Coins of the pound sterling
The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom is denominated in pounds sterling, since the introduction of the two-pound coin in 1994, ranges in value from one penny to two pounds. Since decimalisation, on 15 February 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 pence. From the 16th century until decimalisation, the pound was divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. British coins are minted by the Royal Mint in Wales; the Royal Mint commissions the coins' designs. As of 31 March 2016, there were an estimated 30.14 billion coins circulating in the United Kingdom. The first decimal coins were circulated in 1968; these were the five pence and ten pence, had values of one shilling and two shillings under the pre-decimal £sd system. The decimal coins are minted in copper-plated steel, nickel-plated steel and nickel-brass; the two-pound coins, and, as from 28 March 2017 the new one-pound coins, are bimetallic. The coins are discs, except for the twenty pence and fifty pence pieces, both of which have faces that are heptagonal curves of constant width, the new one-pound coins, which have faces with 12 sides.
All the circulating coins have an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, various national and regional designs, the denomination, on the reverse. The circulating coins, excepting the two-pound coin, were redesigned in 2008, keeping the sizes and compositions unchanged, but introducing reverse designs that each depict a part of the Royal Shield of Arms and form the whole shield when they are placed together in the appropriate arrangement; the exception, the 2008 one-pound coin, depicts the entire shield of arms on the reverse. All current coins carry a Latin inscription whose full form is ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FIDEI DEFENSATRIX, meaning "Elizabeth II, by the grace of God and Defender of the Faith". In addition to the circulating coinage, the UK mints commemorative decimal coins in the denomination of five pounds. Prior to decimalisation, the denomination of special commemorative coins was five shillings, that is, 1⁄4 of a pound. Crowns, had a face value of 25p from decimalisation until 1981, when the last 25p crown was struck.
Ceremonial Maundy money and bullion coinage of gold sovereigns, half sovereigns, gold and silver Britannia coins are produced. Some territories outside the United Kingdom, which use the pound sterling, produce their own coinage, with the same denominations and specifications as the UK coinage but with local designs. In the years just before decimalisation, the circulating British coins were the half crown, two shillings or florin, sixpence, threepence and halfpenny; the farthing had been withdrawn in 1960. There was the Crown, which was, still is legal tender, worth 25p, but did not circulate. All modern coins feature a profile of the current monarch's head; the direction in which they face changes with each successive monarch, a pattern that began with the Stuarts. For the Tudors and pre-Restoration Stuarts, both left and right-facing portrait images were minted within the reign of a single monarch. In the Middle Ages, portrait images tended to be full face. From a early date, British coins have been inscribed with the name of the ruler of the kingdom in which they were produced, a longer or shorter title, always in Latin.
The English silver penny was derived from another silver coin, the sceat, of 20 troy grains weight, in general circulation in Europe during the Middle Ages. In the 12th century, Henry II established the sterling silver standard for English coinage, of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, replacing the earlier use of fine silver in the Middle Ages. The coinage reform of 1816 set up physical sizes for silver coins. Silver was eliminated from coins, except Maundy coins, in 1947; the history of the Royal Mint stretches back to AD 886. For many centuries production was in London at the Tower of London, at premises nearby in Tower Hill in what is today known as Royal Mint Court. In the 1970s production was transferred to Llantrisant in South Wales. Scotland and England had separate coinage. Coins were hand-hammered — an ancient technique in which two dies are struck together with a blank coin between them; this was the traditional method of manufacturing coins in the Western world from the classical Greek era onwards, in contrast with Asia, where coins were traditionally cast.
Milled coins were produced first during the reign of Elizabeth I and periodically during the subsequent reigns of James I and Charles I, but there was opposition to mechanisation from the moneyers, who ensured that most coins continued to be produced by hammering. All British coins produced since 1662 have been milled; the English penny first appeared as a silver coin. It was derived from another silver coin, the sceat, of 20 troy grains weight, in general circulation in Europe during the Middle Ages; the weight of the English penny was fixed at 22 1⁄2 troy grains by Offa of Mercia, an 8th-century contemporary of Charlemagne. The coin's designated value, was that of 24 troy grains of silver, with the difference b
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, although British reinforcements reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought them to terms; the war under-prepared. The Boers were well armed and struck first, besieging Ladysmith and Mahikeng in early 1900, winning important battles at Colenso and Stormberg. Staggered, the British fought back. General Redvers Buller was replaced by Lord Kitchener, they relieved the three besieged cities, invaded the two Boer republics in late 1900. The onward marches of the British Army, well over 400,000 men, were so overwhelming that the Boers did not fight staged battles in defense of their homeland; the British seized control of all of the Orange Free State and Transvaal, as the civilian leadership went into hiding or exile.
