Description

The British crown, the successor to the English crown and the Scottish dollar, came into being with the Union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1707. As with the English coin, its value was five shillings.

There were only two crown issued during the reign of George VI. The first was in 1937 for his Coronation, and the second issue was in 1951 for the Festival of Britain.

The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition and fair that reached millions of visitors throughout the United Kingdom in the summer of 1951. Labour cabinet member Herbert Morrison was the prime mover; in 1947 he started with the original plan to celebrate the centennial of the Great Exhibition of 1851. However it was not to be another World Fair, for international themes were absent, as was the British Commonwealth. Instead the 1951 festival focused entirely on Britain and its achievements. The Labour government was losing support and so the implicit goal of the festival was to give the people a feeling of successful recovery from the war's devastation, as well as promoting British science, technology, industrial design, architecture and the arts.

Obverse

Bare head of the King George VI facing left.

GEORGIUS VI DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM OMNIUM REX FIDEI DEFENSOR means George VI, by the Grace of God, of all the Britains King, Defender of the Faith.

George VI (1895–1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

As the second son of King George V, he was not expected to inherit the throne and spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother, Edward. George's elder brother ascended the throne as Edward VIII upon the death of their father in 1936. However, later that year Edward revealed his desire to marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin advised Edward that for political and religious reasons he could not marry a divorced woman and remain king. Edward abdicated in order to marry, and George ascended the throne as the third monarch of the House of Windsor.

Engraver: Thomas Humphrey Paget

GEORGIVS VI D:G:BR:OMN:REX F:D:
HP
FIVE SHILLINGS

Reverse

Depicts St. George on horseback holding short sword, the horse rearing to right over a fallen dragon which has a broken lance in its chest; in exergue, the date and the artist's initials B.P.

Saint George (between 275–281 AD to 23 April 303), according to legend, was a Roman soldier of Greek origin and officer in the Guard of Roman emperor Diocletian, who was sentenced to death for failing to recant his Christian faith.

According to the legend, the narrative episode of Saint George and the Dragon took place somewhere he called "Silene", in Libya. The town had a small lake with a plague-bearing dragon living in it and poisoning the countryside. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene fed it two sheep every day. When they ran out of sheep they started feeding it their children, chosen by lottery. One time the lot fell on the king's daughter. The king, in his grief, told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, dressed as a bride, to be fed to the dragon.

Saint George by chance rode past the lake. The princess tried to send him away, but he vowed to remain. The dragon emerged from the lake while they were conversing. Saint George made the Sign of the Cross and charged it on horseback, seriously wounding it with his lance. He then called to the princess to throw him her girdle, and he put it around the dragon's neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a meek beast on a leash.

The princess and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the populace. Saint George offered to kill the dragon if they consented to become Christians and be baptised. Fifteen thousand men including the king of Silene converted to Christianity. George then killed the dragon, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. The king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George on the site where the dragon died and a spring flowed from its altar with water that cured all disease.

Engraver: Benedetto Pistrucci

1951 B.P.

Edge

Incuse Latin lettering: "1851 by the industry of its people the state flourishes 1951"

MDCCCLI CIVIUM INDUSTRIA FLORET CIVITAS MCMLI

5 Shillings

Festival of Britain

KM# 880 Sp# 4111
Characteristics
Type Commemorative Issue (Circulating)
Material Cupronickel
Weight 28.3 g
Diameter 38.5 mm
Thickness 2.9 mm
Shape round
Alignment Medal
Mint
Royal Mint

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