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Coins of the pound sterling

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    The Royal Shield reverse designs, introduced in 2008 (2 coin is not shown).?

    Examples of the standard reverse designs minted until 2008 (2 coin is not?


A 2 coin showing the head of Elizabeth II?

    The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom is denominated in

    pounds sterling (symbol ""?), and, since the introduction of the two-pound

    coin in 1998, ranges in value from one penny to two pounds. Since

    decimalisation, on 15 February 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 (new) pence. From the 16th century until decimalisation, the pound was divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 (old) pence. British coins are minted by the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales. The Royal Mint also commissions the

    coins' designs.

    As of 30 March 2010, there are an estimated 28 billion coins circulating in [1]the United Kingdom.

    The first decimal coins were circulated in 1968. These were the five pence (5p) and ten pence (10p), and had values of one shilling (1/-) and two shillings (2/-), respectively, under the pre-decimal ?sd system. The decimal

    coins are minted in copper-plated steel (previously bronze), nickel-plated steel,

    cupro-nickel and nickel-brass. The two-pound coin is bimetallic. The coins are discs, except for the twenty pence and fifty-pence pieces, both of which are heptagons of constant curvature. All the circulating coins have an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, and various national and regional designs, and 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

    DEFENSOR, meaning "Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender

    of the Faith".

    In addition to the circulating coinage, the UK also mints commemorative [2] decimal coins (crowns) in the denomination of five pounds (previously 25p).Ceremonial Maundy money and bullion coinage of gold sovereigns, half

    sovereigns, and gold and silver Britannia coins are also produced. Some

    territories outside the United Kingdom, that use the pound sterling, produce

    their own coinage, with the same denominations and specifications as the UK coinage but local designs.

    In the years just prior to decimalisation, the circulating British coins were the half crown (2/6), two shillings or florin, shilling, sixpence (6d), threepence

    (3d), penny (1d) and halfpenny (?d). The farthing (?d) had been

    withdrawn in 1960.

    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. Medieval portrait images tended to be full face.From a very early date, British coins have been inscribed with the name of the ruler of the kingdom in which they were produced, and a longer or shorter title, always in Latin; among the earliest distinctive English coins are the silver pennies of Offa of Mercia, which were inscribed with the legend

    OFFA REX "King Offa". The English silver penny was derived from another

    silver coin, the sceat, of 20 troy grains weight, which was 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 mediæval use of fine silver. The

    coinage reform of 1816 set up a weight/value ratio and physical sizes for silver coins. Silver was eliminated in 1947, except for Maundy coinage.Contents


     1 History

    o 1.1 Manufacture

    o 1.2 Origins of the penny

    o 1.3 Silver content

    o 1.4 Monarch's head

     2 Current circulating coinage

    o 2.1 Production and circulation

    o 2.2 UK decimal coinage history

    ; 2.2.1 Decimalisation

    ; 2.2.2 Post 1982

    ; 2.2.3 2008 redesign

    ; 2.2.4 Steel 5p and 10p coins

    o 2.3 Summary of denominations

    o 2.4 Specifications

    o 2.5 UK designs

    ; 2.5.1 Obverse

    ; 2.5.2 Original reverse designs

    ; 2.5.3 Royal Shield reverse

    ; 2.5.4 Edge designs

    ; 2.5.5 Commemorative designs

    o 2.6 Non-UK coinage

     3 Non-circulating coins

    o 3.1 25p and 5 coins?

    o 3.2 Maundy money

    o 3.3 Bullion coinage

     4 Pre-decimal coinage

    o 4.1 System

    o 4.2 Denominations

    o 4.3 Slang and everyday usage

     5 Minting errors reaching circulation

     6 Titles

     7 Mottos

     8 See also

     9 References

     10 External links

    [edit] History

    [edit] Manufacture

    [3]The history of the Royal Mint stretches back to 886 A.D. For many

    centuries production took place in London, initially at the Tower of London,

    and then at premises nearby in Tower Hill. In the 1970s production was [4]transferred to Llantrisant in South Wales. Historically Scotland and England had separate coinage; the last Scottish coins were struck in 1709 shortly after [5]union with England.

    Coins were originally 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 pre-Hellenic Greek era onwards, in comparison to Asia where coins were traditionally cast. The first milled (that is, machine-made) coins were produced during the reign of Elizabeth I (15581603) and periodically during

    the subsequent reigns of James I and Charles I, but there was initially

    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.

