A 1957 cupro-nickel two-shilling coin. Also known as a florin or a two-bob bit. This coin featuring Queen Elizabeth was issued after she came to the throne in 1953 following the death of her father King George VI. When a monarch dies the coin featuring their portrait is gradually removed from circulation and is replaced with the new monarch’s portrait. A tradition since Charles II reign has it that each new coin issued for a new monarch must have their portrait facing the opposite direction to their predecessor. King George VI coins had his portrait facing left and Queen Elizabeth II continued this tradition with her portrait on coins facing right. However, on stamps Queen Elizabeth’s portrait is to the left.
This coin shows a young Queen Elizabeth at aged 26 years old with her hair tied back from her face. Later coins featuring the Queen show her wearing a crown and on later coins earrings. The earlier portrait of Elizabeth II without the crown still appears on Maundy money each year. This coin has the Latin Inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA meaning “By the Grace of God, Queen”. On the reverse is the Tudor rose surrounded by the Scottish thistle, the Welsh leek and the Irish shamrock. The position of the Queen as the Head of the Church of England is inscribed with the words “FID” and “DEF” stands for Fidei Defensor or the Defender of the Faith.
The History of the two-shilling coin:
The shilling was originally called a Testoon and was first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1502 by Henry VII. In the first instance the two-shilling coin was minted in silver but when silver became too expensive this was reduced to 75% copper and 25% nickel.
The two-shilling coin was in circulation from 1849 until 1967 and was worth one tenth of a pound or twenty-four old pence. Pounds, shillings & pence were replaced by new currency on 15th February 1971.