1937 Proof Shilling Uniface

BB - 5 1937 Pattern Shilling Uniface rev 1842
BB - 5A 1937 Pattern Shilling Uniface obv 1870
1937 Proof Shilling Uniface
1937 Proof Shilling Uniface
$ 155,000
Sold April 2017
Sir Robert Johnson, A. H. Baldwin
This 1937 Proof Shilling is a coin fit for royalty. Literally. It is unique in private hands. The only other known example was struck for George VI and is housed in the Royal Coin Collection housed at Windsor Castle. Only a person of influence would ever have had access to such a striking. No surprise therefore that the original owner was Sir Robert Johnson, Deputy Mint Master of the Royal Mint London.
BB - 5A 1937 Pattern Shilling Uniface obv 1870
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This 1937 Uniface Shilling was acquired by esteemed London dealers A H Baldwin following Johnson’s untimely death in 1938. 

  • Australian collectors were made aware of the coin’s existence in 1982 when it was offered at a public auction in Sydney. The coin sold for $4250.
  • It was again offered at auction in November 1994 and on an estimate of $15,000, fetched $23,000.
  • The coin’s importance and status as being the only example privately held saw it sell for $120,000 on an estimate of $80,000 in 2008.

From a technical perspective, this 1937 Shilling was struck to proof quality and is a uniface issue.

So where is the obverse portrait, you may well ask?

This coin was struck following the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936 and prior to the coronation of King George VI. The Commonwealth was simply “in between” monarchs.

So how is it different from the other 1937 shillings that also are listed as having no obverse portrait?

There are approximately seven other 1937 shillings known. They were struck depicting the reverse portrait of the merino’s head and the obverse portrait of King Edward VIII. When Edward abdicated the throne, the obverse portrait was removed by being tooled off.

King George V died on 20th January 1936 and his son, King Edward VIII, ascended the throne. The Australian Labor Government, under Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, had planned to introduce new reverse designs to coincide with the new obverse designs of the changing monarch.

The new designs were a radical departure from the traditional ‘British designs’ adopted after Federation and were prepared with a strong focus on Australia’s national identity.

As the Royal Mint London still prepared the master dies for the Melbourne Mint, the mint struck test pieces for the Australian Government of the revised obverse and reverse designs but only of the florin, shilling, threepence and penny.

The Government’s plans were thrown into disarray when Edward abdicated the throne on 11 December 1936 so that he could marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. 


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