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Monday, 19 March 2012

59) The Australian Emblem or the Coat of Arms; A one dollar coin celebrating the Federation of Australia and Australian Citizenship

59) The Australian Emblem or the Coat of Arms; 
 A one dollar coin celebrating the Federation of Australia and Australian Citizenship:

The present Coat of Arms of Australia was granted by King George V in 1912 shortly after his ascension to the British throne (which superceded the first official coat of arms granted by a Royal Warrant of King Edward VII in 1908). 
The 1912 Coat of Arms has a shield depicting the badges of six Australian States, enclosed by an ermine border. The shield as a symbol for the Federation of States which was formed in 1901. On the sides of the shield are native Australian animals viz. the red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus) and the Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae).  It has been suggested that they are both animals who cannot move backwards easily. Therefore, placing them on the emblem is symbolic of progression and indicates that Australia is always looking forward towards advancement. Incidentally, “Advance Australia” is also an integral part of the Australian National Anthem. 

Further, the Emu and the Kangaroo were chosen for the emblem, because, they are both very well known/popular/iconic Australian animals and are large enough to be shown as supporting a shield (although they are unofficial animal emblems of the Nation, the Kangaroo and the Emu are widely accepted as such only by popular tradition).

The Australian Coat of Arms, also, has a seven pointed gold star on a blue and gold wreath which is incorrectly referred to as the “Commonwealth Crest” instead of the “Australian Crest”, mostly because of its historical heritage. The crest is placed above the shield and helmet on the Coat of Arms. Six of its points represent the six states of the Commonwealth and the Seventh point represents the combined Australian Territories as well as any future states which may join the Federation. The shield in its entirety represents the Federation of Australia.

The official blazon in heraldic terms reads (in quaint old English):
“Quarterly of six, the first quarter Argent, a Cross Gules charged with a Lion passant between on each limb a Mullet of eight points Or; the second Azure five Mullets, one of eight, two of seven, one six and one of five points of the first (representing the Constellation of the Southern Cross) ensigned with an Imperial Crown proper; the third of the first a Maltese Cross of the fourth, surmounted by a like Imperial Crown; the fourth of the third, on a Perch wreathed Vert  and Gules an Australian Piping Shrike displayed also  proper; the fifth also Or a Swan naiant to the sinister Sable; the last of the first, a Lion Passant of the second, the whole within a Bordure Ermine, for the Crest on a wreath Or and Azure A seven pointed Star Or, and for supporters , dexter   a Kangaroo, sinister an Emu, both proper.” 

Explanations: Argent (silver or silvery white in Heraldry);
 Gules (red, in Heraldry); 
Mullet (a figure of a star having 5 or more points);
Azure (clear blue/sky coloured);
 Maltese Cross (a cross of eight points);
Vert (a green colour or pigment);
Or (tincture gold or yellow in armorial bearings);
 Swan naiant (Swan swimming);
 Sable (black as one in Heraldic colours; in engravings represented by horizontal and vertical lines crossing each other);
 Bordure (a bearing that goes all round and parallel to the boundary of a shield);
Passant (of a beast, walking and looking towards the dexter side with the dexter forepaw raised);
Dexter (on the bearer’s right hand side of a shield, in Heraldry);
Sinister (meaning on the bearer’s left hand side of a shield, in Heraldry).

The Coat of Arms is shown on a background of sprays of golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) with a scroll beneath it containing the word “Australia” (As mentioned above, unlike the Kangaroo and the Emu which remain the unofficial animal emblems of Australia, the golden wattle has been proclaimed the official national floral emblem in 1988).
 The wattle and scroll are, however, not part of the armorial design and are not mentioned in the Royal Warrant of George V. 

The Australian Government uses the Coat of Arms to authenticate documents and for official purposes.

The Australian Coat of Arms also appears on the helmets/caps of the Australian cricket teams, which is how I got interested in it, having seen several Cricket matches between India and Australia since 1960s, the first one being at Green Park, Kanpur (India), I have always been fascinated by the Australian emblem on the caps of the cricketers, including my present Australian favourites – Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee. 

Therefore, the other day, while browsing through the Perth Mint website, I came across a one dollar coin which had the Australian emblem on the reverse side, which I ordered online and which has been delivered to me yesterday) and I was inspired to research this article.

For many years, the motto, “Advance Australia” appeared on unofficial coat of arms, even before the Federation of the States in 1901. It was included in the Coat of Arms of 1908 and was popular along with a 19th century song “Advance Australia Fair” a version of which song officially became the Australian National Anthem in 1984, when Australia also adopted green and gold as its National Colours. The present motto is only “Australia”.

On the shield flanked by the Emu and the Kangaroo are the six State Badges of the Australian Commonwealth, placed in two rows of three columns, details of which are as under:

i)             New South Wales – A golden Lion passant (right to left) on a red St. George’s Cross on a silver background (usually in white), with an 8-pointed star on each extremity of the cross. King Edward VII granted this Coat of Arms to the State in 1906. The motto of the State is “Orta Recens Quam Pura Nites” ( meaning – Newly Risen, How Bright Thou Shinest).

ii)           Victoria – White Southern Cross ( one star having 8 points, two having 7- points, one star  having six and one star having five points each respectively).Above the stars is an Imperial Crown on a blue background. This Coat of arms was granted by King George V in 1910, (the State having been named after his Grandmother). Some additions were incorporated in 1973 to the State’s Coat of Arms through a Royal Warrant issued by Queen Elizabeth II. The motto of the State is “Peace and Prosperity”.

