A crown was a coin that was in circulation between 1707 and 1965 in the UK that had a face value of five shillings. From the end of the 19th century, the crown was mainly a commemorative coin, and this is still the case today. If you are interested in the similar half-crown coin, take a look at our article here.
Below, we will reveal everything that you need to know about this coin and its worth today. This includes information about some of the most valuable crown coins, as well as the different factors that influence the factors.
What is a crown coin?
For someone who has grown up in the UK with decimal coinage, the pre-decimal pence, shillings, and pound must seem rather strange!
It seems very sensible that a pound, for example, would consist of 100 pence. After all, this is a simple, round number, which is easy to work with.
However, in the pre-decimal world, things weren’t this simple. There were 240 pence in a pound back then! Just to make matters even more complex, you had shillings, which had a value of 12 pence each, meaning there were 20 of them. The farthing and sixpence were also part of the collection.
So, what was the crown? Well, most people would agree that this is the most curious of all of the pre-decimal coins. It had a face value of 60 pence in ‘old’ money or one-quarter of a pound.
The first crown came about in 1707. This was during the time of the Union of Scotland and England, and so the crown was a replacement for the Scottish Dollar. It was also at this time that the pre-decimal penny was introduced.
The five-shilling coin would be a mainstay of the coinage in Britain for a few centuries. However, it started to fall out of favour during the 19th century because it was quite heavy and big in size too.
After this, it started to be used as a commemorative coin, marking special events, for instance, a Royal Wedding or the coronation of a new monarch. It was also used for other major events, for example, the death of Winston Churchill in 1965.
The crown coin was given the nickname the “dollar.” However, you should not confuse with this the British trade dollar, which circulated in the Orient.
How much is a crown worth today?
Some editions that were minted in the lower numbers can be worth anything from £5 and £50, depending on the condition of the coin.
For very rare crown coins, it is possible to fetch considerably more than this.
Other crown coins can be worth less, yet they are important in completing coin collections, so their worth can differ based on their use and their condition.
Today, commemorative coins have a face value of £5.
Which crown coins are considered the rarest and most valuable?
The British crown has always been a big coin, and this is one of the reasons why it did not circulate well from the 19th century onward. Nevertheless, crowns were usually struck in a new coronation year for a monarch. This is true of every monarch from King George IV until the current monarch in 1953. The only exception to this being King George V.
The “Gothic” Queen Victoria crown of 1847 is widely considered to be the most stunning British coin ever minted. It was created in celebration of the Gothic revival, with only 8,000 minted.
Another coin that is considered very rare and valuable is King George V “wreath” crowns that were struck from 1927 until 1936. The only year when these coins were not minted during this period was 1935 because the more popular “rocking horse” crown was minted in commemoration of the King’s Silver Jubilee.
The wreath crown for King George V featured a wreath on the coin’s reverse, and only a very low number were struck.
They tended to be struck later in the year, as they were intended to be bought as gifts for Christmas.
The coins did not circulate very well. Only 932 were minted in 1924, making this the rarest day of them all being able to fetch several thousand pounds each.
The “wreath” crowns of 1927 were struck as proofs only, with 15,030 minted.
Some notable commemorative crown crowns
Because of the big size of this coin, a lot of the later crown coins were commemorative coins.
The issue that was minted in 1951 to celebrate the Festival of Britain. This was struck in proof condition only.
The crown of 1953 was released as a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation.
The 1960 issue of this coin commemorated the British Exhibition in New York. This coin carried the same reverse design as the previous crown of 1953.
In 1965, the issue of the crown had an image of Winston Churchill on the reverse. This was the first time a commoner or non-monarch that was placed on a British coin. The purpose of this was to mark the prime minister’s death.
The Standard Catalogue of coins revealed that there were 19,640,000 coins minted. This represented a huge number at the time. Because of this, they don’t have much monetary value today. Instead, their value is paying respect to the national war leader.
The crown that paid tribute to Churchill was first produced on the 11th of October in 1965 and then it stopped production in the following summer.
Modern mintage figures of the crown
Below, we will take a look at the modern mintage figures of the crown, including their composition and the numbers that were minted:
|Year||Monarch||How many were minuted?||Detail||Composition|
|Elizabeth II||1981||Charles & Diana Wedding||Cu/Ni|
|1980||Queen Mother 80th Birthday||Cu/Ni|
|1977||Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee||Cu/Ni|
|1972||Queen Elizabeth II 25th Wedding Anniversary 25p||Cu/Ni|
|1965||19,640,000||Death of Sir Winston Churchill||Cu/Ni|
|1960||1,024,038||British Exhibition in New York||Cu/Ni|
|George VI||1951||1,983,540||Festival of Britain||Cu/Ni|
|George V||1927||2,473||‘Wreath’ Crown||0.500 silver|
|1928||714,769||George V and Queen Mary Silver Jubilee||0.500 silver|
|1929||932||‘Wreath’ Crown||0.500 silver|
|1930||7,132||‘Wreath’ Crown||0.500 silver|
|1931||2,395||‘Wreath’ Crown||0.500 silver|
|1932||4,056||‘Wreath’ Crown||0.500 silver|
|1933||4,847||‘Wreath’ Crown||0.500 silver|
|1934||4,994||‘Wreath’ Crown||0.500 silver|
|1935||9,034||‘Wreath’ Crown||0.500 silver|
|1936||15,030 (proof only)||‘Wreath’ Crown||0.500 silver|
|Edward VII||1902||256,020||Coronation||0.925 silver|
World record-breaking crown price
A new world record price was achieved for a crown in 2014. This was for a milled silver crown that was issued in 1663 as a pattern by engraver Thomas Simon. It was called the “Reddite Crown.”
This coin was presented to Charles II as the new crown piece. However, it was rejected in the end, as a design from the Roettiers Brothers was chosen instead.
The coin was sold on the 27th of March 2014 by the famous auctioneer Spink & Son of London. How much was it sold for? A massive £396,000 with commission included!
The coin was the second part of the Glenister collection. It was the twin of The Petition Crown, which sold at Spink in 2007 for £207,000.
The changing values of the crown
Not only do crowns differ in value today, based on their condition and the year of their production, but their value changed when they were in use as well.
The legal tender value of the crown was five shillings between the years 1544 and 1965. Nevertheless, for a lot of this period, there was no “face value” mark of value or denominational designation featured on the coin.
From the years between 1927 and 1939, the word ‘CROWN’ featured on the coin. This was then changed to ‘FIVE SHILLINGS’ between 1951 and 1960.
Despite the fact that all standard issues of the crown since 1951 have been composed of cupro-nickel, there are special proof versions that have been created for sale to collectors and as gift items in gold, silver, and sometimes platinum – these can be bought from the Royal Mint.
Because of the fact that £5 gold crowns are now created, this means that two different strains of gold five-pound coins exist, namely crowns and what are now known as “quintuple sovereigns” for want of a more concise term.
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So there you have it: an insight into the crown and how much it is worth today. As a commemorative coin, crowns have a face value of £5. However, for coins that were minted in lower numbers, you may be able to fetch in as much as £50 for your coin. Nevertheless, for a lot of people having this coin in their collection is worth more to them than such a sum of money!