Author Topic: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area  (Read 32531 times)

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Offline <k>

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The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« on: November 01, 2011, 10:30:20 PM »
The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area

Europe has the euro, and with currently 17 members of the euro zone, there are lots of coins to collect. The UK uses the pound sterling, but it also has a set of related coinages: Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and three British overseas territories also use the pound.  So there are seven different coinages, and that’s without counting all the different design series. And in the 1970s, there was Ireland too.

The "sterling area" is no longer an official term, but I will be using it informally in this topic. After all, these seven coinages all have coins of the same denominations, with matching size, shape, weight and metal content. They are all exactly equal in value, and they all now show the Queen’s effigy on the obverse. But unlike the euro, they do not all form a single currency, and there are lots of other anomalies too, which I will try to guide you through in this topic.

To read about the decimal coinage of each territory, dependency or country of the sterling area, click on the links below:

1] The UK

2] Jersey

3] Guernsey

4] The Isle of Man

5] The Falkland Islands

6] Gibraltar
 
7] St. Helena and Ascension

8] Ireland



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

Comments on "The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area"



See also:

Alderney

Collector coins of Britain's uninhabited overseas territories

Tristan da Cunha: Collector pieces

 
« Last Edit: August 22, 2019, 08:06:23 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2011, 10:32:05 PM »
Countries that gave up the pound.

Under the British Empire, some of Britain’s colonies used so called Homeland coinage (i.e. coins of the pounds, shillings and pence system, as used in Britain itself) and continued  to do so up to independence. Others, such as Australia and New Zealand, kept the pound after independence, but later switched to their own national version of it, in which their coins and banknotes carried suitable national designs.

After the Second World War, Britain realised that its empire was not sustainable and began preparing its colonies for independence. Those countries that kept the pound after independence generally retained it for only a few years, before adopting their own decimal currency. In 1960 Britain itself decided that it would make the transition to decimalisation, which took place on 15th February 1971.

During the 1960s and 1970s, most of the remaining countries still using the pounds, shillings and pence system adopted their own national currency. Here is a list of the last countries to switch, the year they switched, and the name of their new national currency:

Country Year Currency
Australia 1966 Dollar
Bahamas 1966 Dollar
Bermuda 1970 Dollar
Fiji 1969 Dollar
Gambia 1971 Dalasi
Ghana 1967 Cedi
Jamaica 1969 Dollar
Malawi 1971 Kwacha
Malta 1972 Lira
New Zealand 1967 Dollar
Nigeria 1973 Naira
Rhodesia 1964 Dollar
South Africa 1961 Rand
Tonga 1967 Pa'anga
Western Samoa 1967 Tala
Zambia 1968 Kwacha

 
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 09:40:28 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2011, 01:37:52 AM »
Countries and territories that kept the pound.

At the time of decimalisation in 1971, Britain still had some overseas possessions left. They were no longer called “colonies”, which was by then a politically incorrect term, but “overseas dependencies”. These dependencies, which are nowadays known as “overseas territories”, also had significantly more autonomy than in the old Imperial days. Some of them, such as Bermuda and Hong Kong, used their own local currencies; others, such as Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, still used the pound, and these automatically decimalised along with the UK.

The countries and dependencies using a predecimal pound system, and who decimalised in 1971, along with the UK, can be categorised as follows:


Ireland.  

An independent republic.


The British Crown Dependencies.

1] The Isle of Man
2] Jersey
3] Guernsey.


British overseas territories.

1] The Falkland Islands
2] Gibraltar
3] St Helena and its dependencies of Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
4] British Indian Ocean Territory  *
5] British Antarctic Territory  *
6] South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. *  **

  * These territories are not permanently inhabited, merely hosting scientists and/or the military.
** South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands were originally administered as a Falkland Islands dependency but became a separate territory in 1985.

