Half crown (British coin)
The half crown was a denomination of British money, equivalent to two shillings and sixpence, or one-eighth of a pound. The half crown was first issued in 1549, in the reign of Edward VI. No half crowns were issued in the reign of Mary, but from the reign of Elizabeth I half crowns were issued in every reign except Edward VIII, until the coins were discontinued in 1967; the half crown was demonetised on 1 January 1970, the year before the United Kingdom adopted decimal currency on Decimal Day. During the English Interregnum of 1649–1660, a republican half crown was issued, bearing the arms of the Commonwealth of England, despite monarchist associations of the coin's name; when Oliver Cromwell was made Lord Protector of England, half crowns were issued bearing his semi-royal portrait. The half crown did not display its value on the reverse until 1893. King Henry VIII 1526: the first English half crown was struck in gold. King Edward VI 1551: issued the first half crown in silver; the coin showed the king riding a horse.
Queen Mary I: the half crown was struck on Mary's marriage to Philip II of Spain in 1554 but was never issued for circulation. Three specimens exist. Http://www.petitioncrown.com/spare15_LK47.html Queen Elizabeth I: gold half crowns were issued again. At the end of the reign silver half crowns were issued. King James I: gold half crowns were issued again. During the reign silver half crowns were issued. King Charles I: silver half crowns were issued, including those struck as obsidional money, money of necessity during the Civil War period. Commonwealth of England: Oliver Cromwell silver half crowns were issued. During the years 1656 and 1658 milled half crowns were issued of Oliver Cromwell. King Charles II 1663–1685: silver half crowns were issued, this period saw the end of the hammered issue of half crowns. King James II 1685–1688: silver half crown. King William III & Queen Mary II 1689–1694: silver half crown. William III of England 1694–1702: silver half crown. Queen Anne 1702–1714: silver half crown.
King George I 1714–1727: silver half crown. King George II 1727–1760: silver half crown. King George III 1760–1820: silver half crown. King George IV 1820–1830: silver half crown. King William IV 1830–1837: silver half crown. Queen Victoria 1837–1901: silver half crown. King Edward VII 1902–1910: silver half crown. King George V 1910–1936: silver half crown, sterling silver until 1919 50% silver. King Edward VIII 1936: 50% silver half crown. Not issued for circulation. King George VI 1937–1952: 50% silver half crowns were issued until 1946 when the metal was changed to cupro-nickel. Queen Elizabeth II 1952–1970: the last half crown was issued in 1970 shortly before decimalisation. From George III, 1816, they had a diameter of 32 mm and a weight of 14.1 g, dimensions which remained the same for the half crown until decimalisation in 1971. The mintage figures below are taken from the annual UK publication COIN YEARBOOK. Proof mintages are indicated in italics. Half crown - View coins from the Commonwealth of England period, 1649–1660, including halfcrowns.
British Coins - Free information about British coins. Includes an online forum. Coins of the UK - A full history of the half crown. - Publishers of COIN YEARBOOK The History of the Half-crown
Britannia has been used in several different senses. The name is a Latinisation of the native Brittonic word for the island, Pretanī, which produced the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which in the fourth to the first centuries BC, designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Britain. In Modern Welsh the name remains Prydain. By the 1st century BC, Britannia came to be used for Great Britain specifically. After the Roman conquest in 43 AD, Britannia meant Roman Britain, a province covering the island south of Caledonia; when Roman Britain was divided into four provinces in 197 AD, two were called Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior. Britannia is the name given to the female personification of the island, it is a term still used to refer to the whole island. In the 2nd century, Roman Britannia came to be personified as a goddess, armed with a trident and shield and wearing a Corinthian helmet; the name Britannia long survived the end of Roman rule in Britain in the 5th century and yielded the name for the island in most European and various other languages, including the English Britain and the modern Welsh Prydain.
In the 9th century the associated terms Bretwalda and brytenwealda ealles ðyses ealonde were applied to some Anglo-Saxon kings to assert a wider hegemony in Britain and hyperbolic inscriptions on coins and titles in charters included the equivalent title rex Britanniae. However when England was unified the title used was rex Angulsaxonum. After centuries of declining use, the Latin form was revived during the English Renaissance as a rhetorical evocation of a British national identity. Following the Acts of Union in 1707, which joined the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, the personification of the martial Britannia was used as an emblem of British maritime power and unity, most notably in "Rule, Britannia!". A British cultural icon, she was featured on all modern British coinage series until the redesign in 2008, still appears annually on the gold and silver "Britannia" bullion coin series. In 2015 a new definitive £2 coin was issued, with a new image of Britannia, she is depicted in the Brit Awards statuette, the British Phonographic Industry's annual music awards.
