Farthing (Britannia, second design), Coin Type from United Kingdom - detailed information

Farthing (Britannia, second design), Coin Type from United Kingdom (issued 1821 - 1864)
Coin TypeFarthing (Britannia, second design)

The Farthing was a small circulating coin of the British pre-decimal Pound Sterling, equal to a quarter of a penny. Prices were never written in farthings though - something worth a farthing would be quoted as 1/4d ("d" being the abbreviation for "penny", from the Roman "denarius"). There were 20 shillings to a pound, 12 pence to a shilling and 4 farthings to a penny, so 960 of these coins made up £1.

In 1801 the parliaments of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland each passed an Act of Union, uniting the two kingdoms and creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Re-coinage followed in 1806; there was a short-lived farthing format with larger coins with concave surfaces struck by the Soho Mint but it was only issued for two years.

After 1807, no farthing coins were issued until 1821, when this smaller version with a new-look Britannia and traditional flat surfaces was introduced; these coins were struck by the Royal Mint. Between 1821 and 1826, the First Issue of King George IV had an ornate Britannia reverse designed by William Wyon, chief engraver of the Royal Mint, and a portrait of the monarch by Benedetto Pistrucci; this version was only issued on farhings, unlike the other designs which had parallel issues in the halfpenny and penny denominations too. The king did not find the portrait satisfactory though, so it was re-designed by William Wyon in 1825 for the other denominations, with the new portrait and a simplified Britannia reverse introduced on the farthings from 1826.

This latter design is the same as that of the one penny, half penny and half farthing coins minted in the same years; coins of the four denominations look identical - the difference is only in size. Typically for British coinage of the time, the denomination (or, indeed, the country of issue) is not spelled out on the coin.

All these farthings were minted in copper, but after 1860 the denomination changed to bronze with an even smaller size; all British copper coinage was demonetised after 31 December 1869.

Obverse
United Kingdom / Farthing (Britannia, second design) - obverse photo

Effigy of the ruling British monarch, part of the legend (in Latin).

During the existence of this coin type, farthings were issued for:
- King George IV (1821 - 1831)
- King William IV (1831 - 1837)
- Queen Victoria (1838 - 1864)

The unconventional Roman numeral "IIII" was used in the monarch's legend on coins of the first issue of King George IV from 1821 to 1826. This was replaced on the second issue by "IV".

Obverse Inscription Legend of the ruling British monarch
Reverse
United Kingdom / Farthing (Britannia, second design) - reverse photo

The reverse of the coin shows, within a beaded border, the figure of Britannia - the female personification of Great Britain - seated facing right, wearing a Corinthian helmet pushed back to reveal her face, resting her right hand on a shield bearing a saltire of arms, and holding a trident in her left hand.

Around, the rest of the monarch's legend: BRITANNIAR: REX FID: DEF: (King of Britain, Defender of the Faith) during the reigns of King George IV and King William IV, or BRITANNIAR: REG: FID: DEF: (Queen of Britain, Defender of the Faith) for Queen Victoria.

In the exergue, a rose, a thistle and a shamrock combined - the floral symbols of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, respectively England, Scotland and Ireland.

Coins from the first issue of King George IV (1821 - 1826) display a larger figure of Britannia, with two additions: a lion reclining on her left side (only his head is visible in front of her left leg), and she holds an olive branch in her right hand, which she is resting on the shield. On these, the date is on the reverse and there is no floral arrangement in the exergue.

Reverse Inscription BRITANNIAR: REX FID: DEF: (BRITANNIAR: REG: FID: DEF:)
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone
Notes

References to additional information:

[Book] Bressett, Kenneth E. 1962. A Guidebook of English Coins, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Wisconsin, USA. pp 14-16
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue to British Commonwealth Coins., pp190-191

Coin Type: Farthing (Britannia, second design) - (39) Coins
Coin NameMintageEffigyLegend
Farthing 1821 2,688,000 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII DEI GRATIA.
Farthing 1822 5,924,352 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII DEI GRATIA.
Farthing 1823 2,365,440 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII DEI GRATIA.
Farthing 1825 4,300,800 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII DEI GRATIA.
Farthing 1826 (First Issue) 6,666,240 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII DEI GRATIA.
Farthing 1826 (Second Issue) 6,666,240 King George IV - Laureate Head by Wyon GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA · 1826 ·
Farthing 1827 2,365,440 King George IV - Laureate Head by Wyon GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA · 1827 ·
Farthing 1828 2,365,440 King George IV - Laureate Head by Wyon GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA · 1828 ·
Farthing 1829 1,505,280 King George IV - Laureate Head by Wyon GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA · 1829 ·
Farthing 1830 2,365,440 King George IV - Laureate Head by Wyon GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA · 1830 ·
Farthing 1831 2,688,000 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII DEI GRATIA 1831
Farthing 1834 1,935,360 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII DEI GRATIA 1834
Farthing 1835 1,720,320 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII DEI GRATIA 1835
Farthing 1836 1,290,240 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII DEI GRATIA 18316
Farthing 1837 3,010,560 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII DEI GRATIA 1837
Farthing 1838 591,360 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1838
Farthing 1839 4,300,800 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1839
Farthing 1840 3,010,560 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1840
Farthing 1841 1,720,320 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1841
Farthing 1842 1,290,240 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1842
Farthing 1843 4,085,760 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1843
Farthing 1844 430,080 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1844
Farthing 1845 3,225,600 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1845
Farthing 1846 2,580,480 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1846
Farthing 1847 3,879,720 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1847
Farthing 1848 1,290,240 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1848
Farthing 1849 645,120 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1849
Farthing 1850 430,080 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1850
Farthing 1851 1,935,360 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1851
Farthing 1852 822,528 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1852
Farthing 1853 1,028,628 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1853
Farthing 1854 6,504,960 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1854
Farthing 1855 3,440,640 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1855
Farthing 1856 1,771,392 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1856
Farthing 1857 1,075,200 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1857
Farthing 1858 1,720,320 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1858
Farthing 1859 1,290,240 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1859
Farthing 1860 (Copper) unknown Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1860
Farthing 1864 (Copper) unknown Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1864
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Farthing (Britannia, second design): Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Sub-type ofFarthing
From1821
To1864
Face Value1/4 (x Penny)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1870)
MaterialCopper
DesignerWilliam Wyon
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size22.000 mm
Thickness1.600 mm
Mass4.750 g
Farthing (Britannia, second design): Photos
ImageDetails
Coin, Great Britain, Farthing 1821
Copyright: NumisCorner.com
Notes: Dot after date.
Source
Coin, Great Britain, Farthing 1821
Copyright: NumisCorner.com
Source