NOTE: The list above includes only those British overseas territories that use the pound. For a full list of current British Overseas Territories and their currencies, click on the link below:

British overseas territories and their currencies
« Last Edit: November 10, 2011, 03:48:16 PM by coffeetime »

Offline <k>

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2011, 01:38:23 AM »
Before UK decimalisation:

Ireland had already been issuing its own banknotes and coinage since 1928. It had its own central bank but pegged its pound, or punt, to the UK pound at a ratio of one to one. UK currency was not legal tender in Ireland, just as Irish currency was not legal tender in the UK, but both currencies co-circulated in border areas of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Jersey and Guernsey each issued their own coinage, but each with only two circulating denominations (immediately before decimalisation), equivalent to a UK penny and threepence. UK coinage also circulated. Both Jersey and Guernsey issued their own banknotes. Jersey coins and banknotes circulated freely on Guernsey, and vice versa.

The Isle of Man used only UK coinage but issued its own banknotes. Irish currency, from the many Irish holidaymakers, also circulated freely on the island.

UK coinage and banknotes circulated freely in all the Crown Dependencies.


The British overseas territories using the pound used UK coinage only, but the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar also issued their own banknotes.

 
« Last Edit: November 23, 2018, 03:28:28 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011, 01:38:55 AM »
At and after UK decimalisation:

Ireland
issued a full set of its own circulating coinage in stages, from 1969 up to and after 15th February 1971, with the same denominations and the same specifications as the UK’s decimal coinage. In 1978, Ireland broke the punt’s link with the UK pound sterling, and the new denominations and reduced size coins it issued in the 1980s and 1990s no longer followed the UK’s specifications.

Jersey and Guernsey each issued a full set of their own circulating coinage in stages, from 1968 up to and after 15th February 1971, with the same denominations and the same specifications as the UK’s decimal coinage.

The Isle of Man issued a full set of its own circulating coinage on 15th February 1971, with the same denominations and the same specifications as the UK’s decimal coinage.


British overseas territories that developed their own coinage.

* the Falkland Islands issued its own decimal coinage set in 1974 but did not include a 50 pence coin until 1980.

* St Helena and Ascension issued their own joint decimal coinage in 1984 but did not include a 20 pence coin until 1998.

* Gibraltar issued its own set of decimal coinage in 1988.


NOTE.  St Helena has issued its own banknotes since 1976. These also circulate on Ascension.


British overseas territories that used, and continue to use, UK coinage only.

* Tristan da Cunha. *

* British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. **


NOTES.

* Tristan da Cunha has in recent years issued COLLECTOR sets in its own name, and in the name of three of its uninhabited islands: Gough Island, Nightingale Island, and Stoltenhoff Island. The three islands have no legal autonomy, and the collector sets issued in their name (which do NOT circulate) are to be regarded as legally authorised collector coins of Tristan da Cunha.

** These territories have in recent years issued legal tender COLLECTOR coins: these do NOT circulate.

Offline <k>

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2016, 07:41:29 PM »
The end of the crowned / uncrowned hierarchy.







Prior to decimalisation, Jersey used the crowned effigy of the Queen, created by Cecil Thomas, while the UK used the uncrowned effigy by Mary Gillick. Before 1964, those crown dependencies (in practice only Jersey) and overseas territories who portrayed the Queen on their coins were required to use the crowned effigy, while Britain and full Commonwealth members, such as Australia, were allowed to use the uncrowned effigy. With the creation in 1964 of the Machin portrait, first used by Rhodesia, the Queen decreed that any country who wanted to should be able to use it. The Machin portrait therefore had a democratising effect, in that it put an end to the crowned/uncrowned hierarchy, and Jersey no longer had to use a different portrait from the UK.



To read about the crowned and uncrowned effigies in the British Empire and Commonwealth, click on the links below:

Use of the Crowned and Uncrowned Effigies in the Commonwealth

Comments on Use of the Crowned and Uncrowned Effigies in the Commonwealth

Offline <k>

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2016, 07:42:38 PM »
The Machin portrait.







Arnold Machin’s famous effigy of the Queen was especially created for use on the UK’s first decimal coins. It was also adopted for use on the decimal coins of Jersey, the Isle of Man, St Helena and Ascension, and the Falkland Islands. It became more or less synonymous with decimalisation in the 1960s, being adopted also by Rhodesia, Australia, New Zealand and the Gambia for use on their new decimal currencies.

