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
Five pounds (British gold coin)
The five guineas gold coin started out life as a five-pound coin before the fluctuating value of the guinea settled at twenty-one shillings. However, the £5 coin tends to have a more modern'feel' and so is considered separately; the coin was issued in cased "proof" condition, circulated, as well as being issued in small quantities which today result in high values of many tens of thousands of pounds being achieved when a coin appears at auction. The normal weight of the denomination was 40 grams; the first appearance of the denomination was in the reign of George III, when it was produced in 1820 as a pattern. The obverse shows the right-facing bust of the king with the legend GEORGIUS III D. G. BRITANNIAR. REX F. D. date, while the reverse shows Benedetto Pistrucci's now famous St. George and dragon design with no legend; the edge is plain on the proof version. The next appearance of the denomination was in the reign of George IV, when it was produced in 1826 and 1829; the obverse shows the left-facing bust of the king with the legend GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA date, while the reverse shows a crowned shield within a mantle cape with the legend BRITANNIARUM REX FID DEF.
The 1826 coin has the edge inscription DECUS ET TUTAMEN ANNO REGNI SEPTIMO, while the 1829 coin has a plain edge. The next coin of this value did not appear until early in the reign of Queen Victoria, when one of the most famous and attractive of all British coins was produced, colloquially known as the Una and the Lion coin. Una and the Lion are characters in Spenser's The Faerie Queene, this five pounds piece has acquired a cult significance among collectors: the obverse shows the young head of the Queen, facing left with the legend VICTORIA D G BRITANNIARUM REGINA F D, while the reverse shows Queen Victoria as Una leading the lion to the left, with the legend DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS – May the Lord direct my steps – with the date MDCCCXXXIX in the exergue under the lion; the edge may either be plain. This issue is the lightest of all the £5 coins, weighing only 38.7–39.3 grams. The next appearance of the denomination was not until 1887, when the Jubilee head was used with the obverse inscription VICTORIA D G BRIT REG F D, while the reverse shows Pistrucci's design of Saint George slaying the dragon, with the only legend being the date in the exergue.
The edge of this coin is milled, it weighs 40 grams. This coin was produced in the mint at Sydney, identified by the letter "S" above the centre of the date; the Pistrucci reverse was used again in 1893, when the obverse used the "Old Head" or "Veil Head" of the queen, with the legend VICTORIA DEI GRA BRITT REGINA FID DEF IND IMP, the edge is again milled. In the reigns of Kings Edward VII, George V, George VI, five pound coins were only issued in proof sets in the first year of their reign. All these reigns used the Pistrucci George and Dragon obverse, with the 1902 and 1911 coins having milled edges, though at least some of the 1937 coins have plain edges; the 1902 Edward VII coin was minted at Sydney, being identified by an "S" above the centre of the date. The reign of Queen Elizabeth II saw a departure from the normal practice in issuing gold coinage. A small number of gold £5 pieces were struck in 1953 in order to provide continuity of the series, again in 1957, but neither of these strikings were released to the public, with the result that they are now valued in the £250,000–£500,000 range.
No further £5 gold pieces were struck until 1980, nine years after decimalisation, since when they have been issued somewhat haphazardly in most years. Coins from 1980 to 1984 use the Arnold Machin effigy of the Queen, while the 1985–1990 coins use the Raphael Maklouf effigy. All these years use the Pistrucci reverse. In 1989 a new design was used to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first issue of the sovereign coin – the obverse shows the Queen seated on the coronation throne holding the orb and sceptre, with the legend ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF, while the reverse shows a crowned shield within a double rose and the legend ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOLD SOVEREIGN 1489–1989; the £ 5 coins are 36.02 mm in diameter in contrast to the commemorative ` crowns' diam. Since 1990 £5 coins have been produced in cupronickel, but premium versions in silver and gold are produced; these have been issued alongside new issues of the traditional Pistrucci-reverse five-pound gold coin, which have been produced in limited numbers in each year except 2002, when a special commemorative for the Golden Jubilee revived the shield reverse.
