Historical information

This Great Britain shilling is dated 1819, the year before King George III died. There were over 7 million of these coins minted. King George III succeeded his grandfather, King George II, on the throne in 1760. He reigned until his death on 29th January 1820. The shield in the centre of the reverse of the coin is the Hanoverian Shield, showing that the House of Hanover was elected to the crown rather than taking the crown as a victory.

This coin’s denomination is not inscribed on the coin but it has been identified as a shilling from information about the King George III currency 1816-1820.
- The 6 pence coin is 19mm
- This Shilling is 24mm (the same size as this coin)
- The Half Crown is 32mm

British coins such as this one shilling were in circulation in the colony of Australia until 1910, when the Commonwealth of Australia began producing its own coinage.

This coin was minted by the Royal Mint at Royal Mint Court, in Little Tower Hill, London, England. Coins for circulation in the Kingdom of England, Great Britain and most of the British Empire were produced here until the 1960’s when the Royal Mint shifted location to Wales.

The obverse side of the coin’s inscription translation is “George III by the Grace of God, King of the British territories, Defender of the Faith”. The engraver of the obverse image was Benedetto Pistrucci.

The reverse side’s inscription on the coin is translated "Evil to him who evil thinks” The engraver of the reverse image was Thomas Wyon.

The early settlers of Australia brought their own currency with them so a wide variety of coins, tokens and even ‘promissory’ notes (often called IOU’s) were used in the exchange of goods and services.

In 1813 40,000 silver Spanish dollars, purchased by the English government, were delivered to Sydney to help resolve the currency problem reported by Governor Macquarie. The coins were converted for use by punching a hole in the centre of the coin. Both the outer ring, called the holey dollar, and the punched out ‘hole’, called the dump, were then used as the official currency. The holey dollars hold the place of being the first distinctively Australian coins.

In 1825 the British Government passed the Sterling Silver Currency Act, making the British Pound the only legal form of currency in the Australian colonies. Not enough British currency was imported into the colony so other forms of currency were still used.

In the mid 1800’s Australia entered the Gold Rush period when many made their fortunes. Gold was used for trading, often shaped into ingots, stamped with their weight and purity, and one pound tokens.

In 1852 the Adelaide Assay Office, without British approval, made Australia’s first gold coin to meet the need for currency in South Australia after the Gold Rush began.

In 1855 the official Australian Mint opened in Sydney, operating as a branch of the Royal Mint in London, and the gold was turned into coins called ‘sovereigns’. Other branches also opened in Melbourne and Perth.

Up to the time of Australia becoming a federation in 1901 its currency included British copper and silver coins, Australian gold sovereigns, locally minted copper trade tokens, private bank notes, New South Wales and Queensland government treasury notes and Queensland government banknotes. After Federation the Australian government began to overwrite privately issued notes and prepared for the introduction of its own currency.

In 1910 a National Australian Currency was formed, based on the British currency of ‘pounds, shillings and pence’ and the first Commonwealth coining was produced.

In 1966, on February 14th, Australia changed over to the decimal currency system of dollars and cents.


Australia did not have its own currency in the colonial times. Settlers brought money from other countries and they also traded goods such as grain when currency was scarce. For a long time there was no standardised value for the different currencies.

In 1825 British currency became the only official currency in the colony of Australia and coins such as this silver shilling were imported into Australia to replace the mixture of foreign currency.

Australia became a Federated nation on 1st January 1901. In 1910 National Australian Currency was formed and Australia produced its own currency, based on the British ‘pounds, shillings and pence’. The British currency was no longer valid.

This silver shilling is of national significance as it represents the British currency used in Australia from 1825-1910.

Physical description

Coin, Great Britain shilling, 1819. Silver coin, round. Obverse; King George III head, looking right. Reverse; crown on top of quartered shield, 2 diagonally opposite quarters each show 3 lions, another quarter has a rampant lion, another quarter has a harp; in the centre of the shield is a small crowned shield with 3 symbols that appear to be lions. Inscriptions on both sides of coin (denomination not inscribed).

Inscriptions & markings

Obverse “GEOR . III D . G . BRITT . REX F . D .” and “1819”
Reverse “HONI . SOIT . Q [UI obscured] . MAL . Y . PENSE”