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Why Did Australia Never Issue Halfcrowns?

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 Posted 01/06/2014  1:13 pm Show Profile   Check NumisRob's eBay Listings Bookmark this topic Add NumisRob to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hi to all OZ collectors and Happy New Year!

I have often wondered why Australia never issued a halfcrown, whereas Australia, South Africa, Rhodesia and other Commonwealth countries did.



Presumably, prior to 1910, British halfcrowns circulated freely in Australia.

I'd be interested to know when British halfcrowns were demonetised in OZ, and also whether there were ever any proposals or patterns for an OZ halfcrown?

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 Posted 01/06/2014  3:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Enlil to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Like the Farthing, we probably assessed them as a useless coin.
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 Posted 01/06/2014  4:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add trout1105 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I think it is because the Mint was struggling just to produce the coins that they did a lot of our early coins were minted in India and the UK.

You just have to look at the low mintage figures of our earliest coins and the amount of circulation wear they suffered compared to other countries in the same era to realize that we weren't making enough of the denominations we did at the time.
To add a half crown and a farthing coin to the list would have been a severe burden to the work load at the newly established minting facilities I would think.
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 Posted 01/06/2014  5:23 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I asked this very same question in an article I wrote a couple of years ago for my local coin club Magazine. Here's the brief precis of my answer.

Australia did not issue halfcrowns because halfcrowns were not on the list of allowed denominations in the Schedule of the Coinage Act of 1909, nor was it ever added by subsequent changes to the Act. So we could not issue them because there was never a legal basis for issuing them.

Which of course simply changes the question. Why were halfcrowns never added to the Schedule? Enlil is more or less on the right track. In an effort to answer this, I searched through archived Australian newspapers from the period 1900-1909 for references to halfcrowns and found considerable discussion on them. Some comments were positive, but many were negative. One editorial in particular I found amusing, denouncing the coins in fairly strong terms as too big, too bulky and not in the spirit of decimalization which Australia at the time aspired to. That latter part is relevant; a government committee set up shortly after Federation to plan the new coinage at first sought to adopt a monetary system based on the decimal pound, but this idea was vetoed by the Colonial Office back in London. Replacing the halfcrown with the florin was the closest we could get.

Quote:
I'd be interested to know when British halfcrowns were demonetised in OZ...

All British coins were still legal tender in Australia, including halfcrowns, up to 1921 when Britain formally dropped the sterling silver standard. From 1910 to 1921, Australia gradually began withdrawing old British coinage, melting down anything too badly worn and repatriating the ones that were still good; this was all done at Australia's expense, in accordance with the agreement signed between Britain and Australia when we introduced our own coinage. This repatriation was steeply ramped up after 1921. I suspect the halfcrowns and farthings were pulled quickest, since they would have stood out as "British" much more easily, with no native coins to hide amongst.

Quote:
...whether there were ever any proposals or patterns for an OZ halfcrown?

No. Halfcrowns were never on the agenda, so no patterns were ever made. Crowns weren't on the original agenda, either, but the Act was amended in 1936 to allow for their production.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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 Posted 01/06/2014  5:59 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add trout1105 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
All British coins were still legal tender in Australia, including halfcrowns, up to 1921


So does that mean that all Brit coinage prior to 1922 can be considered as "Colonial" coins?
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 Posted 01/06/2014  6:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
More or less, yes. They certainly circulated here; though coinage after 1910 was not deliberately transported here, much of it would have come in the hands of merchants and immigrants.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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 Posted 01/06/2014  6:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add trout1105 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
More or less, yes. They certainly circulated here; though coinage after 1910 was not deliberately transported here, much of it would have come in the hands of merchants and immigrants.


I may ignore the post 1910 coins but the pre 1910 looks like they can be additions to my fledgling Proclamation set
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 Posted 01/06/2014  7:40 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nealeffendi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Sap, we never replaced the halfcrown with the florin as the florin was already in existence. Britain itself was already on the path to decimalization in the 19th century when it introduced the florin. British commerce was also in favor of decimal coinage (and the metric system) as can be seen by votes taken by The Executive Council of the Association of Chambers of Commerce in 1917 (ref: Spinks, column 325, May-June 1917).
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 Posted 01/06/2014  7:59 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yes, Britain introduced the florin back in 1849 as the first step towards decimalization, with the intention of replacing the halfcrown with it. But the unpopularity of the florin when it was introduced, especially the initial "Godless" type, gave them cold feet and the decimalization process stalled in committee for a century. Instead of the florin replacing the halfcrown as intended, the two coins circulated side-by-side. Australia was the first place in the Empire where the florin actually completely replaced the halfcrown and became the flagship coin in circulation. I believe Fiji and British West Africa (including Gambia and Nigeria) were the only other colonies or dominions where this was the case; everyone else issued both florins and halfcrowns.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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 Posted 01/07/2014  06:18 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MobOfRoos to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Like the Farthing, we probably assessed them as a useless coin.


