The jewels of the British crown never failed to shine, it is an empire on which sun never sets. Great Britain surfaced as one of the most powerful Empires of the 19th and 20th century with its headstrong and powerful monarchy. Its monarchy was the key factor which changed its perception and left its land with a different impression in the coming centuries. One such impression was an important event of modern history- it was the year of 1936, when Britain and her commonwealth saw three kings on the British crown.

This event affected the political structure of that time and with a significant change in the coinage. To mark this eventful event of three kings, the U.K Westminster Mint issued this coin with bust of all the three Kings in 2011 on its 75th anniversary.





A year when old values, both monetary and moral, were slowly becoming memories and new trends were setting in, England had one admirer of such old values, King George V by the Grace of God, King of all the British territories, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India!

He was never born to become a king, but his fate had some other plans…


King George V was crowned after the death of his father King Edward VII. After the untimely death of his elder brother, George left the Royal Navy and assumed his post as the heir apparent and was placed on the throne on 6th May 1910. A philatelist by passion his reign saw a many first’s of the philatelist world. Read our exciting blog on his coronation, stamps and coinage.




On the 25th year of his reign many stamps were issued to celebrate this event. The stamp issued in India depict various important historical monuments of India like Taj Mahal, Rameswara temple, Jain temple, Gateway Of India and Mandalaya pagoda to celebrate the silver jubilee of his majesties coronation.


The coins were minted with the effigy (portrait) of King George V on Farthing, Penny, Pence, Shilling, Florin, Crown and Sovereign. During his reign, the coins issued for use in commonwealths had different denominations, for e.g. In India coins were issued in the denominations of rupee, half rupee, quarter rupee and two annas (in silver), and 1/12 anna, half  pice, quarter anna, one anna, two anna and four annas (in copper).


In the bid of fitting an elephant on small coins the trunk of the elephant was depicted as a snout of pig, as seen on the King’s robe! Such coins came to be known as the “Pig Coins” which was reissued later with proper elephant features. The coins of King George V were mostly minted in bronze, silver and gold and Indian coins in copper and silver.


To view his Indian coinage click here.


He was the first and only Emperor who was present at his Delhi Darbar on 12th December 1912 and was coronated as the Emperor of India. To celebrate this event six commemorative stamps were issued- they were also the first commemorative stamps of British India.


When World War I (1914-1918 AD) was touching the shores of this mighty empire, the price of silver and gold was rising and the Government issued the treasury note or Bradbury’s against the silver and gold denomination and in India the silver coin were replaced by the copper-nickel coins which were not very popular so the silver coin were minted again.




King George V passed away at the start of 1936 leaving his eldest son, Edward VIII the Prince of Wales and heir to the throne to ascend the throne.


King Edward VIII was a strong willed king with charming personality who wanted to rule this vast empire on his own terms…..


Edward VIII was never crowned but he was the King of England and her Commonwealth for 11 months and 22 days. His coinage is very rare and valuable due to his short reign in the history of Great Britain. Edward VIII was very keen to modernize the coinage.


This new outlook resulted into the changes like the wren on the farthing, the Golden Hind ship on the halfpenny and stylised thrift plant on the three Pence, this were  radically modern designs for the very conservative Britain of that time.


It is also known that Edward VIII refused to face in the opposite direction to his father (George V) on the coins, as tradition demanded, and insisted that his left side looked better in portraits. It was at least four generation old Tradition of British royal family where the current monarch should face opposite to the previous monarch on the coin.


The coins bearing the name of Edward VIII was never officially circulated in UK or her Commonwealths but coins were issued in his name in New Guinea of Fiji and the currency unions of East Africa and British West Africa.


Along with coins, stamps were also printed in his reign but never used in post. These colourful stamps were issued by the U.K Post and only four of his stamps were ever issued. In later period Royal Mail also issued a stamp with the portrait of Edward VIII.




Coins in the denomination of three pence were issued in name of Edward VIII and similar patterns of six pence were minted which depicted six interlocking rings resembling of the Olympic logo as that year itself the Olympic Games took place. Crown coins were also minted in 1936 with the date of 1937; however, by the time they were issued Edward VIII had already abdicated the throne in 1936.


In India few Princely States issued Nazrana coins in his name: the Five Kori, Three Dokdo and many more. Coins were also minted by the princely state of Jaipur.  The Princely State of Kutch has issued Nazrana coins in Kori denomination in the name of these three Kings with different Vikram Samwat.




Edward VIII abdicated the throne of Great Britain for the woman he loved (Wallis Simpson). He could not marry her because the head of the English church could not marry a divorced woman with her husband still alive. His legacy was still alive through his coinage; its term lasted longer than his region which had great effect on the coinage of Great Britain.


This unique abdication left the Throne of England in the hands of the younger brother of Edward VIII and the second son of King George V, the Duke of York better known as Bertie by his family and later as King George VI.


King George VI was a man of few words but he had acute sense of duty. He is said to be the greatest Monarch in the history of Great Britain…….


The reign of King George VI was full of obstacles- the Great War (World War II) was at the door of Great Britain and at such a time the word of the monarch was of utmost importance; the broadcast was done directly without any recording. The fate was cruel to him because King George VI used to stutter, while public speaking was very important for the monarch.


But he overcame all his problems and flourished to become the greatest monarch in modern history. His reign saw the three changes in coinage but the process of modernization was started by Edward VIII….


The coins were minted in the name of King George VI all over England and her commonwealth. His coins were minted in gold, silver, copper-nickel and bronze. The First coins minted in his name were gold proof coin, the king’s portrait was shown facing left, restoring the alternating sequence broken by Edward VIII.


Besides coins, paper money and stamps were also printed with his portrait. The stamp depicting a mail lorry and a mail plane also depicts the portrait of King George VI. The Royal Mail also issued stamps of George VI depicting his portrait. The paper money was also printed in India during his reign. Some of the first issues by the Reserve Bank of India during the British Raj had his portrait on them.




The English Shillings were of two types- one with lion on all four on the top of the English Crown and the other retains the design of Edward VIII’s shilling. Shillings were minted every year from 1937 to 1946. In 1947 silver was replaced with copper-nickel for the first time. In 1951 a crown was issued with a legend “IND IMP” (Emperor of India) which was removed because India attained Independence in 1947. Same happened with the other denominations.


The first silver coin for India with his effigy was minted in 1938. The 1939 silver one rupee coin of King George VI is considered rare and valuable by the collectors. The coins with the Pice denomination were only minted for five years but it had three crowns in different varieties and were minted in four different places. The two Anna with effigy of George VI depicted four different languages on it.




During his reign India attended Independence. His rule changed the face of world coinage. He never showed interest in modernizing the coinage but Edward VIII’s interests did affect his currency system.


The reign of these three kings was a turning point in the economic, cultural and political phase of the world. They ruled the most powerful empire of that time, which saw the two Great Wars and the Great Depression and inflation. The currency was fluctuating due to these events and war was taking its toll. These all circumstance makes the reign of this King and especially the year of 1936 very significant in the history of numismatic, philately and notaphily.

5 thoughts on “1936 –The impermanence & strength of the three Kings
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  5. Stamps of Edward VIII (as pictured above) were widely used postally in Great Britain in 1936-7. They were sold singly from the sheet and in sewn booklets. Commonwealth countries also issued and used them, usually overprinted with the country name and sometimes also the value.

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