O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Northern Ireland Crowns of Elizabeth II


Introduction:

By the time Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1953, the crown coin was redundant as it was too big and heavy for loose change – so none circulated. It had become a purely commemorative issue and was only issued periodically. The ‘St George & the Dragon’ reverse design was also dropped – in favour of ‘one off’ commemorative designs.

Coronation Crown (1953)

1953 GB & Northern Ireland coronation crown. (The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin)

1953 GB & Northern Ireland coronation crown

Mintage
  • 5,962,621 (minted)
  •      40,000 (proofs)
Year 1953
Value 1 Crown (5 Shillings)
Metal Cupro-nickel
Weight 28.28 g
Diameter 38.61 mm
Thickness 3 mm

Obverse:

  • A portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II mounted on her horse Winston, dressed in her uniform as Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards and as worn by Her Majesty during the ceremony of Trooping the Colour
    • Legend: ELIZABETH·II·DEI·GRATIA·BRITT OMN·REGINA·FIDEI·DEFENSOR
      • EIIR (on either side of the horse)
      • FIVE SHILLINGS (underneath the horse)
    • Full Latin Text: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM OMNIUM REGINA FIDEI DEFENSOR
      • Translation: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of all the Britons, Defender of the Faith.
  • Engraver: Gilbert Ledward

Reverse:

  • Crown in centre of emblematical cross, formed from a thistle, rose, leek and shamrock. In the angles, there are four shields bearing the arms of Scotland, England and Ireland.
    • Legend: 19 53  (and)  EF CT
    • Engravers: Edgar Fuller and Cecil Thomas

Edge:

  • Plain with incuse legend
  • Legend: FAITH AND TRUTH I WILL BEAR UNTO YOU +

British Exhibition in New York Crown (1960)

1960 GB & Ireland - British Exhibition in New York Crown. (The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin)

1960 GB & Ireland – British Exhibition in New York Crown.

Mintage
  • 1,024,038 (minted)
  •      70,000 (proofs)
Year 1960
Value 1 Crown (5 Shillings)
Metal Cupro-nickel
Weight 28.28 g
Diameter 38.5 mm
Thickness 3 mm

Obverse:

  • Young laureate bust of HM Queen Elizabeth II right, legend around
    • Legend: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F·D·
      • FIVE SHILLINGS (underneath)
    • Full Lain Text: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM OMNIUM REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX
      • Translation: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith.
  • Engraver: Mary Gillick

Reverse:

  • The four quarterings of the Royal Arms each contained in a shield and arranged in saltire with, in the intervening spaces, a rose, a thistle, a sprig of shamrock and a leek; in the centre the Crown and in the base the date of the year, 1960.
    • Legend: 19 60  (and)  EF CT
  • Engravers: Edgar Fuller and Cecil Thomas

Edge:

Reeded

Death of Sir Winston Churchill Crown (1965)

1965 GB & Ireland - Death of Sir Winston Churchill Crown. (The Old Currency Exchange, Du

1965 GB & Ireland – Death of Sir Winston Churchill Crown

Mintage
  • 19,640,000
Year 1965
Value 1 Crown (5 shillings)
Metal Cupro-nickel
Weight 28.28 g
Diameter 38.5 mm
Thickness 3 mm

Obverse:

  • Young laureate bust of Elizabeth II right, date below
    • Legend: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F·D· 1965
      • Full Latin Text: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX
      • Translation: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith
  • Engraver: Mary Gillick

Reverse:

  • A sombre-looking portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, in a siren suit facing right
    • Legend: CHURCHILL
  • Engraver: Oscar Nemon

Edge:

  • Milled

 

Decimalisation:

In February 1971, both Ireland and the UK switched to a decimal currency. Ireland never issued a crown coin but, in the UK, the crown quietly became the 25p piece. It was still called a crown but it didn’t actually circulate. Technically, the 25p coin was ‘legal tender’ but this term has its limitations, i.e. it can be used to pay court fines but not circulate as a coin of the realm.

Note:

The Royal Mint has, apparently, been charging the public ‘face value’ for a base metal coin which has no transactional value since the 1950’s !

Over the years, the crown-sized coins increased their face value to £5 and the issue of what precisely ‘legal tender’ actually means was tested in a court of law when a British man tried to lodge significant numbers of these £5 coins into his bank account. The bank took the position that these coins are not cash and refused to credit his account to the amount lodged.

The Royal Mint were forced to admit their £5 coins had no cash value and have ceased describing their commemorative £5 coins as ‘legal tender’

Bank sold us £5 coins that aren’t worth a penny (The Telegraph, Aug 2014)

The ‘face value’ and ‘legal tender’ coins that you can’t cash in: Has Royal Mint been mis-leading special coin buyers? (This Is Money, Jan 2016)

 

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