In conventional terms, the war was over. The British annexed the two countries in 1900. Back home, Britain's Conservative government wanted to capitalize on this success and use it to maneuver an early general election, dubbed a "khaki election" to give the government another six years of power in London. British military efforts were aided by Cape Colony, the Colony of Natal and some native African allies, further supported by volunteers from the British Empire, including Southern Africa, the Australian colonies, Canada and New Zealand. All other nations were neutral, but public opinion was hostile to the British. Inside the UK and its Empire there was significant opposition to the Second Boer War; the Boers refused to surrender. They reverted to guerrilla warfare under new generals Louis Botha, Jan Smuts, Christiaan de Wet and Koos de la Rey. Two years of surprise attacks and quick escapes followed; as guerrillas without uniforms, the Boer fighters blended into the farmlands, which provided hiding places and horses.
The UK's response to guerilla warfare was to set up complex nets of block houses, strong points, barbed wire fences, partitioning off the entire conquered territory. In addition, civilian farms and live stock were destroyed in the scorched earth strategy. Survivors were forced into concentration camps. Large proportions of these civilians died of hunger and disease the children. British mounted infantry units systematically tracked down the mobile Boer guerrilla units; the battles at this stage were small operations. Few died during combat, though many of disease; the war ended in surrender and British terms with the Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902. Both former republics were incorporated into the Union of South Africa in 1910, as part of the British Empire; the conflict is referred to as the Boer War, since the First Boer War was a much smaller conflict. "Boer" is the common term for Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans descended from the Dutch East India Company's original settlers at the Cape of Good Hope.
It is known as the Anglo-Boer War among some South Africans. In Afrikaans it may be called the Anglo-Boereoorlog, Tweede Boereoorlog, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog or Engelse oorlog. In South Africa it is called the South African War; the complex origins of the war resulted from more than a century of conflict between the Boers and Britain, but of particular immediate importance was the question as to who would control and benefit most from the lucrative Witwatersrand gold mines. The first European settlement in South Africa was founded at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, thereafter administered as part of the Dutch Cape Colony; the Cape was governed by the Dutch East India Company until its bankruptcy in the late 1700s, thereafter directly by the Netherlands. The British occupied the Cape three times during the Napoleonic Wars as a result of political turmoil in the Netherlands, the occupation became permanent after British forces defeated the Dutch at the Battle of Blaauwberg in 1806. At the time, the colony was home to about 26,000 colonists settled under Dutch rule.
A relative majority still represented old Dutch families brought to the Cape during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Cleavages were likelier to occur along socio-economic rather than ethnic lines and broadly speaking the colonists included a number of distinct subgroups, namely the Boers; the Boers were itinerant farmers who lived on the colony's frontiers, seeking better pastures for their livestock. Many Boers who were dissatisfied with aspects of British administration, in particular with Britain's abolition of slavery on 1 December 1834, elected to migrate away from British rule in what became known as the Great Trek. Around 15,000 trekking Boers followed the eastern coast towards Natal. After Britain annexed Natal in 1843, they journeyed further northwards into South Africa's vast eastern interior. There they established two independent Boer republics: the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. Britain recognised the two Boer republics in 1852 and 1854, but attempted British annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 led to the First Boer War in 1880–81
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.
A currency, in the most specific sense is money in any form when in use or circulation as a medium of exchange circulating banknotes and coins. A more general definition is that a currency is a system of money in common use for people in a nation. Under this definition, US dollars, pounds sterling, Australian dollars, European euros, Russian rubles and Indian Rupees are examples of currency; these various currencies are recognized as stores of value and are traded between nations in foreign exchange markets, which determine the relative values of the different currencies. Currencies in this sense are defined by governments, each type has limited boundaries of acceptance. Other definitions of the term "currency" are discussed in their respective synonymous articles banknote and money; the latter definition, pertaining to the currency systems of nations, is the topic of this article. Currencies can be classified into two monetary systems: fiat money and commodity money, depending on what guarantees the currency's value.
Some currencies are legal tender in certain political jurisdictions. Others are traded for their economic value. Digital currency has arisen with the popularity of the Internet. Money was a form of receipt, representing grain stored in temple granaries in Sumer in ancient Mesopotamia and in Ancient Egypt. In this first stage of currency, metals were used as symbols to represent value stored in the form of commodities; this formed the basis of trade in the Fertile Crescent for over 1500 years. However, the collapse of the Near Eastern trading system pointed to a flaw: in an era where there was no place, safe to store value, the value of a circulating medium could only be as sound as the forces that defended that store. A trade could only reach as far as the credibility of that military. By the late Bronze Age, however, a series of treaties had established safe passage for merchants around the Eastern Mediterranean, spreading from Minoan Crete and Mycenae in the northwest to Elam and Bahrain in the southeast.
