British Museum collections, £12.99
Weight: 5.620 g
Coins and Medals
Australia, AD 1910
Federation coin showing indigenous animals on its heraldic device
From 1901 the six separate colonies of Australia became a united federation. British coins, which had circulated in the colonies since the 1820s, continued in use until 1910, when the Australian Commonwealth, as it was then known, issued its new coins. The denominations - pounds, shillings and pence - were based on those of Britain.
This silver shilling piece was produced as part of the new issue. On one side of the coin the portrait of King Edward VII (reigned 1901-10) is shown, while on the other side is the heraldic motif of the federation, with a shield supported by a kangaroo and an emu, two indigenous animals of the Australian continent. These animals had previously been used on Australia's token coinage since the mid-nineteenth century.
The head of the British monarch and Australian fauna continue to feature on Australian coins to this day.
J. Cribb, B. Cook and I. Carradice, The coin atlas (London and Sydney, Macdonald Illustrated, 1990)