New Zealand Pattern Coin by Jay Turner for PCGS ……
There is something quite magical in viewing a pattern coin. A concept for a coin that is so familiar, yet sometimes shockingly different, is an incredible sight to behold.
Such is the case for a wonderful New Zealand pattern coin recently graded by PCGS.
Before 1933, New Zealand had a coinage problem. Legal tender in New Zealand encompassed the coinage of Great Britain. This often led to coin shortages, as much-needed small change became difficult to obtain. The Imperial Coinage Act was passed in 1870, making only issues from Great Britain legal tender in New Zealand. However, the act didn’t go into effect until 1897 in New Zealand, invalidating non-British coins as legal tender in the south pacific island nation. This means that foreign pieces, such as silver Spanish 8 Reales coins – then commonly found circulating in New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere in the British Empire – could no longer be used as money there. Following the 1914 withdrawal of gold as legal tender and the 1920 debasement of Great Britain coins from sterling .925 fine silver to .500 fine silver, coinage became scarce as the public became unwilling to spend coins worth significant bullion premiums over their face value.
The decision was made for New Zealand to start issuing its own coinage.
1933 P Shil KM-Pn3 on 0.750 Fine Silver Plan, New Zealand, PCGS SP65. PCGS Population 1. Finest known.
The New Zealand coins followed the currency system of Great Britain and were initially issued in denominations of threepence, sixpence, shilling, florin, and half crown, all in the .500 fine silver standard of Great Britain. For these, two pattern issues were produced.
There was a three pence pattern featuring a hei-tiki (an ornamental pendant of the Maori of New Zealand) and also a shilling showcasing the kiwi bird of New Zealand. Both patterns were never adopted. The three pence would be officially issued with two carved patu as the reverse. The shilling was issued featuring a crouched Maori warrior holding a taiaha. The design of the hei-tiki was later used for the half-penny of New Zealand starting in 1940. The kiwi design was greatly modified and used for the adopted florin design starting in 1933.
Adopted official Shilling design. 1933 Shil, New Zealand, PCGS MS66. PCGS Population 1. Finest known.
Adopted official Florin design with Kiwi Bird reverse. 1933 Florin, New Zealand, PCGS MS66. PCGS Population 1. Finest known
Today, both New Zealand 1933 pattern issues are incredibly rare. PCGS has yet to grade an example of the threepence, but one can be viewed at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Museum Collection. In January 2020, PCGS had the honor and pleasure of grading its first example of the 1933 Shilling pattern. The obverse features the adopted coinage bust of King George V. The reverse is truly special with a left-facing kiwi bird bearing incuse feathers standing on grass with ornamental motif inside a circle. “NEW ZEALAND” above and “ONE SHILLING 1933” below. The coin is graded PCGS SP65.