1849 British Queen Victoria Godless Florin
Only issued in 1849, Queen Victoria’s Godless Florin is one of the most famous coins in the world that coin collector’s regularly seek out. One of most beautiful English coins, the Godless Florin caused much controversy, which led to it only being struck for circulation one year.
The British florin was introduced in 1849 and would continue to be produced until 1967 (a final proof-only version was issued in 1970). Various British monarchs’ faces have graced the British florin over the years and the design has varied, but it is Queen Victoria’s florins which receive the most attention, mostly due to their intricate detail and beauty.
The 1849 florin became known as the Godless Florin for the fact it omitted the initials D.G. which stood for “by the Grace of God”. This didn’t go down very well with the public.
Interesting Facts about the Godless Florin
Not only did the Godless Florin leave off the nod to God, it also left off the F. D. which stood for “Defender of the Faith”. The coin’s obverse simply reads Victoria Regina 1849 (Regina being the term for the reigning queen).
Some say the Roman Catholic Master of the Mint at the time purposely left Defender of the Faith D.G. off the coin in a plot to overthrow the British Protestant regime, but it was actually Victoria’s husband Prince Albert that pushed for the florin’s inscription. However, apparently even Queen Victoria was left out of the loop as even she was shocked by the coin’s inscription.
The British Godless Crown also received attention because it showed Queen Victoria wearing a crown, which hadn’t been seen by previous monarchs of British coins for roughly 200 years.
Two years later, the florin was redesigned and reissued from 1851-1887. These florins would become known as the Gothic Florins due to the coin’s intricate new Gothic script. Needless to say, the D.G. and F.D. were added to the coins to appease the public. The Gothic Florin also became larger than the Godless Florin by 2mm in diameter, although the weight remained the same.
Historical Events Happening at the Time
Left: Queen Victoria Portrait from 1840, Right:Karl Marx: Photo courtesy of John Jabez Edwin Mayal / Public domain
While people were spending their new Godless Florins, there was a lot happening in the U.K. at the time. The following are some of the notable 1849 historic events in the United Kingdom:
- Queen Victoria was shot at by Irishman William Hamilton when she rode in her carriage along Constitution Hill, London. Thankfully they were blanks.
- Queen Victoria made her first visit to Ireland to gain public support for the monarchy.
- Louis Philippe I, the last King of France, had just recently escaped the French Revolution of 1848 and was now living in exile in England. King Louis had been the first French king to visit a British sovereign.
- The Irish Potato Famine or Great Famine of Ireland and a large cholera epidemic was happening. Diseased crops would lead to roughly a million deaths caused by starvation and disease. This resulted in millions of Irish refugees and growing support for Irish nationalism.
- Karl Marx, German socialist revolutionary and philosopher, moved to London with his family after becoming stateless due to his political publications. It was his belief that classes shouldn’t exist in society and this led to many of the 20th century communist regimes.
- The Bowler Hat is invented by London hat-makers.
Left:French King Louis Philippe: Photo Courtesy of Franz Xaver Winterhalter / Public domain, Right: Bowler Hat: Photo Courtesy of Oxfordian Kissuth / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Lettering: VICTORIA REGINA 1849 W.W. (which stands for the engraver William Wyon)
Lettering: ONE FLORIN ONE TENTH OF A POUND
Size and Weight
Silver (.925), Weight 11.31 g, Diameter 28 mm, Coin alignment ↑↓
Mintage (How many were produced)
Where to Buy and What You Should Pay
You can readily find this coin on Ebay and through online coin dealers. Worn coins with little detail can be purchased for around $25-$30USD, while Very Fine or Extra Fine examples can go for as high as $300-$400.
You can expect to find more of these sold in the United Kingdom and they may be a bit cheaper due to the greater availability there. There are fakes out there so be careful. One fake Godless Florin circulating out there has a raised dot in front of Victoria’s forehead and another has a “9” in 1849 date that has a flat edge instead of the rounded “9” shown in the genuine coin.