Third Farthing, Coin Type from United Kingdom - detailed information

Third Farthing, Coin Type from United Kingdom (issued 1827 - 1913)
Coin TypeThird Farthing

The Third Farthing was a small circulating coin of the British pre-decimal Pound Sterling, equal to 1/3 of a farthing, or one twelfth of a penny. There were 20 shillings to a pound, 12 pence to a shilling and 4 farthings to a penny, so 2,880 of these coins made up £1.

The coin was introduced in 1827 exclusively for use in Malta, but it is considered to be part of the British coinage as at that time Malta was considered more as a part of Britain than a colony. The farthing coin was already in circulation in Malta as a 3 grani coin, and the third farthing was introduced as 1 grano. A proclamation issued in Malta on 3 November 1827 legalised the new coins, referring to them as British Grains. The cost of living in Malta was lower than in Britain, and it was not considered appropriate to introduce them in Britain so they were never legal tender there.

Comparatively few coins were needed for Malta, so the denomination was not issued often. Coins were issued in 1827, 1835 and 1844 in copper, then in only nine different years between 1866 and 1913, in bronze.

The coins were demonetised after 31 December 1960.

United Kingdom / Third 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 (1827 only)
- King William IV (1835 only)
- Queen Victoria (1844 - 1885)
- King Edward VII (1902 only)
- King George V (1913 only)

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

The first reverse (1827 - 1844), 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 half farthing, 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 (1866 - 1913), designed by William Wyon's son Leonard_Charles Wyon, shows at its centre, on two lines, the value and denomination in words: ONE THIRD 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). The shape of the crown was re-designed for the last two issues, (it was also changed on all the other British coinage).

Below the value, the date [year]. Around, a wreath of oak leaves tied below the date with a ribbon. Minor varieties exist in the number of leaves and acorns in the wreath.

Reverse Inscription ONE THIRD FARTHING [year]
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone

References to additional information:

[Book] Bressett, Kenneth E. 1962. A Guidebook of English Coins, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Wisconsin, USA. pp 9-10
[Book] Remick, Jerome. 1971. The Guide Book and Catalogue to British Commonwealth Coins., pp187-188

Royal Mint
Royal Mint
Third Farthing: Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Face Value1/12 (x Penny)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1961)
DesignerWilliam Wyon, Leonard Charles Wyon
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size15.0000 mm
Mass0.9000 - 1 g