In 1934 the Melbourne Centenary Committee (MCC) entered into arrangements with the Commonwealth Government for the minting of 75000 commemorative florins to the face value of £7,500. Under those arrangements the florins were to be sold for 3/- with all profits going to a fund under the control of the MCC to offset costs from the celebrations. The coin was intended to be sold as a souvenir. The obverse consisted of the crowned effigy of George V and the reverse featured a torch bearer astride a horse and the words CENTENARY VICTORIA MELBOURNE 1934-35 FLORIN. This reverse depicted the official emblem of the MCC and the obverse was the first appearance of that effigy.ii
Authorization for the minting appeared by way of proclamation in a special Commonwealth Gazette on 8th October 1934. The first coin was minted at the Melbourne Mint by the then Victorian Governor, Lord Huntingfield, on 9th October 1934.
Despite optimism that the florin would be eagerly sought after by collectors as late as 5th May 1935 65,000 of the 75,000 florins minted remained unsold. This was attributed to a belief by collectors that the coin would be available at the face value of 2/- after the celebrations however the MCC determined that any unsold coins as at 30th June 1935 would be returned to the mint. However some respite became available on 14th June 1935 when a department store chain “Foy and Gibson Pty Ltd” purchased 30,000 coins to distribute to customers to celebrate the opening of the new store in Bourke St Melbourne although some were distributed to their stores in Adelaide and Perth.iii
Foy and Gibson coins were sold in small branded envelopes which also remain collectable.
There were also reports of other negotiations for the sale of a further 30,000 coins but there are no records of that sale proceeding.
In total 53,405 of the florins were sold and 21,595 were returned to the mint.iiii
Obverse: Crowned George V
Obverse Legend: GEORGE V KING EMPEROR
Reverse: Mounted equestrian holding a torch
Reverse Legend: CENTENARY VICTORIA MELBOURNE 1934-35 FLORIN
Obverse Designer: Sir Edgar B (Bertram) Mackennali
Reverse Designer: George Kruger Gray
Composition: Sterling Silver (92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper)
Diameter: 28.5 millimetre
Mass: 11.31 grams
ihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertram_Mackennal – Wikipedia accessed November 9 2013
iiThe Argus 11 October 1934 p10
iii 6000 coins were sent to Perth for sale at 2/- on the first day of their winter fair (8th July 1935). The Daily News (Perth) 4th July 1935 p 5
iiiiCamperdown Chronicle 9th July 1935 p 1.