    [edit] Origins of the penny

    See also: History of the English penny and Scottish coinage

    The English penny first appeared in Anglo-Saxon times, as a silver coin. It

    was derived from another silver coin, the sceat, of 20 troy grains weight,

    which was in general circulation in Europe during the Middle Ages. The

    weight of the English penny was fixed at 22.5 troy grains (about 1.46 grams)

by Offa of Mercia, an 8th century contemporary of Charlemagne. The coin's

    designated value, however, was that of 24 troy grains of silver (one pennyweight, or 1240 of a troy pound, or about 1.56 grams), with the

    difference being a premium attached by virtue of the minting into coins. Thus 240 pennyweights made one troy pound of silver in weight, and the monetary value of 240 pennies also became known as a "pound". (240 actual pennies, however, weighed only 5400 troy grains, known as tower pound, a

    unit used only by mints. The tower pound was abolished in the 16th century.) The silver penny remained the primary unit of coinage for about 500 years.

    The purity of 92.5% silver (i.e., sterling silver) was instituted by Henry II in

    1158 with the "Tealby Penny"a hammered coin.

    Over the years the penny was gradually debased until by the 16th century it contained about a third the silver content of a proper troy 24 grain pennyweight.

    The medieval penny would have been the equivalent of around 1/6 in value in 1915. British government sources suggest that prices have risen over 61-fold since 1914, so a medieval sterling silver penny might have the equivalent purchasing power of around 4.50 today, and a farthing (a quarter penny)?

    would have the value of slightly more than today's pound (about 1.125).?

    [edit] Silver content

    From the time of Charlemagne until the 12th century, the silver currency of England was made from the highest purity silver available. Unfortunately there were drawbacks to minting currency of fine silver, notably the level of

    wear it suffered, and the ease with which coins could be "clipped", or

    trimmed, by those dealing in the currency.

    In the 12th century a new standard for English coinage was established by Henry II the Sterling Silver standard of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. This was a harder-wearing alloy, yet it was still a rather high grade of silver. It went some way towards discouraging the practice of "clipping", though this practice was further discouraged and largely eliminated with the introduction of the milled edge we see on coins today.

    By 1696 the currency had been seriously weakened by an increase in clipping [6]during the Nine Years' War to the extent that it was decided to recall and [7]replace all hammered silver coinage in circulation. The exercise came close [8]to disaster due to fraud and mismanagement, but was saved by the personal

    intervention of Isaac Newton after his appointment as Warden of the Mint, a [7] post which was intended to be a sinecure, but which he took seriously.

    Newton was subsequently given the post of Master of the Mint in 1699.

    Following the 1707 union between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom

    of Scotland, Newton used his previous experience to direct the 17071710

    Scottish recoinage, resulting in a common currency for the new Kingdom of

    Great Britain. After September 15, 1709 no further silver coins were ever [9]struck in Scotland.

As a result of a report written by Newton on September 21, 1717 to the [10] Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury the bimetallic relationship

    between gold coins and silver coins was changed by Royal proclamation on

    December 22, 1717, forbidding the exchange of gold guineas for more than [11]21 silver shillings. Due to differing valuations in other European countries this inadvertently resulted in a silver shortage as silver coins were used to pay for imports, while exports were paid for in gold, effectively moving Britain from the silver standard to its first gold standard, rather than the bimetallic

    standard implied by the proclamation.

    The coinage reform of 1816 set up a weight/value ratio and physical sizes for silver coins.

    In 1920, the silver content of all British coins was reduced from 92.5% to 50%, with a portion of the remainder consisting of manganese, which caused

    the coins to tarnish to a very dark colour after they had been in circulation for a significant period. Silver was eliminated altogether in 1947, except for Maundy coinage, which returned to the pre-1920 92.5% silver composition.The 1816 weight/value ratio and size system survived the debasement of silver in 1920, and the adoption of token coins of cupro-nickel in 1947. It even

    persisted after decimalisation for those coins which had equivalents and continued to be minted with their values in new pence. The UK finally abandoned it in the 1990s when smaller, more convenient, "silver" coins were introduced.

    [edit] Monarch's head

    All coins since the 17th century have featured 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, as shown in the

    table below:

    Facing leftFacing right

    Cromwell Charles II [12]1653165816601685

    William and

    Mary 1689James II 168516941688William III


    Anne 1702George I


    George II George III


    George IV William IV


    Victoria 1837Edward VII


    George V


    Edward VIII




    George VI Elizabeth II


    For the Tudors and pre-Restoration Stuarts, both left- and right-facing

    portrait images were minted within the reign of a single monarch (left-facing images were more common). Medieval portrait images tended to be full face.There was a small quirk in this alternating pattern when Edward VIII

    ascended to the throne in January 1936 and was portrayed facing left, the same as his predecessor George V. This was because Edward thought that to

    be his best side. However, Edward VIII abdicated in December 1936 and his coins were never put into general circulation. When George VI came to the

    throne, he had his coins struck with him facing the left, as if Edward VIII's coins had faced right (as they should have done according to tradition). Thus, in a timeline of circulating British coins, George V and VI's coins both feature left-facing portraits, although they follow directly chronologically.[edit] Current circulating coinage

    [edit] Production and circulation

    All UK coins are produced by the Royal Mint. The same coinage is used

    across all countries of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and

    Northern Ireland). Unlike banknotes, local issues of coins are not produced in these regions. The pound coin until 2008 has been produced in regional designs, but these circulate equally in all parts of the UK (see UK designs,


    Every year, newly minted coins are checked for size, weight, and composition at a Trial of the Pyx. Essentially the same procedure has been used since the 13th century. Assaying is now done by the Worshipful Company of

    Goldsmiths on behalf of HM Treasury.

    As of March 2007, the total value of coinage in circulation is estimated at three and a half billion pounds, of which the 1 and 2 coins account for?? [13]over two billion pounds. The 1p and 2p coins from 1971 are the oldest

    standard-issue coins still in circulation.

    Coins from the British dependencies and territories that use the pound as their currency are sometimes found in change in other jurisdictions. Strictly they are not legal tender in the United Kingdom and tend not to be accepted by [citation needed]UK traders and some banks. However, since they have the same

    specifications as UK coins, they are sometimes tolerated in commerce, and can readily be used in vending machines.

    UK-issued coins are, on the other hand, generally fully accepted and freely mixed in other British dependencies and territories that use the pound.An extensive coinage redesign was commissioned by the Royal Mint in 2005, and new designs were gradually introduced into the circulating British coinage from summer 2008. The pre-2008 coins will remain legal tender and are [14]expected to stay in circulation for the foreseeable future.

    [edit] UK decimal coinage history

    [edit] Decimalisation

    Since decimalisation on 15 February 1971 the pound (symbol ""?) has been

    divided into 100 pence. (Prior to decimalisation the pound was divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 (old) pence; thus there were 240 (old) pence to the pound. The value of the pound itself was unchanged by decimalisation.)The first decimal coins the five pence (5p) and ten pence (10p) were

    introduced in 1968 in the run-up to decimalisation in order to familiarise the public with the new system. These initially circulated alongside the pre-decimal coinage and had the same size and value as the existing one shilling

    and two shilling coins respectively. The fifty pence (50p) coin followed in

    1969, replacing the old ten shilling note. The remaining decimal coins at the

    time, the half penny (?p), penny (1p) and two pence (2p) were issued in

    1971 at decimalisation. A quarter-penny coin, to be struck in aluminium, was

    proposed at the time decimalisation was being planned, but was never minted.The new coins were initially marked with the wording NEW PENNY (singular)

    or NEW PENCE (plural). The word "new" was dropped in 1982. The symbol "p" was adopted to distinguish the new pennies from the old, which used the symbol "d" (from the Latin denarius, a coin used in the Roman Empire).

    [edit] Post 1982

    In the years since decimalisation a number of changes have been made to the coinage. The twenty pence (20p) coin was introduced in 1982 to fill the gap between the 10p and 50p coins. The pound coin (1) was introduced in 1983?

    to replace the Bank of England 1 ?banknote which was discontinued in 1984

    (although the Scottish banks continued producing them for some time afterwards; the last of them, the Royal Bank of Scotland 1 note, was still in?

    production as of early 2006). The designs on the one pound coin change annually in a largely five-year cycle.

    The decimal half penny coin was demonetised in 1984 as its value was by

    then too small to be useful. The pre-decimal sixpence, shilling and two

    shilling coins, which had continued to circulate alongside the decimal coinage with values of 2?p, 5p and 10p respectively, were finally withdrawn in 1980, 1990 and 1993 respectively.

    In the 1990s the Royal Mint reduced the sizes of the 5p, 10p and 50p coins. As a consequence, the oldest 5p coins in circulation date from 1990, the oldest 10p coins from 1992 and the oldest 50p coins come from 1997. Since

1997, many special commemorative designs of 50p have been issued. Some of

    these are found fairly frequently in circulation and some are rare. They are all legal tender.

    A circulating bimetallic two pound (2) coin was introduced in 1998 (first?

    minted in, and dated, 1997). There had previously been unimetallic commemorative 2 coins which did not normally circulate. This tendency to?

    use the two pound coin for commemorative issues has continued since the introduction of the bimetallic coin, and a few of the older unimetallic coins have since entered circulation.