The first writer to use a form of the name was the Greek explorer and geographer Pytheas in the 4th century BC. Pytheas referred to Prettanike or Brettaniai, a group of islands off the coast of North-Western Europe. In the 1st century BC, Diodorus Siculus referred to Pretannia, a rendering of the indigenous name for the Pretani people whom the Greeks believed to inhabit the British Isles. Following the Greek usage, the Romans referred to the Insulae Britannicae in the plural, consisting of Albion, Hibernia and many smaller islands. Over time, Albion came to be known as Britannia, the name for the group was subsequently dropped. Although emperor Claudius is attributed with the creation and unification of the province of Britannia in 43 AD, Julius Caesar had established Roman authority over the Southern and Eastern Britain dynasties during his two expeditions to the island in 55 and 54 BC. Just as Caesar himself had been an obside in Bithynia as a youth, he had taken the King's sons as obsides or hostages, back to Rome to be educated.
The Roman conquest of the island began in AD 43, leading to the establishment of the Roman province known in Latin as Britannia. The Romans never conquered the whole island, building Hadrian's Wall as a boundary with Caledonia, which covered the territory of modern Scotland, although the whole of the boundary marked by Hadrian's Wall lies within modern-day Northern England. A southern part of what is now Scotland was occupied by the Romans for about 20 years in the mid-2nd century AD, keeping in place the Picts to the north of the Antonine Wall. People living in the Roman province of Britannia were called Britons. Ireland, inhabited by the Scoti, was called Hibernia. Thule, an island "six days' sail north of Britain, near the frozen sea" Iceland, was never invaded by the Romans; the Emperor Claudius paid a visit while Britain was being conquered and was honoured with the agnomen Britannicus as if he were the conqueror. She appeared as a more regal-looking female figure. Britannia was soon personified as a goddess, looking similar to the goddess Minerva.
Early portraits of the goddess depict Britannia as a beautiful young woman, wearing the helmet of a centurion, wrapped in a white garment with her right breast exposed. She is shown seated on a rock, holding a spear, with a spiked shield propped beside her. Sometimes she leans on the shield. On another range of coinage, she is seated on a globe above waves: Britain at the edge of the world. Similar coin types were issued under Antoninus Pius. After the Roman withdrawal, the term "Britannia" remained in use in Britain and abroad. Latin was ubiquitous amongst native Brythonic writers and the term continued in the Welsh tradition that developed from it. Writing with variations on the term Britannia appeared in many Welsh works such as the Historia Britonum, Armes Prydein and the 12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae, which gained unprecedented popularity throughout western Europe during the High Middle Ages. Following the migration of Brythonic Celts, the term Britannia came to refer to the Armorican peninsula (at least f
Farthing (British coin)
The British farthing coin, from "fourthing", was a unit of currency of one quarter of a penny, or 1⁄960 of a pound sterling. It was minted in bronze, replaced the earlier copper farthings, it was used during the reign of six monarchs: Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II, ceasing to be legal tender in 1960. It featured two different designs on its reverse during its 100 years in circulation: from 1860 until 1936, the image of Britannia. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse. Before Decimal Day in 1971, there were 240 pence in one pound sterling. There were four farthings in a penny, 12 pence made a shilling, 20 shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. three shillings and six pence, pronounced "three and six" or "three and sixpence". Values of less than a shilling were written in pence, e.g. 8d, pronounced "eightpence". A price with a farthing in it would be written like this:, pronounced "nineteen and elevenpence farthing".
The purchasing power of a farthing from 1860 to its demise in 1960 ranged between 2p to 12p. The original reverse of the coin, designed by Leonard Charles Wyon, is a seated Britannia, holding a trident, with the word FARTHING above. Issues before 1895 feature a lighthouse to Britannia's left and a ship to her right. Various minor adjustments to the level of the sea depicted around Britannia, the angle of her trident were made over the years; some issues feature toothed edges. Over the years, seven different obverses were used. Edward VII, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II each had a single obverse for farthings produced during their respective reigns. Over the long reign of Queen Victoria two different obverses were used, the short reign of Edward VIII meant that no farthings bearing his likeness were issued; the farthing was first issued with the so-called "bun head", or "draped bust" of Queen Victoria on the obverse. The inscription around the bust read VICTORIA D G BRITT REG F D; this was replaced in 1895 by the "old head", or "veiled bust".
