Online Coin Club / Home / Blog / Modern Coins / The 1920 No Mintmark Australian Shilling

Blog article: The 1920 No Mintmark Australian Shilling

Blog article: The 1920 No Mintmark Australian Shilling
AuthorTom Schumann
Date16 May 2016
CountryAustralia
CurrencyAustralian Pound
Summary

The Museum Victoria numismatic collection has a large number of pattern and proof coins in its collection, acquired mostly from the collection of the former Melbourne Mint, but also from other collections including that of the National Gallery of Victoria. One of the coins that is documented as being transferred from the National Gallery of Victoria collection is 1920-dated Australian shilling with no mintmark. All other known 1920-dated Australian shillings have an M mintmark beneath the date, and no literature makes mention of a no mintmark coin: it has apparently gone unnoticed due to its mis-attribution in the Museum Victoria collection as a 1920M shilling.

Text

The Museum Victoria numismatic collection has a large number of pattern and proof coins in its collection, acquired mostly from the collection of the former Melbourne Mint, but also from other collections including that of the National Gallery of Victoria. One of the coins that is documented as being transferred from the National Gallery of Victoria collection is 1920-dated Australian shilling with no mintmark. All other known 1920-dated Australian shillings have an M mintmark beneath the date, and no literature makes mention of a no mintmark coin: it has apparently gone unnoticed due to its mis-attribution in the Museum Victoria collection as a 1920M shilling.

There exist a number of 1920-dated pattern Australian silver coins, due to preparations for the planned debasement of the silver coinage – in 1920 the price of silver rose to such a high price that Great Britain reduced the fineness of its own coinage from 92.5% silver to 50% silver: Australia almost did the same. The coin in question doesn't appear to have been prepared to test the new alloy though; rather it is likely that it was prepared in anticipation of the Sydney Mint beginning to strike silver coinage, a task that until that point in Australia had only been performed by the Melbourne Mint.

The movement of dies at the time is recorded to a reasonable degree: the Melbourne Mint ordered 1920-dated threepence, sixpence, shilling and florin dies in July 1919 as a matter of course, but given the planned debasement of the silver alloy it requested in March 1920 that the 1920-dated dies have smaller date figures to allow the debased coins to be easily differentiated. The Royal Mint suggested that adding a star above the date would be easier: the Melbourne Mint agreed to this and 1920-dated working dies and 1921-dated punches were ordered with the star above the date (p13, Sharples, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Jul 1985).

Thirty pairs of shilling dies arrived at the Melbourne Mint on 9th August 1920 (p2, Mullett, Australian Coinage. An Account of Particular Coins, 1991), apparently dated 1920 and with the star above the date (p13, Sharples, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Jul 1985). Evidently the Melbourne Mint removed the star above the date some time between the arrival of the dies and the first production of 1920-dated shillings in December 1920 (p2, Mullett, Australian Coinage. An Account of Particular Coins, 1991) as all circulating 1920 shillings show no star. In September 1920 the Melbourne Mint received two pairs of 1921-dated shilling punches with the star above the date (p13, Sharples, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Jul 1985).

In November 1920 the Melbourne Mint sent an urgent order for 1921-dated punches without the star: the Royal Mint ground the star off a set of punches and these were received by the Melbourne Mint in January 1921 (p14, Sharples, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Jul 1985). Late in 1920 the Sydney Mint ordered 1921-dated shilling working dies from the Royal Mint. The order for thirty pairs of working dies was completed in London on 13th October 1920. These dies had the star above the date (p14, Sharples, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Jul 1985).

Neither Mullett nor Sharples make mention of the Sydney Mint receiving 1920-dated shilling dies at any point, so it is unlikely that the Sydney Mint produced the coin in question. The Royal Mint could have produced the coin but given that they would have been occupied with their own debasement this seems unlikely. The Melbourne Mint had received 1920-dated shilling dies though, and had previously worked on dies for use by the Sydney Mint in July 1920 (p9, Sharples, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Jul 1985). They had also removed the star from their 1920-dated shilling working dies so removing the mintmark would have posed no challenge.

This state of affairs did not last long though as in September 1920 the Melbourne Mint received 1921-dated shilling punches from the Royal Mint (p13, Sharples, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Jul 1985) and by October 1920 the Royal Mint had finished making 1921-dated shilling dies for the Sydney Mint (p14, Sharples, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, Jul 1985).