Guernsey did not use an effigy of the Queen on its coins until 1985. From 1971 until 1984 it used the Guernsey coat of arms on the obverse of its coins, and from 1985 until 1997 it used the portrait by Raphael Maklouf. Gibraltar did not introduce its own coins until 1988 and therefore also used the Maklouf portrait.

 
« Last Edit: March 28, 2019, 03:21:21 PM by <k> »

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2016, 07:43:41 PM »
Were any predecimal coins retained after decimalisation?







The UK and Ireland were the only countries in the sterling area with a full set of their own coins before decimalisation. Jersey and Guernsey each had their own short set, consisting of two denominations, equal in value to a UK predecimal penny and a UK threepence, but the full set of UK coins also circulated alongside them.

After decimalisation, Ireland kept the shilling and florin, which had exact decimal counterparts (the five pence and ten pence coins). The UK kept the shilling and florin, and also the sixpence, which was equivalent to 2˝ pence: the sixpence did not have a decimal counterpart but was still widely used in vending machines.

The UK sixpence was unpopular after decimalisation and was demonetised in 1980. The UK shilling and florin were demonetised in 1990 and 1993 respectively, along with the large five pence and ten pence coins, which were replaced by smaller versions. The Irish shilling and florin were demonetised in 1993 and 1994 respectively, along with the large five pence and ten pence coins, which were replaced by smaller versions.

It had made sense to keep the shilling and florin in circulation, as they were the same size as their decimal counterparts. After the five pence and ten pence coins were reduced in size, that logic no longer applied.

 
« Last Edit: March 28, 2019, 03:34:59 PM by <k> »

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2016, 07:44:19 PM »
Design continuity from the predecimal system to decimal changeover.





Jersey maintained the greatest design continuity: the reverse of all its predecimal coins and all its first decimal coins carried the Jersey coat of arms.





Ireland transferred three of its predecimal reverse designs to its decimal coins: the bull went straight from the shilling to its decimal counterpart, the five pence coin, while the salmon moved from the florin to its decimal counterpart, the ten pence coin; and the woodcock from the defunct farthing moved to the decimal fifty pence.









Guernsey transferred the cow on its predecimal threepence to the decimal ten pence, and the Guernsey lily on its four doubles moved to the decimal five pence coin.





The UK transferred Britannia from the predecimal penny to the decimal fifty pence, though the two Britannia designs were two very different versions by different artists; and the portcullis moved from the predecimal threepence to the decimal penny, though again the two designs were by different artists, and they were similar but not identical.

 
« Last Edit: March 28, 2019, 03:56:31 PM by <k> »

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2016, 07:45:20 PM »
Uniformity of specification within the sterling area.

Before decimalisation, the specifications of the coins in one part of the sterling area did not always match those of their counterparts in other parts of the sterling area. For instance, the Irish threepence was small, round and thick and in cupro-nickel, whilst the Guernsey threepence was small and scalloped and also in cupro-nickel, whereas the UK threepence was small, thick and twelve-sided but made of nickel-brass. It seemed that the smaller the denomination, the smaller the likelihood of uniform specifications throughout the sterling area. Going further afield and further back in time, a lot of the pennies and halfpennies in the British Empire had a central hole (Fiji, New Guinea, British West Africa, etc.).

After decimalisation, however, all the coins of the remaining sterling area matched their denominational counterparts in size, weight, shape and colour. I say "colour", because it is likely that pound coin changed its metal content at various times in various places, while still remaining a brassy colour. The one denomination in which we do see minor variations, though none that would be detected by a vending machine, is the twenty pence. This coin was first issued in the UK in 1982, and in addition to its heptagonal shape, it was also countersunk. making it look even more distinctive. However, not all the twenty pence versions of the sterling area are or were countersunk.





UK twenty pence, first issued in 1982: countersunk surface.





Jersey twenty pence, first issued in 1982: flat surface.





Guernsey twenty pence, first issued in 1982: flat surface.





Falkland Islands twenty pence, first issued in 1982: flat surface.





St. Helena and Ascension twenty pence, first issued in 1998: countersunk surface.

P.S. I am not to blame for the labelling of the image. "FRONT" and "BACK" (!) are reversed, of course.





