintages. Given that many coins have been melted down over the years for their silver content it is perhaps surprising that mint state specimens are not valued more highly.

Date Mintage
1849 - 413,830
1852 - 1,014,552
1853 - 3,919,950
1854 - 550,413
1855 - 831,017
1856 - 2,201,760
1857 - 1,671,120
1858 - 2,239,380
1859 - 2,568,060
1860 - 1,475,100
1862 - 594,000
1863 - 938,520
1864 - 1,861,200
1865 - 1,580,044
1866 - 914,760
1867 - 423,720
1868 - 896,940
1869 - 297,000
1870 - 1,080,648
1871 - 3,425,605
1872 - 7,199,690
1873 - 5,921,839
1874 - 1,642,630
1875 - 1,117,030
1876 - 580,034
1877 - 682,292
1878 - 1,786,680
1879 - 1,512,247
1880 - 2,167,170
1881 - 2,570,337
1883 - 3,555,667
1884 - 1,447,379
1885 - 1,758,210
1886 - 591,773
1887 - 1,776,903
1888 - 1,541,540
1889 - 2,973,561
1890 - 1,684,737
1891 - 836,438
1892 - 283,401
1893 - 1,666,103
1894 - 1,952,842
1895 - 2,182,968
1896 - 2,944,416
1897 - 1,699,921
1898 - 3,061,343
1899 - 3,966,953
1900 - 5,528,630
1901 - 2,648,870
 Slot DescriptionGradeServiceScore
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