Learn about the Commemorative 1951 Jubilee Florin

Australia's 1951 Federation Jubilee Florin

Official records state that “the Jubilee of Federation was celebrated in 1951 in a spirit of expansive, nationalist optimism”, however my research hasn't yet yielded any sentimental outpourings related to the event, such as those that can be seen related to Federation itself, the Queen's Royal Visit in 1954 or the even the Bicentennial.

In Sydney, celebrations included a ceremony in Centennial Park on January 1st, while towards the end of the month there was a Cavalcade of Jubilee through the streets of Sydney, with a Venetian Carnival and fireworks display at night. Celebrations in Adelaide included a cavalcade through the streets, with various floats representing different cultural and regional groups.

Why then doesn't this event resonate with Australians as strongly as other similar events before or since? The Jubilee celebrations were in fact initiated by the Commonwealth Government in cooperation with the various State governments, who I expect saw it as an occasion to reflect on the nation's progress over the preceding 50 years.

"Between Federation And 1951 Australia Became A Really Well-Knit Nation"

In May of 1951, the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, was reported as saying: “In those years {between Federation and 1951} Australia became a really well-knit nation, and we became Australians…We are Australians and we must thank God for that. In our 50 years there has never been argument about whether we are British or not. We are British.”

The reverse design of the Jubilee florin perhaps reflects that attitude – the Royal regalia of the crown, mace and sword do more to emphasise the “monarchy” in Australia's constitutional monarchy, and perhaps this is one reason why the coin was hoarded by a generation of Australian's for no more reason than the fact it was different to the ones normally seen in daily change. The Southern Cross is certainly evident as a uniquely Australian symbol, however it is the royal regalia that catches and holds the eye.

The Sesquicentennial of settlement in 1938, marked by the introduction of a range of uniquely Australian icons to our coinage, was extremely well received by the public.

The fact that the coin is technically sound also does not invite study - the coin is inevitably always well struck, and without the die varieties or cracks so enthusiastically discovered and explored by collectors since the 1960's. Although there are still many of these coins still in existence, the vast majority have not been stored correctly, and so are at best scuffed, marked and with lustre.

Very few were preserved with real care, and so this coin is in fact quite scarce in high grade.


Category: Commonwealth Coins