100 Greatest Modern World Coins Series: East Africa 1921 King George V Florin

War is a major contributing factor to the rise, fall, and change in monetary systems in countries and nations all over the world. Changes in leadership, economics needs, and immigrants find themselves at the forefront of cause when it comes to those changes. Although changes occur due to these things, sometimes it’s altered before it even gets its footing. This is the case for our next spotlight within our journey dissecting Whitman Publishing’s 100 Greatest Modern World Coins publication. With help from authors Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, we will take a deeper look into a coin that did not even get off the ground before it became “worthless” at the time of its creation, no longer able to be used. But we all know how these things go and the coins are now anything but.

#72 - East Africa 1921 King George V Florin

After the end of the First World War (1914-1918), the years following saw a monetary system that changed numerous times in British East Africa. Indian railroad workers came in droves to the African colony which made the Indian rupee the existing coinage among them. However, this was not ideal and the coinage needed an overhaul as the East Africa Currency Board made sure a new system would be introduced.

East Africa’s first attempt at a new coinage saw a decimal system with the florin which was loosely based on the rupee. Six coin denominations were introduced, including the 1-cent, 5-cent, and 10-cent denominations that were all to be annual coins struck in copper-nickel. The 25-cent, 50-cent, and florin denominations were struck in 50% silver alloy. All of these coins were to be struck at three different mints with the bulk of them produced at Heaton Mint in Birmingham. The Royal Mint would add to Heaton’s mintage of 9,669,000 florins with 1,479,000 coins of their own.

Additional coinage would be handled by Ackroyd and Best, a private contractor based in Morley, West Yorkshire, in England. Known more for their manufacturing of miner and workman’s lamps, they also produced tokens. They struck coins for the East African colony for many years even after acquiring a contract stating so. Their coins bear the ‘A’ mint mark.

With just one year of issue under their belt, the coinage system would then be replaced in May of 1921. The florin was replaced with the shilling as it was smaller and struck on planchets made of silver billon alloy. However, just months before the change occurred, two denominations of the 1920 standard coinage were struck by the Royal Mint in London. Those two denominations were the cent and the florin. While a mintage of 920,000 cent coins were struck, just two of the florins were produced. Neither of the denominations made it to circulation and a large number of the cent coins were melted back down. While both denominations are a rarity, the florin is obviously the rarer of the two and one of the rarest coins struck during the reign of King George V.