Threepence, Silver, Coin Type from British West Africa - detailed information

Threepence, Silver, Coin Type from British West Africa (issued 1913 - 1920)
Coin TypeThreepence, Silver

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. In other words, the threepence (or three pence) was thus equal to a quarter of a shilling or 1/80th of a pound (i.e., 80 of these coins made one pound).

Initially the coin was equivalent to its Imperial counterpart - the British Threepence - but was then debased much earlier than it.

There were three types issued:
- silver coins - 1913 - 1920 (first sterling, then debased in 1920), for King George V
- tin brass coins - 1920 - 1936, for King George V
- copper-nickel coins - 1938 - 1957, for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II

No 3 pence coins were issued for King Edward VIII in British West Africa.

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 / Threepence, Silver - obverse photo

Crowned and draped bust of King George V facing left (crowned effigy by Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal); the King is wearing the Imperial Crown and the ermine Robe of State, the Collar of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and the Badge of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

The artist's initials BM are in relief on the bust truncation.

Around, the monarch's legend GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:. Translated from Latin: George the Fifth, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.

Obverse Inscription GEORGIVS V D. G. BRITT: OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP:
British West Africa / Threepence, Silver - reverse photo

Within an oak wreath tied with ribbon, the value and denomination in two lines: 3 PENCE; around, the legend BRITISH WEST AFRICA.

Below the wreath, the date [year].

Reverse Inscription 3 PENCE BRITISH WEST AFRICA [year]
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone

In 1912 a West African Currency Board was established to arrange for the production and supply of coins (small denomination coins had already been issued starting 1907).

The first issue of silver, in the denominations 3 pence, 6 pence, shilling and 2 shillings, was struck at the Royal Mint, London in 1913, and made legal tender in Nigeria, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Gambia by a local Currency Act dated 26 June 1913.

1913 was also a year when a large crop of cocoa valued at almost 2 1/2 million pounds saw a great demand for silver coins. In addition to 889,000 pounds of West African silver (all the Royal Mint could strike) an additional 539,700 pounds of Imperial silver coin was needed. Such fluctuation in demand made the provision of a silver coinage very difficult.

During World War I 530,000 pound of silver coin was returned to Britain for sale as bullion to raise internationally accepted forms of money.

Interest in the production of a silver coinage led to the request for the provision of proof and specimen sets for official commemorative gifts. Sets containing two coins of each denomination were struck in proof quality while single coin sets were made using selected uncirculated specimens.

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.

Royal Mint
Royal Mint
Threepence, Silver: Details
CountryBritish West Africa
CurrencyBritish West African Pound
Sub-type ofThreepence
Face Value3 (x Penny)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1968)
Material0.925 Silver
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size16.0000 mm
Mass1.4100 g
Threepence, Silver: Photos
Threepence, Silver: Photo Coin - 3 Pence, British West Africa, 1913 Coin - 3 Pence, British West Africa, 1913
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Threepence, Silver: Photo Coin - 3 Pence, British West Africa, 1913 Coin - 3 Pence, British West Africa, 1913
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY