One Shilling, Nickel Brass, Coin Type from British West Africa - detailed information

One Shilling, Nickel Brass, Coin Type from British West Africa (issued 1938 - 1947)
Coin TypeOne Shilling, Nickel Brass

The One Shilling coin was a circulating denomination of the British West African Pound. As with its British counterpart, one shilling was equal to 12 pence, and 20 shillings made one pound.

In the 19th century, the (pre-decimal) pound sterling became the currency of the British West African territories and standard issue United Kingdom coinage circulated for a while. The West African territories in question were Nigeria, the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

In 1912, the authorities in London set up the West African Currency Board and issued a distinctive set of sterling coinage for use in British West Africa. The circumstance prompting this move was a tendency for existing UK coins used in the West African territories to leave the region and return to the UK, hence causing a local dearth of coinage. A unique British West African variety of the sterling coinage would not be accepted in the shops of Britain and so would remain in circulation locally.

Consequently, the British West African shilling coins were made very different from their Imperial counterparts. Apart from changing to base metals earlier than the Imperial coinage, two visible differences were the local reverse and the fact that the monarch's effigy on the obverse was crowned - to signify the status of the coinage as being colonial. The monarch's legend though was the same as on standard British coinage (in Latin).

There were four types issued:
- silver coins - 1913 - 1920, for King George V
- tin brass coins - 1920 - 1936, for King George V
- nickel brass coins - 1938 - 1947, for King George VI
- smaller tin brass coins - 1949 - 1952, for King George VI

No shilling coins were issued for King Edward VIII or Queen Elizabeth II in British West Africa.

After decolonisation, the coins were demonetised by the various countries as they introduced their own independent currencies:
- Nigeria introduced the Nigerian Pound in 1958
- Ghana introduced in Ghanaian Pound in 1958
- British Cameroon adopted the CFA franc in 1961
- Sierra Leone introduced the Leone in 1964
- Gambia introduced the Gambian Pound in 1965

In some places, British West African coins circulated in parallel with the new coinage until 1968.

British West Africa / One Shilling, Nickel Brass - obverse photo

Crowned head of King George VI facing left; around, the monarch's legend: GEORGIVS VI D · G · BRITT · OMN · REX F · D · IND · IMP:. Translated from Latin: George VI, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.

Below the neck truncation in small letters are the artist's initials PM (for Percy Metcalfe).

Obverse Inscription GEORGIVS VI D · G · BRITT · OMN · REX F · D · IND · IMP:
British West Africa / One Shilling, Nickel Brass - reverse photo

At centre, dividing the date [year], is a palm tree.

Around above, outside a circle broken by decorative extensions adjacent to the date, the legend BRITISH WEST AFRICA; around below, the value and denomination ONE SHILLING.

EdgeSecurity GrooveEdge InscriptionNone

References to additional information:

[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue of British Commonwealth Coins, pp 87-95.
[Book] Vice, David. 1983. The Coinage of British West Africa & St. Helena 1684 - 1958.

Royal Mint
Royal Mint
One Shilling, Nickel Brass: Details
CountryBritish West Africa
CurrencyBritish West African Pound
Sub-type ofOne Shilling
Face Value1 (x Shilling)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1968)
MaterialNickel Brass
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size23.600 mm
Mass5.630 g
One Shilling, Nickel Brass: Photos
Proof Coin - 1 Shilling, British West Africa, 1938
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Proof Coin - 1 Shilling, British West Africa, 1938
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY