Half Farthing, Coin Type from United Kingdom - detailed information

Half Farthing, Coin Type from United Kingdom (issued 1828 - 1868)
Coin TypeHalf Farthing

The Half Farthing was a small circulating coin of the British pre-decimal Pound Sterling, equal to one eighth of a penny. There were 20 shillings to a pound, 12 pence to a shilling and 4 farthings to a penny, so 1,920 of these coins made up £1.

The denomination was initially produced for use in the colony of Ceylon only. It was made current for use in the United Kingdom by a proclamation on 13 June 1842 and remained so until demonetised along with the rest of the copper coinage after 31 December 1869.

There was much cynicism of the need for such a coin in Britain, with letters written to The Times, but the coin did indeed circulate widely in Britain and Ceylon. However, when the rest of the copper coinage was changed to bronze after 1860, the half farthing was not; the last circulation coins of the denomination were issued in 1856.

United Kingdom / Half Farthing - obverse photo

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

During the existence of the denomination, half farthings were issued for:
- King George IV (1828 - 1830)
- King William IV (1837 only)
- Queen Victoria (1839 - 1868)

Obverse Inscription Legend of the ruling British monarch
United Kingdom / Half Farthing - reverse photo

The first reverse (1828 - 1837), designed by William Wyon, features the figure of Britannia - the female personification of Great Britain; she is 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. 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.

The design is identical to that of the farthing, halfpenny and penny coins issued in the same period. Typically for British coinage of the time, the denomination (or, indeed, the country of issue) is not spelled out on the coin. The various denominations can only be distinguished by size.

The second reverse (1839 - 1868), also designed by William Wyon, shows at its centre, on two lines, the value and denomination in words: HALF FARTHING. Above that, St Edward's Crown. Named after Saint Edward the Confessor, it has been traditionally used to crown English and British monarchs at their coronations since the 13th century (with a two-century gap between 1689 and 1911).

Below the denomination, the date [year], under which a rose, a thistle and a shamrock combined - the floral symbols of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, respectively England, Scotland and Ireland (except for 1839, when there was only a rose).

Reverse Inscription HALF FARTHING [year]
EdgeEdge Inscription

References to additional information:

[Book] Bressett, Kenneth E. 1962. A Guidebook of English Coins, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Wisconsin, USA. p11
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue to British Commonwealth Coins., p188

Royal Mint
Royal Mint
Half Farthing: Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Face Value1/8 (x Penny)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1870)
DesignerWilliam Wyon
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size18.0000 mm
Mass2.4000 g