2019 marks the 170th anniversary of the Florin – a coin with a fascinating history, first issued during the reign of Queen Victoria in 1849.
Whilst you certainly wouldn’t recognise it as a 10p nowadays, it was actually Britain’s very first decimalised coin, with a value one tenth of a pound.
This experiment in decimalisation didn’t take off for almost another 120 years when the 5p and 10p coins were issued, however the Florin remained in circulation until 1970 when a final edition was issued for collectors.
The Godless Florin
For hundreds of years, right up until the present day, Britain’s coinage has been diligently pious, featuring a range of different Latin inscriptions, but almost all coins feature the full text, or an abbreviation of, ‘Dei Gratia, Fidei Defensor’ – ‘by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith’.
All coins that is, except the original Florins issued in 1849…
The introduction of these Florins was met with immediate outcry from the strongly religious Victorians of the time and the coin gained the nickname ‘the Godless florin’.
It was even suggested that an outbreak of cholera that year was the act of a vengeful God, visiting death upon the British population as revenge for leaving Him off the new coin!
Queen Victoria herself even complained and coin was replaced, meaning that to this day, the 1849 Florin is one of the most infamous coin designs in British numismatic history.
The Gothic Silver Florin
In 1851, a new Florin was introduced, known as the ‘Gothic Florin’.
The coin earned its name from the distinctive Gothic-style inscription on the obverse side, surrounding the shields of the United Kingdom.
The inscription featured a combination of upper and lower-case letters and Roman Numerals to signify the date, which are both very unusual features for a British coin.
Another irregularity with this coin was the crowned portrait of Queen Victoria, which would have been highly unusual to the public at the time, as this was the first coin to feature a crowned monarch for over 200 years.
The ‘Barmaid’s Ruin’ Florin
A second attempt to introduce decimal currency occurred in 1887 when the double Florin was issued, valued at 1/5 of a pound.
This coincided with the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, yet despite the joyful occasion, for many the coin was an unwanted addition to British currency and it did not receive a warm welcome from the public.
The real reason for its introduction is disputed, nevertheless it became Britain’s second ‘decimal’ coin, just 2mm smaller in diameter than the familiar Crown, yet worth a shilling less.
The unintended consequence was that the coin was often passed off as a Crown, with naïve barmaids apparently being the most susceptible to the deception.
It’s even been suggested that more than a few barmaids lost their livelihood on the grounds that they were losing the tavern owners money, hence the nickname ‘Barmaid’s Ruin’.
Creating the Gothic Head
The ‘Gothic Head’ featured on the Florin was first produced in 1847 by Royal Mint chief engraver, William Wyon, following the success of his ‘Young Head’ portrait.
Young Queen Victoria can be seen wearing an ornate crown, with a loose braid in her hair – the first time since the coins of Charles II that a monarch had been shown wearing a crown on British coinage.
Inspired by the revival of Gothic style throughout Victorian Britain, the new design also featured gothic style text used for the inscription .
The Gothic style influenced every aspect of Victorian life, from architecture, literature, clothing and coinage.
Even today, the gothic style can still be seen in British architecture, such as the Natural History Museum and the many Victorian churches that still stand today.
Do you have any Florins in your collection and what do you think about their gothic designs?
Own a collector’s favourite – The ‘Gothic’ Silver Florin
The Gothic Florin is a firm favourite with British coin collectors for its originality, and unique style. However, our stock of this classic coin is limited so please don’t delay your reservation!
Have you heard about the Change Checker Community?
At the start of this year, we created a Facebook group for like-minded change collectors to share, learn & swap with one another, as well as providing a forum for discussion to stay up to date with all the latest from the world of coin collecting.
It’s been great to see so many of you become active members of the Community and I hope you’re enjoying the experience of using our Facebook group.
When it comes to swapping, the Community has become a great tool to help collectors build their collection.
You can find the Change Checker Community by searching for us on Facebook, or by looking on the left hand side of our main Change Checker Facebook page and going to ‘Groups’:
Our excellent team of group moderators made up of avid Change Checkers – Candice Clews, Claire Wade and Ivan Dinev – are on hand to help with any questions you might have about the group, and I’ll be there too if you want to say hi!
I look forward to seeing you there!
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The UK’s incredibly popular Paddington 50p coins are to be followed up by two brand new 2019 coins.
According to the Royal Proclamation, published on 11th April, there will be two new Paddington coins released this year.
The designs are suggested to depict Paddington Bear outside the White Tower at the Tower of London and Paddington Bear outside St Paul’s Cathedral.
It’s expected the coins will be issued later this year with commemorative collector’s editions available in cupro-nickel, Silver and Gold being made available.
Paddington’s journey continues for 2019!
Straight from the darkest Peru, Paddington made his way to the London, and in June 2018 was spotted sat on his suitcase beside the trains at Paddington Station.
Later that year the bear was back, this time proudly waving a Union Jack Flag outside Buckingham Palace.
His journey around London now continues as a new 50p coin is set to mark his latest adventures!
The next 50p collecting craze?
Although all the details have not been released yet and the actual designs are still top secret, following the popularity of last year’s coins, it seems likely that the latest Paddington 50p coin will be a real hit with the British public.
Stay up to date with all the latest Paddington news…
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