British Coin Price Guide

The British Crown Coin A Bit of History  

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Text Box:  Updated 14/5/2017




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The name  Crown comes from the French gold coronne coins issued in the fourteenth century. The Crown first appeared as a British coin denomination in 1544 under Henry VIII. This was a gold coin with a value of five shillings known as the "Crown of the Rose". This coin was the first British gold coin to be made from 22 carat gold, rather than the previous standard of 23 carat. The first silver crown was produced in 1551 under Edward VI, it was one of the first British coins to bear the date in Arabic numerals. Since then the silver crown has always been the largest regularly issued British silver coin. From 1551, crowns were issued in both gold and silver, until the gold crown was discontinued after 1662. The crowns issued by Charles II and the succeeding monarchs are very popular coins, because the large size meant that the portrait could be engraved in great detail, and they are magnificent works of art.

Queen Victoria

There were four different crown designs issued for Queen Victoria.

Young Head 1839-47

The first design carried a portrait of the young Victoria with a bare head, the reverse design is a large shield bearing the Royal Arms, crowned and within a laurel wreath.
  1839 proof only (very rare)

Gothic Design 1847 and 1853

The second Victorian crown type was the Gothic design, with a large bust of the queen wearing a crown and an ornately embroidered dress. the reverse design is cruciform shields, with roses, thistles and shamrocks. The inscriptions on both sides are in Gothic script, and are unusual in being in lower case, except for the capital letter V of Victoria.
   1853gl proof only, very rare
   1853gp proof only, very rare
gl: Gothic, edge letters
gp: Gothic, plain edge

Jubilee Design 1887-1892

As with all the silver and gold coinage, the crown was changed in 1887 to the new design for the Golden Jubilee, and features Victoria's Jubilee portrait, more mature, facing left, wearing a small coronet and this design continued until 1892. The reverse features Benedetto Pistrucci's magnificent design of St, George on horseback slaying the dragon, first used on gold sovereigns of George III in 1817.

Old or Widowed or Veiled Head 1893-1900

The final design change for Victoria was to the "Old" or "Widowed" or "Veiled" head design in 1893, and this continued until the final year of her reign in 1901. The design features the older veiled portrait of Queen Victoria, crowned facing left. The reverse again features Pistrucci's George and Dragon. The edges of the Old Head crowns are stamped with the regnal year, starting with LVI in the first part of 1893. There are two regnal dates per calendar year, as the queen's accession to the throne was in June 1837.
   1893 LVI
   1893 LVII
   1893 LVI proof
   1894 LVII
   1894 LVIII
   1895 LVIII
   1896 LIX
   1896 LX
   1897 LX
   1897 LXI
   1898 LXI
   1898 LXII
   1899 LXII
   1899 LXIII
   1900 LXIII
   1900 LXIV
The letters after the date are the edge regnal year.

Edward VII

After the reign of Queen Victoria the crown was really only struck for commemorative or collector's purposes.
Edward VII issued only one, in 1902 for his Coronation.
   1902 proof

George V

Unusually, no crowns were issued in 1911, George V's Coronation year.
From 1920, the silver content of British "silver" coins was reduced from standard or sterling (925 parts per thousand) to half silver (500 parts per thousand). This followed the massive inflation created by the first World War, when most countries reduced their issue of silver and gold coinage.
The crown generally known as the "Wreath" crown was issued in 1927, when a redesign of the entire coinage was in progress. This had a crown within a garland or wreath as its reverse design. This design was issued for collectors, in small numbers until 1936, except for 1935.
In 1935, a specially designed crown was struck to commemorate King George V's Silver Jubilee.

First Type (Wreath)


Jubilee Type

   1935 specimen
   1935 proof

First Type (Wreath)


George VI

In 1937 a crown was struck to commemorate the Coronation of George VI.
In 1951 the first crown to be issued in cupro-nickel was issued on the occassion of the Festival of Britain. This crown was issued in a Box with  an enclosed slip containing a description of the coin and the event. These boxes were Maroon and less commonly, Green. This coin was minted in proof condition, and does not exist in any other state. Those minted at the Festival of Britain cannot be distinguished from those minted at the Tower Mint.

Coronation Type

   1937 proof

Festival of Britain Type

   1951 proof

Elizabeth II

Crowns maintained their face value as five shillings until decimalisation in 1971. The decimal issues from 1972 to 1981 inclusive, also maintained the equivalent value of 25 new pence.

Pre-Decimal Issues


   1953 Coronation
   1960 New York Exhibition
   1965 Winston Churchill

Decimal issues

   1972 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Wedding
   1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee
   1980 Queen Mother's 80th Birthday
   1981 Charles & Diana Royal Wedding
For more details see my other Guide: Queen Elizabeth II 5 Shilling and Twenty Five Pence Crown Coins.
A new Five Pound coin was introduced from 1990, and as this has inherited the same dimensions as the crown, it is also known as a Crown.

Elizabeth II Five Pound Crown Coins

   1990   Queen Mothers 90th Birthday
   1993   40th Anniversary of Coronation
   1996   Queen's 70th Birthday
   1997   Golden Wedding Anniversary
   1998   Prince Charles' 50th Birthday
   1999   Princess Diana Memorial
   1999   Millenium
   2000   Millenium
   2000   Queen Mother's Centenary
   2001   Victorian Era Centenary
   2002   Golden Jubilee
   2002   Queen Mother's Memorial
   2003   Coronation Jubilee
   2004   Entente Cordiale
   2005   Battle of Trafalgar
   2005   Lord Nelson
   2006   Queen's 80th Birthday