The five pence coin is a small circulating denomination of the British (decimal) Pound Sterling. 5 pence equal 1/20th of a pound.
In August 2005 the Royal Mint launched a competition to find new reverse designs for all circulating coins apart from the £2 coin. The winner, announced in April 2008, was Matthew Dent, whose designs were gradually introduced into the circulating British coinage from mid-2008. In a world-first concept, the designs for the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p coins depict sections of the Royal Shield that form the whole shield when placed together. The shield in its entirety was featured on the £1 coin (now discontinued).
The new 5p coin design, which replaced the earlier 5p design by Christopher Ironside, depicts the centre of the Royal shield, showing the meeting point of the four quarters, with the value and denomination FIVE PENCE in the middle. The coin's obverse remains largely unchanged, but the beading (the ring of dots around the coin's circumference), which no longer features on the coin's reverse, has also been removed from the obverse.
The five pence coin was originally minted from cupronickel, but in January 2012 it changed to nickel-plated steel due to the increasing price of metal.
From January 2013, the Royal Mint began a programme to gradually remove the previous cupro-nickel coins from circulation with replacement by the nickel-plated steel versions. This will have the side effect of leaving only one circulating reverse and observe combination.
Five pence and ten pence coins are legal tender only up to the sum of £5; this means it is permissible to refuse payment of sums greater than this amount in 5p and 10p coins to settle a debt.