Halfpenny (Britannia, fourth design), Coin Type from United Kingdom - detailed information

Halfpenny (Britannia, fourth design), Coin Type from United Kingdom (issued 1895 - 1936)
Coin TypeHalfpenny (Britannia, fourth design)

The British pre-decimal halfpenny coin (abbreviated as ½d), usually simply known as a halfpenny or half penny, was a unit of currency that equalled half of a penny or one four-hundred-and-eightieth of a pound sterling (there were 20 shillings to a pound, and 12 pence to a shilling so one pound was equal to 240 pence, so 480 of these coins made up £1).

The denomination continues the tradition of earlier halfpenny coins of Great Britain, which also featured the figure of Britannia. The bronze coins of these specifications replaced the larger copper halfpennies which were issued until 1860. The new, more durable, alloy was composed of 95 parts of copper, four of tin and one of zinc. Between 1860 and 1895, the half penny had the third Britannia design on the reverse, and Queen Victoria's "Bun Head" effigy. In 1895, the reverse was updated to this fourth Britannia design - which is a simplified version of the earlier design by Leonard Charles Wyon, and the obverse to the Queen's "Veiled Head" portrait. The coins of this type were issued until 1936, with obverses changing to King Edward VII and King George V accordingly. In 1937, the reverse was redesigned for the new issue of King George VI.

During the reign of King George V, the mint had issues with the monarch's portrait by Sir Bertram Mackennal. Many of the bronze blanks used for the coins were produced by private firms in Birmingham. A great deal of difficulty was encountered in striking coins of this design. The high relief portrait caused a displacement of metal, called "ghosting", that showed through on the reverse side as an incuse outline of the head. A new bronze alloy was adopted in 1923 in an effort to remedy the situation. It consisted of 95.5 per cent copper, 3 per cent tin and 1.5 per cent zinc. This alloy has a more golden tint than the former one. It lessened the hardness, enabling the coins to be more easily struck and lengthened the life of the dies. During 1925 the features of the design were slightly modified to further help eliminate the "ghosting", but this fault was not fully corrected until 1928 when a new design, with a smaller head, was introduced. The coins with the modified effigy from late 1925 and thereafter all have the designer’s initials in small letters without periods.

The coins remained in circulation until 1969, when they were demonetised prior to the decimalisation of the currency.

Obverse
United Kingdom / Halfpenny (Britannia, fourth design) - obverse photo

Effigy of the ruling British monarch, legend in Latin. During the existence of this coin type, pennies were issued for:

- Queen Victoria (1895 - 1901)
- King Edward VII (1902 - 1910)
- King George V (1911 - 1936)

Obverses used, and obverse varieties (as per Freeman):

Obverse 1 (Queen Victoria) (1895 - 1901)
Effigy known as the "Veiled head" or "Old head": crowned bust of Queen Victoria facing left wearing a veil over the back of the crown, pearl necklace and a pendant; on the left lapel of the mantle, exhibited full-face, is the ribbon and Star of the Garter, part of the outer edge of which is covered by the veil; around, the legend VICTORIA · DEI · GRA · BRITT · REGINA · FID · DEF · IND · IMP ·; in the field below the bust in small letters, the artist's initials, T.B. (for Thomas Brock). A slight difference from the essentially identical one penny obverse is that the diadem has one pearl less.

Obverse 1 (King Edward VII) (1902 - 1910)
Bare head of King Edward VII facing right; below in small letters the designer's initials De S. (for G.W. De Saulles, Mint Engraver); around, the monarch's legend EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP: (Edward the Seventh, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India).

Obverse 1 (King George V) (1911 - 1925)
Bare head of King George V facing left; below on neck truncation in small letters, the designer's initials B.M. (for Sir Bertram MacKennal); around, the monarch's legend GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP: (George the Fifth, by the Grace of God, King of all the Britains, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India).

Obverse 2 (King George V) (1925 - 1927)
This is the so-called "Modified effigy". The King's hair is depicted by faintly incuse lines, the eyelid curves downwards to the right where previously it was straight, and there is a pupil to the eye. The designer's initials are BM (without stops), smaller than before and faintly struck.

Obverse 3 (King George V) (1928 - 1936)
The portrait is very similar to that of Obverse 2 but is much smaller. The legend is almost continuous around the head, with larger spaces between words. The bust is in slightly higher relief than before, with the hair more deeply engraved.

Obverse Inscription Legend of the ruling British monarch
Reverse
United Kingdom / Halfpenny (Britannia, fourth 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 crested Corinthian helmet pushed back to reveal her face and a flowing dress, resting her right hand on a shield bearing the combined crosses of the Union Flag, and holding a trident in her left hand.

Around left and right, the denomination HALF PENNY. In exergue, the date.

Freeman describes the following varieties of the reverse:

Reverse A (Queen Victoria) (1895 - 1896)
Unlike the earlier (third) design, there is no lighthouse or ship in the background. The sea level is comparable to that of the one penny Reverse B, i.e. it extends above the rock to the right of Britannia, and also appears on the left. It is 3 mm from the exergue line. The distance between the top of the helmet plume to the exergue line directly below is 20.3 mm.