Left: Gibraltar twenty pence, first issued in 1988: countersunk surface.

Right: Gibraltar twenty pence, first issued in 2004: countersunk surface - but notice that the rim is wider than in the previous version.





Isle of Man twenty pence, first issued in 1982: flat surface.





Left: Isle of Man twenty pence, 1992: flat surface. Right: Isle of Man twenty pence, 1993: countersunk surface.

From 1993 onward, all the Manx twenty pence coins had a countersunk surface. The Isle of Man is the only part of the sterling area to have switched the surface type of its twenty pence coins.





The 20 pence of the Isle of Man's new design series of 2017 is countersunk on the obverse but flat on the reverse - another Isle of Man first!

 
« Last Edit: March 28, 2019, 04:10:25 PM by <k> »

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2016, 07:53:07 PM »
The decimal halfpenny.

Of the current sterling area, only Gibraltar and St Helena and Ascension have not produced a decimal halfpenny. St Helena and Ascension did not issue its own decimal coins until 1984, by which time the halfpenny was due to be phased out in the UK. Gibraltar did not issue its own decimal coins until 1988, by which time the halfpenny had been demonetised in all parts of the sterling area.

Jersey's last decimal halfpenny was dated 1981.

Guernsey's last circulation decimal halfpenny was dated 1971. A 1979-date version exists in mint sets.

Ireland's last decimal halfpenny was dated 1986, but by that time Ireland was already outside the sterling area.

The UK's last decimal halfpenny for circulation was dated 1983; the last version in sets only was dated 1984.





The Isle of Man's last decimal halfpenny was dated 1985. It is the only decimal halfpenny of the sterling area to carry the Maklouf effigy of the Queen. All the others that used a portrait of the Queen only ever carried the Machin portrait.











The Isle of Man issued two FAO-themed halfpenny coins, one in 1977 and one in 1981. These are the only two coins of the sterling area to have referenced F.A.O. (Food and Agricultural Organisation) in their legends.

 
« Last Edit: March 28, 2019, 04:29:07 PM by <k> »

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2016, 07:54:28 PM »
The decimal penny and two pence coin.

The penny and two pence coins are the only decimal two coins of the sterling area that still retain their original size and weight. The decimal halfpenny has been demonetised, and the large 5p, 10p and 50p coins have been replaced by smaller versions. This means that the penny and two pence coins are the only coins that can still be found with the word "NEW" in the legend (meaning new pence, or decimal pence). They still circulate and are not valuable. There are a few UK two pence coins, dated 1983, that were mistakenly minted with the word NEW, but these were only included in mint sets.

Note: only the UK and the crown dependencies originally included the word "NEW" in the legend.

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2016, 07:55:39 PM »
The reduced size five pence coin.

In 1990 the UK, Jersey, Gibraltar, Guernsey and the Isle of Man reduced the size and weight of their five pence coins.

Ireland followed suit in 1992, though it was outside the sterling area by then, and its smaller five pence coin was slightly larger than the sterling area versions.

The Falkland Islands, and St Helena and Ascension, did not follow suit until 1998.

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2016, 07:56:07 PM »
The reduced size ten pence coin.

In 1992 the UK, Jersey, Gibraltar, Guernsey and the Isle of Man reduced the size and weight of their ten pence coins.

Ireland followed suit in 1993, though it was outside the sterling area by then, and its reduced size ten pence coin was slightly smaller than the sterling area versions.

The Falkland Islands, and St Helena and Ascension, did not follow suit until 1998.

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Re: The Decimal Coins of the Sterling Area
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2016, 07:56:49 PM »
The twenty pence coin.

The UK, the Falkland Islands, Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man all issued their first twenty pence coin in 1982.

St Helena and Ascension issued their own decimal coins in 1984 but did not add a twenty pence denomination until 1998.

Gibraltar did not issue its own decimal coins until 1988, and it included a twenty pence coin in the set.

Ireland issued a twenty pence coin in 1986, but it was already outside the sterling area by then, and the new coin was very different from the sterling area version, being made of nickel-brass, round in shape, and close in size to the two pence coin.