O’Brien Coin Guide: GB & Northern Ireland Silver Threepence of George VI


Introduction:

In 1936, Edward VIII produced a stunning new set of designs for British coinage and, in addition to producing a new ‘brass’ threepence, his proposed silver threepence featured the three rings of St Edward on the reverse. Between the death of his father, George V, and his planned coronation King Edward VIII abdicated and his younger brother, the Duke of York was crowned in his stead.

1937 GB & Ireland Silver Threepence (Edward VIII). The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1937 GB & Ireland Silver Threepence (Edward VIII)

  • With a reign of 326 days, Edward is one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British history. After his abdication, Edward was created Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis in France on 3 June 1937, after her second divorce became final.
    • Later that year, the couple toured Germany. During the Second World War, Edward was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France, but after private accusations that he was a Nazi sympathiser, he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas – where he remained – out of sight, until the end of the war .
  • Albert, Duke of York subsequently became George VI. He assumed the regnal name “George VI” to emphasise continuity with his father (George V) and to restore confidence in the monarchy.
    • George VI’s silver threepence thus introduced a new design to that proposed by Edward VIII – the Cross of St George and a Tudor rose. Symbolism was obviously important at a time when the scandal-ridden monarchy were trying to distance themselves from Nazi Germany and their German ancestry.

Silver Threepence: George VI

  • Alloy: 50% silver, 40% copper, 5% nickel, 5% zinc
  • Weight: 1.41g
  • Diameter: 16mm
  • Edge: Plain
1937 GB & Ireland silver threepence (George VI). The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1937 GB & Ireland silver threepence (George VI)

Obverse:

  • Bare head of King George VI facing left
    • Legend:
      • GEORGIVS VI D:G:BR:OMN:REX
    • Full text in Latin:
      • GEORGIUS VI DEI : GRATIA : BRITANNIA : OMNI : REX
    • Translation:
      • George VI, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith
  • Designer / Engraver: Thomas Paget

Reverse

  • Saint George’s cross on a Tudor rose
  • The date is divided to either side of the main design
  • Legend above: ‘FID:DEF:IND:IMP’, and ‘THREE-PENCE’ below
    • Full Latin text: FIDEI : DEFENSOR : INDIA : IMPERATOR
    • Translation: Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India
  • Designer / Engraver: George Kruger Gray

 

Mintage & Market Values:

1937-45 GB & Northern Ireland Silver Threepence (George VI) mintage & coin market values. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1937-45 GB & Northern Ireland Silver Threepence (George VI) mintage & coin market values

Notes:

During the reign of King George VI, a new ‘brass’ threepence was introduced and circulation silver threepences was gradually reduced. Although approx. 371,000 silver threepences were produced in 1945, almost all of the 1945 mintage were subsequently melted down due to war time silver price inflation.

Only 1 threepence dated 1945 is known to survive !

Only 4 examples are known of the extremely rare ‘matt proof’ of 1937.

Silver threepences continued to be minted after 1945 but these were for Maundy sets and the reverse has a different design, i.e. similar to the reverse design prior to 1927 (when George V introduced his acorn & oak leaf design). These are often offered for sale as single coins and should not be confused with the usual circulating St George’s cross on a Tudor rose reverse design of George VI.

1946 GB & Northern Ireland Silver Maundy Set. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

1946 GB & Northern Ireland Silver Maundy Set.

Further Reading:

 

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