The inscription on these coins read VICTORIA DEI GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP. Coins issued during the reign of Edward VII feature his likeness and bear the inscription EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP; those issued during the reign of George V feature his likeness and bear the inscription GEORGIVS V DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX FID DEF IND IMP. A farthing of King Edward VIII does exist, dated 1937, but technically it is a pattern coin, i.e. one produced for official approval, which it would have been due to receive about the time that the King abdicated. The obverse shows a left-facing portrait of the king; the pattern coin of Edward VIII and regular-issue farthings of George VI and Elizabeth II feature a redesigned reverse displaying the wren, one of Britain's smallest birds. George VI issue coins feature the inscription GEORGIVS VI D G BR OMN REX F D IND IMP before 1949, GEORGIVS VI D G BR OMN REX FIDEI DEF thereafter. Unlike the penny, farthings were minted throughout the early reign of Elizabeth II, bearing the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA BRITT OMN REGINA F D in 1953, ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F D thereafter.
Pound sterling Mill British Coins – information about British coins Collection of copper & bronze pennies of Great Britain About Farthings A photographic collection of farthings Farthings Private Collection of farthings dating from 1799-1956
The Quarter guinea was a British coin minted only in the years 1718 and 1762. As the name implies, it was valued at one-fourth of a guinea, which at that time was worth twenty-one shillings; the quarter guinea therefore was valued at threepence. At the beginning of the reign of King George I the price of silver had risen resulting in much British silver coinage being melted down and few silver coins' being struck. Isaac Newton, the Master of the Mint, wrote a minute dated 21 September 1717 in which he blamed the rising price of silver on the overvaluation of the guinea at twenty-one shillings and sixpence. Newton's memo resulted in a Proclamation of 20 December reducing the value of the guinea to twenty-one shillings. In 1718 it was decided to strike a new gold coin equal to a quarter guinea to provide a useful coin worth the same as the five-shilling silver crown; the new coin had to be proportionate in size to the other gold denominations, this resulted in a coin which weighed 2.1 grams and was 16 millimetres in diameter.
It had not been realised at the time that a coin of this size was impracticably small to use, would prove unpopular. 37,380 coins were minted, but many of them were put aside as keepsakes and many of the rest were lost. The coin was discontinued after 1718, for the next few years there was an increased output of guineas and half guineas. Despite its minuscule size, the coin took the form of a scaled-down version of the guinea and half guinea, including all the intricate cruciform shields on the reverse and all the king's Hanoverian titles; the coin is a fine example of the mint's work, although a magnifying glass is needed to properly appreciate it. The obverse shows a right-facing portrait of the king with the legend GEORGIVS D G M BR FR ET HIB REX F D, abbreviation for Georgius, Dei Gratia Magna Britannia, Francia, et Hibernia Rex, Fidei Defensor, Latin for "George, by the Grace of God King of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith"; the reverse shows four crowned cruciform shields separated by sceptres, with a central Star of the Order of the Garter, the legend BRVN ET L DVX S R I A TH ET PR EL 1718 – Brunswick et Luneburg Dux, Sacrum Romanum Imperatoria Arch-Tresorum et Princeps-Elector, Latin for "Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg, Arch-Treasurer and Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire".
The dies for all quarter-guineas of King George I were engraved by John Croker, from Dresden. When George III came to the throne in 1760, the price of silver had again risen dramatically. Despite the unpopularity of the 1718 quarter guinea it was considered necessary to produce this coin again, to the same size and weight as before, to fill the gap between the low-denomination silver coins and the larger gold coins, it met the same fate as its predecessor and was only produced in 1762. The obverse shows a right-facing portrait of the king with the legend GEORGIVS III DEI GRATIA, while the reverse shows a large crowned shield bearing the arms of England and Scotland, France and Hanover, the legend M B F ET H REX F D B ET L D S R I A T ET E 1762 – abbreviation for Magna Britannia, Francia, et Hibernia Rex, Fidei Defensor, Brunswick et Luneburg Dux, Sacrum Romanum Imperatoria Arch-Tresorum et Elector - Latin for "King of Great Britain and Ireland. British Coins - Free information about British coins.