These "modern five pound coins" are a continuation of the crown, issued from 1544 as a five shilling coin. The modern five-pound issues are not issued for circulation, but to mark events or commemorations of national or Royal significance
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
Florin (British coin)
The British florin, or two shilling coin, was issued from 1849 until 1967, with a final issue for collectors dated 1970. Valued at one tenth of a pound, it was the last coin circulating prior to decimalisation to be demonetised, in 1993, having for a quarter of a century circulated alongside the ten pence piece, identical in specifications and value; the florin was introduced as part of an experiment in decimalisation that went no further at that time. The original florins, dated 1849, attracted controversy for omitting a reference to God from Queen Victoria's titles. Throughout most of its existence, the florin bore some variation of either the shields of the United Kingdom, or the emblems of its constituent nations on the reverse, a tradition broken between 1902 and 1910, when the coin featured a windswept figure of a standing Britannia. In 1911, following the accession of George V, the florin regained the shields and sceptres design it had in the late Victorian Era, kept that motif until 1937, when the national emblems were placed on it.
The florin retained such a theme for the remainder of its run, though a new design was used from 1953, following the accession of Elizabeth II. In 1968, prior to decimalisation, the Royal Mint began striking the ten pence piece; the old two shilling piece remained in circulation until the ten pence piece was made smaller, earlier coins, including the florin, were demonetised. The drive for decimalisation of the currency in Britain dates as far back as 1682. Although nothing was done regarding early proposals, the adoption of a decimal currency in the United States and other nations in the late 18th and early 19th centuries renewed the call, commissions in 1841 and 1843 called for its adoption. In 1847, a motion was introduced in Parliament by Sir John Bowring calling for the introduction of a decimal currency and the striking of coins of one-tenth and one-hundredth of a pound. Bowring obtained strong support for his motion, the Russell government promised that a coin valued at one-tenth of a pound would be produced to test public opinion, with consideration in future to be given to the introduction of other decimal coins.
There was much discussion about what the coin should be called—centum and dime being among the suggestions—before florin was settled upon, not because of the old English coin of that name, but because the Netherlands had a florin, or gulden, of about that size and value. The first florins were struck in 1849, they were in the Gothic style, featured a portrait of Queen Victoria as a young woman, with the crowned cruciform shields of the United Kingdom shown on the reverse, the nations' emblems in the angles. The new florin resembles the Gothic crown of 1847. Unlike the crown's Gothic script, the 1849 florin has Roman lettering; the 1849 florin, issued in silver, had a diameter of 28 millimetres. The new coin made clear its value with the inscription ONE FLORIN ONE TENTH OF A POUND on the reverse. To aid in the decimal experiment, the half crown, near to the florin in size and value, was not issued between 1850 and 1874, when it was struck again at the request of the banks, surveys found that both coins played useful parts in commerce.
Each would continue to be struck, would circulate together, until decimalisation. These first coins were a shock to the public, as for the first time in nearly 200 years a British coin featured a portrait of the monarch wearing a crown. More of a shock, including to Queen Victoria herself, was the inscription on the obverse, VICTORIA REGINA 1849, omitting the usual D G for Dei Gratia from the coin's inscription; this resulted in it being known as the "Godless florin". Further controversy was caused by the omission of the usual abbreviation F D for Fidei Defensor: the Master of the Mint, Richard Lalor Sheil, an Irishman and a Roman Catholic, was suspected by some of plotting to overthrow the Protestant regime; the inscription had in fact been suggested by Victoria's husband. Sheil stated in the House of Commons that the inscription had been a mistake, the florin was redesigned for its next issue in 1851; the revised florin's diameter was increased to 30 millimetres, all the lettering on the coin was in Gothic script, resulting in it being known as the Gothic florin.
The coin was by the same designers. The bust of Victoria and the heraldry on the reverse were unchanged; the Latin inscription on the obverse read VICTORIA D G BRIT REG F D with the date, while the reverse read ONE FLORIN ONE TENTH OF A POUND. Despite a Royal Commission, the drive for decimalisation soon died out; the Gothic Florin was produced each year until 1887, excepting 1861 and 1882. From 1864 until 1879, many florins were struck with die numbers on the obverse (found to the right of Victoria's brooch part of a Mint investigation into how long it took coinage dies to wear out. Beginning with some 1867 issues, BRIT on the obverse was rendered BRITT, following the Latin practice in abbreviations of doubling a final consonant for a plural. Thus, Victoria's title changed from "Queen of Britain" to "Queen of the Britains", includin
Threepence (British coin)
The British threepence coin simply known as a threepence or threepenny bit, was a unit of currency equaling one eightieth of a pound sterling, or three old pence sterling. It was used in the United Kingdom, earlier in Great Britain and England. Similar denominations were used throughout the British Empire, notably in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa; the sum of three pence was pronounced variously THRUUP-ənss, THREP-ənss or THRUP-ənss, reflecting different pronunciations in the various regions of the United Kingdom. The coin was referred to in conversation as a THRUUP-nee, THREP-nee or THRUP-nee bit. Before Decimal Day in 1971 there were two hundred and forty pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence, pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d.
