ValuePre-decimal: 120 Australian pound
Decimal: 0.10 Australian dollar
Mass5.65 g
Diameter23.5 mm (0.925 in)
EdgeRound (milled)
Composition92.5% silver, 7.5% copper (1910–1944). 50% silver, 40% copper, 5% zinc, 5% nickel (1946–1963)
DesignVisage of King Edward VII
DesignerGeorge W. De Saules
Design used1910
Design discontinued1911
DesignVisage of King George V
DesignerSir Edgar B Mackennal
Design used1911
Design discontinued1936
DesignVisage of King George VI
DesignerThomas H. Paget
Design used1938
Design discontinued1952
DesignVisage of Queen Elizabeth II
DesignerMary Gillick
Design used1953
Design discontinued1963
DesignAustralian Coat of Arms (1908)
DesignerWilliam Henry James Blakemore
Design used1910
Design discontinued1936
DesignMerino Ram's head
DesignerGeorge Kruger Gray
Design used1938
Design discontinued1963

The shilling, informally called a "bob", was a type of silver coinage issued by the Commonwealth of Australia, that circulated prior to the decimalisation of Australian coinage. The Australian shilling was derived from the British pre-decimal sterling pound system (the British shilling) and was first issued following the passing of the Australian Coinage Act 1909,[1] which established Australia's first formal currency system. The shilling was issued as part of Australia's silver coinage, which included the two-shilling (florin), the sixpence and the threepence. The shilling was minted from 1910 until 1963. During this period there was one significant modification to the design of the Australian shilling, the change in its reverse design, which occurred in 1938 when the design was altered from the Australian Coat of Arms (1910–1936) to the visage of a Merino ram’s head (1938–1963).[2]

The design of the Australian shilling was originally meant to mimic the design of the British shilling, however there were specific design changes that were implemented that created some distinction between the two coins. The mintage of Australian shillings increased after it was first issued, as in the first few years of its production one thousand shillings were produced per annum, whilst towards the end of the shilling's issuance, this amount increased to around ten thousand shillings per annum.

In accordance with the transition towards the decimalisation of Australia's currency, the shilling was no longer issued after 1963 along with other silver coins such as the sixpence, and two-shilling coins. On 14 February 1966 these Australian silver coins (along with the rest of Australia's pre decimal coinage) were slowly phased out over time in accordance with the Currency Act 1965.[3][4]


The Australian shilling was first released in 1910 as part of the implementation of the Coinage Act 1909, along with other silver coins, such as the two-shilling, sixpence, threepence (all were first issued with the head of Edward VII printed on the obverse side of the coin).


Before the Federation of Australia in 1901, British shillings were shipped by the British Empire around the world to serve as a universal currency for the Empire. Between 10 February 1825 and 10 June 1836, the British Royal Mint shipped silver coins worth 166,000 pounds to Australia.[5]

However, following the Federation of Australia, the country decided to establish its own currency system. After the Coinage Act 1909 was passed, the first Australian shillings were struck in England, at the Heaton Mint in Birmingham and the Royal Mint in London. In 1916, the first Australian coins to be struck in Australia were silver coins, including shillings which were produced by the Melbourne Mint.[6]

Over the next 50 years, there were minimal changes to Australian silver coinage, however there were specific design changes that occurred as a result of changes in the English Monarchy and periods of war. There were also a number of changes to the design of the coin throughout its period of production between 1910 and 1963. However, in the years 1923, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1937, 1947, 1949 and 1951, Australian shillings were not issued for circulation.

Transition to decimalisation

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Australia prepared for the conversion of its currency to the decimal system that would be described as “C-Day” on Monday 14 February 1966.[3] In preparation for “C-Day” the Australian government concluded that no sixpence, one shilling or two-shilling were to be issued after 1963 and from “C-Day” onwards, all Australian pre-decimal coinage would be phased out.[7] After the introduction of Australia's decimal currency on 14 February 1966, the shilling became the equivalent of 10 cents in the new Australian dollar system.

To assist in the transition to decimal currency in Australia, the Federal Government launched an advertising campaign to explain to the Australian community how the transition would be introduced. The majority of these advertisements appeared on television and radio. The advertisements were part of a nationwide education program that aimed to help the Australian public understand the conversion between pre-decimal and decimal currency and the reasons why Australia would be switching to decimal currency. There was a key cartoon character used throughout the television advertisements, named 'Dollar Bill', who educated the other cartoon characters about the new currency system. [8]


There were a number of different types of Australian shilling due to the changes in the obverse and reverse design that occurred between 1909 and 1963. There was also a key change in the alloy makeup of the shilling in 1946.


