Coin Curiosity

Researching the history coins of the British Commonwealth

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1882 Brisith Half Crown Varieties

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From 1874 to 1887, there were relatively few changes to the British half crown obverse and reverse designs - just three different obverses and two different reverses. By the early 1880s, obverse 5 and reverse D became the only die pairing, until the introduction of the new Jubilee designs in 1887.

Davies' initial study of 1882 half crowns only found the die pairing of 5+D (p50, Davies, British Silver Coins Since 1816, 1982), but he later confirmed that 5+C 1882 half crowns were also struck. It is unknown in what proportions they occur, but the 5+C is obviously much scarcer: reverse C is last thought to have been used in 1880, when it was used less, though not considerably so, than reverse D.


Proof Groats 1837-1862

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During the reign of Queen Victoria, circulating groats were struck in most years from 1837 to 1855, though they were eventually superseded by the lower value but similarly sized threepence. Proofs are known for very few of those years, but proofs were also struck in 1857 and 1862, years in which no groats were struck for circulation at all.

Only one obverse and reverse design were used for the circulation groats of 1837 to 1855, though curiously, a number of different threepence obverse dies were used in the striking of proof groats from 1837 to 1855. No doubt these proof groats were later strikings using the more readily available threepence obverse dies.

Proof groats 1837-1862
YearsObverse dies
18371, 3
18381
18391
18421
18522
18531, 4
18573
18622, 3

In this table obverse 1 is Davies groat obverse 1, obverse 2 is Davies groat obverse 2 and Davies threepence obverse 2, obverse 3 is Davies groat obverse 3 and Davies threepence obverse 3 and obverse 4 is Davies threepence obverse 4.


1953 Farthing Varieties

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The ascension of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne in 1952 resulted in a number of changes to the designs of British coins in 1953, with the farthing being struck with two different obverse and three different reverse designs.

1953 farthing die types
DieNotes
Obverse 1+ points at bead
Obverse 2+ points between beads
Reverse AF of FARTHING between denticles, I of FARTHING between denticles
Reverse BF of FARTHING at denticle, I of FARTHING at denticle
Reverse B*F of FARTHING between denticles, I of FARTHING at denticle

Obverses 1 and 2 and reverses A and B have been well known for decades but reverse B* was only discovered in April 2022.

1953 farthing die combinations
Die combinationNotes
1+AOnly in specimen sets; proofs struck
1+BScarce
2+AScarce; proofs struck
2+BCommon; proofs struck
2+B*Only in VIP proof sets

Matte proofs of 1+A and 2+B were reportedly struck as well, apparently for use in photos (presumably to illustrate the new designs).


1934 Australian Sixpence

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Following the Great Depression and a gap in production for all Australian silver denominations, the Melbourne Mint began striking sixpences again in 1934. 1,024,000 1934-dated sixpences were struck by the Melbourne Mint for circulation, as well as 50 proofs. The comparatively high mintage of proofs was due to the involvement of New Zealand coin dealer Henry George Williams who requested proofs of all denominations in 1934 (Coinworks, https://coinworks.com.au/melbourne-mint). While the proofs were a commercial venture, the Melbourne Mint still struck at least two proofs for institutional collections: two of these pieces are now in the Museum Victoria collection.

Overdates of the 4 over a 3 have also been reported - they are scarce but have not been thoroughly researched.


1871H Newfoundland 10 cent mule

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In 1871 Ralph Heaton and Sons mint in Birmingham was contracted to strike 10c pieces for Canada and in 1872 it was contracted to strike 10c pieces for Newfoundland. During production of one of these denominations, an incorrect die was used resulting in the pairing of an 1871H Canada reverse die with a Newfoundland H obverse die.

In the early 1870s such a mule would likely have been due to a die mix-up - after all, neither reverse die has an identifying country or province name, and the average Briton would not have been familiar with the designs used on coins in other parts of the world.

The mintage of Canadian 1871H 10c pieces was 1,870,000 and the mintage of 1872H Newfoundland 10c pieces was 40,000: just two mules are known. They were probably struck as part of the Newfoundland mintage as Ralph Heaton and Sons struck Canadian 1872H 10c pieces as well, so the relevant reverse dies would have been at hand in 1872.