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Detailed information about coin type: Penny (Britannia, first design) from United Kingdom:

Coin type: Penny (Britannia, first design)

Part of the "Fourth Issue" copper coinage of King George III.

The figure of Britannia had already been used on earlier English coins, as well as Roman coins minted in Britain. This is the "first" design used on coinage of the United Kingdom (post-1801). It is also known as the "Second Soho design" (the first being the Cartwheel Penny of 1797).

Between 1770 and the end of the century the practice of counterfeiting be­came so prevalent in England that scarcely any genuine British copper coins remained in circulation. The 1770-1775 issue was melted in huge quantities and made into lightweight counterfeit coins; the only other pieces in circu­lation were the merchants’ tokens issued by private firms for their own con­venience.

It was during this period that Matthew Boulton offered a solution to the problem by proposing that (1) each coin should contain its intrinsic value of metal, (2) a retaining collar should be used to maintain a constant diameter and (3) a broad raised rim should be used to save the coin from undue wear.

He further proposed that a steam powered coinage press be used to produce a more uniformly finished coin with a greater rate o f output.

On June 9, 1797, the Government signed a contract with Boulton providing for the coinage of 20 tons of twopence and 480 tons of pennies. The coins were made current July 26, 1797, and the one penny piece [the so-called Cartwheel Penny] was to weigh one ounce avoirdupois and correspond as nearly as possible to its nominal value. They were to be legal tender up to one shilling.

A total of £310,885 worth of pennies were coined between 1797 and 1807 by Boulton at the Soho Mint.

Conrad Heinrich Küchler was the designer.

The 1806 and 1807 coins were of a different design and significantly smaller (the price of copper had risen so they were made smaller to reflect this; before they were issued, copper prices went down again but the public accepted this).

A unique piece dated 1808 is known, which is not listed in Whitman 1962 or Remick 1971.

CountryUnited Kingdom CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Sub-type ofPenny (Pre-decimal) Sub-types
Face value1 (x Penny)
Years produced1806 - 1808 CurrentNo (demonetised 1971)
MaterialCopper DesignerConrad Heinrich Küchler
Production technologyMilled (machine-made) ShapeRound
Size (mm)35 Thickness (mm)
Mass (g)18.8760

Laureate and draped bust of King George III facing right; around, GEORGIUS III · D : G · REX.; below, the date. On neck truncation a tiny letter K - the designer's initial (for [Conrad Heinrich] Küchler).

Obverse inscription

GEORGIUS III · D : G · REX. [year]


Figure of Britannia seated on a rock, facing left, holding a trident and extending an olive branch; a shield decorated with the British flag rests against the rock at right; background left, a sailing ship; around above, BRITANNIA. The mint name, SOHO on right end of rock. At the foot of Britannia's trident, between its shaft and the shield, a tiny letter K - the designer's initial (for [Conrad Heinrich] Küchler).

Reverse inscription


EdgeGrained in groove Edge inscription


List of 3 coins of type: Penny (Britannia, first design) from United Kingdom
Penny 1806 unknown King George III Laureate head by Conrad Küchler GEORGIUS III · D : G · REX. 1806
Penny 1807 unknown King George III Laureate head by Conrad Küchler GEORGIUS III · D : G · REX. 1807
Penny 1808 (Proof only) unknown King George III Laureate head by Conrad Küchler GEORGIUS III · D : G · REX. 1808