Between 1910 and 1915, the obverse design of the shilling bore the mintmarks “H” and “L” as they were issued by either the Ralph Heaton Mint in Birmingham or the Royal Mint in London, respectively. When Australian coins began to be struck at the Melbourne Mint, some shillings bore the Melbourne mintmark under the date.[6] Throughout the period of issue of Australia's pre-decimal coinage, shillings were also struck at the Sydney Mint (bearing the mintmark S), the San Francisco Mint (bearing the mintmark USAS) and the Perth Mint (bearing the mintmark P).


Reverse design

There were two distinct designs for the reverse side of the Australian shilling, the first depicting the 1908 Australian Coat of Arms (used 1910-1936), designed by William Henry James Blakemore. This was Australia’s first design of the Coat of Arms and was granted by Royal Warrant from King Edward VII. The Coat of Arms on the shilling displayed a shield at the centre which was adorned with the cross of St George, while 5 six-pointed stars were dotted along the inside of the cross. Six smaller shields called escutcheons were located around the outer rim of the central shield. Above the shield was the seven-pointed star, symbolising the Federation.[9]

The second design for the reverse side of the Australian shilling depicted the Merino Ram, which was designed by George Kruger Gray. Kruger Gray’s initials appeared as KG on each coin containing his design. This design of the Merino Ram was based on the grand champion Merino ram at the 37th Annual Sydney Sheep Show in June 1932. The ram’s head and horn placement was considered to be so correct, that it was decided that his visage would be placed on the reverse design of the Australian shilling six years later in 1938. This ram, named Uardry 0.1, was also depicted on the 50-cent coin of 1991.[10]

Obverse design

The first shillings struck in 1910 bore the visage of King Edward VII on the obverse side of the coin which was designed by George W. De Saules. Between 1911 and 1936 the coins bore the image of King George V on the obverse, which was instead designed by Sir Edgar B Mackennal.

According to the Royal Australian Mint, “in 1936, Edward VIII abdicated and, as a consequence, no British or Australian coins bearing his portrait were released”. However, there are coins that are extremely rare using the reverse intended for Edward VIII’s coinage and bearing his image on the obverse that are dated 1937.[11]

When George VI ascended to the throne, the coins struck in his reign (1938-1952) were similar to those designed for the coins of Edward VIII, except for the new reverse design which had been changed to a Merino Ram’s head, instead of the previous Australian Coat of Arms. The visage of the Monarch on the obverse design of Australia's pre-decimal coins were required to change direction each time a new monarch ascended to the throne, which was impacted by the abdication of Edward VIII. The Royal Australian Mint describes this as, "By tradition, each new monarch faced a different way on the portrait of his or her coinage" to their predecessor. Thomas Humphrey Paget designed the obverse side of King George VI's coins, whose visage faced the same direction as his father, since the coins of George VI's brother, Edward VIII were meant to face the opposite direction of their father.[11]

After the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the first coins struck with her image were issued in 1953, with the same reverse design as the coins issued in the reign of her father, George VI. The obverse design of Queen Elizabeth II's coins were designed by Mary Gillick.[12]

Alloy composition

The Coinage Act 1909 in accordance with the Commonwealth required that silver coins (including shillings) be made of “standard” silver, which at the time was “defined as a mixture thirty-seven parts of fine silver with three parts of alloy”.[13] Between 1910 and 1938 shillings were composed of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. However, after the Second World War, the rising price of silver meant that the silver content of Australian coins was close to meeting the face value of the coin itself and therefore Australia decided to change the silver content of its coins.[11] After 1946 until 1963, shillings were composed of 50% silver, 40% copper, 5% zinc and 5% nickel. In contrast, Australia’s current "silver" coins are not made of silver.[14]

Image Years Technical parameters Description / Legend / Designer
Obverse Reverse From To Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Obverse Reverse
1910 1910 23.5 mm 5.65 g 92.5% silver, 7.5% copper Reeded Edward VII
by George William de Saulles
1908 coat of arms of Australia (with ADVANCE AUSTRALIA on ribbon)
by W.H.J. Blakemore
1911 1936 George V
by Bertram Mackennal
1938 1944 George VI
by Thomas Hugh Paget
Merino Sheep / Commonwealth Star
by George Kruger Gray
1946 1948 50.0% silver, 40% copper, 5% nickel, 5% zinc
1950 1952 George VI
by Thomas Hugh Paget
1953 1954 Elizabeth II
by Mary Gillick
1955 1963 Elizabeth II
by Mary Gillick
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the coin specification table.