It is not known what was used as a currency for these exchanges, but it is thought that ox-hide shaped ingots of copper, produced in Cyprus, may have functioned as a currency. It is thought that the increase in piracy and raiding associated with the Bronze Age collapse produced by the Peoples of the Sea, brought the trading system of oxhide ingots to an end, it was only the recovery of Phoenician trade in the 10th and 9th centuries BC that led to a return to prosperity, the appearance of real coinage first in Anatolia with Croesus of Lydia and subsequently with the Greeks and Persians. In Africa, many forms of value store have been used, including beads, ivory, various forms of weapons, the manilla currency, ochre and other earth oxides; the manilla rings of West Africa were one of the currencies used from the 15th century onwards to sell slaves. African currency is still notable for its variety, in many places, various forms of barter still apply; these factors led to the metal itself being the store of value: first silver both silver and gold, at one point bronze.
Now we have other non-precious metals as coins. Metals were mined and stamped into coins; this was to assure the individual accepting the coin that he was getting a certain known weight of precious metal. Coins could be counterfeited, but the existence of standard coins created a new unit of account, which helped lead to banking. Archimedes' principle provided the next link: coins could now be tested for their fine weight of metal, thus the value of a coin could be determined if it had been shaved, debased or otherwise tampered with. Most major economies using coinage had several tiers of coins of different values, made of copper and gold. Gold coins were the most valuable and were used for large purchases, payment of the military and backing of state activities. Units of account were defined as the value of a particular type of gold coin. Silver coins were used for midsized transactions, sometimes defined a unit of account, while coins of copper or silver, or some mixture of them, might be used for everyday transactions.
This system had been used in ancient India since the time of the Mahajanapadas. The exact ratios between the values of the three metals varied between different eras and places. However, the rarity of gold made it more valuable than silver, silver was worth more than copper. In premodern China, the need for credit and for a medium of exchange, less physically cumbersome than large numbers of copper coins led to the introduction of paper money, i.e. banknotes. Their introduction was a gradual process which lasted from the late Tang dynasty into the Song dynasty, it began as a means for merchants to exchange heavy coinage for receipts of deposit issued as promissory notes by wholesalers' shops. These notes were valid for temporary use in a small regional territory. In the 10th century, the Song dynasty government began to circulate these notes amongst the traders in its monopolized salt industry; the Song government granted several shops the right to issue banknotes, in the early 12th century the government took over these shops to produce state-issued currency.
Yet the banknotes issued w
South Africa the Republic of South Africa, is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation, it is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status; the remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European and multiracial ancestry. South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures and religions, its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, the fourth highest number in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most coloured and white South Africans.
The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, regular elections have been held for a century. However, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a large role in the country's recent history and politics; the National Party imposed apartheid in 1948. After a long and sometimes violent struggle by the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid activists both inside and outside the country, the repeal of discriminatory laws began in 1990. Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have held political representation in the country's liberal democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. South Africa is referred to as the "rainbow nation" to describe the country's multicultural diversity in the wake of apartheid; the World Bank classifies South Africa as an upper-middle-income economy, a newly industrialised country.
Its economy is the second-largest in Africa, the 34th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa; however and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 a day. South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, maintains significant regional influence; the name "South Africa" is derived from the country's geographic location at the southern tip of Africa. Upon formation, the country was named the Union of South Africa in English, reflecting its origin from the unification of four separate British colonies. Since 1961, the long form name in English has been the "Republic of South Africa". In Dutch, the country was named Republiek van Zuid-Afrika, replaced in 1983 by the Afrikaans Republiek van Suid-Afrika. Since 1994, the Republic has had an official name in each of its 11 official languages. Mzansi, derived from the Xhosa noun umzantsi meaning "south", is a colloquial name for South Africa, while some Pan-Africanist political parties prefer the term "Azania".
