Your 1849 Victoria Silver Florin ‘Godless’ a Hidden Treasure?

The 1849 Victoria Silver Florin, featuring the profile of Queen Victoria, represents a pivotal moment in the history of British coinage. This rare ‘Godless’ variant, devoid of the customary ‘DEI GRATIA‘ inscription, stirred considerable controversy among the British monarchy and coin collectors alike.

Its significance lies not only in its design and the dialogue it sparked within the realm of coin investment but also as a unique artifact of monarchs’ portrayal in coinage, marking a distinct period in British monarchy history. The debate it ignited and its limited circulation render the 1849 Victoria Silver Florin a coveted piece for collectors and historians.

The History of the 1849 Victoria Silver Florin

The 1849 Victoria Silver Florin, often dubbed the ‘Godless’ Florin, marks a significant chapter in the annals of British coinage. This coin, minted in a modest quantity of 414,000 pieces, was revolutionary not only for its design but also for its implications in the broader context of British monetary history. It was the first attempt at decimalizing British currency, setting a precedent for future reforms.

Key Historical Facts

  1. The introduction of the ‘Godless’ Florin occurred following a parliamentary motion in 1847 advocating for decimal currency. It stood out due to the absence of the traditional “DEI GRATIA” (By the Grace of God), a move that sparked considerable debate and was perceived as nearly blasphemous at the time.
  2. Design and Symbolism: Featuring a Gothic-type bust of Queen Victoria on the obverse and crowned cruciform shields on the reverse, the florin broke new ground. It was the first British coin in nearly two centuries to depict a monarch wearing a crown, echoing the designs from the era of Charles II.
  3. Decimalization and Its Challenges: Valued at one-tenth of a pound, the florin was Britain’s inaugural decimal coin, predating the complete decimalization of the currency by over a century. Its introduction was a practical step towards simplifying trade and economic calculations, aligning with similar continental currencies.
  4. Cultural and Historical Associations: The coin’s linkage with the historic shipwreck of the DUNBAR adds a layer of narrative, connecting it to one of the worst maritime disasters in New South Wales. This association enhances its allure and historical value among collectors and historians alike.

Impact and Legacy

The 1849 Florin’s brief minting period and its role in the early stages of decimalization underscore its importance. Despite its initial controversy and the public’s shock at its unconventional design, the florin paved the way for the modernization of British coinage. Its story is a testament to the evolving nature of currency and its cultural implications, reflecting broader shifts within the British monarchy and society during the Victorian era.

Factors Influencing Its Worth

Several key factors influence the worth of the 1849 Victoria Silver Florin, particularly the ‘Godless’ variety, which collectors and investors should consider. Understanding these elements can provide insights into the coin’s market value and its potential as an investment.


The condition of the coin significantly impacts its value. The grading scale ranges from “Fair” to “Extremely Fine” (EF), with prices varying accordingly. A coin in “Fair” condition might fetch around £25.00, whereas an “EF” example could command a price as high as £495.00. This variance underscores the importance of the coin’s physical state in determining its market worth.


This specific coin is classified as the WW Obliterated Variety and is listed as R2, indicating it is very rare, in The Standard Catalogue of English Milled Coinage. Its scarcity adds to its allure and value in the numismatic community, making it a prized possession for serious collectors.

Metal Composition

Crafters use .925 silver, which plays a crucial role in the coin’s overall valuation, as the intrinsic value of the metal. The high silver content contributes not only to the coin’s aesthetic appeal but also to its investment value, particularly in markets where precious metals are highly prized.

Market Demand

The numismatic market’s demand for the 1849 Victoria Silver Florin can fluctuate, influenced by economic conditions, collector interest, and trends in coin collecting. High demand can drive up prices, especially for coins in superior condition or those considered extremely rare, like the ‘Godless’ Florin.

These factors collectively influence the worth of the 1849 Victoria Silver Florin, making it a compelling piece for both historical significance and potential financial investment. Collectors and investors should consider these aspects when assessing the coin’s value.

Design and Features of the ‘Godless’ Florin

The 1849 Victoria Silver Florin, often referred to as the ‘Godless’ Florin, stands out for its unique and controversial design elements. Crafted by William Wyon, the coin’s aesthetic deviated significantly from traditional designs, which played a crucial role in its initial reception and ongoing desirability among collectors.