The three pence coin – expressed in writing as "3d" – first appeared in England during the fine silver coinage of King Edward VI, when it formed part of a set of new denominations. Although it was an easy denomination to work with in the context of the old sterling coinage system, being a quarter of a shilling it was not popular with the public who preferred the groat. Hence the coin was not minted in the following two reigns. Edward VI threepences were struck at the York mints; the obverse shows a front-facing bust of the king, with a rose to the left and the value numeral III to the right, surrounded by the legend EDWARD VI D G ANG FRA Z HIB REX. The reverse shows a long cross over the royal shield, surrounded by the legend POSUI DEUM ADIUTOREM MEUM, or CIVITAS EBORACI. Queen Elizabeth I produced threepences during her third coinage. Most 1561 issues are 21 mm in diameter, while ones are 19 mm in diameter; these coins are identifiable from other denominations by the rose behind the queen's head on the obverse, the date on the reverse.
The obverse shows a left-facing crowned bust of the queen with a rose behind her, surrounded by the legend ELIZABETH D G ANG FR ET HIB REGINA, while the reverse shows shield over a long cross, dated 1561, surrounded by the legend POSUI DEU ADIUTOREM MEU. Dates used for the smaller coins were 1561–77. Threepences of the fourth coinage are identical except for having a lower silver content. There was a rare milled coinage threepence, produced between 1561 and 1564 with similar designs and inscriptions to the hammered coinage threepences; the threepence denomination fell out of use again during the reign of King James I, while during King Charles I's reign it was not produced at the London Tower mint, but was produced at various provincial mints. The denomination is identified by the numeral III appearing behind the king's head. By far the most common Charles I threepences were produced at the Aberystwyth mint between 1638 and 1642, they feature a left-facing crowned bust of the king with plumes in front of his face and the numeral III behind him, with the legend CAROLUS DG MA B FR ET H REX, with the reverse showing the royal arms on a large oval shield with plumes above the shield, the legend CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO – I reign under the auspices of Christ.
Plumes were the identifying symbol of the Aberystwyth mint, but the Bristol and Oxford mints used dies from the Aberystwyth mint so plumes appear on their output too. Milled coins were produced at the York mint between 1638 and 1649, which look similar to the Aberystwyth product but without the plumes – the obverse features a left-facing crowned bust of the king with the numeral III behind him, with the legend CAROLUS D G MAG BR FR ET HI REX, with the reverse showing the royal arms on a shield over a cross, with EBOR over the shield and the legend CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO. Coins were produced at the Oxford mint between 1644 and 1646, using the Aberystwyth dies for the obverse, while the reverse of the 1644 coin shows the Declaration of Oxford in three lines: RELI PRO LEG ANG LIB PAR. 1644 OX – The religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, the liberty of Parliament. 1644 Oxford, while around the outside of the coin is the legend EXURGAT DEUS DISSIPENTUR INIMICI – Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.
This coin appears dated 1646. A further type produced at Oxford had on the obverse the king's bust with the denomination behind him, the letter "R" below the king's shoulder and the legend CAROLUS D G M BR F ET H REX and the Aberystwyth reverse; the mint at Bristol produced rare threepences in 1644 and 1645. In 1644 the Aberystwyth obverse was used to produce a coin with the reverse showing the Declaration of Oxford: REL PRO LEG AN LIB PA 1644 – The religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, the liberty of Parliament 1644, while around the outside of the coin is the legend EXURGAT DEUS DISSIPENTUR INIMICI – Let God arise and His enemies be scattered; this was with a plumelet instead of a plume in front of the king's face. In 1644 the Exeter mint produced a scarce threepence, it features a left-facing crowned bust of the king with the numeral III behind him, with the legend CAROLUS D G MA BR F ET H RE, with the reverse showing the royal arms on a shield with the date 1644 above the shield, the legend CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO.
