UK Crown QV 1890 Spink# 3921
It’s not often that you find late 19th century silver coins that still form part of a country’s currency today but this is one. According to numista (one of my favourite coin websites) this crown is still spendable within the UK – “This coin was not included in demonetization legislation when decimalization was introduced in 1971. It has been confirmed by the Royal Mint that the coin remains legal tender, having been remonetized with a value of 25 pence.” How about that, not that you would keep it in your loose change though as its collector value is much, much more than a measly 25p.
Almost identical in size to the double florin of the time, the crown may not have been officially delivered to the Australian colonies for circulation but it’s a pretty safe bet that they were around. As a large, easily recognisable sterling silver coin it would have had no problem being accepted in exchange for goods and services and I suspect that plenty of merchants were more than happy to take them as they were backed by the mighty British Empire, arguably at its height then.
The St George & the Dragon design clearly marks the coin as English. More often associated with the gold sovereign, it looks great on the big five shilling piece – even though as represented the poor dragon appears kind of puny and not that much of a threat to the brave hero…
The good news is that they are well within reach. Having come down in price over the last 5 years or so, it seems that in EF grade – which many regard as ‘a pleasing collector’s coin’ – they can usually be had, still you’ll need to be prepared to shell out in the order of AUD 150 or so.
One thing about UK coins similar to this is that there’s always a ready market, so I don’t think you can go too far wrong with it.