|Coin Type||Farthing (Britannia, third 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.
The denomination continues the tradition of earlier farthing coins of Great Britain, which also featured the figure of Britannia. The bronze coins of this type replaced the larger copper farthings which were issued until 1860; copper was considered to be impractical as it wore too rapidly due to extensive circulation. The new, more durable, alloy was composed of 95 parts of copper, four of tin and one of zinc. The coins were also smaller and thinner, therefore more convenient to carry. The dies were engraved by Leonard Charles Wyon, then Engraver to the Royal Mint.
The reverse features a new, third, design of Britannia. The obverse carries Leonard Wyon's "Bun Head" portrait of Queen Victoria. Both sides were updated to the farthings carrying the fourth Britannia design and a new effigy of the Queen in 1895.
Farthings were demonetised before the rest of the pre-decimal currency. They ceased to be legal tender after 31 December 1960.
The obverse of the coins shows the young effigy of Queen Victoria by Leonard Charles Wyon, which is widely known as the "Bun Head" due to the Queen's hairstyle.
The portrait depicts Queen Victoria facing left, wearing a bodice and a mantle decorated with rose, thistle and shamrock (the floral symbols of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom - England, Scotland and Ireland respectively); in her hair is a wreath of leaves and berries tied at back with ribbon, her hair is drawn to a plaited bun behind; she wears a circular brooch; at the back of her shoulder, a small part of the Star of the Garter is visible, with a small part of its motto ("HONI SO") readable.
Around, the monarch's legend VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D :. Translated from Latin: Victoria, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Britains, Defender of the Faith.
||VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D :
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 crested Corinthian helmet pushed back to reveal her face, resting her right hand on a shield bearing the combined crosses of the Union Flag, and holding a trident in her left hand.
In the background at right, a ship sailing away; at left, a lighthouse. Around above, interrupted by the crest of Britannia's helmet and her trident, the denomination FARTHING. In exergue, the date.
References to additional information:
[Book] Bressett, Kenneth E. 1962. A Guidebook of English Coins, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Wisconsin, USA. pp 16-18
[Book] Freeman, Michael J. 1970. The Bronze Coinage of Great Britain. Motherwell, Scotland. (2016 ed. pp118-127)
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue to British Commonwealth Coins., p191-192