Elizabeth II Shillings

Welcome to the "tricky '50s", and to a deeply underestimated, and surprisingly complex, little series - Elizabeth II shillings.  One of the reasons these have always appealed to me is that they have something to interest every type of collector - circulated examples of all dates are readily available for the low value date run enthusiast, while it is sufficiently challenging for those of us who insist on top grade coins. There’s interest too for the variety hunter, with three obverses and four reverses being used through the series, and a couple of genuine microvarieties too.
Putting together an UNC set of these is quite a challenge, and may take more work than you might expect. If you thought Elizabeth II was a straightforward area to complete, then the Shillings will show you otherwise.  The 60s are straightforward, to be fair, with the possible exception of the 1961 Scottish.  You may have to wait for one of these, but they can be found in UNC.  Most are VF or thereabouts as they were rescued from circulation in higher proportions than other dates.  A similar thing happened to the 1965 Scottish as the perception was that its low mintage might make it collectable. 

Very few series illustrate the difference between the coinage of the 1950s and that of the 1960s so clearly – there is something interesting to note about every date from 1953 to 1959, while after 1960, the coins become very standard, and much more common.

1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958


Sm. des. 3+C

ENG 1953E 1+A 1953E 2+A 1954E 1955E 1955E SD 1956E 3+C 1956E 3+D 1957E 1958E


3+C 3+C sd 3+D

SCOT 1953S 1+A 1953S 2+A 1954S 1955S 3+C
1955S 3+D 1956S 1957S 1958S

1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966
ENG 1959E 1960E 1961E 1962E 1963E 1964E 1965E 1961E

Type 1
Type 2

SCOT 1959S T1 1959S T2 1960S 1961S 1962S 1963S 1964S 1965S 1966S
Diameter: 24mm,   Weight: 5.7g,   Alloy: Copper: 75%, Nickel: 25%

This chart is an analysis of the price achieved for nearly 1000 of my sales of Elizabeth II shillings over the past ten years or so, corrected for grade.  The stand out peaks are clear to see, as is the obvious difference between the '50s issues, and those of the '60s.



Both types of 1953 shillings occur with two obverses, the shallow Obverse 1 issued in the plastic set, and the deeper engraved Obverse 2 intended for currency. Obverse 2 coins are rather difficult to find in top grade. The completist, therefore, will be looking for four types of 1953 shilling.

As with the other denominations, it is always worth keeping an eye out for high grade Obverse 2s.  There aren't that many left.  Most high grade 1953 shillings will be Obverse 1, ex plastic set.

Obverse 1 Obverse 2
Obverse 1

I of LIZ at a bead
Obverse 1

I of LIZ between beads

1953E 1+A Obverse 1

Shallow portrait

I of LIZ at a bead

I of GRATIA between beads

: after OMN between beads

legs of N in OMN at beads

R of BRITT away from truncation
1953E 1+A
1953S 1+A 1953S 1+A
1953E 2+A Obverse 2

Recut portrait

I of LIZ between beads

I of GRATIA to the right of a bead

: after OMN at a bead

legs of N in OMN between beads

R of BRITT close to truncation
1953E 2+A
1953S 2+A 1953S 2+A


1954 is one of those "second year after the coronation" years.  Everyone hoarded the new monarch's first year coins, but no-one hoarded the second.  This pattern can be followed through the twentieth century and across denominations:

...and 1954 shillings and bigger should always be snapped up if you see them in UNC.

Incidentally, 1954 is the only year to feature Reverse B. The reverse changes twice in the following two years.

1954E 1954E
1954S 1954S


1955 shillings have two distinct Scottish reverse types, C and D, and difficult to identify microvarieties for the English and Reverse C Scottish coins.

The small design varieties of the 1955 English Reverse and 1955 Scottish Reverse C are detailed in Davies and Groom but tend not to be included in more general works as they are so darned difficult to identify.  I do not know if they are rare or not - the single example to have passed through my hands, illustrated below, was highlighted to me by a more experienced collector.  I have never managed to find the Scottish variant, but if I'm honest, I haven't looked that hard.

Reverse C is the scarcer of the two main Scottish reverses.

1955E 1955E
1955E SD Small Design

Smaller reverse design

Broader rim

Teeth thicker

Characteristic rounded appearance
1955E SD
1955S 3+C Reverse C

D of DEF at a bead

F of DEF between beads

Both quatrefoils between beads

2nd I in SHILLING at a bead
1955S 3+C
No photo - I still haven't found one of these
Reverse C, small design
1955S 3+D Reverse D

D of DEF between beads

F of DEF to the left of a bead

Left quatrefoil at a bead

Right quatrefoil to the left of a bead

2nd I in SHILLING between beads
1955S 3+D


1956 English shillings occur with two reverse types as well, C and D, and both are tricky in high grade.  Davies estimates that the two reverses are of similar abundance.   I concur - similar numbers of each have passed through my hands.

Reverse C
Reverse D
Obverse 1

I of FID at a bead
Obverse 1

I of FID between beads

1956E 3+C Reverse C

D of FID between beads

I of FID at a bead

D of DEF at a bead

Right quatrefoil at a bead
1956E 3+C
1956E 3+D Reverse D

D of FID to the left of a bead

I of FID between beads

D of DEF to the left of a bead

Right quatrefoil to the right of a bead
1956E 3+D
1956S 1956S


1957 Scottish shillings are among the more difficult dates in the series, much trickier than the English type, while the situation is reversed for 1958, with the English type being one of the most elusive coins in top grade, and the Scottish being relatively easy to find.

1957 Scottish shillings, in UNC, are probably as Scarce as the more well known 1959 Scottish. 

1957E 1957E
1957S 1957S


1958 English shillings, in UNC, are one of the great unsung rarities of this period.  Hoover them up if you find any.

1958E 1958E
1958S 1958S


1959 Scottish shillings are only very difficult in true UNC, and its rarity is well documented and probably over-estimated.  It is always worth repeating that these rarity assessments only apply to UNC coins.  Examples of ALL Elizabeth II shillings, all years, exist in low grade (EF and below) in huge quantities.

There’s also a useful microvariety to distinguish.

1959E 1959E
1959ST1 Type 1

All 3 ornaments touch the baseline


A little scarcer
1959ST2 Type 2

Ornaments 2 & 3 away from baseline


A little commoner


1960E 1960E
1960S 1960S


Some dates are stubbornly difficult to find in anything above standard circulated grades.  You'll find the 1961 Scottish particularly tricky.

1961E 1961E
1961S 1961S


1962E 1962E
1962S 1962S


1963E 1963E
1963S 1963S


1964E 1964E
1964S 1964S


1965E 1965E
1965S 1965S

Collecting from change was popular in 1965, prior to decimalisation, and the perception was that the low mintage of the 1965 Scottish Shilling might make it collectable.  Most 1965 Scottish shillings are consequently UNC or thereabouts.


1966E 1966E
1966S 1966S