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Third guinea (British coin)
A seven shilling piece was introduced in Great Britain by a proclamation of 29 November 1797. It has been called a guinea being worth 21 shillings; the gold coin was minted only in the reign of George III. When it was introduced in 1797, during the French Revolutionary wars, the financial situation at the Bank of England was precarious: gold was in short supply and banknotes were given legal tender status in any amount. In order to pay the Bank's dividends it was decided to produce what at the time was known as seven-shilling pieces, with odd amounts of the dividend being paid in silver coins. A total of £315,000 worth of coins was authorised in October 1797; the denomination was struck each year until 1813, with the exception of 1805, 1807, 1812. Between 1800 and 1812 third and half guineas were the only gold coins issued; the coin was 17 millimetres in diameter with a milled edge. The design of the reverse changed in 1801 following the union of the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland, when the king relinquished his claim to the French throne.
There were two obverses used, with different portraits of the king, with the legend GEORGIVS III DEI GRATIA. The design of the reverse was a crown, with the legend MAG BRI FR ET HIB REX date or FIDEI DEFENSOR BRITANNIARUM REX date. British Coins forum
Sovereign (British coin)
The sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of one pound sterling. Struck from 1817 until the present time, it was a circulating coin accepted in Britain and elsewhere in the world. In most recent years, it has borne the well-known design of Saint George and the Dragon on the reverse—the initials of the designer, Benedetto Pistrucci, may be seen to the right of the date; the coin was named after the English gold sovereign, last minted about 1603, originated as part of the Great Recoinage of 1816. Many in Parliament believed a one-pound coin should be issued rather than the 21-shilling guinea struck until that time; the Master of the Mint, William Wellesley Pole, had Pistrucci design the new coin, his depiction was used for other gold coins. The coin was unpopular as the public preferred the convenience of banknotes, but paper currency of value £1 was soon limited by law. With that competition gone, the sovereign not only became a popular circulating coin, but was used in international trade and in foreign lands, trusted as a coin containing a known quantity of gold.
The British government promoted the use of the sovereign as an aid to international trade, the Royal Mint took steps to see that lightweight gold coins were withdrawn from circulation. From the 1850s until 1932, the sovereign was struck at colonial mints in Australia, in Canada, South Africa and India—they have been struck again in India since 2013 for the local market; the sovereigns issued in Australia carried a unique local design, but by 1887, all new sovereigns bore Pistrucci's George and Dragon design. Strikings there were so large that by 1900, about 40 per cent of the sovereigns in Britain had been minted in Australia. With the start of the First World War in 1914, the sovereign vanished from circulation in Britain, replaced by paper money, it did not return after the war, though issues at colonial mints continued until 1932; the coin was still used in the Middle East, demand rose in the 1950s, which the Royal Mint responded to by striking new sovereigns in 1957. It has been struck since both as a bullion coin and, beginning in 1979, for collectors.
Though the sovereign is no longer in circulation, it is still legal tender in the United Kingdom. There had been an English coin known as the sovereign, first authorised by Henry VII in 1489, it had a diameter of 42 millimetres, weighed 15.55 grams, twice the weight of the existing gold coin, the ryal. The new coin was struck in response to a large influx of gold into Europe from West Africa in the 1480s, Henry at first called it the double ryal, but soon changed the name to sovereign. Too great in value to have any practical use in circulation, the original sovereign served as a presentation piece to be given to dignitaries; the English sovereign, the country's first coin to be valued at one pound, was struck by the monarchs of the 16th century, the size and fineness being altered. James I, when he came to the English throne in 1603, issued a sovereign in the year of his accession, but the following year, soon after he proclaimed himself King of Great Britain and Ireland, he issued a proclamation for a new twenty-shilling piece.
About ten per cent lighter than the final sovereigns, the new coin was called the unite, symbolising that James had merged the Scottish and English crowns. In the 1660s, following the Restoration of Charles II and the mechanisation of the Royal Mint that followed, a new twenty-shilling gold coin was issued, it had no special name at first but the public soon nicknamed it the guinea and this became the accepted term. Coins were at the time valued by their precious metal content, the price of gold relative to silver rose soon after the guinea's issuance. Thus, it came to trade at 21 shillings or sixpence more. Popular in commerce, the coin's value was set by the government at 21 shillings in silver in 1717, was subject to revision downward, though in practice this did not occur; the term sovereign, referring to a coin, fell from use—it does not appear in Samuel Johnson's dictionary, compiled in the 1750s. This economy was disrupted by the Napoleonic Wars, gold was hoarded. Among the measures taken to allow trade to continue was the issuance of one-pound banknotes.
