Type: Victoria British Silver "Widow Head" Shilling
Era / Ruler: Queen Victoria
Face Value: 1 Shilling
Issued from: 1893
Issued until: 1901
Obverse: Victoria mature draped bust left
Reverse: Crowned shields of England, Scotland and Ireland
In the United Kingdom, the shilling was a coin used from the reign of Henry VII until decimalisation in 1971. Before decimalisation there were twenty shillings to the pound and twelve pence to the shilling, and thus 240 pence to the pound.
At decimalisation the shilling was superseded by the decimal five pence piece, which initially was of identical size and weight and had the same value.
The word shilling comes from schilling, an accounting term that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times where it was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere.
After the Great Recoinage of England's money in 1816 the shilling was standardized with a weight of 5.7 grams and a diameter of 24 mm. In 1920, along with other national coins, the silver content was reduced from 92.5% (sterling) to 50%, and in 1947 to pure cupro-nickel.
The shilling coin issued in most of the 20th century was virtually identical in size and weight to the German 1 Deutsche Mark coin (sufficiently similar to be interchangeable in coin-operated machines). This reflected the pre-First World War exchange rate of 20 marks to one pound; by the end of the shilling's circulation, the mark was worth six times as much.
During the reign of Elizabeth II, shillings were minted featuring both the English three lions (technically three leopards couchants) coat of arms, and the Scottish lion rampant coat of arms (see illustration above).
Before decimalisation, there were twenty shillings to the pound and twelve pence to the shilling, and thus 240 pence to the pound.
The last shillings issued for circulation were dated 1967, although proofs were issued as part of a collectors' set dated 1970. In 1968, the new decimal five pence coin (initially called "five new pence"), with the same weight and specifications, started to replace the shilling and inherited the shilling's slang name of a bob. Shillings and florins remained in circulation alongside the 5p and 10p coins until 1990, when smaller 5p and 10p coins were introduced.