1951 was the golden anniversary (50th) of the federation of Australia. A florin (known as the Federation florin) was released to commemorate the event. The obverse bears the usual Paget portrait of George VI while the reverse bears a design by William Leslie Bowles, a Victorian sculptor. His design was one of several considered by the Treasury department at the time for the coin. It depicts a sword crossed with a mace. Above the cross is what appears to be the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain while below it is the seven pointed Federation Star of Australia. Behind the crossed sword and mace is the Southern Cross (the constellation known as Crux). On the left of the reverse is the year 1901 and the right 1951 representing the 50 years since the federation of Australia.
Bowles used the depiction of the Southern Cross as used on the Victorian State Arms as the basis for his design rather than that on the Australian national arms. The Victorian design (and the Federation florin) has 2 seven pointed stars, 1 eight pointed star, 1 six pointed star, and one five pointed star. In contrast the Southern Cross on the Australian flag has 4 seven pointed stars and 1 five pointed star. A further issue with the design was the use of the Imperial State Crown above the Southern Cross, an arrangement again seen on the Victorian State arms rather than the Australian arms. The Australian crest should depict the Federation Star above the cross.
The coin is generally well struck but the usual consideration should be given to the King’s portrait. Namely strength of strike in the hair above the ear and the top of the ear. Wear is ikely to be apparent on the King’s eyebrow and cheek. Collectors of this coin shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one in uncirculated and choice uncirculated condition. At the time of writing PCGS had graded nearly 20 of these coins in MS65 with none graded higher.
The Federation florin contains 50% silver and is often traded for it’s bullion value. Today’s value can be determined on the The Australian Silver Coin Calculator. A nice collectable example could be easily picked up for around $10, a high grade third party graded example considerably more.
Obverse: George VI portrait facing left
Obverse Legend: GEORGIVS VI D.G. BR OMN REX FIDEI DEF
Reverse: crossed sword an sceptre over southern cross and Federation Star
Reverse Legend: AUSTRALIA FLORIN 1901-1951
Obverse Designer: Thomas Humphrey Paget
Reverse Designer: William Leslie Bowles
Composition: 50% silver, 40% copper, 5% zinc, 5% nickel
McDonald, Greg (2009) Pocket Guide to Australian Coins and Banknotes 16th Ed, Lavington: Greg McDonald Publishing and Numismatics Pty Ltd. 100.
Hanley, T. James, W. (1966) Collecting Australian Coins 1st Ed, Sydney: K.G. Murray Publishing 94.
Unknown. (2007). Unpublished Reverse Designs for 1951 Federation Florin on Display at Sydney ANDA Show. The Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine. 10 (4), 14.
Unknown, (1952). Chance to Correct Our Coins. The Advertiser, 26 July 1952. 5.