Fiji Six Pence, Coins From The Island Colony: 6 Pence (Fiji 1953)-Article

Updated: May 2

This coin is a 1st year Fijian 6 Pence (Elizabeth II), dated 1953. The Fijian Six Pence represented the 3rd largest denomination coin, of the Fijian Pound. The Fijian pound was a non-decimal currency, which included coins in ½ Pence, 1 Pence, 3 Pence, 6 Pence, 1 Shilling, and 1 Florin denominations. One Six Pence was equal to 1/4th Florin or 1/40th Fijian Pound.


The Elizabeth II Six Pence was the first Fijian coin bearing Queen Elizabeth's portrait. Entering circulation in 1953 and was last issued in 1967. Making it one of the last pre-decimal coins issued in Fiji. Until the decimalized Fijian Dollar was adopted in 15 January 1969. The exchange rate was set at 10 Shillings (120 Pence) = 1 Fijian Dollar.


Overall, the coin is a reeded-edged design made of nickel-copper alloy and weighs 2.8 g. Its dimensions are 19.5 mm (0.77 in) wide and 1.1 mm (0.043 in) thick. Making it roughly similar to a US Penny (19.05 mm/0.75 in), in size. Like the majority of British Imperial coinage. This coin was mint by the Royal Mint, London. (This coin will be reviewed reverse first)


Reverse

Fijian Six Pence reverse designed by Percy Metcalfe.
Fijian Six Pence reverse by Percy Metcalfe.

The reverse prominently features a diving hawksbill sea turtle, a widespread yet endangered species. This iconic image was designed by British sculptor Percy Metcalfe (1895-1970). It's unique to the Fijian Six Pence, spanning across all versions of the denomination. Which includes the first Six Pence issued under the reign of King George V (1934). To the finally version issued under Queen Elizabeth, in 1967.


The design follows a relatively simple format. A split issue date, seen here as 19 (left) 53 (right). Followed by a over-under issuer (FIJI) and value (SIXPENCE) format. Like many Fijian coins such as the Florin and Shilling. The reverse features squared-toothed ridges, along the the inner rim. Providing aid to gripping the small coin.


Observe

Fijian Six Pence observe designed by Cecil Thomas.
Fijian Six Pence observe designed by Cecil Thomas.

The observe features the 1st Portrait of Elizabeth II. The portrait features a right-side profile, complete with the state crown. The portrait is wreathed by the text, “QUEEN ELIZABETH THE SECOND”. Just as the previously mentioned Florin and Shilling, the observe inner rim is beaded. This feature was common for Fijian coins of the period.


Notably the style of the observe text differs from the previous George VI Six Pence (1942-1943). Which featured split text, that read “George VI King Emperor”. With the title "King Emperor" separated from the royal name (left-side). Which although subtle has significant historical importance.


As King George VI was also Emperor of British India. Which gained independence from the British Empire in 1947. First as British dominion, then as an independent nation in 1950. All which preceded Elizabeth The Second's ascension in 1952.


Pre-Decimal Fijian Pound Guide

10 Florin=1 Fijian Pound

20 Shilling=1 Fijian Pound

240 Pence=1 Fijian Pound

40 Pence=1 Fijian Pound

20 Pence=1 Fijian Shilling


Size Comparison

Fijian Six Pence with US Penny for scale.
A Fijian Six Pence with US Penny for scale.
 

Additional Notes

  • In 1970, Fiji transitioned a British colony to a self-governing commonwealth lead by a Governor-General.

  • In 1987, Fiji transitioned to a republic after establishing the Office of the Fijian Presidency.

  • English sculptor and medalist Cecil Walter Thomas (1885-1976) was renown for his work in church displays and private funerary memorials.

  • The memorial tomb of Bishop Edward Stuart Talbot, is widely regarded to be Cecil Walter Thomas' greatest work.

  • Excluding artistic refinements, Cecil Thomas' work on coins was primarily limited to the Florin and Sixpence.

  • Cecil Thomas declined the Royal Mints' commission to design Britain’s post-decimal coinage.

  • English artist Percy Metcalfe (1895-1970) was best known for designing the "Barnyard Collection" coin series, for the Irish Free State.

  • Percy Metcalfe designed the infamous 1936 Fijian Penny (King Edward VIII). This is the only brief exception of the George Kruger Gray designed Fijian Penny run (1934-1936/1936-1945).

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