South Africa contains human-fossil sites in the world. Archaeologists have recovered extensive fossil remains from a series of caves in Gauteng Province; the area, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been branded "the Cradle of Humankind". The sites include one of the richest sites for hominin fossils in the world. Other sites include Gondolin Cave Kromdraai, Coopers Cave and Malapa. Raymond Dart identified the first hominin fossil discovered in Africa, the Taung Child in 1924. Further hominin remains have come from the sites of Makapansgat in Limpopo Province and Florisbad in the Free State Province, Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal Province, Klasies River Mouth in Eastern Cape Province and Pinnacle Point and Die Kelders Cave in Western Cape Province; these finds suggest that various hominid species existed in South Africa from about three million years ago, starting with Australopithecus africanus. There followed species including Australopithecus sediba, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo helmei, Homo naledi and modern humans.
Modern humans have inhabited Southern Africa for at least 170,000 years. Various researchers have located pebble tools within the Vaal River valley. Settlements of Bantu-speaking peoples, who were iron-using agriculturists and herdsmen, were present south of the Limpopo River by the 4th or 5th century CE, they displaced and absorbed the original Khoisan speakers, the Khoikhoi and San peoples. The Bantu moved south; the earliest ironworks in modern-day KwaZulu-Natal Province are believed to date from around 1050. The southernmost group was the Xhosa people, whose language incorporates certain linguistic traits from the earlier Khoisan people; the Xhosa reached the Great Fish River, in today's Eastern Cape Province. As they migrated, these larger Iron Age populations
The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area, it separates the "Old World" from the "New World". The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between Europe and Africa to the east, the Americas to the west; as one component of the interconnected global ocean, it is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean, to the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, the Indian Ocean in the southeast, the Southern Ocean in the south. The Equatorial Counter Current subdivides it into the North Atlantic Ocean and the South Atlantic Ocean at about 8°N. Scientific explorations of the Atlantic include the Challenger expedition, the German Meteor expedition, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the United States Navy Hydrographic Office; the oldest known mentions of an "Atlantic" sea come from Stesichorus around mid-sixth century BC: Atlantikoi pelágei and in The Histories of Herodotus around 450 BC: Atlantis thalassa where the name refers to "the sea beyond the pillars of Heracles", said to be part of the sea that surrounds all land.
Thus, on one hand, the name refers to Atlas, the Titan in Greek mythology, who supported the heavens and who appeared as a frontispiece in Medieval maps and lent his name to modern atlases. On the other hand, to early Greek sailors and in Ancient Greek mythological literature such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, this all-encompassing ocean was instead known as Oceanus, the gigantic river that encircled the world. In contrast, the term "Atlantic" referred to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the sea off the Strait of Gibraltar and the North African coast; the Greek word thalassa has been reused by scientists for the huge Panthalassa ocean that surrounded the supercontinent Pangaea hundreds of millions of years ago. The term "Aethiopian Ocean", derived from Ancient Ethiopia, was applied to the Southern Atlantic as late as the mid-19th century. During the Age of Discovery, the Atlantic was known to English cartographers as the Great Western Ocean; the term The Pond is used by British and American speakers in context to the Atlantic Ocean, as a form of meiosis, or sarcastic understatement.
The term dates to as early as 1640, first appearing in print in pamphlet released during the reign of Charles I, reproduced in 1869 in Nehemiah Wallington's Historical Notices of Events Occurring Chiefly in The Reign of Charles I, where "great Pond" is used in reference to the Atlantic Ocean by Francis Windebank, Charles I's Secretary of State. The International Hydrographic Organization defined the limits of the oceans and seas in 1953, but some of these definitions have been revised since and some are not used by various authorities and countries, see for example the CIA World Factbook. Correspondingly, the extent and number of oceans and seas varies; the Atlantic Ocean is bounded on the west by South America. It connects to the Arctic Ocean through the Denmark Strait, Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea. To the east, the boundaries of the ocean proper are Europe: the Strait of Africa. In the southeast, the Atlantic merges into the Indian Ocean; the 20° East meridian, running south from Cape Agulhas to Antarctica defines its border.
In the 1953 definition it extends south to Antarctica, while in maps it is bounded at the 60° parallel by the Southern Ocean. The Atlantic has irregular coasts indented by numerous bays and seas; these include the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, part of the Drake Passage, Gulf of Mexico, Labrador Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea all of the Scotia Sea, other tributary water bodies. Including these marginal seas the coast line of the Atlantic measures 111,866 km compared to 135,663 km for the Pacific. Including its marginal seas, the Atlantic covers an area of 106,460,000 km2 or 23.5% of the global ocean and has a volume of 310,410,900 km3 or 23.3% of the total volume of the earth's oceans. Excluding its marginal seas, the Atlantic covers 81,760,000 km2 and has a volume of 305,811,900 km3; the North Atlantic covers 41,490,000 km2 and the South Atlantic 40,270,000 km2. The average depth is 3,646 m and the maximum depth, the Milwaukee Deep in the Puerto Rico Trench, is 8,486 m.