The public came to like them as more convenient than the odd-value guinea. After the war, Parliament, by the Coinage Act 1816, placed Britain on the gold standard, with the pound to be defined as a given quantity of gold; every speaker supported having a coin valued at twenty shillings, rather than continuing to use the guinea. The Coinage Act did not specify which coins the Mint should strike. A committee of the Privy Council recommended gold coins of ten shillings, twenty shillings, two pounds and five pounds be issued, this was accepted by George, Prince Regent on 3 August 1816; the twenty-shilling piece was named a sovereign, with the resurrection of the old name promoted by antiquarians with numismatic interests. William Wellesley Pole, elder brother of the Duke of Wellington, was appointed Master of the Mint in 1812, with a mandate to reform the Royal Mint. Pole had favoured retaining the guinea, due to the number extant and the amount of labour required to replace them with sovereigns.
Formal instruction to the Mint came with an indenture dated February 1817, directing the Royal Mint to strike gold coins weighing 7.988 grams, to say, the new sovereign. The Italian sculptor Benedetto Pistrucci came to London early in 1816, his talent opened the doors of
The pound sterling known as the pound and less referred to as sterling, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Territory, Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence. A number of nations that do not use sterling have currencies called the pound. Sterling is the third most-traded currency in the foreign exchange market, after the United States dollar, the euro. Together with those two currencies and the Chinese yuan, it forms the basket of currencies which calculate the value of IMF special drawing rights. Sterling is the third most-held reserve currency in global reserves; the British Crown dependencies of Guernsey and the Isle of Man produce their own local issues of sterling which are considered equivalent to UK sterling in their respective regions. The pound sterling is used in Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Saint Helena and Ascension Island in Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha; the Bank of England is the central bank for the pound sterling, issuing its own coins and banknotes, regulating issuance of banknotes by private banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Banknotes issued by other jurisdictions are not regulated by the Bank of England. The full official name pound sterling, is used in formal contexts and when it is necessary to distinguish the United Kingdom currency from other currencies with the same name. Otherwise the term pound is used; the currency name is sometimes abbreviated to just sterling in the wholesale financial markets, but not when referring to specific amounts. The abbreviations "ster." and "stg." are sometimes used. The term "British pound" is sometimes incorrectly used in less formal contexts, it is not an official name of the currency; the exchange rate of the pound sterling against the US dollar is referred to as "cable" in the wholesale foreign exchange markets. The origins of this term are attributed to the fact that in the 1800s, the GBP/USD exchange rate was transmitted via transatlantic cable. Forex traders of GBP/USD are sometimes referred to as "cable dealers". GBP/USD is now the only currency pair with its own name in the foreign exchange markets, after IEP/USD, known as "wire" in the forward FX markets, no longer exists after the Irish Pound was replaced by the euro in 1999.
There is apparent convergence of opinion regarding the origin of the term "pound sterling", toward its derivation from the name of a small Norman silver coin, away from its association with Easterlings or other etymologies. Hence, the Oxford English Dictionary state that the "most plausible" etymology is derivation from the Old English steorra for "star" with the added diminutive suffix "-ling", to mean "little star" and to refer to a silver penny of the English Normans; as another established source notes, the compound expression was derived: However, the perceived narrow window of the issuance of this coin, the fact that coin designs changed in the period in question, led Philip Grierson to reject this in favour of a more complex theory. Another argument that the Hanseatic League was the origin for both the origin of its definition and manufacture, in its name is that the German name for the Baltic is "Ost See", or "East Sea", from this the Baltic merchants were called "Osterlings", or "Easterlings".
In 1260, Henry III granted them a charter of protection and land for their Kontor, the Steelyard of London, which by the 1340s was called "Easterlings Hall", or Esterlingeshalle. Because the League's money was not debased like that of England, English traders stipulated to be paid in pounds of the "Easterlings", contracted to "'sterling". For further discussion of the etymology of "sterling", see sterling silver; the currency sign for the pound is £, written with a single cross-bar, though a version with a double cross-bar is sometimes seen. This symbol derives from medieval Latin documents; the ISO 4217 currency code is GBP, formed from "GB", the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for the United Kingdom, the first letter of "pound". It does not stand for "Great Britain Pound" or "Great British Pound"; the abbreviation "UKP" is used but this is non-standard because the ISO 3166 country code for the United Kingdom is GB. The Crown dependencies use their own codes: GGP, JEP and IMP. Stocks are traded in pence, so traders may refer to pence sterling, GBX, when listing stock prices.
A common slang term for the pound sterling or pound is quid, singular and plural, except in the common phrase "quids in!". The term may have come via Italian immigrants from "scudo", the name for a number of coins used in Italy until the 19th century.