I have always wondered how Australians coped 100 years ago when the lowest denomination was a half penny. It was a lot of money back then. The UK didn't get rid of their farthings until the 1950s.
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 Posted 01/07/2014  07:31 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Mr T to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I read in an article that the farthing didn't really see a lot of use when it did circulate in Australia.
What would have cost a farthing in 1910? I'm sure I read somewhere that Britain never even had a farthing stamp but I'm not sure if that's true.
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 Posted 01/07/2014  11:17 am  Show Profile   Check NumisRob's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add NumisRob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks guys - especially Sap - that is really interesting! The fact that decimalisation was envisaged even back in 1910 makes sense.


Quote:
I'm sure I read somewhere that Britain never even had a farthing stamp


That's true. The lowest value stamp ever was a halfpenny. Today there is still a 1p stamp that you can buy for one (decimal) penny - but you would need 50 of them to post an inland second class letter!

My father's parents, who lived all their lives in New Zealand, told me that they remember British farthings circulating in NZ, but I'm not sure when that would have been. NZ didn't get its own bronze coins until the reign of George VI.
Formerly nancyc
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 Posted 01/07/2014  4:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Nevol to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I read in an article that the farthing didn't really see a lot of use when it did circulate in Australia. What would have cost a farthing in 1910?

I guess the Aussies back then didn't know when they were well off. Malta and Ceylon had fractional farthings to deal with from 1827 - 1913.

Quarter Farthing - 13.5 mm 1.2 g
Third Farthing - 15.0 mm 1.0 g Bronze
Third Farthing - 16.0 mm 1.5 g Copper
Copper Half Farthing - 18.0 mm 2.4 g

More info about them can be found here:
http://www.coins-of-the-uk.co.uk/fract.html#half



life is a mystery to be lived not a problem to be solved
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 Posted 01/07/2014  5:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
My father's parents, who lived all their lives in New Zealand, told me that they remember British farthings circulating in NZ, but I'm not sure when that would have been. NZ didn't get its own bronze coins until the reign of George VI.

Many people who lived in the 1940s and 1950s in New Zealand and Australia claim to remember farthings. Their memory is, in part, playing tricks on them. Farthings were not used in everyday commerce in either country. But occasionally the larger retailers, especially the big department stores, would sometimes hold "farthing sales". They would advertise items for sale costing, for example, £4/19/11 and 3/4; customers would hand over a five pound note for the item and be given a farthing in "change". But they would not have been local farthings; the store would have pre-ordered in a large batch of farthings from Britain, just so they could be given away in the promotion. The resultant farthings were really souvenirs of attending the sale, rather than intended as legal tender money. Some of the stores issued the farthings in little advertisement cards or packets stating this.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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 Posted 01/07/2014  5:53 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Pertinax to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Sap,
That's interesting about the farthings and explains one of our family mysteries.

My father visited Australia from 1955 onwards, often in out of the way places. Almost every time he shopped, he got farthings in his change, sometimes just one or two, often 4 or 6 and once, 16 - the shopkeeper had run out of small change. Those farthinga accumulated in his suitcase and only once did he try to spend them and he was mystified by the refusal to accept them. Happily for me, they came home with him and I've still got most of them.

Incidentally, my sister-in-law remembers occasionally spending third-farthings and half-farthings in British Guiana (now Guyana) in the 1940s, and when I visited her aunt some years ago, she gave me a battered one of each.
Life Fellow, Royal Numismatic Society

My wants list: http://goccf.com/t/283145
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 Posted 01/07/2014  8:57 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add robster to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wonderful thread with some great information. Now if we just had a couple of bottles of 'Red' and a 'round table' this could go on for ages.!!
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