Scottish, English coins have intertwined history

Since 1937, Scottish themes have circulated throughout United Kingdom on coins
By , Coin World
Published : 09/17/14
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Voters in the United Kingdom in an election Sept. 18 decided to remain united, so Scotland will not have to consider a new currency in the future.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland have a numismatic history that is irrevocably intertwined.

It was the Act of Union in 1707 that brought Scotland into the Union of Great Britain, which officially came into effect during the reign of Queen Anne in 1707. 

From 1707 to 1710 the new union underwent a recoinage of silver coins to align the systems, and since then, Scotland has used the circulating coins of England. 

Two shillings in circulation

However, in 1937, as new designs were being prepared for King George VI, who was placed upon the throne upon his brother’s abdication as King Edward VIII, a push to honor the new queen consort with a Scottish design gained traction. From 1937 to 1970, during the reign of two monarchs and in changing alloys, Scottish and English shillings circulated alongside each other.

In British Coins and Their Designers, Howard W.A. Linecar confirms that “the Scottish shilling was brought into being by pressure from the Scots.”

That George's wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who would later be referred to as “the Queen Mother,” was Scottish was a convenient fact for the Scots.

“Sir Robert Johnson, the then Deputy Master [of the Royal Mint], turned [the Scottish shilling] into a compliment to the Queen Consort, which, in view of her Scottish ancestry, was graciously accepted.”

A large sideways-turned lion, but facing the viewer, appears atop a large crown on the English shilling. 

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