In 1954 the newly crowned Queen of England, Elizabeth II toured Australia in February. To commemorate this royal tour the Royal Mint branch in Melbourne minted a 50% silver florin using master dies and punches supplied by the Royal Mint in London. The obverse of the coin bore the bare headed portrait of Elizabeth as designed by Mrs. Mary Gillick. The reverse depicts a standing lion in front of a standing kangaroo with both facing right. The reverse was designed by Victorian sculptor Leslie William Bowles (who also designed the Federation Florin). The reverse design symbolised Australia (the kangaroo) and Great Britain (the lion) standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the lion in the foreground representing the ascendancy of Great Britain. At the time of release the coin elicited some criticism with some in the public considering it to be more akin to a zoo token than a coin. With the passing of time though most collectors currently accept it to be one of the more attractively designed pre-decimal coins.
This coin can be harder to find in better than uncirculated condition. This is for a few reasons. Firstly, the reverse design is rather flat and susceptible to bagging and scuffing. Secondly, the coins are very often found with planchet flaws which limit the grade. At the time of writing PCGS had graded one of these coins in MS66 and 15 in MS65. Collectors should look to pay $20-$30 for a nice uncirculated coin while a slabbed example in MS63 or MS64 may cost a few dollars more.
Obverse: Elizabeth II portrait facing right
Obverse Legend: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F.D.
Reverse: Lion in foreground, kangaroo in background, both facing right.
Reverse Legend: Australia Florin
Obverse Designer: Mary Gillick
Reverse Designer: Lesley William 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.
Unknown, (1954). Florin for Royal Visit on Issue. The Mercury, 23 January 1954. 8.
Unknown, (1953). Special Florin. The Courier-Mail, 4 December 1953. 1.