Reverse B (Queen Victoria) (1896 - 1901)
Very similar to Reverse A (Queen Victoria) but the border dots are narrower with spaces between them, and the rim is thinner. The design is slightly larger, so the distance between the top of the helmet plume to the exergue line directly below is 20.7 mm. There is also an extra rock outline to the left.

Reverse C (Queen Victoria) (1897)
Similar to Reverse B (Queen Victoria) but the sea level is 3.35 mm from the exergue line. The exergue is more shallow; the date numerals slightly overlap the line.

Reverse A (King Edward VII) (1902)
As Reverse B (Queen Victoria) but dated 1902. Known as the "Low tide" variety. This was changed to Reverse B (high tide) early during the year so is much scarcer.

Reverse B (King Edward VII) (1902 - 1910)
As Reverse A (King Edward VII) but the sea level to the right of Britannia is higher (hence know as "High tide"), at 4 mm from the exergue line.

Reverse A (King George V) (1911 - 1925)
As Reverse B (King Edward VII).

Reverse B (King George V) (1925 - 1936)
The shield is held closer to Britannia, and there is therefore more sea line visible to the left. The waves are more sharply cut. The distance from the centre of the exergue line to the edge of the coin is 3 mm, where it was 2.2 mm before. Britannia's thumb is farther from the cross. The lettering is slightly thicker, and the border teeth are larger, fewer and more sharply defined than before.

Reverse Inscription HALF PENNY [year]
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone
Notes

References to additional information:

[Book] Bressett, Kenneth E. 1962. A Guidebook of English Coins, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Wisconsin, USA. pp 26-28
[Book] Freeman, Michael J. 1970. The Bronze Coinage of Great Britain. Motherwell, Scotland. (2016 ed. pp100-105)
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue to British Commonwealth Coins., pp198-199

Coin Type: Halfpenny (Britannia, fourth design) - (42) Coins
Coin NameMintageEffigyLegend
Halfpenny 1895 3,032,154 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA · DEI · GRA · BRITT · REGINA · FID · DEF · IND · IMP ·
Halfpenny 1896 9,142,500 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA · DEI · GRA · BRITT · REGINA · FID · DEF · IND · IMP ·
Halfpenny 1897 8,690,315 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA · DEI · GRA · BRITT · REGINA · FID · DEF · IND · IMP ·
Halfpenny 1898 8,595,180 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA · DEI · GRA · BRITT · REGINA · FID · DEF · IND · IMP ·
Halfpenny 1899 12,108,001 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA · DEI · GRA · BRITT · REGINA · FID · DEF · IND · IMP ·
Halfpenny 1900 13,805,190 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA · DEI · GRA · BRITT · REGINA · FID · DEF · IND · IMP ·
Halfpenny 1901 11,127,360 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA · DEI · GRA · BRITT · REGINA · FID · DEF · IND · IMP ·
Halfpenny 1902 13,672,960 King Edward VII - Bare Head EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1903 11,450,880 King Edward VII - Bare Head EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1904 8,131,200 King Edward VII - Bare Head EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1905 10,124,800 King Edward VII - Bare Head EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1906 11,101,440 King Edward VII - Bare Head EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1907 16,849,280 King Edward VII - Bare Head EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1908 16,620,800 King Edward VII - Bare Head EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1909 8,279,040 King Edward VII - Bare Head EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1910 10,769,920 King Edward VII - Bare Head EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1911 12,570,880 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1912 21,185,920 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1913 17,476,480 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1914 20,289,111 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1915 21,563,040 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1916 39,386,143 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1917 38,245,436 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1918 22,321,072 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1919 28,104,001 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1920 35,146,793 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1921 28,027,293 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1922 10,734,964 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1923 12,266,282 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1924 13,971,038 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1925 12,216,123 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1926 6,712,306 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1927 15,589,622 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1928 20,935,200 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1929 25,680,000 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1930 12,532,800 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1931 16,137,600 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1932 14,448,000 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1933 10,560,000 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1934 7,704,000 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1935 12,180,000 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Halfpenny 1936 19,807,200 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
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Halfpenny (Britannia, fourth design): Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Sub-type ofHalfpenny (Pre-decimal)
From1895
To1936
Face Value1/2 (x Penny)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1969)
MaterialBronze
DesignerLeonard Charles Wyon
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size25.500 mm
Mass5.700 g
Halfpenny (Britannia, fourth design): Photos
ImageDetails
Coin - Halfpenny, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1895
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Queen Victoria, Reverse A (1895 - 1896).
Source
Coin - Halfpenny, Edward VII, Great Britain, 1903
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King Edward VII, Reverse B (High Tide) (1902 - 1910).
Source
Great Britain 1930 1/2 Penny
Copyright: smarty_marty24
Notes: King George V, Reverse B (1925 - 1936).
Source
Coin - Halfpenny, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1895
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Queen Victoria, Obverse 1 (1895 - 1901).
Source
Coin - Halfpenny, Edward VII, Great Britain, 1902
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King Edward VII, Obverse 1 (1902 - 1910).
Source
Great Britain 1930 1/2 Penny
Copyright: smarty_marty24
Notes: King George V, Obverse 3 (1928 - 1936).
Source