Design Overview

  1. Obverse Features: The obverse of the coin showcases a striking Gothic portrait of Queen Victoria, designed by William Wyon. This depiction features the Queen with braided hair and a crown, facing left. The inscription around the edge reads “VICTORIA REGINA 1849,” marking the year of minting.
  2. Reverse Artistry: The reverse, designed by William Dyce, presents four crowned cruciform shields. These shields symbolize the nations of the United Kingdom: a harp for Ireland, a lion rampant for Scotland, and three lions passant for England. The design is a nod towards the tentative steps being taken toward decimalising the Pound Sterling at the time.

Unique Characteristics

  • Metal Composition: The florin is composed of .925 Sterling Silver, weighing 11.31 grams with a diameter of 28 mm. Its high silver content not only contributes to its aesthetic and tactile appeal but also adds intrinsic value.
  • Edge and Lettering: The coin’s edge is milled, which was typical for the era to prevent clipping and counterfeiting. Notably, the coin’s reverse features Roman lettering, a contrast to the Gothic script used on the crown’s Gothic style, which was introduced later.

Controversial Aspects

  • Absence of ‘Dei Gratia’: Perhaps the most controversial aspect was the omission of “DEI GRATIA” (By the Grace of God) from the inscription. This departure from tradition led to the coin’s nickname, ‘Godless’, reflecting the public and ecclesiastical uproar it caused at the time.
  • Public Reception and Adjustments: The initial unpopularity of the ‘Godless’ Florin due to its design led to subsequent revisions. The diameter was later increased to 30 millimeters, and all lettering was changed to a Gothic script in the redesigned version, known as the ‘Gothic Florin’.
1849 Victoria Silver Florin - 'Godless' type reverse

The features and historical context that surrounded the creation of the 1849 Victoria Silver Florin make it a fascinating subject for coin collectors and historians. It embodies a significant period in the evolution of British coinage and the broader narrative of the Victorian era.

The Rarity and Values of Different Grades

The 1849 Victoria Silver Florin, particularly in its ‘Godless’ variant, exhibits a fascinating range of values across different grades, reflecting its rarity and desirability among collectors. The following details provide a clear perspective on how the condition of these coins significantly influences their market value.

Condition and Valuation Across Different Years

  1. 1849 ‘Godless’ Florin:
    • Fine (F) Grade: $30
    • Very Fine (VF) Grade: $75
    • Extremely Fine (EF) Grade: $280
    • Uncirculated (Unc) Grade: $550
  2. Subsequent Years:
    • 1852 to 1859: The values slightly vary with each year, showing an incremental increase in the EF and Unc grades, reaching up to $800 for the 1859 ‘Godless’ Florin in the EF grade.
    • 1860: Notably higher in value, with the Unc grade reaching $1000.
    • 1862: Marks a significant peak in valuation, with the Unc grade valued at $5250.
    • 1863: The highest values recorded, with the Unc grade soaring to $15000.

Comparative Analysis with Later Florins

  • George V and George VI Florins:
    • These coins, minted during the reigns of George V and VI, show a consistent production with variations in design over the years. The values are generally lower compared to the early ‘Godless’ Florins, indicating a lesser rarity but a maintained interest due to historical significance.
  • Queen Elizabeth II Florins:
    • Minted between 1953 and 1967, these coins feature the iconic Mary Gillick head of Queen Elizabeth II. The values are modest in comparison to the Victorian ‘Godless’ Florins, reflecting broader mintages and lesser rarity.

This detailed breakdown not only highlights the significant investment potential of these historical pieces but also illustrates the impact of condition and rarity on their market value. Collectors and investors should note these variations when considering acquisitions in British historical coinage.


Throughout the exploration of the 1849 Victoria Silver Florin, we have journeyed through its impactful narrative, unveiling its status as not merely a piece of currency but as a historical artifact that encapsulates a transformative era in British coinage and monarchic representation. The insights into its design, controversial nature, and the factors influencing its value have illustrated the profound allure and significance of the ‘Godless’ Florin to collectors, historians, and investors alike. This coin, with its unique story and rarity, stands as a testament to the intricate interplay between culture, economy, and innovation within the Victorian period.

The 1849 Florin’s narrative underscores the evolving nature of currency and its cultural implications, echoing broader shifts within British society and its monetary system. As we consider the broader implications of the Florin’s inception and the public’s initial reception, it becomes clear that this coin is more than just a collectible; it is a piece of history that continues to fascinate and stimulate further research in numismatic circles and beyond. The ‘Godless’ Florin, therefore, not only enriches our understanding of Victorian Britain but also encourages a deeper appreciation for the historical narratives encapsulated within the realm of coin collecting.

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