What is an Australian Shilling Worth
Australian Shilling Value
Collecting coins is challenging, rewarding, educational and sometimes even profitable. Australian coins are no exception and given the country was only colonized by the british in 1788 it has both a rich but short history with very small mintage figures compared to many other countries. This has resulted in many of the coins being relatively hard to come by and some are becoming highly desirable for collectors around the world. One example is the world's most valuable copper coin, the Proof Australian 1930 penny. There are only 6 examples of this rare coin known and 3 of them are held in museums. If you want to get your hands on one of the remaining 3 expect to pay between $1.5 and $2 million. In this article I will look at the Australian Shilling and what to look for if you have a few stashed away in your bottom drawer. If like most, your shillings don’t turn out to be worth enough to pay your mortgage, don’t despair, they are still miniature works of art and a fascinating piece of Australian history. Indeed, every coin has it’s own unique story to tell.
The Australian shilling was minted between 1910 and 1963 and was removed from circulation from 1966 when Australia adopted the decimal system. The Shilling was then replaced by the 10 cent coin. Four british monarchs reigned during the mintage of Australian pre-decimal coins and the shilling can be found with all four monarchs on their obverse (head side).
- Edward VII is found on only the 1910 shilling
- George V is found on coins minted between 1911 and 1936 (pictured at bottom)
- George VI is found on coins minted between 1937 and 1952
- Elizabeth II is found on coins minted between 1953 and 1963 (pictured below)
The shilling is one of seven pre-decimal Australian denominations, the others being the Half Penny, Penny, Threepence, Sixpence, Florin, and Crown. The Shilling sits between the Sixpence and the Florin and was one of the ‘workhorse’ coins in its time. It was also affectionately known to Australians as a ‘bob’.
Is my Australian Shilling valuable?
- Face Value, this is the value your coin is worth in a shop or if you were to take it to the bank. So from this perspective the question 'What is an Australian Shilling worth' becomes very easy to answer. Your shilling is worth 10 cents.
- The intrinsic value. This is the value of the metal in your coin. All Australian Shillings were made of silver with the amount varying depending on the year it was minted. Coins minted between 1910 and 1952 have a silver composition of 92.5% and coins minted between 1953 and 1963 have a silver composition of 50%. So the intrinsic value of your coin will be somewhere in the range of $2.50 to $5 depending on the year it was minted and the current silver price. You can imagine how an old jar full of silver coins could be worth a lot of money even if they aren't rare.
- The Collector Value. This is what a collector would be willing to pay for your coin to add it to their collection. In most cases an average shilling found in a drawer will not be worth much more than its intrinsic value but from time to time they can surprise. This is a complex topic and I will go into more detail below.
Valuing an Australian Shilling
Now that we understand your coin has three different values, let's take a look at the most significant one, the collector value. There are three simple factors in determining the value of a coin to collectors.
Rarity - There are a few factors at play when it comes to rarity. The year on your coin will be the first thing to check. Some years had lower mintages than others whilst other years are just harder to find for various reasons. Mintage figures for the Shilling ranged from 220,000 to 20 million. This may sound high but compared to mintage figures for modern coins and coins of other nations, these numbers are very low.
Grade - This is very important and will probably be the main source of disappointment when trying to find out how much your Australian shilling is worth. That coin you found in Grandpa’s old tin has probably been rolling around in there for 40 years. Before that it probably went through millions of cash registers, purses, wallets, pockets and money boxes. What this amounts to is damage. Coin collectors are very picky about the quality of their coins, many will not even consider a coin that has ever seen circulation. The two images above are of shillings in very high grades. These coins have never been spent and would have been quite rare even at the time of minting. A very worn coin may only be worth its intrinsic value but the same coin in a high mint state may fetch many thousands of dollars. If you are holding the coin in your bare hands, there is a good chance it is of lower grade. The coin pictured to the right is a Florin (two-shilling) in very low-grade. If you found the coin in a protective sleeve or envelope and on inspection it shows ‘cartwheeling’ luster then there is a chance you are on a winner. Cartwheeling lust will look like beams of light zipping around the coin as you move it against a fixed light source. This won’t work in daylight so try it in a darkened room with a single light source such as a lamp.
Desirability (Supply and Demand) - This won't play too big of a part in our study here but it is very important to understand. Some coins are rare yet do not attract much attention from collectors. The coin series may be unattractive or just not very fashionable to collect. Conversely, some coins are relatively common yet demand is so high that they become difficult to acquire. Australian pre-decimal coins have been popular for many years and demand can always be found for high-grade examples.
Some of the more valuable dates are listed below
1933 - $100 in very low-grade up to $30,000 in very high-grade
1915H - $80 in very low-grade to $35,000 in very high-grade
1915 - $70 in very low-grade to $30,000 in very high-grade
1921* - $40 in very low-grade to $25,000 in very high-grade
1912 - $30 in very low-grade to $18,000 in very high-grade
1913 - $20 in very low-grade to $15,000 in very high-grade
1924 - $20 in very low-grade to $15,000 in very high-grade
Note, all coins are worth thousands in very high-grade so don’t melt it down just yet!
So, given what I have written above, if you want to determine the value of your Australian shilling you should follow the steps below.
- Check the date. If the date matches any of those mentioned above you at least have something of moderate value.
- Check the grade. This will be difficult and I suggest you either get a copy of Greg McDonald's book ‘Australian Coins and Banknotes’ or speak to a professional coin grader. If the letters are hard to read due to wear or if the details of the coin are flat or worn away it is probably of low-grade.
- Seek advice. If you think you may have something of value, I suggest you visit a coin dealer or coin fair and have an experienced assessor look at your coin. If coin collecting interests you then I again suggest investing in a copy of Greg's book which is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Australian coins.
I hope that your search to find out what your Australian Shilling is worth does more than just answer this simple question. I hope it sparks an interest in collecting Australian coins. Rest assured that there are many resources online and many collectors willing to help out if you want to know more.