In 1951 the Royal Mint in London produced 40,000,000 threepence
for Australia. This London variety can be distinguished from 1951 Melbourne
Mint variety by a 'PL' mint-mark, abbreviated from pecunia londinii (money of London) or percussa londinio (struck
'PL' mint-mark on a 1951-PL Threepence.
The variety is by far the most common threepence of the Type II George VI series due to the large initial
mintage. While the coin is always very
well struck up, the surfaces are often bagged due to the rough shipping process from London to Australia. Consequently, grades
above MS64 can be quite scarce even though the coin is often given a Gem or FDC grading in Australia, microscopic hairlines
typically result in a grading of around MS63 to MS64. Due to the coin being well struck up and the general unfamiliarity
many collectors have with grading George VI Commonwealth coins, one must be extra careful in differentiating a dipped circulated
piece with a mint state coin.
London struck this extremely large
to rectify a shortage of threepence around Australia. This shortage was hard to explain and proved a major nuisance for
the deputy master and controller of the Royal Mint.
(The Age, 1951)
A number of Australian newspapers wrote about the 'Mystery of the Threepenny Bits' after the Royal Mint released a report
stating that - "In the last 30 months 60 million threepence and a similar number of pennies have been absorbed in circulation... This amazing requirement by a population of about eight million has not yet been satisfactorily explained and still continues."
(Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 1951)
It is theorised that the vanishing of threepence is due to a habit in Australia to save them in bottles and not circulate
'Threepenny Bits Baffle Mint Master' - Headline on the front page of The Age, 1st December 1951.
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