No threepences were produced by the Commonwealth of England. The final hammered coinage threepences were produced at the start of
Shilling (British coin)
The shilling was a coin worth one twentieth of a pound sterling, or twelve pence. It was first minted in the reign of Henry VII as the testoon, became known as the shilling from the Old English scilling, sometime in the mid-sixteenth century, circulating until 1990; the word bob was sometimes used for a monetary value of several shillings, e.g. "ten bob note". Following decimalisation on 15 February 1971 the coin had a value of five new pence, it was made from silver from its introduction in or around 1503 until 1947, thereafter in cupronickel. Prior to Decimal Day in 1971 there were 240 pence in one pound sterling. Twelve pence made a shilling, twenty shillings made a pound. Values less than a pound were written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. forty-two pence would be three shillings and six pence, pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d. Although the coin was not minted until the sixteenth century, the value of a shilling had been used for accounting purposes since the Anglo-Saxon period.
A shilling was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent, or a sheep elsewhere. The value of one shilling equalling 12d was set by the Normans following the conquest; the first coins of the pound sterling with the value of 12d were minted in 1503 or 1504 and were known as testoons. The testoon was one of the first English coins to bear a real portrait of the monarch on its obverse, it is for this reason that it obtained its name from an Italian coin known as the testone, or headpiece, introduced in Milan in 1474. Between 1544 and 1551 the coinage was debased by the governments of Henry VIII and Edward VI in an attempt to generate more money to fund foreign wars; this debasement meant that coins produced in 1551 had one-fifth of the silver content of those minted in 1544, the value of new testoons fell from 12d to 6d. The reason the testoon decreased in value is that unlike today, the value of coins was determined by the market price of the metal contained within them; this debasement was recognised as a mistake, during Elizabeth's reign newly minted coins, including the testoon, had a much higher silver content and regained their pre-debasement value.
Shillings were minted during the reign of every British monarch following Edward VI, as well as during the Commonwealth, with a vast number of variations and alterations appearing over the years. The Royal Mint undertook a massive recoinage programme in 1816, with large quantities of gold and silver coin being minted. Previous issues of silver coinage had been irregular, the last issue, minted in 1787, was not intended for issue to the public, but as Christmas gifts to the Bank of England's customers. New silver coinage was to be of.925 standard, with silver coins to be minted at 66 shillings to the troy pound. Hence, newly minted shillings weighed 5.655 grams. The Royal Mint debased the silver coinage in 1920 from 92.5% silver to 50% silver. Shillings of both alloys were minted that year; this debasement was done because of the rising price of silver around the world, followed the global trend of the elimination, or the reducing in purity, of the silver in coinage. The minting of silver coinage of the pound sterling ceased in 1946 for similar reasons, exacerbated by the costs of the Second World War.
New "silver" coinage was instead minted in cupronickel, an alloy of copper and nickel containing no silver at all. Beginning with Lord Wrottesley's proposals in the 1820s there were various attempts to decimalise the pound sterling over the next century and a half; these attempts came to nothing significant until the 1960s when the need for a currency more suited to simple monetary calculations became pressing. The decision to decimalise was announced in 1966, with the pound to be redivided into 100, rather than 240, pence. Decimal Day was set for 15 February 1971, a whole range of new coins were introduced. Shillings continued to be legal tender with a value of 5 new pence until 31 December 1990. Testoons issued during the reign of Henry VII feature a right-facing portrait of the king on the obverse. Surrounding the portrait is the inscription HENRICUS DI GRA REX ANGL Z FRA, or similar, meaning "Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England and France". All shillings minted under subsequent kings and queens bear a similar inscription on the obverse identifying the monarch, with the portrait flipping left-facing to right-facing or vice versa between monarchs.
The reverse features the escutcheon of the Royal Arms of England, surrounded by the inscription POSVI DEVM ADIVTORE MEVM, or a variant, meaning "I have made God my helper". Henry VIII testoons have a different reverse design, featuring a crowned Tudor rose, but those of Edward VI return to the Royal Arms design used previously. Starting with Edward VI the coins feature the denomination XII printed next to the portrait of the king. Elizabeth I and Mary I shillings are exceptions to this; some shillings issued during Mary's reign bear the date of minting, printed above the dual portraits of Mary and Philip. Early shillings of James I feature the alternative reverse inscription EXURGAT DEUS DISSIPENTUR INIMICI, meaning "Let God arise and His enemies be scattered", becoming QVAE DEVS CONIVNXIT NEMO SEPARET, meaning "What God hath put together let no man put asunder" after 1604. A slang name for a shilling was a "bob" (plural as singular, as