Relation to the British shilling

When Australian shillings were introduced, all coins were to be produced the same size and with the same alloy content as their British counterparts, with the obverse originally matching the British coinage which displayed the king without a crown atop his head. However, this obverse design was changed as Edward VII was presented with a crown, whilst the reverse design was distinctly Australian, depicting the Australian coat of arms.[6]

Both British and Australian shillings bore the letters “F:D” representing the phrase Defender of the Faith, which is a title held by the English Monarch, who is also the supreme governor of the Church of England. The title was given to the English Monarchy in 1521 by Pope Leo X, who granted King Henry VIII the title as a result of his criticism of Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer. However, the title was revoked in 1530 after King Henry broke from the Vatican and founded the Church of England. In 1544, the English Parliament bestowed the title on Henry VIII, which continued to be bestowed upon English monarchs after his reign.[15] There was controversy surrounding the first shillings issued for Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, since these coins did not bear the “F:D” inscription on the obverse design. This decision was met by public outcry especially from church leaders. In 1955 the letters “F:D” were added to the obverse design of shillings and was added to most Australian coin denominations in 1956.[14]


Before the advent of the Australian shilling, Australia’s currency was produced by branches of the British Royal Mint in Sydney (opened in 1855), Melbourne (opened in 1872) and Perth (opened in 1899).[16] The Royal Australian Mint never issued Australian shillings or any other form of pre-decimal currency, since it began to produce Australian coinage two years after the ceasing of shilling production and only produced coins in preparation for the transition to decimal currency.[17]

The old San Francisco Mint, built in 1874.

The Australian shilling was produced both in Australia and overseas at different periods. From 1910 to 1915, shillings were struck at the Ralph Heaton Mint in Birmingham and the Royal Mint in London, however shillings began to be produced in Melbourne in 1916.[6] Between 1916 and 1936, the Sydney and Melbourne Mints produced the majority of Australia’s shillings.[9] These mints underwent manufacturing shortages during the Second World War, which required Australia to allow the production of specific coinage (primarily silver coinage) at United States (US) mints in San Francisco and Denver. Shillings and florins were produced at the San Francisco Mint, while threepences and sixpences were struck at both the San Francisco and Denver Mint. These coins that were struck in the US mints exhibit mintmarks, "S" and "D" respectively.[11]



Mintages of Australian Shillings from 1910 - 1963[12]
Edward VII George V George VI Elizabeth II
1910 - 2,536 1911 - 1,000 1938 - 1,484 1953 - 12,204
1912 - 1,000 1939 - 1,520 1954 - 16,188
1913 - 1,200 1940 - 760 1955 - 7,492
1914 - 3,300 1941 - 2,500 1956 - 6,064
1915 - 800 (+500) 1942 - 2,920 (+4000) 1957 - 12,668
1916 - 5,141 1943 - 1,580 1958 - 8,132
1917 - 5,274 1944 - 14,576 (+8,000) 1959 - 10,156
1918 - 3,761 1946 - 10,072 (+1,316) 1960 - 16,408
1920 - 1,642 1948 - 4,132 1961 - 30,100
1921 - 522 1950 - 7,188 1962 - 6,592
1922 - 2,039 1952 - 19,644 1963 - 10,072
1924 - 673
1925 - 1,449
1926 - 2,352
1927 - 1,416
1928 - 664
1931 - 1,000
1933 - 220
1934 - 480
1935 - 500
1936 - 1,424


  1. ^ Commonwealth of Australia (1 September 1909). "Coinage: No. 6 of 1909. An Act relating to Currency, Coinage, and Legal Tender" (PDF). Retrieved 7 January 2022 – via Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). This Act may be cited as the Coinage Act 1909. [Short title]
  2. ^ Royal Australian Mint, n.d. Before decimal currency – what did Australia use, p.1.
  3. ^ a b Reserve Bank of Australia, 2021.
  4. ^ "Currency Act 1965 [series]". Federal Register of Legislation. Australian Government. 10 December 1965. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  5. ^ Royal Australian Mint, 2021. The Sterling Age.
  6. ^ a b c d Royal Australian Mint, 2021. Commonwealth Coinage.
  7. ^ Royal Australian Mint, 2021. The End of Shillings and Pence.
  8. ^ "Decimal Currency" (Video + transcript). National Archives of Australia. 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2022. ... an animated black-and-white television advertisement designed to assist Australians with the transition from imperial to decimal currency on 14 February 1966.
  9. ^ a b Johnston, 2021
  10. ^ Merino NSW, 2009
  11. ^ a b c d Royal Australian Mint, 2021. Development of Pre Decimal Coins.
  12. ^ a b c Pitt, Alan B. (2009). Renniks Australian Coin and Banknote Values (27th ed.). Banksmeadow, NSW: Renniks Publications. p. 44.
  13. ^ Sawkins, 1931, pp.33-52.
  14. ^ a b Royal Australian Mint, 2021. The Circulating Coins of Queen Elizabeth II.
  15. ^ HistoryExtra. 2015. Why do we have the letters 'FD' on our coins?
  16. ^ Royal Australian Mint, 2017. Australian Coin History, pp.1-2.
  17. ^ Harper, I. and Slizys, N., 1996. Measuring Seignoirage in Australia. Economic Papers: A journal of applied economics and policy, 15(2), pp.20-21.


Preceded byShilling (British) Shilling 1910–1966 Succeeded byTen cent coin (Australian)