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

Two Shillings, Nickel Brass, Coin Type from British West Africa (issued 1938 - 1952)
Coin TypeTwo Shillings, Nickel Brass

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.

British West Africa / Two Shillings, Nickel Brass - obverse photo

Crowned head of King George VI facing left; around, the monarch's legend (in Latin).

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

Obverse Inscription Legend of the ruling British monarch
British West Africa / Two Shillings, 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 TWO SHILLINGS.

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.

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Two Shillings, Nickel Brass: Details
CountryBritish West Africa
CurrencyBritish West African Pound
Sub-type ofTwo Shillings
Face Value2 (x Shilling)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1968)
MaterialNickel Brass
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size28.510 mm
Mass11.370 g
Two Shillings, Nickel Brass: Photos
British West Africa 1938-KN 2 shillings
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Notes: Common reverse (1938 - 1952).
British West Africa 1938-KN 2 shillings
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Notes: King George VI, Emperor of India (1938 - 1947).
British West Africa 1949-KN 2 shillings
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Notes: King George V (1949 - 1952).