Halfpenny, Bronze, Coin Type from British West Africa - detailed information

Halfpenny, Bronze, Coin Type from British West Africa (issued 1952 - 1952)
Coin TypeHalfpenny, Bronze

The British West African Pound was the currency of British West Africa, a group of British colonies, protectorates and mandate territories - Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana (originally Gold Coast) and Gambia.

The British West African Pound was equal to the (pre-decimal) Pound Sterling and was similarly subdivided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. The Halfpenny (or half penny) was thus equal to 1/2 of a penny, 1/24th of a shilling or 1/480th of a pound (i.e., 480 of these coins made one pound).

Unlike its Imperial counterpart - the British Halfpenny - the British West African Halfpenny had a central hole which made the two coins incompatible; this was done to make sure that colonial money does not get exported to Great Britain to be used there, leaving the colonies with no cash.

For most of the history of the denomination, the coins were made of CuproNickel (copper-nickel); in 1952 only, the coins were in bronze.

After decolonisation, the coins were replaced by the various new countries as they introduced their own independent currencies:
- Nigeria introduced the Nigerian Pound in 1958
- Ghana introduced in Ghanaian Pound in 1958
- British Cameroon (on unification with Cameroon) adopted the Central African CFA Franc in 1961
- Sierra Leone introduced the Leone in 1964
- Gambia introduced the Gambian Pound in 1965

In some places, British West African coins circulated in parallel with the new coinage until 1968.

British West Africa / Halfpenny, Bronze - obverse photo

An imperial crown above a central circular hole with a scroll ornament to right and left; below the crown and around the hole, the value and denomination ONE HALFPENNY.

Around, outside the scroll ornaments, the legend of the monarch: GEORGIVS SEXTVS REX. Translated from Latin: George the Sixth, King.

Below the hole, the denomination in Arabic: نُصْف پَنّي.

The mint mark, H for the Birmingham Mint (ex Heaton and Sons) or KN for King's Norton Metal Co., is between the centre hole and the Arabic inscription. Coins struck by the Royal Mint have no mint mark.

Obverse Inscription GEORGIVS SEXTVS REX ONE HALFPENNY نُصْف پَنّي
British West Africa / Halfpenny, Bronze - reverse photo

Around a circular central hole, Solomon's seal (a six-pointed "Star of David"), consisting of two equilateral triangles interlaced.

Around, interrupted by the star, the legend BRITISH WEST AFRICA; around below, the star divides the date: · 1952 ·.

Reverse Inscription BRITISH WEST AFRICA· [year] ·
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone

The high price of nickel caused a change for this denomination from copper-nickel to a bronze alloy in 1952.

This was the last year the denomination was issued; there were no halfpenny coins in British West Africa for Queen Elizabeth II.

The series was continued by identically looking coins in 1959 (save for differing reverse legend which was changed to FEDERATION OF NIGERIA) issued by Nigeria.

References to additional information:

[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue of British Commonwealth Coins, pp 87-95.
[Book] Vice, David. 1983. The Coinage of British West Africa & St. Helena 1684 - 1958.

Coin Type: Halfpenny, Bronze - (1) Coins
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Halfpenny, Bronze: Details
CountryBritish West Africa
CurrencyBritish West African Pound
Sub-type ofHalfpenny
Face Value1/2 (x Penny)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1968)
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound with hole
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size25.900 mm
Mass5.600 g
Halfpenny, Bronze: Photos
Proof Coin - 1/2 Penny, British West Africa, 1952
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Notes: Proof.
Proof Coin - 1/2 Penny, British West Africa, 1952
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Notes: Proof.