The Double sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of two pound sterling or 40 shillings. It was first minted using the design by Benedetto Pistrucci in 1820 under the reign of George III and never entered circulation, instead being considered a pattern coin; as a precursor to the modern decimalised £2 coin it shares a similar diameter of 28.4 mm. The history of Double sovereigns can be traced back to 1485 when larger sovereign coins were minted using dies of the standard English sovereign, although not entering circulation they are thought to have been for presentation purposes as piedfort coins. Following the introducing of the new British Sovereign coin in 1817, a special proof Double sovereign was minted in 1820 however like the previous double sovereign it never entered general circulation. In 1887 for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee another double sovereign was issued, this time entering circulation for the first time. Two pounds Sovereign Coins from United Kingdom / Coin Type: Two Pounds
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
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
Penny (British pre-decimal coin)
The pre-decimal penny was a coin worth 1/240 of a pound sterling. Its symbol was d, from the Roman denarius, it was a continuation of the earlier English penny, in Scotland it had the same monetary value as one pre-1707 Scottish shilling. The penny was minted in silver, but from the late 18th century it was minted in copper, after 1860 in bronze; the plural of "penny" is "pence" when referring to a quantity of money and "pennies" when referring to a number of coins. Thus 8d is eight pence, but "eight pennies" means eight individual penny coins. Before Decimal Day in 1971 twelve pence made a shilling, twenty shillings made a pound, hence 240 pence in one pound. Values less than a pound were written in terms of shillings and pence, e.g. 42 pence would be three shillings and sixpence, pronounced "three and six". Values of less than a shilling were written in terms of pence, e.g. eight pence would be 8d. This version of the penny was made obsolete in 1971 by decimalisation, was replaced by the decimal penny, worth 2.4 old pence.
The kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged by the 1707 Act of Union to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. The exchange rate between the pound scots and the English pound sterling had been fixed at 12:1 since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, in 1707 the pound Scots ceased to be legal tender, with the pound sterling to be used throughout Great Britain; the penny replaced the shilling of the pound scots. The design and specifications of the English penny were unchanged by the Union, it continued to be minted in silver after 1707. Queen Anne's reign saw pennies minted in 1708, 1709, 1710, 1713; these issues, were not for general circulation, instead being minted as Maundy money. The prohibitive cost of minting silver coins had meant the size of pennies had been reduced over the years, with the minting of silver pennies for general circulation being halted in 1660; the practice of minting pennies only for Maundy money continued through the reigns of George I and George II, into that of George III.
However, by George III's reign there was a shortage of pennies: things had got so bad that a great many merchants and mining companies issued their own copper tokens e.g. the Parys Mining Company on Anglesey issued huge numbers of tokens. In 1797, the government authorised Matthew Boulton to strike copper pennies and twopences at his Soho Mint in Birmingham. At the time it was believed that the face value of a coin should correspond to the value of the material it was made from, so they had to contain one or two pence worth of copper; this requirement meant that the coins would be larger than the silver pennies minted previously. The large size of the coins, combined with the thick rim where the inscription was incuse i.e. punched into the metal rather than standing proud of it, led to the coins being nicknamed "cartwheels". These pennies were minted over the course of several years, but all are marked with the date 1797. By 1802, the production of issued provincial tokens had ceased. However, in the next ten years the intrinsic value of copper rose.
The return of minted token coinage was evident by 1811 and endemic by 1812, as more and more of the Government-issued copper coinage was melted down. The Royal Mint undertook a massive recoinage programme in 1816, with large quantities of gold and silver coin being minted. To thwart the further issuance of private token coinage, in 1817 an Act of Parliament was passed which forbade the manufacture of private token coinage under severe penalties. Copper coins continued to be minted after 1797, through the reigns of George III, George IV and William IV, the early reign of Queen Victoria; these coins were smaller than the cartwheel pennies of 1797, contained a smaller amount of copper. In 1857 a survey by the Royal Mint found that around one third of all copper coinage was worn or mutilated by advertisements. Two years Thomas Graham, the Master of the Mint, convinced William Ewart Gladstone Chancellor of the Exchequer, that so large a part of the copper coinage must be taken out of circulation that it was worth introducing a whole new coinage which would be "much more convenient and agreeable in use".
These new coins were minted in bronze, their specifications were no longer constrained by the onerous requirement that their face value should match the value of the base metal used to make the coin. These new coins were introduced in 1860 and a year the withdrawal of the old copper coinage began; the specifications of the bronze version of the penny were a mass of 9.45 g and a diameter of 30.86 mm, remained as such for over a hundred years. Pennies were minted every year of Queen Victoria's reign, every year of Edward VII's reign. George V pennies were produced every year to the same standard until 1922, but after a three-year gap in production the alloy composition was changed to 95.5% copper, 3% tin, 1.5% zinc, although the weight and size remained unchanged. Thereafter, pennies were minted every year for the remainder of George V's reign, although only six or seven 1933 coins were minted for the king to lay under the foundation stones of new buildings. A few pennies of Edward VIII exist, dated 1937, but technically they are pattern coins i.e. coins produced for official approval, which it would have been due to receive about the time that the K
The guinea was a coin of one quarter ounce of gold, minted in Great Britain between 1663 and 1814. The name came from the Guinea region in West Africa, where much of the gold used to make the coins originated, it was the first English machine-struck gold coin worth one pound sterling, equal to twenty shillings, but rises in the price of gold relative to silver caused the value of the guinea to increase, at times to as high as thirty shillings. From 1717 to 1816, its value was fixed at twenty-one shillings; when Britain adopted the gold standard the guinea became a specialised term. Although the coin itself no longer circulated, the term guinea survived as a unit of account in some fields. Notable usages included professional fees, which were invoiced in guineas, horse racing and greyhound racing, the sale of rams. In each case a guinea meant an amount of one pound and one shilling, or one pound and five pence in decimalised currency; the name forms the basis for the Arabic word for the Egyptian pound الجنيه el-Genēh / el-Geni, as a sum of 100 qirsh was worth 21 shillings at the end of the 19th century.
The first guinea was produced on 6 February 1663. One troy pound of 11⁄12 fine gold would make 44 1⁄2 guineas, each thus theoretically weighing 129.438 grains. The denomination was worth one pound, or twenty shillings, but an increase in the price of gold during the reign of King Charles II led to the market trading it at a premium; the price of gold continued to increase in times of trouble, by the 1680s, the coin was worth 22 shillings. Indeed, in his diary entries for 13 June 1667, Samuel Pepys records that the price was 24 to 25 shillings; the diameter of the coin was 1 in throughout Charles II's reign, the average gold purity was 0.9100. "Guinea" was not an official name for the coin, but much of the gold used to produce the early coins came from Guinea in Africa. The coin was produced each year between 1663 and 1684, with the elephant appearing on some coins each year from 1663 to 1665 and 1668, the elephant and castle on some coins from 1674 onward; the elephant, with or without the castle, symbolises the Royal African Company, whose activities on the Guinea Coast of Africa resulted in the importation of much gold into England.
The obverse and reverse of this coin were designed by John Roettier. The obverse showed a fine right-facing bust of the king wearing a laurel wreath, surrounded by the legend CAROLVS II DEI GRATIA, while the reverse showed four crowned cruciform shields bearing the arms of England, Scotland and Ireland, between which were four sceptres, in the centre were four interlinked "C"s, surrounded by the inscription MAG BR FRA ET HIB REX; the edge was milled to deter clipping or filing, to distinguish it from the silver half-crown which had edge lettering. Until 1669 the milling was perpendicular to the edge, giving vertical grooves, while from 1670 the milling was diagonal to the edge. John Roettier continued to design the dies for this denomination in the reign of King James II. In this reign, the coins weighed 8.5 g with a diameter of 25–26 mm, were minted in all years between 1685 and 1688, with an average gold purity of 0.9094. Coins of each year were issued both without the elephant and castle mark.
The king's head faces left in this reign, is surrounded by the inscription IACOBVS II DEI GRATIA, while the reverse is the same as in Charles II's reign except for omitting the interlinked "C"s in the centre of the coin. The edge of the coins are milled diagonally. With the removal of James II in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, his daughter Mary and her husband Prince William of Orange reigned jointly as co-monarchs, their heads appear conjoined on the guinea piece in Roman style, with William's head uppermost, with the legend GVLIELMVS ET MARIA DEI GRATIA. In a departure from the previous reigns, the reverse featured a new design of a large crowned shield which bore the arms of England and France in the first and fourth quarters, of Scotland in the second quarter, of Ireland in the third quarter, the whole ensemble having a small shield in the centre bearing the rampant lion of Nassau. By the early part of this reign the value of the guinea had increased to nearly 30 shillings; the guineas of this reign weighed 8.5 g, were 25–26 mm in diameter, were the work of James and Norbert Roettier.
They were produced in all years between 1689 and 1694 both without the elephant and castle. Following the death of Queen Mary from smallpox in 1694, William continued to reign as William III; the guinea coin was produced in all years from 1695 to 1701, both with and without the elephant and castle, the design being the work of Johann Crocker known as John Croker, since James Roettier had died in 1698 and his brother Norbert had moved to France in 1695. The coins of William III's reign weighed 8.4 g with an average gold purity
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