The Double Florin or Four Shillings is one of the shortest-lived coin denominations in the British series, minted in only four years, 1887- 1890. The reverse design was based on that first featured by John Roettier (1631-1700) on the gold coins of Charles II, and this continued to be used, in modified form, on the Jubilee Florins of Victoria, and later on the 1911-1926 coinage of George V.
Although the Double Florin was unpopular with the general public and no pieces were issued for general circulation after 1890, the denomination continued to intrigue the manufacturers of pattern coinage. On behalf of Reginald Huth the medallists John Pinches produced a private pattern Double Florin dated 1900 to commemorate the visit of Queen Victoria to Ireland (see lot 43 in the first part of this sale). In 1911 Huth produced a series of private pattern George V Four Shilling pieces and followed them in 1914 with some pattern 'Twelve Groat' pieces. They were made in a variety of metals as were his patterns for Ireland at the end of Victoria's reign. Examples exist in silver, iron, copper, zinc, nickel etc. and the name of the metal was, generally, stamped on the obverse under the truncation, or on the edge.
During the reign of George VI, in 1950, a very small number of official pattern Double Florins were made in anticipation for the Festival of Britain, however a Crown was chosen instead to commemorate this event.
It is said that the use of the controversial Boehm portrait of Queen Victoria (engraved by Leonard Charles Wyon) accelerated the demise of the currency issue in 1890. With this in mind, and inspired by the 1900 private patterns of Huth, it was decided last year to pair the modern 'old head' portrait of Victoria created by Donald R. Golder with the 1887-1890 Four Shillings reverse design. In this way a modern pattern has been produced which seeks to show how the Double Florin may have looked if it had survived to join the other denominations in Victoria's last coinage.