Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

The New Zealand Half-Crown

In the 1930s, New Zealand devalued its pound in relation to sterling and a whole new series of coinage and bank notes were introduced under the authority of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. The government commissioned the accomplished English numismatic artist George Kruger Gray to design the dominion’s new coinage, which included this very handsome half-crown. It’s a splendid convergence between Maori and European design, two cooperating strains of New Zealand’s national culture. The country’s shield of arms is topped by a Tudor crown and flanked by indigenous motifs.

The portrait of George V is a surprising blend of modern and traditional. Kruger Gray spurned the more usual practice of putting the sovereign’s floating naked head in the middle of the coin. Instead he has the King-Emperor crowned and clothed in robes of state and breaking the circle of denticles around the coin. What are those little nibs called going around the inside rim of a coin? That’s right, denticles. No, I hadn’t heard of them either.

George Kruger Gray’s numismatic accomplishment was not limited to New Zealand: he also designed coins or sets of coins for Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Great Britain, Jersey, Mauritius, New Guinea, South Africa, and Southern Rhodesia.

And, wouldn’t you know, his house in St. Paul’s Studios was up for sale recently.

Bottom two photos: Xu Xu’s Coin Page
This post was published on Monday, February 21st, 2011 1:00 pm. It has been categorised under Art and been tagged under , , , .
S. Petersen
21 Feb 2011 5:44 pm

Your site, Mr. C., is unique in always offering something I’m glad to learn. Well, nearly always, anyway. Thanks.

Dave Cooper
23 Feb 2011 9:37 am

Andrew …

I am actually so old that I remember half-a-crown (notated as 2/6). I note you say that Gray designed some Southern Rhodesian coinage … I wonder if he had a hand in any of the coinage of the Federation? (Almost my entire 15 years in Northern Rhodesia was when it was part of the Federation of Rhodesia & Nyasaland, and I have kept some of the old money from those days). And do I see a KG mark on the last photo above … should I look for that on my coins?

“Carnaval” approaches in Limburg …

1 Mar 2011 9:21 pm

The crowned portrait of George V you show here is actually by Percy Metcalfe, who also designed the Irish “barnyard” set of coins. The coat of arms on the reverse is however by Kruger-Gray, as you say.

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