Two Shillings, Coin Type from British West Africa - detailed information

Two Shillings, Coin Type from British West Africa (issued 1913 - 1952)
Coin TypeTwo Shillings

The Two Shillings coin was the largest circulating denomination of the British West African Pound. As with its British counterpart (called a Florin), two shillings were equal to 24 pence, or to one tenth of a 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 two shillings 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 three types issued:
- silver coins - 1913 - 1920 (first sterling, then debased in 1920), for King George V
- tin brass coins - 1920 - 1936, for King George V
- nickel brass coins - 1938 - 1952, for King George VI

No 2 shilling coins were issued for King Edward VIII or Queen Elizabeth II in British West Africa.

The British West African pound was also adopted by Liberia in 1907, replacing the Liberian dollar, although it was not served by the West African Currency Board. Liberia changed to the U.S. dollar in 1943. Togo and Cameroon adopted the West African currency in 1914 and 1916 respectively when British and French troops took over those colonies from Germany as part of World War I.

After decolonisation, the coins were replaced by the various new countries as they introduced their own independent currencies:
- Nigeria introduced the Nigerian Pound in 1958
- Ghana introduced in Ghanaian Pound in 1958
- British Cameroon (on unification with Cameroon) adopted the Central African 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.

Obverse
British West Africa / Two Shillings - obverse photo

Effigy of the ruling British monarch, legend (in Latin).

Obverse InscriptionLegend of the ruling British monarch
Reverse
British West Africa / Two Shillings - 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 TWO SHILLINGS.

The mint mark (if any) is in very small letters buried at the base of the palm tree.

Reverse InscriptionBRITISH WEST AFRICA [year] TWO SHILLINGS
Edge
Edge Inscription
Notes

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.

All Coins of Type: Two Shillings (25)
Coin NameMintageEffigyLegend
Two Shillings 1913 3,276,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1914 967,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1915 65,654 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1916 9,824,480 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1917 1,059,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1918 7,294,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1919 12,866,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1920 (Silver) 2,608,960 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1920 (Brass) 15,856,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1922 15,500,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1923 12,698,233 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1924 1,500,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1925 3,700,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1926 11,500,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1927 11,100,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1928 7,900,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1936 57,437,000 King George V - Crowned Bust, by Bertram Mackennal GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
Two Shillings 1938 59,852,000 Portrait by Percy Metcalfe (Crowned Head) GEORGIVS VI D · G · BRITT · OMN · REX F · D · IND · IMP:
Two Shillings 1939 12,000,000 Portrait by Percy Metcalfe (Crowned Head) GEORGIVS VI D · G · BRITT · OMN · REX F · D · IND · IMP:
Two Shillings 1942 10,000,000 Portrait by Percy Metcalfe (Crowned Head) GEORGIVS VI D · G · BRITT · OMN · REX F · D · IND · IMP:
Two Shillings 1946 16,042,000 Portrait by Percy Metcalfe (Crowned Head) GEORGIVS VI D · G · BRITT · OMN · REX F · D · IND · IMP:
Two Shillings 1947 8,958,000 Portrait by Percy Metcalfe (Crowned Head) GEORGIVS VI D · G · BRITT · OMN · REX F · D · IND · IMP:
Two Shillings 1949 15,076,000 Portrait by Percy Metcalfe (Crowned Head) + GEORGIVS VI DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID DEF
Two Shillings 1951 6,566,000 Portrait by Percy Metcalfe (Crowned Head) + GEORGIVS VI DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID DEF
Two Shillings 1952 5,646,000 Portrait by Percy Metcalfe (Crowned Head) + GEORGIVS VI DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID DEF
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Two Shillings: Details
CountryBritish West Africa
CurrencyBritish West African Pound
Sub-types Two Shillings, Silver
Two Shillings, Tin Brass
Two Shillings, Nickel Brass
From1913
To1952
Face Value2 (x Shilling)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1968)
Material
Designer
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size (mm)
Mass (g)
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Two Shillings: Photos
ImageDetails
Coin - 2 Shillings, British West Africa, 1919
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Silver (1913 - 1920).
Source
Proof Coin - 2 Shillings, British West Africa, 1925
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Tin brass (1920 - 1936).
Source
British West Africa 1938-KN 2 shillings
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: Nickel brass (1938 - 1952).
Source
Coin - 2 Shillings, British West Africa, 1919
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King George V, in silver (1913 - 1920).
Source
Proof Coin - 2 Shillings, British West Africa, 1925
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King George V, in tin brass (1920 - 1936).
Source
British West Africa 1938-KN 2 shillings
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: King George VI, Emperor of India (1938 - 1947).
Source
British West Africa 1949-KN 2 shillings
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: King George V (1949 - 1952).
Source