Farthing (Wren), Coin Type from United Kingdom - detailed information

Farthing (Wren), Coin Type from United Kingdom (issued 1937 - 1956)
Coin TypeFarthing (Wren)

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, after which four types of farthings were issued: a large copper coin with concave surfaces and a Britannia reverse (1806 and 1807 only), a large copper coin with a second Britannia design (1821 to 1864), then smaller bronze coins - with a third Britannia design (1860 to 1895), a simplified fourth Britannia design (1895 to 1936) and finally this new farthing design featuring a wren bird (1937 to 1956).

The new reverse was adopted mainly due to certain members of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee who favoured a complete departure from the traditional design of former years. A number of artists were invited to submit designs and that of a wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), by Harold Wilson Parker, was finally accepted. The wren, being the smallest British bird, symbolises the smallest denomination of British coin.

During the reign of King George VI, proof strikings were issued in specimen sets in 1937, 1950 and 1951. Proofs of other years are all extremely rare. Proof specimens struck during 1954-1956 are all extremely rare. The 1953 proofs were issued in specimen sets late in the year and all show the re-cut portrait.

Farthings were demonetised before the rest of the pre-decimal currency. They ceased to be legal tender after 31 December 1960.

Obverse
United Kingdom / Farthing (Wren) - obverse photo

Effigy of the ruling British monarch, legend in Latin. During the existence of this coin type, farthings were issued for:
- King George VI (1937 - 1952), and
- Queen Elizabeth II (1953 - 1956)

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Mrs. Mary Gillick was originally in very low relief and showed little detail in the hair and features. This defect was remedied by retouching the dies early in 1953. In 1954 the dies were further retouched to sharpen the portrait and the legend was changed to eliminate BRITT: OMN: (referring to her role as Queen of "all the Britains") from the title, due to anti-colonial sentiments.

Obverse Inscription Legend of the ruling British monarch
Reverse
United Kingdom / Farthing (Wren) - reverse photo

Within a beaded border, the reverse of the coin depicts a wren (bird) standing facing left; in the field behind it, in monogram form the signature of the designer: HWP (for Harold Wilson Parker).

Around below, the denomination FARTHING; above, the date [year].

Reverse Inscription FARTHING [year]
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone
Notes

References to additional information:

[Book] Bressett, Kenneth E. 1962. A Guidebook of English Coins, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Wisconsin, USA. pp20-21
[Book] Freeman, Michael J. 1970. The Bronze Coinage of Great Britain. Motherwell, Scotland. (2016 ed pp132-138)
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue to British Commonwealth Coins., p193

Coin Type: Farthing (Wren) - (20) Coins
Coin NameMintageEffigyLegend
Farthing 1937 George VI 8,157,606 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1938 7,449,600 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1939 31,440,000 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1940 18,360,000 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1941 27,312,000 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1942 28,857,600 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1943 33,345,600 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1944 25,137,600 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1945 23,736,000 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1946 24,364,800 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1947 14,745,600 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1948 16,622,400 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Farthing 1949 8,424,000 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX FIDEI DEF.
Farthing 1950 10,342,304 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX FIDEI DEF.
Farthing 1951 14,036,004 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX FIDEI DEF.
Farthing 1952 5,251,200 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX FIDEI DEF.
Farthing 1953 6,149,202 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH II DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REGINA F: D:
Farthing 1954 6,566,400 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Farthing 1955 5,779,200 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Farthing 1956 1,996,800 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
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Farthing (Wren): Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Sub-type ofFarthing
From1937
To1956
Face Value1/4 (x Penny)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1961)
MaterialBronze
DesignerHarold Wilson Parker
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size20.000 mm
Thickness1.380 mm
Mass2.830 g