Author Topic: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK  (Read 32372 times)

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Offline <k>

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Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« on: October 19, 2011, 09:08:36 PM »
This topic is part of a series about the decimal coins of the sterling area. To see the other topics in the series, click on the link below:

The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area 



To post comments, criticisms, amendments etc. regarding this topic, please click on the link below:

Comments on "Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK"



See also: Decimals: Miscellaneous Data.

 
« Last Edit: April 01, 2017, 04:00:08 PM by <k> »
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Offline <k>

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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2011, 09:08:51 PM »
Decimalisation of the currency was first considered for the UK in the time of Queen Victoria.

According to Wikipedia:

In 1847 a motion was introduced in Parliament calling for the introduction of a decimal currency and the striking of coins of one-tenth and one-hundredth of a pound. The motion was subsequently withdrawn on the understanding that a one-tenth pound coin would be produced to test public opinion. The first florins (coins of two shilling denomination) were struck in 1849 as silver coins weighing 11.3 grams and having a diameter of 28 millimetres. These first coins would have come as rather a shock to the public, as for the first time in nearly 200 years a British coin featured a portrait of the monarch wearing a crown.

From the Royal Mint:

By 1960, the majority of Commonwealth countries had already switched or were in the process of switching to the more convenient decimal system and, as a 'practical business decision', the need for coinage reform in Britain became increasingly urgent. Consequently, the Committee of Inquiry, appointed in 1961 and chaired by the Earl of Halsbury, was asked to consider not whether Britain was to decimalise but just how the changeover was to be effected. A majority of the committee opted in favour of a pound based on 100 decimal pence, the Government announced its decision to embrace the Committee's recommendations in 1966, and D-Day was set for 15 February 1971.
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Offline <k>

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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2011, 09:16:22 PM »
In 1962 British artist and designer Christopher Ironside won a closed competition to create the new decimal designs for the Royal Mint. In 1966, the government announced that there would be an OPEN competition for the new designs. Poor Mr Ironside had to start all over again!

Click on the link below to see several of Mr Ironside's preliminary designs:

Ironside produced TWO sets of designs for the UK's decimals 

Mr Ironside did also eventually win the competition to create the designs for the reverse of the UK's new decimal coins.
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Offline <k>

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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2011, 09:16:34 PM »
To see some alternative designs for the UK's decimal coinage by other artists that were not ultimately accepted, click on the links below:

Edward Bawden's Unadopted 50p Design (1962)

Unadopted UK Decimal Designs Circa 1966/7

Unadopted UK Decimal Designs by New Zealander James Berry

Decimal scrapbook - forgotten competition designs

« Last Edit: October 22, 2011, 03:19:56 PM by coffeetime »
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2016, 08:32:58 PM »



British artist Arnold Machin, seen above, designed a new effigy of the Queen in 1964. It was specifically created to be used on the planned UK decimal coinage. It was first used on the new decimal circulation coinage of Rhodesia in 1964, and Canada adopted the effigy for its circulation coinage in 1965. The Gambia also used the effigy on its first independent coinage of 1966. Also in 1966, Australia replaced its pounds, shillings and pence system with the Australian dollar, and the new Machin effigy graced the obverse of its new coins. New Zealand followed suit in 1967, when it ditched pounds, shillings and pence and adopted the New Zealand dollar.



Click on the topics below to read more about Arnold Machin:

1] Arnold Machin, Coin Designer 

2] Arnold Machin: Pattern Decimal Halfpenny of 1963 

 
« Last Edit: March 28, 2019, 11:06:35 PM by <k> »
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2016, 08:33:20 PM »



In June 1967, Arnold Machin designed a new effigy of the Queen for the UK's postage stamps. It differs somewhat from his numismatic portrait, as the Queen is wearing a crown, whereas she wears a tiara on the coinage. The stamp effigy can be seen below and is still in use today on the stamps of the UK. The Queen has resisted all attempts to replace it or update it. Notice that, like all previous British monarchs, the Queen faces to the left on the stamp portrait, whereas on her coins she faces to the right.

 
« Last Edit: July 01, 2017, 11:51:45 AM by <k> »
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2016, 08:33:59 PM »




The British public became acquainted with Arnold Machin's coin effigy the following year, with the introduction of the new five pence and ten pence coins. I will say more about them later, but first have a look at Mr Machin's effigy as it later appeared on the decimal ten pence coin.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2019, 11:04:34 PM by <k> »
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2016, 08:34:49 PM »



Now compare his portrait to the previous coinage effigy of the Queen, by Mary Gillick. The Gillick effigy shows the Queen with a laurel wreath, harking back to ancient Roman traditions. The Machin effigy, by contrast, is considerably more modern and naturalistic in style.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2016, 08:36:20 PM »
In 1968, in order to begin to familiarise the public with the decimal system, the first circulation decimal coins, five pence and ten pence, were issued. These co-circulated with the UK shilling and two shilling coins. Five pence was equivalent to a shilling, ten pence to two shillings. Both coins included the word "NEW" in the denominational legend, in order to distinguish them from the "old" pre-decimal pence. The new five pence coin matched the old shilling exactly in terms of dimensions, shape and metal content; the same was true of the ten pence coin with respect to the old florin (two shillings coin).
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2016, 08:36:52 PM »



The reverse design of the new five pence coin was a crowned thistle, in honour of Scotland.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2016, 08:37:17 PM »



The reverse design of the new ten pence coin was a crowned lion, in honour of England. As an Englishman, I think it only fitting that the English symbol occupied the higher denomination. Previously there had been two different reverse designs of the shilling to honour the two different kingdoms.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2016, 08:38:35 PM »



In 1969 the UK introduced the decimal 50 pence coin into circulation. This served two purposes: to replace the ten shilling banknote, which was demonetised the following year, and to get the public used to another decimal coin before decimalisation occurred in 1971. The old predecimal halfpenny, which had become worthless due to inflation, was demonetised in 1969.

The new 50 pence coin was the world's first seven-sided coin, which was officially described as an "equilateral curve heptagon". The curves were required to make it roll when it was inserted into vending machines. Christopher Ironside had designed a new version of Britannia, with a lion sitting at her feet.

To see some of the alternative designs Mr Ironside had considered for the reverse of the fifty pence, click on the link below:
 
UK Pattern 50p
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2016, 08:39:16 PM »



Britannia had of course previously occupied the reverse of the predecimal penny. Here she is, for comparison, on a 1967-dated penny.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2016, 08:39:51 PM »
The half crown was demonetised at beginning of January 1970, and the rest of the year was devoted to educating the public about the changes to come in 1971, when decimalisation would take place. At school we had plenty of lessons in order to prepare ourselves, but it was all good fun and easily learnt.

On February 15th 1971, we finally went decimal, and the old predecimal penny and threepence were removed from circulation. The sixpence, like the old shilling and florin, was retained, since it doubled as 2½p (two and a half new pence).

The changeover was actually very simple, as only the new low denomination coins had to be introduced into circulation: the new decimal halfpenny (½p), penny (1p) and two pence coins.
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Re: Milestones in the decimal coinage of the UK
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2016, 08:40:26 PM »



The new halfpenny featured St. Edward's crown above the denomination.
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