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1951-PL Sixpence

George VI


In 1951 the Royal Mint in Londonproduced 20,024,000 Sixpence for Australia. In the same year the Melbourne Mint produced a further 13,760,000 pieces. The London variety can be distinguished from the Melbourne variety by a small 'PL' mint-mark located above the date on the reverse (see image below). PL is an abbreviation of pecunia londīniī (money of London) or percussa londīniō (struck at London).

London 'PL' mint-mark on a 1951-PL Sixpence.

The 1951-PL sixpence by far the most common sixpence of the Type II George VI series due to the large initial mintage. The coin is always very well struck up although the surfaces are often bagged due to the rough shipping process from London to Australia. Consequently grades above MS64 can be quite scarce as microscopic hairlines typically result in a grading of around MS63 to MS64. Due to the coin being well struck up and the general unfamiliarity many collectors have with grading George VI Commonwealth coins, one must be extra careful in differentiating a dipped circulated piece with a mint state coin.

This was the first time that the London branch had produced sixpence pieces for Australia since 1914. They became involved in order to assist the Melbourne Mint in correcting a major change shortage that was being felt around Australia. The reasons for this shortage are difficult to untangle however one key reason seems to have been the previous years federal and state budgets which raised the prices of many services by one or two pence.(Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser, 1951) These increases created a number of 'split prices' meaning that no one coin was able to pay for the good or service and as a result multiple coins were required to both pay for goods and to then provide change.(Singleton Argus, 1951) For example, in Melbourne some tram fares were raised to five pence which required an awkward combination of pieces to get exactly, or for conductors to carry substantial quantities of change.(Singleton Argus, 1951)

"Minting more small coins" - Singleton Argus, 23rd July 1951.

These issues fuelled debate around altering the Australian Pound. In a letter to the editor in the Sydney Morning Herald one man proposed reintroducing the 4 pence 'groat'. He argued that shortages and confusion could be resolved as with a single groat one could " one tram or bus section ticket... thus helping conductors in the giving of change for amounts involving odd pennies."(Leonard H. Hancock, 1951) However temporary solutions like this were dwarfed by arguments for the introduction of a decimal currency. In the same year a full page article in the Sydney newspaper 'The Sun' was headlined "Decimals might lighten our lives."(The Sun, 1951) Although the decimalised Australian dollar wasn't introduced until 1966 the responses to the coin shortage of 1951 illustrate a growing national desire for currency reform.

The heads side of the coinThe inscription around the inner edge of the coinA marking, usually a letter or dot that signifies which mint struck a particular coina facility that produces coinsThe tails side of the coinThe number of coins struck of a particular designationLeonard H. Hancock, 1951The Sun, 1951Singleton Argus, 1951Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser, 1951

Values are in AUD and are retail price estimations based on past sales of coins certified by PCGS or NGC and as such values only related to such graded coins. Uncertified coins or coins graded by other services would likely be worth significantly less. For wholesale pricing please refer to the Red Sheet. While all attempts to ensure accurate pricing, data entry errors can occur and as such no warranty is expressed or implied as to the accuracy of any information published on this website. It is important to verify all published sales to ensure the accuracy of the pricing when making any purchase decision. Any personal information provided to us is protected by the Privacy Act 1988.