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Australia Royal Visit

1954  Florin reverse 1954  Florin obverse

1954 Florin

Reverse Designer:William Leslie Bowles Obverse Designer:Mary Gillick Size:28mm Weight:11.31g Edge:Reeded Composition:50% Silver
40% Copper
5% Nickel
5% Zinc


Sales History


The Royal Visit Florin was struck in 1954 to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Australia in February 1954, the first time a British monarch had visited the country. The reverse features a lion representing Great Britain and a Kangaroo representing Australia with the legend 'AUSTRALIA FLORIN' and the date 1954. The obverse features the Mary Gillick effigy of Elizabeth II. Both the obverse and reverse design attracted much attention.

The obverse legend features the 'F.D' (Defender of the Faith) inscription which was removed from the initial Elizabeth II Florin. The removal had caused substantial controversy with groups including 'The United Protestants' Association' and a number of Anglican Bishops leading protests against the change. Commonwealth authorities initially ignored the protests arguing that the changes were completed out of no disrespect or political message but just to simplify the obverse design. They eventually gave into the pressure restoring the 'F.D' on the this commemorative Florin and all standard circulating Florins that followed.

The simple reverse design received mixed reviews. Some praised the pieces minimalism - one paper emphasising the majesty of the Lion and Kangaroo and the way that it symbolises the great unity of Australia and Britain. (Glen Innes Examiner, 1954) In the Adelaide Newspaper 'News' a Numismatologist from the National Gallery stated he thought the coin looked like some sort of medallion from a test cricket match - "....if you knotted a bat in the lion's tail and put a ball in the Kangaroo's paw, it would be just like the caricaturists' delight during England-Australia Test cricket series." (News, 1954)

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and her husband the Prince of Wales arrived in Australia on the 3rd of February 1954. The visit was a major event for Australia and the country became completed engrossed with the Royalty. Cities were transformed with major decorations being erected and renovations occurring to make a positive impression on the Royal couple. The extraordinary atmosphere in Australia is well illustrated by a book that was released at the time entitled 'Etiquette for Royal Visit' in which all of the formalities of curtsying, dress, and titles was laid out to assist Australians should they be invited to some Royal event. The book begins - "Hang out the bunting, run up the flags, festoon facades with flowers and foliage, deck windows with blossom laden boxes in honour of our Royal Visitors." (Melbourne Printers Pty. Ltd., 1954) The tour was a great success and a number of further Royal visits would occur over the coming decades.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh stepping from their plane at Essendon airport (Melbourne) in 1954. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh stepping from their plane at Essendon airport (Melbourne) in 1954.

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