Penny (Pre-decimal), Coin Type from United Kingdom - detailed information

Penny (Pre-decimal), Coin Type from United Kingdom (issued 1806 - 1970)
Coin TypePenny (Pre-decimal)

The British pre-decimal penny coin, abbreviated as 1d (from "denarius" - the Roman coin from which the penny is directly descended), was a unit of currency that equalled one two-hundred-and-fortieth 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).

The denomination continues the tradition of earlier penny coins of Great Britain. 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; the first penny coins after that are known as the "Fourth Issue" copper coinage of King George III - the earlier three coinages being while the country was still just Great Britain.

The penny went through several transformations: a large copper coin with concave surfaces and a Britannia reverse (1806 and 1807 only, with a single mysterious proof in 1808), a large copper coin with a second Britannia design (1825 to 1860), then smaller bronze coins - with a third Britannia design (1860 to 1894), and finally a simplified fourth Britannia design (1895 to 1970), slightly retouched in 1937. There was also a short-lived attempt between 1817 and 1820 to have circulating silver pennies (identical to the Maundy penny) but this was quickly abandoned due to their inconveniently small size.

The coins remained in circulation until "Decimal Day", 15 February 1971 when the old currency was demonetised and the decimal Pound Sterling was introduced, with a new decimal penny replacing these coins at a ratio of one new penny to 2.4 of the old ones.

Obverse
United Kingdom / Penny (Pre-decimal) - obverse photo

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

During the existence of the denomination, pennies were issued for:
- King George III (1806 - 1808)
- King George IV (1825 - 1831)
- King William IV (1831 - 1837)
- Queen Victoria (1838 - 1901)
- King Edward VII (1902 - 1910)
- King George V (1911 - 1936)
- King George VI (1937 - 1952)
- Queen Elizabeth II (1953 - 1970)

Obverse Inscription Legend of the ruling British monarch
Reverse
United Kingdom / Penny (Pre-decimal) - reverse photo

The reverse went through several transformations during the existence of the denomination. Excluding the silver pennies, these were:

The first reverse (1806 - 1808) was designed by Conrad Heinrich Küchler; the coins were struck by the Soho Mint. It shows the figure of Britannia - the female personification of Great Britain - seated on a rock, facing left, holding a trident and extending an olive branch; a shield decorated with the British flag rests against the rock at right. In the background to the left, a sailing ship. Around above, the legend BRITANNIA. There is no indication of the value and denomination.

Subsequent coins were struck almost exclusively by the Royal Mint; its production was on a few occasions supplemented by Heaton and Sons and the King's Norton Metal Company, both in Birmingham, with mint marks H and KN respectively.

The second reverse (1825 - 1860), designed by William Wyon, features a new rendition of Britannia; 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 reverse also bears part of the monarch's legend. As before, there is no indication of the coin's value and denomination.

The third reverse (1860 - 1894) has a new rendition of Britannia, by Leonard Charles Wyon. Again, she is 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 left and right, the denomination ONE PENNY. In exergue, the date.

The fourth reverse (1895 - 1970) is a simplified version of the third, with the lighthouse and sailing ship removed from the background. In 1937, the lighthouse to the left was restored and featured on the coins until 1970.

Reverse Inscription ONE 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 31-40
[Book] Freeman, Michael J. 1970. The Bronze Coinage of Great Britain. Motherwell, Scotland.
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue to British Commonwealth Coins., pp 202-206

Various British colonies, dominions and dependencies also issued their own versions of the penny denomination, usually to be used in parallel with their Imperial counterpart and with compatible dimensions and composition but sometimes made deliberately different, e.g. with a central hole. For these, see:

- Ionian Islands, Two Obols - issued in 1819 only, demonetised 1864
- British West Africa, One Penny - with central hole, issued 1907 to 1958, demonetised 1968
- Australia, One Penny - issued 1911 to 1964, withdrawn 1966 (not demonetised)
- New Guinea, One Penny - with central hole, issued 1929 to 1944, demonetised 1966
- Fiji, Penny - with central hole, issued 1934 to 1968, demonetised 1969
- New Zealand, One Penny - issued 1940 to 1965, demonetised 1967
- Nigeria, One Penny - with central hole, issued 1959 only, demonetised 1973

Coin Type: Penny (Pre-decimal) - (127) Coins (Page 2 of 2)
Coin NameMintageEffigyLegend
Penny 1933 7 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Penny 1934 13,965,600 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Penny 1935 56,070,000 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Penny 1936 134,160,000 King George V - Bare Head GEORGIVS V DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REX FID: DEF: IND: IMP:
Penny 1937 George VI 109,058,406 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Penny 1938 121,560,000 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Penny 1939 55,560,000 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Penny 1940 42,284,400 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Penny 1944 42,600,000 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Penny 1945 79,531,200 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Penny 1946 66,855,600 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Penny 1947 52,220,400 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Penny 1948 63,961,200 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP.
Penny 1949 14,324,400 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX FIDEI DEF.
Penny 1950 257,513 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX FIDEI DEF.
Penny 1951 140,000 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX FIDEI DEF.
Penny 1952 1 King George VI - Bare Head GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX FIDEI DEF.
Penny 1953 1,348,400 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH II DEI GRA : BRITT : OMN : REGINA F : D :
Penny 1954 1 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Penny 1961 39,703,000 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Penny 1962 137,640,000 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Penny 1963 134,013,600 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Penny 1964 144,462,000 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Penny 1965 135,534,000 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Penny 1966 157,430,000 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Penny 1967 164,000,000 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Penny 1970 (Proof only) 750,476 Queen Elizabeth II - First Portrait + ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F : D :
Showing 101 to 127 of 127 Coins.
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Penny (Pre-decimal): Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Sub-types Penny, Britannia first design
Penny, Silver - circulating
Penny, Britannia second design
Penny, Britannia third design
Penny, Britannia fourth design
From1806
To1970
Face Value1 (x Penny)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1971)
Material
Designer
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
Size
Mass
Penny (Pre-decimal): Photos
ImageDetails
Coin - Penny, George III, Great Britain, 1806
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: First design (1806 - 1808).
Source
Proof Coin - Penny, George IV, Great Britain, 1826
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Second design (1825 - 1860).
Source
Coin - Penny, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1863
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Third design (1860 - 1894).
Source
Great Britain 1894 penny KM-790
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: 1894 pattern.
Source
Great Britain 1895 penny
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: Fourth design, no lighthouse (1895 - 1937).
Source
Great Britain 1938 penny
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: Fourth design, with lighthouse (1937 - 1970).
Source
Coin - Penny, George III, Great Britain, 1806
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King George III (1806 - 1808).
Source
Proof Coin - Penny, George IV, Great Britain, 1826
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King George IV (1825 - 1827).
Source
Coin - Penny, William IV, Great Britain, 1831
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King William IV (1831 - 1837).
Source
Coin - Penny, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1849
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Queen Victoria, Young head (1839 - 1860).
Source
Coin - Penny, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1863
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Queen Victoria, Bun head (1860 - 1894).
Source
Coin - Penny, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1898
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Queen Victoria, Veiled head (1894 - 1901).
Source
Coin - Penny, Edward VII, Great Britain, 1902
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King Edward VII (1902 - 1910).
Source
Great Britain 1912-H penny
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: King George V, large version (1911 - 1927).
Source
Great Britain 1936 penny
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: King George V, small version (1928 - 1936).
Source
Proof Coin - Penny, George VI, Great Britain, 1937
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King George VI, Emperor of India (1937 - 1948).
Source
Great Britain 1949 penny
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: King George VI (1949 - 1952).
Source
Great Britain 1961 penny
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
Notes: Queen Elizabeth II (1953 - 1970).
Source