The PL Mintmark of 1951

February 28, 2009

Australia 1951PL Half Penny

In 1951, due to capacity problems at the Royal Australian Mint, some coins were minted at the Royal Mint in London, England. The denominations minted by the Royal Mint in 1951 were the half penny, the penny, the threepence, and the sixpence. Note that each of these denominations was also struck in Australia in 1951. The coins minted in the UK were notably better struck than the coins in Australia and exhibited different rim beads and denticles. They were also marked with the mint mark 'PL' on the reverse of each coin. Above you can see a 1951PL half penny, the mint mark can be seen near the rim at about 4 o'clock on the reverse.

Now it had never really occured to me to wonder what the mintmark PL stood for. However, I am currently reading Collecting Australian Coins (Hanley and James 1966) and they explain the origins of this mintmark on page 88. It's interesting enough to quote verbatim here:

...these coins were mintmarked with PL on the reverse and in the 1951 Mint Annual Report says of this: "The same letters were used, as well as others, for the same purpose on coins struck at London during the Roman occupation....some suggest that P is an abbreviation of pecunia (money), others favour percussa (struck). Whatever be the extended form, however, the significance was the same in 1951 as in Roman times, that the coins were struck at the Mint in London."

The book doesnt mention what L stands for but obviously this is Latin for London. So we have two possibilities for what the PL stands for:

pecunia londinii - money of London
percussa londinio - struck at London

It is amazing to think that here we have a connection between the coins issued for circulation in Australia in the early 1950's and the coins struck in London nearly 2000 years ago! In fact, a little bit of Google research (from here) reveals that the PL mintmark was used only for a short period from about 300AD to 326AD and for a few more years after 380AD. This is yet another example of how the wonderful hobby of coin collecting helps to shed light on the history of Australia and even on the history of other countries going back thousands of years.

Posted by mnemtsas at February 28, 2009 9:55 AM
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