Coin Curiosity

Researching the history coins of the British Commonwealth


Varieties of the San Francisco mintmark on Australian silver coins

Posted on

In 1942 the Melbourne Mint prepared for silver coins to be struck in the United States of America. Punches were sent to the Philadelphia Mint in 1942 (p44, Briggs, World War II Numismatics Silver Coins in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, July 2022). It is believed that the Philadelphia Mint prepared dies for the Denver Mint and San Francisco Mint (p33, Effendi & Lever, Serifs, Blips and Blobs Varieties of the "S" mintmark on our Silver coins in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, April 2018). The Denver-struck coins all have an identical D mintmark, but San Francisco-struck coins were struck using four different S mintmarks which are well documented in American numismatic literature: trumpet (MMS-004), straight (MMS-005), ball (MMS-006) and sans (MMS-007).

The trumpet S mintmark has pointed, inward-facing serifs; the straight S mintmark has point, inward and outward-facing serifs; the ball S mintmark has rounded inward-facing serifs and the sans S mintmark has no serifs. Not all mintmarks were used in all years, though the S mintmarks used on Australian silver coins cover all of the different styles used by the San Francisco mint from 1942 to 1944.

Threepence mintmark usage
Sixpence mintmark usage
Shilling mintmark usage
Florin mintmark usage

Manders and Twible counterfeit florins

Posted on

In the late 1920s and early 1930s there were multiple attempts at counterfeiting Australian silver coins - among those attempts were high-quality die-struck 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1931 florins. While it is unclear who struck the fake florins and where they were struck, they have become known as Manders and Twible florins: Ray Manders and Arthur Twible were counterfeiters whose story is well known thanks to Vince Kelly's book The Shadow. Research suggests that Arthur Twible produced cast coins, not die-struck coins (p176, Briggs, Australian Florins 1909 - 1963 Advanced Level, 2019). Louis Somme and Harold Williams were caught with florin dies in 1932 and had reportedly struck more than 47,000 florins (p181, Briggs, Australian Florins 1909 - 1963 Advanced Level, 2019) and were the likely source of the so-called Manders and Twible florins.

While the fake 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1931 florins are very good, they differ slightly from genuine coins. There are many small differences but the more obvious ones are documented here.

Manders and Twible florin obverse differences
P and : of IMP: point between rim denticlesP and : of IMP: point at rim denticles
Manders and Twible florin reverse differences
second stroke of H and I of SHILLINGS point between rim denticlessecond stroke of H and I of SHILLINGS point at rim denticles
shield is far from ribbon belowshield is close to ribbon below
thin, tapering emu leg holding shieldthick emu leg holding shield
9 of date tilted back9 of date upright

The dates on all coins differ from the genuine coins in the first two digits, and the last digit or two digits differ on all except the 1927 florin.

The mintages are unknown: no doubt a large number were produced in order to be profitable, and clearly a number of examples have survived to today, but the Manders and Twible counterfeit florins are still very scarce.

1882 British Half Crown Varieties

Posted on

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

Posted on

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
18531, 4
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

Posted on

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
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
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).