The 1935 florin

Mint mark

There are no documented varieties of the standard issue 1935 florin.

Despite its low mintage, this coin (i.e. the standard one) is fairly easy to obtain.

The commemorative florin issued in 1935 to mark the centenary of Melbourne was the first Australian mint product to sold at a premium over its face value. 75,000 of these coins were struck and were offered for 3/- each. In the aftermath of the Great Depression, the idea of paying 3/- for a 2/- coin did not sit well with Australian people and 21,000 of these coins were later melted down, leaving just 54,000 in circulation.

Although the Melbourne Centenary florin is a very scarce coin, its very distinctive design and premium price made it highly collectible and many were set aside and or were pulled from circulation very early. In addition, the Melbourne retail shop, Foy and Gibson, gave away a florin with every suit it sold in 1935. It also gave away florins in change at face value to its customers. The collectability of the coin meant that many were never circulated; of the several thousand specimens in existence many are of very high grade. Mint rolls are known to have existed at least until 1999. The result of all this is that the price of very high-grade Melborne Centenary florins is actually lower than the price of the standard issue coin in similar condition.

Reverse of 1935 florin


The Melbourne Centenary Florin

F35M.4C obverse

F35M.4C reverse

Paper envelope in which Foy & Gibson presented Melbourne Centenary florins to some of its customers.

An article titled "Collector or Numismatist" by Alan H. Collis in the July 1971 issue of The Australian Coin Review dealt with the history of the coin itself and of the early settlements on Port Phillip Bay. What follows is an excerpt from that article and is reproduced here with the permission of Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine, the current copyright holder.

From ACR, July 1971

A search through the daily newspapers of the period provides us with some interesting information.

On 21 June 1934 we read in the Argus:

Centenary Florins to be Struck

Arrangements have been made between Centenary officials and representatives of the British Treasury and the Commonwealth Government for the minting of special Commemorative Florins

Negotiations have been completed for the minting of a limited number of florins which are to be sold and distributed by the Centenary Council. It was expected that these coins would be sold at more than face value and that the profits from the sale would be granted to the Centenary Council.

All costs additional to the coinage of the florin would be borne by the council, these costs include the provision of a special die and would probably amount to £100.

No limit has been placed on the number of coins available, but if an excessive number were issued, their value to collectors and dealers would decrease. In any case, these coins would be available for use as normal currency at face value.

The design selected by the finance committee was submitted to the Governor-General, Sir Isaac Isaacs, for approval.

The Chairman of the Art Committee, Mr Russell Grimwade, criticised the Official Centenary Emblem depicting a nude male figure seated on horseback and bearing a flaming torch, which it is proposed to stamp on the back of the coin. This design, said Mr Grimwade, was chosen when the Council was in its infancy, perhaps it is appropriate because it looks worth about two shillings.

On 15 February 1935 the Argus printed the following:
Centenary Florin Sales are Dragging

To date only 11,000 of the 75,000 minted have been sold and the committee naturally were getting somewhat unsettled as most of the books, medals, etc., have not been well received by the public.

Then on 17 May 1935 there appeared:
Centenary Florins bought by American Collectors

Several hundred Centenary Florins have been purchased recently by overseas collectors, principally in the United States. The sale of florins is progressing slowly however, and about 60,000 of the 75,000 remain on hand. Recently the sale of the florins at three shillings each at the town hall has been averaging about 100 per week. At this rate, it would be at lest 12 years before the last florin was disposed of. It is understood, however, that in six weeks time any florins that have not been sold will be melted down.

The following was printed on 22 June 1935:
Improved Demand on Florins

So as to facilitate the purchase of these florins, the Centenary Committee decided it would be easier if the public did not have to go into the Town Hall and go upstairs but it presumed it would be easier if they were purchased over the counter from the Licensed Vehicles Office on the ground floor of the Town Hall.

A small footnote reads:
A company has an option on 30,000.
Presumably this company was Foy and Gibson. The article continues:
In the last few days there has been an increased demand from the public but at this date 33,000 still remains to be sold.
The following information, although not from the newspaper of the day, is also relevant.

On the assumption that this figure of 33,000 is after Foy and Gibson received their florins, a further 12,000 would therefore have been sold in order to leave the quantity of 21,000 for remelting.

As far as I can establish, the coins were mainly available through the Centenary Committee's outlet at the Melbourne Town Hall and through the Foy and Gibson organisation. The State Savings Bank of Victoria also distributed the coins from selected country branches of the bank including all the larger towns.

The 30,000 florins acquired by The Foy and Gibson organisation were purchased at three shillings each, placed in small paper bags especially prepared for the purchase, and issued to Foy's customers throughout Australia, at face value, as change from their purchases. Thus Foy's advertising scheme cost them one shilling per coin. Today, Centenary florins in Foy's bags are sought after by collectors.


The obverse was designed by Percy Metcalf and is the only design by this artist in the Australian Commonwealth series, although this same design was used on Rhodesian, New Zealand and Fijian coinages. The horse and rider reverse was designed by George Kruger Gray, well known amongst Australian coin designers. The horse represents the last century which was one in which horses played a very important part in exploration, settlement, cultivation and development of every industry in Victoria. The raised fore-hoof indicates no limit to future progress. The nude rider represents young Victoria grown to manhood and the torch is a symbol of progress and enlightenment.

And what does the Florin commemorate? It commemorates the Centenary of the first permanent settlement within Victoria, firstly at Portland Bay in 1834, and secondly, at Melbourne in 1835. So therefore the significance of this coin is that it identifies itself with the very reason for our being here and our existence in our City of Melbourne. So, also, the reason for the words 'Victoria' and 'Melbourne' on the coin, also the double date of 1934/35.

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Most recent revision: 27th November 2000
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