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Australia 1915 Heaton Proof Florin PCGS PR66 Ex Parkhill Collection

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Australia 1915 Heaton Proof Florin PCGS PR66 Ex Parkhill Collection

The cornerstone of one of the finest collections of Australian Commonwealth coins ever formed.

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Product ID:
P-25317
$125,000
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Description:

Australia 1915 Heaton Proof Florin

Quality: PCGS PR66

Provenance: Ex Parkhill Collection

Obverse: Coronate bust of George V to right, legend around

Reverse: Coat of Arms, date and legend


This coin was formerly the cornerstone of one of the finest collections of Australian Commonwealth coins ever formed.

It is the finer of just two examples known, and is one of Australia’s 20th century numismatic rarities.

Click the PCGS icon below to verify the certificate details for this coin directly on the PCGS website.

PCGS Certificate Verification 84035845

The 1915-H Proof florin is one of Australia’s rarest and most important Commonwealth proof coins.

It is the pinnacle of the Heaton Mint’s contribution to Australia’s early Commonwealth coinage, and is testament to the rigours imposed on all aspects of daily life in Australia by the First World War.

Just two are known in private hands - the Parkhill example is widely regarded as being the finer of them, and was the cornerstone of one of the finest collections of Australian Commonwealth coins ever formed.

Australia’s First Commonwealth Coins Were Struck in London

The first coins for the Commonwealth of Australia in 1910 were struck at the Royal Mint in London.

Although significant quantities of silver had been discovered in Broken Hill in the 1880’s, and although the colonial governments of New South Wales and Victoria had been agitating for the Australian branch mints to strike an Australian national coinage for some years, it was an established practice that the coinage for all British colonies (outside India) was struck by the Royal Mint in London. Maintaining this practice was not without challenges however.

Colonial coinage accounted for an average of 25% of the Royal Mint’s total output between 1900 and 1910, and ranged between 11% and 93%.[1] Over the course of that decade, the Royal Mint took several steps to reduce challenges to their production capacity - it expanded and upgraded equipment;[2] it delegated production to the Heaton Mint; it opened a new branch in Ottowa (Canada); and delegated production of India’s coinage to the Calcutta and Bombay Mints.

A further means of mitigating the challenges limited capacity posed would have been for any or each of the Royal Mint branches at Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to strike Australia’s copper and silver coinage, however that was not immediately possible.

Senior Royal Mint staff believed that the coining presses in the Australian branch mints had to be modified before the production of silver and copper coinage could begin here.

As an example, the presses used at the Perth Mint in the early 1900’s were manufactured by Taylor & Challen, their “Model 640”.[3] These machines were designed and set up to strike gold sovereigns and half sovereigns – coins of a relatively soft metal and no more than 20.5mm in diameter. At 30.8mm in diameter, pennies are approximately 50% larger larger than sovereigns, and 59% larger than a half sovereign. Further to that, copper is a much harder metal than gold to work with. By way of comparison, copper has a measure of 369 Mpa on Mohr’s hardness scale, while gold has a measure of just 216 Mpa on the same scale.

In his seminal work on Australian coinage, Dr Arthur Andrews explained in 1921 the circumstances under which Australia’s first coins were struck: “An arrangement was made with the Imperial Government by which, until the coinage could be undertaken in Australia, the necessary supplies should be provided by the Royal Mint in London on account of the Commonwealth Government.”[4]

The Royal Mint struck Australia’s coins throughout 1910 and 1911, however in 1912 it was beset by an unexpected and strong increase in demand for copper pennies in Britain. [5]

The Heaton Mint - Extra Capacity During Periods of High Demand The Birmingham Mint

The city of Birmingham has been one of Britain’s most important trade centres for centuries. The engineers James Watt, Matthew Boulton and William Murdock, the chemist Joseph Priestley and the printer John Baskerville were all leading figures in the Industrial Revolution, and all lived in Birmingham. Their innovative ideas and work developed Birmingham’s reputation as a powerhouse of manufacturing and innovation, and earned their city the title of “The City of a Thousand Trades.”

Such was Boulton’s reputation for efficiency, accuracy and productivity, from 1853 the Royal Mint regularly outsourced production of British and colonial coins to the Heaton Mint, specifically during times of high demand for coinage.