iii)          Queensland – light blue Maltese cross with an Imperial crown at its centre, on a white background. This coat of Arms was granted to Queensland by Queen Victoria in 1893. The supporters to the Coat of Arms are a Red Deer (Cervus Elephus) and a Brolga (Grus Rubicunda) which have been given by Queen Elizabeth II, in 1977. The motto of Queensland is “Audax at Fidelis” (meaning – “Bold but Beautiful”).

iv)                 South Australia – The State’s Coat of Arms consists of a shield containing the State Badge, comprising a piping shrike standing erect, with wings outstretched on a staff of a Gum tree, against a golden orb representing the sun (yellow background). The crest is the State’s floral emblem, the Desert pea (Swainsona Formosus) above a collar of the State’s colours red, blue and gold. The State’s Coat of Arms was granted as recently as 1984 by Queen Elizabeth II replacing the earlier one granted by King Edward VIII in 1936 (shortly before his abdication).

v)           Western Australia – A swimming Black Swan on a yellow background. Legend has it, that, the Coat of Arms has its origins in 1829, when the British settlers first established the Swan River Colony. Their descendants adopted an unofficial emblem featuring the Black Swan with a motto “Cygnis Insignis” (meaning Distinguished for Swans). Incidentally, the Coat of Arms does not carry any motto now and was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1969.

vi)          Tasmania – A red Lion Passant (right to left) on a white background. The description of the Coat of Arms is the motto “Ubertas et Fidelitas” (meaning – Fertility and Faithfulness). The supporters of the shield on the Coat of Arms granted by King George V in 1917 are two Tasmanian tigers (Thylacinus cynocephalus) which are now presumed to be extinct.

Coat of Arms of the Australian Territories:
The Australian Capital Territory has no Coat of Arms. Nevertheless, the city of Canberra, Australia’s National Capital, was granted a Coat of Arms by George V in 1928, with a motto “For the Queen, the Law and the People”. The supporters of the shield are a black and a white Swan.
Northern territory was granted self-government in 1978, when it introduced its own Coat of Arms. Before that, as it was administered by the Federal Government, it was using the National Coat of Arms. The present Coat of Arms contains Aboriginal motifs associated with Arnhem Land. The supporters are two red Kangaroos and the crest is a wedge-tailed eagle.

The 1908 Coat of Arms of the Federation of Australia ,shown below, has a shield in the Centre, the seven-pointed star on a wreath as the crest above it, and a Kangaroo and an Emu supporting the shield, all on a bed of grass with a scroll containing the motto “Advance Australia”. The shield has a white background, with a red cross of Saint George, blue lines outside the cross, and a blue border containing six inescutcheons (meaning other small escutcheons or shields charged on a large escutcheon) featuring a red chevron (meaning V-shaped band of braid used as/on a badge) on white, representing six states. 
 Nevertheless, even after it was superceded in 1912, the first Coat of Arms continued to be used on some Australian coins and last appeared on the sixpenny, the threepence, shilling and florin from 1910 to 1966 (i.e. the smaller denomination Australian coins).

The present Coat of Arms of the Federation of Australia granted in 1912 shown below has been  described in detail in the first few paragraphs.

Commemorative coin issued by Perth Mint in 2012:

Obverse of the coin shows Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait approved in 1998 (designed by Ian Rank – Broadley – his initials “IRB” appear below the Queen’s portrait with the words “ELIZABETH II. AUSTRALIA.2012” on the outer periphery, with “1 DOLLAR” (the denomination of the coin) at the bottom of this face.

 The Reverse depicts the Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms as described in detail above. The coin commemorates Australia and its citizens, with the words “Australian citizenship”. It shows the mint mark “P” of the Perth mint to the right of the emu on the sinister (right) side.

The specifications of the coin are as under:
It is an Australian legal tender in the denomination of one dollar. Its metal composition is Aluminium Bronze.  Its weight is 13.80 gms and it has an outer diameter of 30.60 mm. The reverse designer is Darryl Bellotti.


1) The story of the Australian penny

2) Currency and coinage of Australia _Australian dollars and cents

Links to Posts on Australia, New Zealand and countries and Overseas Territories of the South Pacific on this blog:

1) Bank of Papua New Guinea: 36th Anniversary Celebrations (1973-2008): A Commemorative Uncirulated Coin Set consisting of a 2 Kina Banknote & a 2 Kina Coin

2) Papua New Guinea: An uncirculated coin set brought out in 1995 commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Independence 

 3) Currency & Coinage of the Soloman Islands: Dollars and Cents

4) New Zealand: New Banknote "Seventh Series" issued under Project "Brighter Money" from 2015 onwards

5) Coinage of the French Polynesian Island of Caledonia (or Nouvelle Caledonie) the CFP Franc  

6) French Institution for issuing uniform currency/coinage for French Overseas Territories in the Pacific and the French Southern Territories of Antarctica: The Institut d'emmission d'outre Mer (IEOM)

7) Currency & Coinage of Samoa: Tala and Sene 

8) Currency of the South Pacific Island Country of Fiji 

9) Coinage of New Zealand: A commemorative coin set issued in 1979 

10) Currency and Coinage of Australia: Dollars and Cents 

11) The Australian Emblem or the Coat of Arms 

12) The story of the Australian Penny 

13) The Legend of the Mutiny on the Bounty: A Commemorative Coin Set from the Pitcairn Islands depicting relics from the Bounty issued in 2009 

14) An Australian $5 coin issued in 1996, commemorating Australia's greatest cricketing legend - Sir Donald Bradman 

15) New Series/Generation of Australian Banknotes being introduced from 01.09.2016 onwards starting from $5 issues 

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