    There are also commemorative issues of crowns. Before 1990 these had a face

    value of twenty-five pence (25p), equivalent to the five shilling crown used in pre-decimal Britain. However, in 1990 crowns were redenominated with a [15]face value of five pounds (5)? as the previous value was considered not

    sufficient for such a high-status coin. The size and weight of the coin remained exactly the same. Decimal crowns are generally not found in circulation as their market value is likely to be higher than their face value, but they remain legal tender.

    [edit] 2008 redesign

    In 2008, UK coins underwent an extensive redesign, which changed the [16]reverse designs, and some other details, of all coins except the 2.? The

    original intention was to exclude both the 1 and 2 coins from the redesign??

    because they were "relatively new additions" to the coinage, but it was later [17]decided to include the 1 coin.? This was the first wholesale change to [16] British coinage since the first decimal coins were introduced in April 1968,in keeping with an unwritten convention that the coin designs should be [18]changed every 40 years to keep the coinage fresh. The new coins were [19]initially to be put into circulation in early 2008, although they did not

    actually start to appear until mid-2008.

    The major design feature was the introduction of a reverse design shared across six coins (1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p), that can be pieced together to form an image of the Royal Shield. This was the first time a coin design had [16]been featured across multiple coins in this way. Completing the set, the

    new 1 reverse features the Shield in its entirety. The effigy of the Queen,? [16]by Ian Rank-Broadley, continues to appear on the obverse of all the coins.On all coins, the beading (ring of small dots) around the edge of the obverses has been removed. The obverse of the 20p coin has also been amended to incorporate the year, which had been on the reverse of the coin since its introduction in 1982 (giving rise to an unusual issue of a mule [18]version without a date at all ). The orientation of both sides of the 50p

    coin has been rotated through 180 degrees, meaning the "bottom" of the coin is now a corner rather than a flat edge. The numerals showing the decimal value of each coin, previously present on all coins except 2 and 1, have??

    been removed, leaving the values spelled out in words only.

    The redesign was the result of a competition launched by the Royal Mint in August 2005, which closed on 14 November 2005. The competition was open [16]to the public and received over 4,000 entries. The winning entry was [16]unveiled on 2 April 2008, designed by Matthew Dent. Dent's initials can be

    seen on the new coinage. The Royal Mint stated the new designs were [19]"reflecting a twenty-first century Britain". An advisor to the Royal Mint

    described the new coins as "post-modern", something that could not have been [20]done 50 years previously.

    The redesign was criticised by some for having no specifically Welsh symbol (such as the Welsh Dragon), because the Royal Shield does not include a

    specifically Welsh symbol. Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, who was also

    campaigning to have the Welsh Dragon included on the Union Flag, called

    the omission "disappointing", and stated that he would be writing to the Queen [21]to request that the Royal Standard be changed to include Wales. The Royal

    Mint stated that "the Shield of the Royal Arms is symbolic of the whole of the United Kingdom and as such, represents Wales, Scotland, England and [21]Northern Ireland." Designer Dent stated "I am a Welshman and proud of it, but I never thought about the fact we did not have a dragon or another representation of Wales on the design because as far as I am concerned [21]Wales is represented on the Royal Arms. This was never an issue for me."The designs were also criticised for not including a portrayal of Britannia, the

    female personification of Britain whose image has appeared on British coinage [22]continuously since 1672. In response to the concern over the loss of

    Britannia, the chairman of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee stated "There are 806 million Britannias in circulation at the moment [on the old 50p coin]. They will remain in circulation. They will see all of us out, until they die a [16]natural death. So whatever happens, Britannia stays around".The Royal Mint's choice of an inexperienced coin designer to produce the new coinage was criticised by Virginia Ironside, daughter of Christopher

    Ironside who designed the previous UK coins. She stated that the new designs were "totally unworkable as actual coins", due to the loss of a numerical [23]currency identifier, and the smaller typeface used.

    The German news magazine Der Spiegel claimed that the redesign signalled [24]the UK's intention "not to join the euro any time soon".

    [edit] Steel 5p and 10p coins

    From January 2012, 5p and 10p coins will be minted from nickel-plated steel [25]instead of cupro-nickel, and will be 11% thicker.

    [edit] Summary of denominations

     Half penny (?p; 0.005) 19711984, demonetised since then. ?–

     One penny (1p; 0.01), 1971present ?–

     Two pence (2p; 0.02), 1971present ?–

     Five pence (5p; 0.05), 19681990 (reduced to present size); 1990?––


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