This was again the case in 1912, when the Heaton Mint was called upon to strike 16.8 million pennies for Great Britain, as well as copper pennies and halfpennies for Australia. [6]The 1912 penny and halfpenny are the first Australian coins struck by the Heaton Mint.

If the Royal Mint was busy in the 1900’s fulfilling their responsibility to manufacture coinage or Britain and the colonies, additional work aimed at supporting the Allied effort in World War I increased the Royal Mint’s workload further. Royal Mint records show that during World War I, it assisted in the production of munitions, and also provided special engineering skills needed to produce items like artillery dial sights and gauges. [7]

Demand for British coinage rose yet again in 1914, so the Heaton Mint was tasked with producing a portion of Australia’s florins and halfpennies, as well as a portion of Australia’s florins, shillings, pennies and halfpennies for 1915.

Delegating production to the Heaton Mint solved the problem of manufacturing Australia’s coins, however it did not solve the problems inherent in shipping them to Australia. After World War I began in 1914, allied ships were under threat from German submarines regardless of what they were carrying, [8]so production of Australia’s coins needed to be relocated yet again. As a result, the Heaton Mint’s involvement with Australia’s coins ended as quickly as it began.

The Heaton Cabinet - Words and Photographs Do Not Adequately Tell the Story

Although the Heaton Mint kept proofs of many of the coins it struck, proofs or specimens of the Heaton-minted Australian copper coins have never been sighted on the open market. A very small number of proof silver coins made their way onto the Australian collector market in the mid 1970’s however, these have been amongst the most highly prized Australian proof coins of the 20th century. That the Heaton Mint’s archives were sold is beyond question; just how, when and why has been less clear.

The Heaton Mint entered voluntary administration in 2003,[9] it’s commercial history leading up to that point was quite complex. Mergers, acquisitions, changes in trading name and in executive staff all took place in it’s final decades of operations - one of those changes in around 1974 are thought to have led to the decision to divest the Heaton Mint’s archival collection. Paramount Auction Catalogue 1975

Between 1974 and 1977, the noted numismatist Bruce Smith worked as Editorial Assistant for “World Coin News” magazine, and also as a cataloger for the ubiquitous Krause titles “Standard Catalog of World Coins” and “Standard Catalog of World Paper Money”[10]. Writing in a Champion Coin Auctions catalogue in December 2015, Smith stated that “In the mid 1970’s, the Heaton Mint was bought by another company, which ordered all the duplicate coins in the Heaton collection to be sold. Hundreds of coins from various countries, struck by Heaton’s over the previous century, went to the British coin firm Spink’s, or perhaps a combination of Spink’s and the American firm, Paramount. These two companies began marketing the coins in 1975.[11]

Paramount International Coin Corporation was at that time a leading coin retailer and auction company, an auction conducted by them in August 1975 contained a large collection of coins attributed to “…heirs to the estate of a mint master.[12] The introduction to the catalogue stated that “In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was common practice for mints to strike proof and specimen coins to exchange with the masters of other mints as samples of their work."[13]

The cataloguer of this auction of the Heaton Mint archives went on to say that “To say the quality of these coins is excellent is really an understatement. Superlatives have been so overused that they do not maintain the impact they once had. Words and photographs do not adequately tell the story. Each of these magnificent coins must be seen to be truly appreciated.[14]

Spink - A Trusted Name in Numismatics Since 1666

Spink and Son is a rare coin dealership in London that has been in business since 1666 - it is among the most trusted names in numismatics in the world, and has arguably been the first name in British numismatics for centuries. The book “Coins of England and the United Kingdom” published by Spink is a ubiquitous part of the British numismatic landscape. The numismatic staff at Spink have a deep network of contacts within the numismatic industry spanning the world over, so there is little question why they would have been chosen to handle the numismatic archives of the Heaton Cabinet.

There is no written record of the coins from the Heaton Cabinet that were handled by Spink - the Paramount catalogue from 1975 contains a British 1912-H penny, as well as coins from British Commonwealth entities such as Sarawak, British West Africa and Canada, leaving us with no firm indication of Spink’s direct involvement in disposing of the Heaton Cabinet.

Australian proofs from the Heaton Cabinet were first seen on the open market in the early 1980’s - a 1914-H florin was sighted in a Spink / Noble auction in November 1982,[15] the remaining 1914-H and 1915-H proofs appeared in the years that followed.