The bathymetry of the Atlantic is dominated by a submarine mountain range called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It runs from 87°N or 300 km south of the North Pole to the subantarctic Bouvet Island at 42°S; the MAR divides the Atlantic longitudinally into two halves, in each of which a series of basins are delimited by secondary, transverse ridges. The MAR reaches above 2,000 m along most of its length, but is interrupted by larger transform faults at two places: the Romanche Trench near the Equator and the Gibbs Fracture Zone at 53°N; the MAR is a barrier for bottom water, but at these two transform faults deep water currents can pass from one side to the othe
A penny is a coin or a unit of currency in various countries. Borrowed from the Carolingian denarius, it is the smallest denomination within a currency system. Presently, it is the formal name of the British penny and the informal name of one American cent as well as the informal Irish designation of 1 cent euro coin, it is the informal name of the cent unit of account in Canada, although one cent coins are no longer minted there. The name is used in reference to various historical currencies derived from the Carolingian system, such as the French denier and the German pfennig, it may be informally used to refer to any similar smallest-denomination coin, such as the euro cent or Chinese fen. The Carolingian penny was a.940-fine silver coin weighing 1/240 pound. It was adopted by Offa of Mercia and other English kings and remained the principal currency in Europe over the next few centuries until repeated debasements necessitated the development of more valuable coins; the British penny remained a silver coin until the expense of the Napoleonic Wars prompted the use of base metals in 1797.
Despite the decimalization of currencies in the United States and throughout the British Commonwealth, the name remains in informal use. No penny is formally subdivided, although farthings and half cents have been minted and the mill remains in use as a unit of account in some contexts. Penny is first attested in a 1394 Scots text, a variant of Old English peni, a development of numerous variations including pennig and pending; the etymology of the term "penny" is uncertain, although cognates are common across all Germanic languages and suggest a base *pan-, *pann-, or *pand- with the individualizing suffix -ing. Common suggestions include that it was *panding as a Low Franconian form of Old High German pfant "pawn", it has been proposed that it may represent an early borrowing of Punic pn, as the face of Carthaginian goddess Tanit was represented on nearly all Carthaginian currency. Following decimalization, the British and Irish coins were marked "new penny" until 1982 and 1985, respectively.
The regular plural pennies fell out of use in England from the 16th century, except in reference to coins considered individually. It remains common in Scottish English and is standard for all senses in American English, however, the informal "penny" is only used of the coins in any case, values being expressed in "cents"; the informal name for the American cent seems to have spread from New York State. In British English, prior to decimalization, values from two to eleven pence and of twenty pence are written and spoken as a single word, as twopence or tuppence, threepence or thruppence, &c. Where a single coin represented a number of pence, it was treated as a single noun, as a sixpence or two eightpences. Thus, "a threepence" would be single coin of that value whereas "three pence" would be its value and "three pennies" would be three penny coins. In British English, divisions of a penny were added to such combinations without a conjunction, as sixpence-farthing, such constructions were treated as single nouns.
Adjectival use of such coins used the ending -penny, as sixpenny. The British abbreviation d. derived from the Latin denarius. It followed the amount after a space, it has been replaced since decimalization by p written without a space or period. From this abbreviation, it is common to speak of pennies and values in pence as "p". In North America, it is common to abbreviate cents with the currency symbol ¢. Elsewhere, it is written with a simple c; the medieval silver penny was modeled on similar coins in antiquity, such as the Greek drachma, the Carthaginian shekel, the Roman denarius. Forms of these seem to have reached as far as Sweden; the use of Roman currency in Britain seems to have fallen off after the Roman withdrawal and subsequent Saxon invasions. Charlemagne's father Pepin the Short instituted a major currency reform around AD 755, aiming to reorganise Francia's previous silver standard with a standardized.940-fine denier weighing 1⁄240 pound. Around 790, Charlemagne introduced a new.950 or.960-fine penny with a smaller diameter.
Surviving specimens have an average weight of 1.70 grams, although some estimate the original ideal mass at 1.76 grams. Despite the purity and quality of these pennies, they were rejected by traders throughout the Carolingian period in favor of the gold coins used elsewhere, a situation that led to repeated legislation against such refusal to accept the king's currency; some of the Anglo-Saxons kingdoms copied the solidus, the late Roman gold coin. Around AD 641–670, there seems to have been a movement to use coins with a lower gold content; this decreased their value and may have increased the number that could be minted, but these paler coins do not seem to have solved the problem of the value and scarcity of the currency