Coins of England and Great Britain

('Coins of the UK')

by Tony Clayton

Two Shillings

18 and 20 Pence <<-- : -->> The Half Crown

Values of The Two Shillings or Florin
Pictures of The Two Shillings or Florin

Quarter Angel

The angel, originally called an angel-noble, was a coin valued at half a mark (6s 8d or 80d) issued by Edward IV in 1465, and in addition half-angels (known as angel-halfpennies) and quarter angels (known as angel-farthings) were issued.

However, in 1544 Henry VIII issued a new version of the quarter angel in 23 carat gold valued at 24 pence.

The coins all have St Michael killing the Satan in the form of a dragon on the obverse, and a ship on the reverse.

By the time of Elizabeth I the quarter-angel had risen in value to two shillings and sixpence, and in 1600 was replaced by the silver halfcrown.

The Florin

In 1847 a proposal was put forward for decimalisation of the pound, with the introduction of coins worth a tenth and a hundredth of a pound. As a consequence a tenth of a pound coin was introduced to test public opinion.

The first coin, issued in 1849, was unusual in two respects. First the queen, Victoria, was portrayed wearing a crown for the first time since the reign of Charles II, and secondly because the coin omitted the Dei Gratia, or even DG in the inscription, so it became known as the Godless Florin. It's diameter was 28 mm.

The obverse of the Godless florin has the inscription VICTORIA REGINA 1849, with Victoria's crowned bust draped left. The reverse is inscribed ONE FLORIN ONE TENTH OF A POUND, with cruciform shields with rose, thistle, rose and shamrock in the angles and a rose in the centre.

The type was issued with only that one date (although scarce proofs exist dated 1848), and was superseded by the Gothic florin in 1852. In the meantime production of the halfcrown ceased to allow the new coin to become established.

The Gothic Florin had the same weight as before, but the diameter was increased to 30 mm. The lettering is in Gothic script. The obverse has the inscription Victoria d:g: brit:reg:f:d:, and the date in Roman numerals, a common source of confusion. The reverse is similar to the previous design but with a floriated cross in the centre.

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:

1851 (possibly worn proofs), 1854, 1867 with 1877 type obverse (probably date error mdccclxvii instead of mdccclxxvii). Scarce varieties of the 1852 and 1859 coins have no stop after the date, and rare versions of 1865 and 1866 have a colon after the date.

There are rumours of an 1887 coin with an 1886 type obverse, but nobody seems to know anyone who has actually seen one. Perhaps somebody just miscounted the number of i's at the end of the date!

There are differences between Coincraft's Catalogue and Seaby's Catalogue regarding the relative rarities of the varieties of 1877 and 1879 gothic florins. Spink mentions 38 arcs, and Coincraft 39. Certainly the one example that I have seen has 39, with two closer together than the rest.

In 1887 the new Jubilee Florin came out (those dated 1891 and 1892 are a little scarcer). These have the Jubilee bust on the obverse, inscribed VICTORIA DEI GRATIA, while the reverse shows cruciform shields with sceptres in the angles, FID: DEF: BRITT: REG: and the date.

The Veiled Head design followed in 1893. The reverse shows three shields within a garter. Those dated 1894 and 1901 are slightly more difficult to find.

Edward VII

The florin of Edward VII has a striking design showing Britannia standing on the bow of a ship. Most of this series are difficult in Uncirculated condition, and the date is so proud that worn coins often have it completely eroded.

George V

During George V's reign the design reverted to cruciform shields, with the alloy changing from 92½% silver to 50% in 1920.

The design was modified along with all the other silver denominations in 1927.

George VI

The reverse was modified yet again for George VI, and in 1947 a change from 50% silver to cupronickel was made. A further change in the design was made in 1949, removing the IND IMP.

Elizabeth II

There were two types of the florin issued during the reign of Elizabeth II. The first was issued only in 1953. The second, with a change in obverse inscription, was issued from 1954 to 1967.

It was superseded by the 10p coin in 1968 in preparation for decimalisation in 1971, when all florins were revalued at 10p.

The florin was demonetised along with the large size 10p coins on 1st July 1993 after their replacement by a new small 10p coin first issued in the previous year.


See my Main Coins Index page for acknowledgements


18 and 20 Pence <<-- : -->> The Half Crown
Main Index
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Values of Florins
Values of Decimal 10p coins.
Pictures of Florins
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Coins of the UK - Two Shillings
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v28 4th March 2015
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