In March 2003, the Birmingham Mint went into liquidation.[16] In 2005, the commercial entity that controlled it chose to divest what remained of the archives of Birmingham’s various private mints.

The collection was donated en bloc to the Birmingham Museum of Fine Arts, who in turn is believed to have made use of a Birmingham coin dealer to dispose of the collection. The Birmingham archival coins released from 2005 that have been seen on the open market were all struck in the latter half of the 20th century, which in turn means that the few Heaton proofs first handled by Spink’s in the 1970’s are all that will ever be available to collectors.Noble Numismatics November 1988

The Parkhill Collection - One of the Finest Collections of Australian Commonwealth Coins Ever Formed 

This particular example was the cornerstone of the florin set in the Parkhill collection - widely acknowledged as being one of the finest collections of Australian pre-decimal coins ever formed. 

It was built by an Australian collector during the 1970’s and 1980’s, working with guidance from Spink Auctions in Sydney. It contained a number of truly incredible coins:

1914-H Proof Florin

1915-H Proof Florin

1927 Canberra Proof Florin

1934 Proof Florin

1934/5 Melbourne Centenary Specimen Florin

The Parkhill collection was first offered for sale as complete sets of each denomination via a Noble Numismatics auction in November 1988, however bids did not meet the vendor’s firm reserves. The florin set was described by the auctioneer as being "the finest set of florins we have handled.[17] Noble Numismatics Catalogue November 1994

The coins were then offered for sale individually in November 1994, again by Noble Numismatics.

The 1915-H proof florin was by far the most valuable coin in the Parkhill florin set, and was in fact the most valuable coin in the entire Parkhill collection.

Due to their incomparable history and rarity, Heaton proofs are very seldom seen on the open market.

The most recent Heaton Australian proof coin to pass through auction was the Parkhill 1914-H Proof Florin, sold on the Gold Coast in March 2017 for $76,320. Prior to that, the Barraclough 1914-H Proof Florin sold via auction in March 2013, where it made $314,550.

The last time a 1915-H proof florin was seen at auction was in July 2011, when the Barraclough example sold for $147,955. The Parkhill 1915-H is has regularly been described as being the finer of the two examples known.

It has consistently traded at a premium over the 1914-H proof florin from the same collection, and remains one of Australia’s foremost 20th century numismatic rarities.

Please use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like any specific information about the rarity or provenance of this important numismatic rarity.


  1. Challis; C, “A New History of the Royal Mint”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, p 547.  ↩

  1. Challis; C, “A New History of the Royal Mint”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, p 540.  ↩

  1. Perth Mint archives, Die Register 2995  ↩

  1. Andrews; Arthur, “Australasian Tokens and Coins”, Government Printer, Sydney, 1921, p 136.  ↩

  1. Challis; C, “A New History of the Royal Mint”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, p 547.  ↩

  1. Challis; C, “A New History of the Royal Mint”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, p 546.  ↩

  1. Challis; C, “A New History of the Royal Mint”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, p 556.  ↩

  1. Hindenburg; Paul Von, “Out of My Life”, Cassell, London, 1920, p 253.  ↩

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/3309599/Birmingham-Mint-runs-into-cash-flow-crisis.html  ↩

  1. http://www.coinweek.com/?p=74136  ↩

  1. https://new.liveauctioneers.com/item/42327951_china-shensi–1898–50-cents-silver-pattern-pcgs-sp61  ↩

  1. Merino; Raymond, “Long Beach Convention Sale”, Paramount International Coin Corporation, Long Beach (California), 7–10 August 1975, p 1.  ↩

  1. Merino; Raymond, “Long Beach Convention Sale”, Paramount International Coin Corporation, Long Beach (California), 7–10 August 1975, p 1.  ↩

  1. Merino; Raymond, “Long Beach Convention Sale”, Paramount International Coin Corporation, Long Beach (California), 7–10 August 1975, p 1.  ↩

  1. Spink Auctions, "Australian & World Coins”, Sydney, November 1982, p 49.  ↩

  1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2872443.stm  ↩

  1. Noble; Jim, "", Noble Numismatics , Sydney, November 1988, p .  ↩